Last Page [Archives:2000/04/Last Page]

January 24 2000
Yemeni Antiques: a Wealth Prone to Misuse
Jalal Al-Sharaby
Yemen Tiems
Yemen is gifted with a lot of antiques and historic places that distinguish it from other countries. Yemen’s wealth in this regard is the ancient monuments, antiques and old manuscripts that amaze all archaeologists who come across them and the great civilizations of Kingdoms of Sheba, Homier, Kataban, Aowsan, etc. In fact, authorities must take care of what have remained from these civilizations and stop all attempts of marketing Yemen’s property of antiques abroad.
Many times we have heard about smuggling antiques and marketing them abroad. For example, in the previous year, Sanaa Airport Authority seized 3,000 pieces of antiques that were intended to be taken outside Yemen illegally. Local newspapers talked a lot about high ranking officials who take advantage of their diplomatic immunity to smuggle antiques. In the beginning of the last year, some pieces of antiques and statues were discovered in Al-Oud Mountain in Ibb. Unfortunately, these were either sold or tampered with carelessly. In the few past months, some old and rare manuscripts disappeared mysteriously from the Great Mosque in Sanaa. Authorities concerned, instead of trying to trace them was satisfied with denying any theft incident. This carelessness and negligence has a been a matter of wonder for many people. 
Sometimes Yemeni antiques and statues found in foreign museums are more that found in Yemen’s museums themselves. This situation makes us wonder about the role of the Ministry of Culture which in many cases proved to be against culture. Moreover, antiques smugglers are often related to it. In fact, I do not accuse specific people. I also know that Mr. Abdul Malik Mansour, Minister of Culture does his best to put an end to this muddle, however he has been proved to be the cultured minister of the uncultured ministry.
I really wonder who is responsible for those high ranking people who present such precious pieces to friends abroad in different occasions. You will be surprised if you visit a house of one of the high ranking people to find a lot of such pieces adorning it. What have such people left for the National Museum in Sanaa? The Imam’s own clothes? His bars of soup? Food dishes? pale statues that are covered with dust?
It has been really strange to find an official adorning his car with a statute of one of the Kings of Sheba, Homier or others in front of the very eyes of the authorities concerned. Will this muddle disappear? Hope our cultured Minister will answer?