Local News

Details of Museum Theft Still Murky

Yemen Observer

National Museum Theft Still Murky

BY National Yemen

The Ministry of Culture’s Undersecretary for Monuments and Historic Cities sector, Dr. Mujahid al-Yateem spoke recently on the issue of the antiquities stolen from the National Museum. The stolen items included four precious and rare Quranic terrapins and seven archaeological swords; the investigation into the theft is still in its preliminary stages.

Al-Yateem also said that the investigative committee is working at a quick pace on this case, as it is of vital importance to the heritage and history of Yemen. The committee will announce its results either through the media or a press conference.

In related news, a senior security official denied on Friday the information published by the Security Media Center of the Interior Ministry, which claimed that four members of security services had been accused of involvement in the National Museum theft.

The General Deputy ordered the prosecutor of monuments and manuscripts to investigate the theft as well.

The theft was discovered by accident during the second day of Eid. This has led some to believe that the entire contents of the museum might have been removed over the course of the holiday had the early thefts not been discovered when they were.

During a special opening of the museum on Saturday to receive a senior foreign visitor, the museum’s Secretary General Ibrahim Hadi was surprised to find a broken window on the third floor. This window leads to a museum access, which is currently open and unfinished and overlooks Dar al-Shoker. He also noticed on the floor a mess of broken items, three pages of an original manuscript, and the absence of the seven lifted swords.

In a press statement, the manager of the criminal investigation Ali Naji said that that the investigation, which began yesterday, is still in its initial stages. There are a number of suspects, but the investigators are still collecting evidence.

Naji requested from the media and news sites that they be careful not to publish unconfirmed reports and to avoid misleading public opinion.

The Ministry of Interior’s Center for Media Security said that their extensive investigation has thus far led to the accusation of four people of involvement in the crime.


  • If the Qur'an manuscripts stolen from the National Museum are a loan from the Dar al-Makhtutat, then the Dar al-Makhtutat will keep a list of these loans. In that case it is possible to find the photographs of these pages on the microfilms which are housed in the Dar al-Makhtutat. These photographs should be forwarded to the UNESCO organization in order to enable criminal investigations and to make sure that any future fraud or selling of the manuscripts can be prevented.
    Dr. Gerd-R. Puin, researcher and former responsible for the German manuscripts' restoration project in the Dar al-Makhtutat