Yemeni-Italian Cultural Cooperation THE QUEEN OF SHEBA GOES TO ROME [Archives:1999/22/Law & Diplomacy]

May 31 1999

The famous exhibition “Yemen, the land of the Queen of Sheba” has been journeying most of the capitals of Europe since two years. Its final stop will be Munich then Rome in the year 2000. 
The Memmo foundation, which is one of the most active and famous in Europe is the promoter and the sponsor of the exhibition together with CINS (Italian Cooperation North south), an NGO which is very active in Yemen. The exhibition will be held in Palazzo Ruspoli one of the oldest and most beautiful palaces in Rome. 
Dr. Memmo’s daughter Princess Patrizia Ruspoli visited Yemen during this week to finalize all agreement with Yemen authorities and to stayed as an honorary guest of the Ministry of Tourism. 
The guest visited the most beautiful sites in Yemen and met with several authorities in the cultural field. Among them was Dr. Yusuf Abdalla Chairman of the Antiquities Committee. 
Dr. Memmo said, “I am 80 years old and have been traveling all over the world, but Yemen is really one of the most beautiful countries I have seen in my life. I am very happy to take the exhibition to Rome and to show the aspects of this incredible culture to the visitors coming to Rome for the year 2000 from different countries. We are already in touch with the British museum in London, the Getty foundation in the US. and with another museum in Venice fro the same exhibition and the response was very positive, which means that after Rome the exhibition under the Memmo Foundation supervision may move to Venice, London and Los Angeles”. 
The General Coordinator of the exhibition is Marco Livadiotti, who has been residing in Yemen for more than 25 years. He is one of the most experiences  expert of Yemeni culture and antiquities. 
Mr. Marco said, ” This archaeological exhibition is the same one in Paris, Vienna and Munich, but in Rome it will be expanded with several pieces brought from private Italian collections and may include some new pieces provided by the Yemeni government. Because the year 2000 is a very important event in Rome we decided to organize some other exhibitions like architecture, handicraft, pictures, Island of Socotra to be added to the archaeological one”. 
Dr. Memmo also said “although your country is one of the most beautiful I have visited the condition of you heritage is in a big danger and I was surprised to see how a lot of beautiful palaces and houses were neglected and abandoned to distraction by the authorities”. 
One of the main target of the exhibition in Rome will be to focus one the conservation and protection of the Yemeni heritage. After 30 years from the first appeal of the Italian movie director Pasolini in 1970 to UNESCO to save Sanaa the promoters will make a second appeal to UNESCO not to save Sanaa only but also to save all Yemen. 
The Italian Government represented by  the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, and the Major of Rome all have already confirmed their willingness to cooperate for the success of this exhibition in Rome and Venice. 
Dr. Borgia of CINS said, “This big cultural event will not only make the Yemeni culture known in Italy but will also reactivate all commercial economic and cultural relations between Yemen and Italy. These relations which were very strong in the past and which I am sure will even be stronger in the future. Both countries will benefit from this exhibition, specially in the economic and commercial sectors”. 
The Memmo Foundation along with the Palazzo Ruspoli are today well-known in Europe as well as in the US for their great contributions to the cultural sector of society. Some of their exhibitions journeyed all over the world. 
Princess Patrizia Memmo Ruspoli said “We are very glad to host the Queen of Sheba in our palace in Rome. Our family is one of the oldest in Italy, dating back to the Roman times. Having our palace host this exhibition will hopefully bring visitors from all over the world to discover the secrets and the treasures of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. 
The exhibition will be inaugurated in March 2000 in the Rome, capital of Italy. Venice will be the second city to host the exhibition in July 2000. 
By: Nadeem Abdul-Hamid, 
Yemen Times. 
  A Former Yemeni Emigrant Speaks of Beautiful Memories and Current Frustrations!
A long time ago, I was a Yemeni emigrant living in Kuwait. I lived peacefully with my Kuwaiti brothers and sisters. During my stay over there, I wrote stories about my Yemeni village in “Al-Talaiaa”, a Kuwaiti magazine, and newspapers like “Al-Watan” and “Al-Siyasah”. 
But things were not to continue this way. We only realized the degree of luxury we had only after being expelled from Kuwait. Because of Saddam and his crazy ideas, the lives and prospects of many individuals and nations were ruined. With his invasion of Kuwait, we were expelled from paradise and came back to our country. 
Our country, which was once called the land of two paradises, has today become a place where there is nothing but misery and poverty. The land of paradises seems to have vanished. We couldn’t live a modest life, let alone live in paradise. 
Our perception of Yemen was extremely exaggerated when we were away. We couldn’t believe that the situation in our country was in such terrible conditions until we arrived and saw the misery with our naked eyes. I remember I wrote all kinds of beautiful poems about my country in Kuwait, of which some were published in various magazines. But today I realize that what I wrote was not the truth. Despite that, I still cherish those lines, in the hope that they will one day turn into reality. It is not the country that is bad, but its people are the ones who have destroyed its wonderful image in my mind. Hatred and selfishness in the hearts of most Yemenis are the norm in my country today. An ugly situation has over-run all the beautiful things in my homeland. 
We were supposed to get compensation on our losses following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. We were once given an amount of $2,462 as a first installment, but that was it. 
Is this sufficient for a family to live on between 1990 and 1999? I know that there are thousands of former emigrants that have not found jobs till today. My case is a good example. I have tried to find a job  any job at all. But it seems that job opportunities are in the hands of the mafia lords and the corrupt men who are messing everything up. 
Many things are wrong in this country. If you don’t have a big tribe and don’t know any sheik who can protect you, you have to accept being marginalized and humiliated. Don’t get into any showdowns, even if your rights and properties are taken away in front of your own eyes. You can even get harassed by a person wearing a police uniform. He is supposed to protect us! You can be humiliated anytime, anywhere, and for no reason at all. 
Another fact is that if you go to any government department, employees will not lift a finger to help you until they are bribed. I often hear my mother and family complain about the electricity and water bills which we cannot afford to pay. She also complains about the prices of tomatoes, bread, etc. She remembers what we used to eat in the past, in the days of my work in Kuwait. 
I conclude that only the strong can live in Yemen. It has become like a jungle full of predators, who hunt down their victims mercilessly. There is no power of law, there is only the law of power. 
We do have a system in which newspapers do write a few things. And every few years, our people go to ballot boxes to throw in a piece of paper. This is our version of democracy. 
In my view, it is a fake one. At the end of the road, we end up with a parliament full of people chosen by the power centers. They do not represent the people, they represent the power centers. Moreover, these individuals only care for their interests. They do not care for me or you, or even the nation. 
We, the people who once used to live abroad, were unfortunately deceived by a fake picture of the situation in our country when we were told to come back. The fact that we have a corrupt regime is the main reason why mismanagement is spread throughout the country. 
I now realize that things are not always what seem to be. Life teaches you lessons sometimes in harsh way. I learned my lesson. The lesson had costed me leaving a  luxurious life without anywhere else to go other than the jungle. I did not know that my country will not treat me well. I know   that I should not always trust whom run the country. Until I collect enough money to leave this country to any other country in the world again, I will have to keep on living. I know I have been deceived, and now I am paying for it.
AbdulAziz Mohammed Saeed,