Imagine the Beatles in Yemen! Yes, all four of them: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Well, maybe not the real… real Beatels, but a very good impersonation of them.
The four young men performed some of the original group’s golden hits of the Sixties. It felt as if the Yemeni audience was transported by a time machine to Swinging London. Many people, young and old, rose to their feet clapping and swaying with the music. Few danced with vigor near the stage or in the isles of the Sanaa Cultural Center.
As part of the British Week’s festivities (November 21-28), Beatels performances were held in both Sanaa and Aden. “The British Week occured simultaneously with the British Council celebrating 25 years of its existence in Sanaa and some 50 years in Aden,” said Mr. Brendan McSharry, Director of the British Council in Sanaa.
In addition to the British Council and the British Embassy, the events were also sponsored by major business and hotel concerns in Yemen.
The Week’s events also included a photographic exhibition by the British Council’s Richard Boggs. The monochrome photo’s tell the story of Boggs’s infatuation with the mysterious Island of Suqutra. ‘I said the name Suqutra over and over to myself – like a mantra – until the island had all but cast a spell over me,’ he wrote in an illustrated booklet accompanying the exhibition.
In often quite contrasting hues of black and white, Richard Boggs has captured the essence of this enchanting island – man, turbulent nature and the interaction between the two. Despite its mystique, the place is not without its fair share of epidemics and daily hardships.
After visiting the island three times, living in a tent, talking to people and taking photo’s, Boggs decided to live and work there.
He’ll be teaching English as part of aUN-sponsored program.
But photos were not the only thing Boggs brought back to Sanaa. Five young Suqutran men accompanied him back to promote the protection of the island’s bio-diversity and draw the public’s attention to the need for a sustainable use or its marine and land resources.
A British food festival was also held for four consecutive nights. Each night Chef Colin Pressdee of the BBC presented popular dishes and delicacies of one of the “four nations of new Britain” – English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish.
Three international award-winning films (Sense and Sensibility, Betrayal and Tess) were shown at the British Council branch in Aden.
Moreover, a large trade delegation and a Labor MP, Ms Christine McCafferty, visited the country during the Week. “Several deals were signed by Yemeni and British firms,” said Mr. Ahmed Suleiman, Export Promoter for Yemen, Department of Trade and Industry. “There is a much more confident outlook in the Yemeni economy now,” he added. British companies are supplying equipment for the Aden port and Free Zone infrastructure, pharmaceutical and construction companies.
“But for both British and Yemeni companies the reality is that the process may often take time, and requires a great deal of mutual trust,” explained Suleiman.