Yemeni-British Friendship Society: Great Efforts for Better Understanding [Archives:2002/06/Interview]

February 4 2002

Yemeni-British relations were firmly established in the past. Through the history of Yemen, waves of Yemenis immigrated to different main cities in the UK and settled there. Thousands of Yemeni people lived in Britain many of whom of British nationality dwelling in several cities there including Cardiff. After World War II, a number of Yemeni immigrants settled in different cities in the UK, such as, Sheffield, Manchester, and Glasgow in southwest Scotland.
The Yemeni-British Friendship Society came into existence to perform its task with the aim of enhancing relations between the two countries.
Abdu Moqbel met with Julian Lush together with his wife Sarah and John at the Taj Talha Hotel in the Old City of Sanaa.
We at first asked Julian Lash to give us a brief account of the Yemeni-British Friendship Society and its role in strengthening relations of the two countries. He said:The British-Yemeni Friendship Society was officially inaugurated in February, 1993. Its objectives are to promote friendship and understanding between the people of the two countries. It has a leading role to promote relations between Britain and the Republic of Yemen for the better, its history, its political economy and culture. It holds regular meetings and lectures. The society has been extending other charitable medical assistance and other charitable projects in Yemen. It also provides a means of contact between the individuals of the two countries.
When asked how the idea of establishing the society came to their minds Julian said the idea of establishing the society started in 1992 but it was formally established in 1993 and the members of the society attracted 200 members at that time. The society at this moment has more than 250 members, he said.
Among the activities performed by the society was supporting Yemens festivals which took place in London in 1997, visiting Yemeni architects and musicians. Other activities include the Christmas appeal through which we raise the voluntary donations from our members to support charity in Yemen particularly in Sanaa, Aden, Mukalla and Hadhramoot, he added.
The main purpose of the Yemen-British Friendship Society as John indicated is to promote understanding between these two countries, their history and culture.
The role of the society in enhancing the bilateral relations between the two countries is praiseworthy particularly under the current internal and external development changes in the world. The question which poses itself is that does a tourist feels satisfied with what he sees in Yemen. A tourist feels frustrated because he/she never has enough time. Yemen is a country with great tourist potential, rich in history, archeology, and rich in geographical diversity. So most tourists fall in love with this country and the people are very warmhearted, John said.
One of the leading roles played by the society is to push more British tourists to come to Yemen. Its mission is great to maintain such relations between the two countries. Many British people love to travel by nature. We hope to encourage more people to come to Yemen, Julian said.
Id like to mention that this coming summer there is going to be a very important exhibition on Yemen at the British Museum. Thousands of people will visit this exhibition. We hope that this exhibition will motivate people to visit Yemen. Saras book Yemen: Land and People is ready for sale . It is concise but with a very broad-looking description of the country, its history, geography, people and land. The book will be available at a reasonable price, Julian said.
Yemen, Land and People
Sarah Searight has visited Yemen for several times. She came to Yemen on a number of occasions as a lecturer and tourist. In Britain, Sara lectures on the art architecture of the Islamic world. Recently she has written a book about Yemen titled Yemen, Land and People that she hopes to increase the British peoples interest in Yemen.
What is lacking in Yemen is a book in Britain about the general history and geography of Yemen. There are marvelous books about Yemen, but they are very expensive and there are some extremely good academic studies of Yemen and therefore they are not easily accessible to the general public, Sara told YT.
The idea of writing the book is introducing a general view of Yemen, its history, its geography and its people. The book also deals with Yemens architecture. I hope it will be ready just before the exhibition in May and I also hope it will be for sale in Britain, she said.
The book is all in color with so many beautiful photographs.
It is a very good exercise to put my thoughts on Yemen in paper, she commented.
As the title of the book indicates, she describes the ancient people of Yemen, such as, Sabeans, Hadhramids, and then the Himyarids. She also wrote about some important figures northward of the country like al-Emam Yahya in Sadaa.
In her book, she describes the people in Tihama who have African influence, quite different architecture, different trade and agriculture. Then she describes the southern highlands such as, Taiz, Ibb, Jibla and Odien.