Samantha is a recording artist & writer based in Nürnberg, Germany (by way of California).

Portraits of Yemen: Before the War

Portraits of Yemen: Before the War

As I am writing this, it is with some consolation that Yemen's horrific situation is coming into the light via the mainstream press. We were in Sana’a in the Spring of 2014, only a few months before the coup d'état by northern Houthi rebels shook the foundation of the country and turning it into a proxy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Overlook Old City of Sanaa, Yemen

I am sharing photos of our time in Sana'a, Yemen's capital city, with its 2,500 year old mud dwellings mad of ochre, decorated with transcendent geometric patterns of white gypsum. As we moved through the streets, we politely refused offers of Qat and watched a blindfolded camel turn an olive press. We talked to a young blacksmith hammering away on a Jambiya sword, one of the country's most lucrative handicrafts. A spice vendor told me about how great his wifi was. The tea was strong. What the Romans had referred to Yemen as "Arabia Felix" or Happy Arabia, seemed true. 

Girls in black abayas on roof of building in UNESCO preserved Old City of Sanaa, Yemen.

Since our illuminating time there, Yemen has suffered one of the worst humanitarian crises to date. Air strikes, no clean water access, malnutrition. Cholera. In early November Saudi Arabia had closed ports so medicine and food could not get to the people. As I write this the blockade has been reversed, but not enough to reverse the damage.

Girls walking in UNESCO preserved Old City of Sanaa, Yemen, Middle East

The ones who are paying the price? Children. One child is dying every 10 minutes. Children are malnourished and it is affecting their mental and physical development and will affect the next generation. We have to reevaluate our alignment with Saudi Arabia who is using the food and medicine for civilians as a weapon of war.

Take a look at my photos of Sana'a before the war and the links I've attached to learn more and help.

“If anyone wanted to be taught there was an illusion about human rights in American foreign policy, look no farther than our long-standing relationships with one of the most brutal, corrupt, and vicious governments on earth.”
— Zach Beauchamp, Vox's Worldly, on Saudi Arabia

For a deeper look at what is happening in Yemen, check out:

Saudi Arabia's Real Life Game of Thrones: Vox's Worldly
The U.S.'s involvement and support of Saudi Arabia: Vox
Alex Kay Potter, Photojournalist: Incredible photography documenting the last three years in Sana'a.
WHO Yemen Twitter Feed
Yemen Peace Project / Mafraj Radio Podcast

If you feel called to help children in yemen:

Save the Children

Traditional Mud Building in UNESCO preserved city Sanaa, Yemen, Middle East.
Men sitting in UNESCO old city of Sanaa, Yemen, Middle East
Yemenis walking by Traditional Mud Buildings of UNESCO preserved Sana'a, Yemen, Middle East.
Men selling wares in market in UNESCO city Sanaa, Yemen, Middle East.
The decoration and detail of an ancient building in UNESCO city Sanaa, Yemen, Middle East.
Men sitting on stairs  in UNESCO old city of Sanaa, Yemen, Middle East.
Old Building Design Sanaa, Yemen
Men sitting on balcony Sanaa, Yemen
Women in Abayas shopping in Sanaa, Yemen
Two girls in abayas, Sanaa, Yemen
Man making juice in Sanaa, Yemen
Gates of Old City Sanaa, Yemen
Men sitting in Old City Sanaa, Yemen
Camel turning olive oil press, Sanaa Yemen
Boys with jimbaya swords, Sanaa Yemen
Man and woman walking, Sanaa, Yemen
Man drinking tea in Sanaa, Yemen
Silver jewelry, Sanaa Yemen
Blacksmith working in Sanaa, Yemen
Man selling textiles in Sanaa Yemen
Young man looking through car window, Sanaa Yemen.
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