Hanbalah Center for Documentation records time [Archives:2006/974/Culture]

August 21 2006

Saleh Akbour
Scott Rice of North Arizona University, a researcher on Islamic history in areas on the Indian Ocean, currently is visiting the Hanbalah Center for Documentation based in Aden governorate's Sheikh Othman district.

His objective is to gain firsthand experience of the center's contents and research Aden's history and the reformist movement under British reign, as well as the social, political and cultural aspects of that period.

Rice said the visit is the first of its kind to Aden and the center. “It's within the program to tour Aden and see historical landmarks – whether political, social or cultural – British colonization left in the city,” he explained.

He added that he's now working on a book on urban areas under the Italians, who formerly rule Somalia, and issues related thereto.

Rice plans to leave Aden and return after visiting the British Library to examine its contents authored by Adeni personalities like Mohammed Ali Louqman, Ahmed Al-Asnaj and Mohammed Al-Abbadi pertaining to political, social and religious conditions, as well as the reformist movement under British reign.

He mentioned that the Hanbalah Center assisted him greatly in obtaining important historical information related to topics he's going to tackle in his study of Aden during the British era.

“I've found cooperation on the part of the center's personnel, most importantly from Ali Abdu Salem, its board of trustees chairman,” he said, urging more interest in the center to preserve its contents, which include a large number of folk references.

Concerning his impressions of Aden, Rice expressed his admiration of the city for its beauty and friendly residents, who offered cooperation and facilitated his stay.

Born in 1965, Rice is married with two children. Last week, the center honored him as one of 10 international media personalities, also including Flag Miller, a U.S. researcher currently visiting the center to research the history of Yafi'ee poetry.

Establishment of the Hanbalah Center for Documentation

The Hanbalah Center for Documentation is a private scientific, cultural and documentary center voluntarily established by Yemeni personality, Idrees Ahmed Hassan Hanbalah.

The center's genesis occurred when Idrees' father, Ahmed Hassan Hanbalah, opened an office for personal cases at the front of his home on Oct. 8, 1939. The office later was passed onto his son, poet Idrees. Since Dec. 8, 1951, it's been known officially as the Hanbalah Center for Documentation. Idrees wrote in his will, dated April 17, 1984, appointing a board of trustees called the Hanbalah Center for Documentation's Board of Trustees, which Salem has chaired, and absolutely delegating that it run the center's activities in the public interest.

Center objectives and duties

Through its activities and functions, the center aims to achieve certain objectives, including:

-thorough compilation and comprehensive treatment of documents related to the life and activity of the center's founder, Idrees Hanbalah

-selective compilation and treatment of data particularly related to Aden governorate's cultural, social and sports life and generally, to the whole country

-inclusive filing of publications and pamphlets published nationwide

-technical treatment of such documents and setting up bibliographic and non-bibliographic databases and indices

-providing documented information to its users, including governmental and non-governmental organizations, individuals, researchers, etc.

-creating contacts for collaborating and exchanging information and experiences with concerned local and international organizations by means of symposia, group discussions, workshops, training courses, exhibitions and contests

-encouraging young researchers and promoting studies and research

-providing textbooks

-publishing various publications, etc.

The center's contents

The center enshrines Idrees Hanbalah's personal belongings, including his private papers, diaries, correspondence, handwritten poetry and articles, family photo albums, personal files, private collectibles, souvenirs, medals, certificates, etc.


The center's library contains approximately 1,863 titles, of which are 144 rare books and 250 periodical titles, in addition to newspapers the center has archived since the 1940s. The center also keeps rare books published over the period from the 21st century back to the 1960s. The library is based on the Dewey decimal system and mostly frequented by Aden University and higher studies students.


Containing some 750 million objective files the founder collected since the early 1940s, these files concern various aspects of his life, career and activity. The archive also keeps important documents related to political, cultural, social, sports and educational aspects in Yemen.

Audio library

Comprised of some 350 audio tapes and 50 videos, the audio library features a number of Yemeni, Arab and international singers and musicians, as well as some radio programs and rare lectures.

Photo archive

The archive contains a priceless photo collection depicting Aden's zones and developmental stages, as well as snapshots reflecting the area's political, social and cultural history.