Good News from the Minister  of Culture & Tourism “Yemen will host a tourist Arab Conference next July” [Archives:1999/14/Interview]

April 5 1999

Like food and water, culture is an essential element in the lives of human beings. It is the base for building a healthy and active society. Even though we realize the importance of culture, it seems that our country is not giving culture its deserved attention. In spite of its richness and originality, Yemen’s culture is not well known to the world, for the simple reason that there have been no serious attempts to unveil our fine culture to the outside world and extinguish the unpleasant image of Yemen as a land of kidnapping and lawlessness. On another level Yemenis need to learn how to develop their own cultural background. It is vital for Yemen to have a nation that considers culture vital in coping with the modern ages. Awareness among Yemenis regarding culture is quite weak, and much work needs to be done in this regard. For example, Yemeni culture is not rich in its understanding of modern values of human rights and other democratic concepts.
In this regard, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is trying its utmost to improve our culture and is struggling to give it its proper place in society after being ignored for so long. The Ministry is hoping to play its essential role in spreading awareness among Yemenis and in making Yemen’s culture known to the outside world.
On this matter, Ismail Al-Ghabiry filed the following interview with Mr. Abdulmalek Mansour the Minister of Culture and Tourism.
Q: What do you think of the government’s response to kidnappers? How has their response affected tourism?
A: We are quite satisfied on the whole and when we explain that Yemen is a stable country in general, we find many positive responses.
There is no doubt that tourism has been highly affected by the terrorist acts in Abyan, although that was an aberration from Yemeni tradition and culture. The government’s current procedure have restored some people’s trust in it. Some tour groups are back, but not in as great of numbers as they used to be. The government is extending its efforts, and it really believes in the importance of the tourist sector. The issue of security in Yemen is the same as in other countries, but here everything gets magnified because of a few difficulties. What is required here is objective evaluation of the situation, besides getting good publicity and insuring security.
Q: How should the government protect tourists?
A: The rule of law is the main concern of both visitors and a citizens. Everyone wants to hear that justice has control. It ‘s well known that stable investments, including those based on tourism, need a strong justice system. A strong judicial system that responds instantly to wrong means that we have taken the first real steps.
Q: What are the advantages of nature reserves?
A: The fact that there are many places in Yemen that still preserve their original surroundings, rare trees, birds and even animals, influenced the decision to have natural reserves in Soqotra, Baraa, Atmah and Rimah. There are other places as in Saada, Mahara and Tihama that can also be included. Such places offer the following benefits:
* Tour guides are available to tourists, and citizens can visit as well.
* A place for scientific studies of nature
* A preservation of ancient life
* Avoid the extinction of some animals
* Taking an interest in nature and environment and reducing the world of technology.
Q: What facilities are available to encourage reading and self improvement?
A: In big cities as Sanaa, Taiz, Aden and Hoddeida there are big public libraries, besides some small libraries that were founded after concluding agreements between the governorate and the Ministry represented by the Public Corporation of Books. These libraries, in spite of their small sizes, represent a necessary starting point for the country.
The public has made a clear withdrawal from books, possibly due to the presence of many other types of media. We think that private sector should be involved in this area and should participate in publishing books and building public libraries.
Q: How should we preserve our heritage and manuscripts?
A: Yemen owns a unique and distinctive wealth of manuscripts. Preserving this wealth is the joint responsibility of the people and the government. The Ministry of Culture represented by the Public Corporation of Archeology, Museums and Manuscripts makes sincere efforts to restore what is available and to bring back what is missing. A specialized center, funded by the Germans, undertakes the responsibility of restoring and repairing the available manuscripts. We look forward to cooperating with the owners of such manuscripts, promising that their treasures will be reserved and restored.
Our ambition is reaching Yemeni Reservation for Heritage. It would be a costly project but we should begin. We already established a music and musical heritage reservation center, assigning the renowned musician Mr. Jabir Ali Ahmed as the head of the center. We are looking forward to see its success in reserving the various traditional types of our music.
Smuggling our heritage out of the country is an unpleasant issue, security forces extend their best efforts to stop this phenomenon, an they did a great job in bringing back many antiques and manuscripts. But this task requires public awareness to stop these harmful acts.
Q: What types of tourist publications are available
A: Periodic publications are released showing various tourist subjects and places. Lately we published a tourist guide prepared by a group of tourism experts in Yemen; the publications will be in different languages for our visitors, German, Italian, French and English.
Yemen will host a tourist Arab Conference next July, the Arab Ministers of Tourism Conference, a branch of the specialized conferences of the Arab League. We are preparing to render success to this activity that directly benefits tourism.
In the near future the Tourist and Archeology map of Yemen Republic will be released. This map shows the tourist sights and cultural attractions besides the positions of tourist islands, deserts and mountains which tourists could visit.
Projects of the Ministry of Culture:
1.Heritage Record
2.Tourist and archeology map
3.Foundation of Supreme council for culture and art
4.Foundation of the Cultural Development Fund and the protection of archeological and historical cities
5.Reviving Qaser Ghamdan
6.Reconstruction of historical citadels and sights in all over the country.
7.Vitalization the scientific cultural role of the Culture and Science Center
8.Publication of Yemeni book that covers the area and reach the outer world.
9.Attract tourist investment in Yemen
10.Renew sheet metals of all Yemeni cities that exist on main roads and adding some historic briefs.
11.Reviving cultural festivals that used to take place in many governorates aiming to have a special festival for each city.
12.Foundation of regional artistic groups (music, theater and folklore).
13.Vitalization the role of Fine Arts Institutes in Sanaa, Aden and Al Mukala.
14.Tourist training and concern of hotels Institutes to generate qualified staff after a thorough study and training.
15.Holding specialized festivals (Poet, novels, etc.) that start from governorates and end in the capital.