40 years of French-Yemeni Relations

In order to celebrate the 40 year long friendship between France and Yemen, the last three months of the year will showcase a series of cultural activities and projects, which will help further bring France and Yemen together, and remind people of a great history as well as to inspire younger generations about future cross-cultural friendship.

A photographic exhibition, opened on the 19th October at the National Museum was an innovative idea that brought together a unique atmosphere; the majestic antiquity of the museum and the pulsing vibe and colour of innovative art.

H.E. Mr. Joseph Silva, the French Ambassador himself opened the event, which was attended by ministers, international officials and diplomats in addition to many art-passionate youths and a few curious tourists.

“This event stands as a testimony to the exemplar relation between Yemen and France and the will to strengthen this rapport while trying to remove the obstacles that could endanger it,” stated Mr Khalid Tamim, President of Sana’a University.

“Clear examples of the development in the friendship are the entry of TOTAL in the economic sector as well as the visit of President Saleh to France, and the agreements of collaboration in the fields of medicine, economy and agriculture,” he explained.

The exhibition was the result of a workshop held by Egyptian photographer Nabil Boutrous and from which talented Yemeni photographers were chosen to illustrate their work of arts at the expo. Three participating photographers:

Ameen Al Ghabri
A photographer since childhood, Al Ghabri had the fortune of growing up in the house of an already artistically recognized father. Blessed by having “art in the genes”, as he says, he was familiar with cameras since the age of 8.

A self educated and determined artist, Ameen opened Al Ghabri Studio with his brother, with the objective to highlight the talent of Yemeni professional photographers. In fact, Ameen Al Ghabri confided that probably one of the major challenges in his job was the diffuse under-evaluation of Yemeni photography, especially by local companies who preferred to hire foreign figures instead of encouraging local ones.

“If a picture of mine can bring an emotional reaction to an observer, then I consider a personal achievement in sending a message, in making the image tell a story to who sees it.” One of his themes for the exhibition was the contrast / compromise between tradition and modernity.

Ameen encourages everyone to search for his or her own talents and develop it in spite of obstacles and hardships.

Eman Al Awami
Al Awami described the curious experience of being a female artist in Yemen.

She routinely has episode of people questioning her motives for taking pictures. Often she has to erase the shots she took, while others hordes of children assault her – begging her… to take a picture of them!

She recalled an episode in which a mother, particularly proud of her son, convinced her to take some photos of her child. After going back with her, Al-Awami discovered that the mother’s child was in his 20s.

Unfortunately there are less encouraging occasions in which ignorant people often criticize her for her passion; still, Eman does not seem willing to let these situations get her down.

“To be a photographer you have to arm yourself with patience and the commitment to fight eventual setbacks.”

She aims to really bring forth to the world the other part of Yemen, the one represented by traditional and simple faces, full of beauty and happiness.

“I consider inspiration as rizgh(blessings). Simply walking in the street, I find different aspects capturing my attention. It could be a house with a particular structure or in an unusual location; an interesting pose or movement of the body; or a unique expression.”

‘Fatherhood’ was the selection for her picture show.

Waeel Al Anesi
His career as a photographer started but recently in 2008 when he bought a FujiFilm camera and began to get deeper in the world of this art.

While working as a graphic designer, he felt the need to develop his own pictures.

He choose as main subject for his work art the ‘Mother’s Bread’, a nostalgic collection that symbolized the pleasure of childhood, the memories of Friday mornings and the daily happiness of a mother’s love.

What is special about the pictures is the technique used to shoot them.

“My preferred subject are landscapes, the capture of the wild and nature in general,” explains Al Anesi. “For the exhibition I curiously found that the landscape technique suited best to illustrate potential past memories evocated by bread making.”

Al Anesi hopes to attend a photography seminar in New York to further his knowledge since the opportunity to professionally study in this field in Yemen is still given scarce importance.

Cloe Vaniscotte, organizer of the celebration and chargee of the French Cultural Centre, informed the National Yemen that a series of other cultural events would follow.

“The photographic exhibition will be taken to Taiz and Aden,” Mrs. Vaniscotte announced, whilst explaining the importance of promoting French-Yemeni relations in other governorates as well. In Aden, a ceremony in remembrance of the late poet Rimbaud, who spent part of his life in the city, was planned.

The National Museum will also be used as the location for another exhibition on the 2nd November, this time in honor of a French female doctor, Claudie Fayen, who acquired Yemeni nationality.

Also on Wednesday , the 3rd November, a concert entitled “Richa CUDA” would take place at the Yemeni Cultural Center at 19.00. Entrance isfree but seats are limited.

A symposium on water was held in Sana’a University, other events included conferences on Archaeology.

The photographic exhibition remains on show in the National Museum, Sana’a, till the1st November. Entrance is free.