Yemen & France: 300 years of friendship & dialogue [Archives:2004/780/Community]

October 11 2004

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
The Yemen & France exhibition “300 years of friendship and dialogue” was concluded last Thursday at the Culture House (CH) in Sana'a as a celebration of the Yemeni-French relationship that continues to progress. The exhibition was organized from October 2nd-8th by the National Documents Center (NDC) and the French Embassy (represented by the French Cultural Center and the French Institute for Antiquities & Social Sciences).
It contained 223 landscapes, and exhibits which included copies of documents, maps and records registering crucial areas and remarkable characterizations of the framework of Yemeni-French relations in political, economic and cultural dimensions. The relationship of the two brotherly countries dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The last three decades also witnessed a number of touchable improvements under the care of the leaderships of the two countries represented by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac. The exhibition also included a symposium on Yemeni-French relations.
The French interest in Yemen dates back to the period of colonial competition in the 16th and 17th centuries during which the attention of the French was drawn toward some Yemeni ports in the Red Sea, especially after the Napoleon-led campaign into Egypt.
The French assert that the relations between Yemen and France were based on cooperation and recognition of one another, and were strengthened during the last three centuries resulting in the upgrade of diplomatic ties since 1739.
The Yemeni-French relations have passed through 7 stages, which the exhibition confirmed as follows:
-The campaign of French Scientists who came to explore the East of the sphere.
-The establishment of the consular agency in the 19th century in Hodeidah during the Ottoman rule of Yemen. This agency aimed at facilitating the French trade in the Red Sea between 1880-1915. Besides another consular agency was established in Aden during the period 1857-1943.
– The establishment of the relations between France and the Mutawakili Kingdom (Imamate) between 1919-1962.
-The enhancement of the current relations and cooperation between Yemen and France.

Diplomatic ties
The diplomatic representation was reciprocated between the two countries after France acknowledged the republican regime at the level of Ambassadors.
The ties of the two countries were resumed after a temporary halt in 1977, when the two sides signed the first agreement on the economic cooperation. This paved the way for the foundations of French trade and industry to enter Yemen, the implementation of numerous developmental projects and the formation of a joint Yemeni-French Committee to bring Sana'a and Aden together in the beginning of the eighties.
The ties of both the countries also witnessed a spell of prosperity and progress, in a series of connections between state officials and an exchange of visits at different levels since the beginning of the eighties. It is worth-mentioning that France showed a positive stance towards the Unification of Yemen.

Trade of Coffee
Coffee played a vital role in making Yemen more popular in Europe and France, and the 18th century saw active trade exchange between Yemen and France.
The exhibition that took place in the last few days also included a special wing for the friendly French female physician Claudie Fayein (1912-2002), the author of “I was a physician in Yemen” who visited Yemen in 1951. This wing contained the story of her interest in Yemen.