Aden & Sanaa Dance to the Same Tune [Archives:1997/48/Culture]
After opening to a great reception in Aden – Yemen’s winter capital – on November 22nd, the British Week moved to Sanaa for a glittering finale. British music, food, business, and the social life of Yemenis in Britain were the order of the day. It was as if a piece of Britain was temporarily transplanted in Yemen. Britain is positively winning the hearts of the Yemeni people in parallel with strengthening the diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Rising Sense Reflecting the ‘new Britain,’ the two bands, Durga Rising and Inner Sense, gave superb performances. They certainly made young Yemenis dance in both Aden and Sanaa. The Inner Sense Samba rhythms and the clapping and cheering of the audience almost brought the house down at the Yemeni Cultural Center in Sanaa. The response was phenomenal. Those who were too shy to take part in the dancing, cheered, clapped, tapped their feet, or just looked at the stage with a sense of amusement and wonder. The rising denoument came when Inner Sense’s 11 members wound their way through the aisles, pulling behind them a train of gyrating human bodies. East met West and raggae met the blues in the songs performed by Durga Rising with the powerful voice of Barb Junger holding the audience enthralled. The band’s novel and unique rendition of familiar and famous songs came as a refreshing complement to a nice night out in Sanaa.
Catalogues Galore The catalogues of 244 different British companies were displayed at the British Council library in an exhibition organized by the British Department of Trade and Industry, the British Embassy in Sanaa, and the Source Of Supply Company (SOS) which has data on all types of British companies. “Of the companies that exhibited at the British Council, 144 are actively seeking agents in Yemen,” said the SOS Director, Mr. Andrew Meade. It is hoped that this exhibition will enable Yemeni businessmen to build up contacts directly with British companies. Rodan’s British Export Directory, a large volume of about 700 pages, was distributed to the visiting Yemeni businessmen.
Beyond Fish ‘n’ Chips The British Food Week at the Taj Sheba Hotel in Sanaa was a revelation. Apart from the traditional fish and chips with salt and vinegar, which was served either on a plate or inside a piece of newspaper, other British delicacies were on offer. The Tony Blair rice pudding was quite a surprise. Considering that the current British premier has not completed one whole year in office, naming a dish after him might be a little bit premature. However, the famous steak & kidney pie and other types of pie were not in sight, neither was haggis, considering that the chef imported for the occasion is a Scotsman. The raffle ticket draw was made by HM Queen Elizabeth II; while, Prince Charles and Baroness Thatcher served the customers. HOLD ON! To avoid sparking off a diplomatic row, an explanation is in order. They were actually mere ordinary mortals wearing rubber masks of those famous personalities.
Yemenis in Britain in Yemen Following its success as part of the Yemen Festival in Britain, the Yemenis in Britain exhibition is being currently held at Dar Al-Kutub in Sanaa. It shows in pictures and captions the lives of several British people of Yemeni origin who had made it in Britain. They include a businessman, lawyer, cleric, shopkeeper, teacher, education officer, etc. There are now about 70,000 Yemenis living in Britain, spread over six main cities: Birmingham, Cardiff, Sheffield, Liverpool, South Shields, and London. ‘They are in large part integrated into Britain’s multi-cultural society, but still retain links with Yemen and remain proud about their distinctive cultural heritage and language.’ “This exhibition aims to strengthen the friendly ties between Yemen and Britain,” said the Dar Al-Kutub Director, Mr. Zaid Al-Faqeeh. He added, “the exhibition traces the lives of Yemeni people in Britain from the 18th century to the present day.”
By: Adel Moqbil & Nayif Saqqaf