Conflict Stories: A Different Side to Yemen.

Conflict Stories: A Different Side to Yemen.

Conflicted regions are often seen only for their conflict and the rest is seldom part of the story. As war in Yemen has raged since 2014, not much else is known in the West about the small but complex country with its own unique culture and landscapes. This is a different side to Yemen.

It is one of the birthplaces of civilization: There are archaeological findings from the Old Stone Age to the Ottoman Empire, with four UNESCO world heritage sites. Ancient and sophisticated agricultural practices which have evolved towards innovative water conservation and seed adaptation methods. A long history of mud-brick architecture in the city of Shibam where houses reaching seven floors created the world’s first skyscrapers around the third century AD, coining it the ‘Manhattan of the Desert.’ 

imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | Yemeni children play on a boat in Khawlan District, south of Sanaa, Yemen. 30 May, 2021

There are bustling towns, sweeping mountains, vast deserts, dreamy beaches and complex biodiversity as the country lies between Earth’s three major biogeographical zones: Palearctic, Afrotropical and Oriental. A long history of Islam and Judaism, spice trading along the Silk Road, fishing practices, music and crafting, a unique cuisine with Ottoman roots and a love for football to top it all off – yes, I am talking about Yemen. 

A country branded by an image of a starving little girl as it faces one of, if not the, worst humanitarian crises at-hand with an estimated 20.7 million people (71 per cent of the total population) in need. Since the civil war began in 2014 and the Shia Houthi forces took over Yemen’s government, the country has been subject to airstrikes by Saudi Arabia, with support from the United States, United Kingdom and France, in trying to restore the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government. Aside from the many civilians who have died in the crossfire of this conflict, the war and blockades have also prevented humanitarian aid from reaching the country causing disease and famine, toppled by environmental and ecological threats. 

IMAGO knows best how the weight of a photo can shift perspectives on a region, the danger in one-sided imagery within conflicts, and the importance of challenging our preconceptions through photography. As many have turned a blind eye until an emaciated hand or a building in shambles graces our headlines, the different realities  that exist in Yemen have largely been forgotten. While IMAGO’s archives are full of photos of the impacts of the civil war over the years, we also see a different, more delicate story of Yemen. 

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IMAGO / photothek / Ute Grabowsky | The ancient city of Shibam built in the third century AD is known as the ‘Manhattan of the Desert.’
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IMAGO / CTK Photo / Ondrej Zaruba | Fishermen on the sand beach of Socotra island in Yemen. 23 October, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | People attend prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Sanaa, Yemen. 20 July, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed Al-Wafi | Students study inside a tent which serves as their classroom at a primary school in Hajjah province, northern Yemen. 24 November, 2021.
imago images/Jack Malipan
IMAGO / agefotostock / Jack Malipan | The old town of Sanaa, Yemen.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | Football players from the Yemeni under-15 national team celebrate their victory at the West Asian Junior Championship in December 2021 at al-Thawra stadium in Sanaa, Yemen.
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IMAGO / Anan Sesa / Antonietta Baldassarre | Cultivated fields in North Shibam.
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IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | A farmer sells grapes at a market in Bani Hushaysh area near the capital Sanaa, Yemen. 4 September, 2021.
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IMAGO / UIG | Al-Ghowaizi Fort, Tower or Castle (Husn Al-Alghwayzi on the western outskirts of Al Mukalla.
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IMAGO / CTK Photo / Ondrej Zaruba | Landscape of Socotra Island.
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IMAGO / CTK Photo / Ondrej Zaruba | Children playing on the beach on Socotra Island.
imago images/Xinhua
MAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | Turkish bathhouse in Sanaa, Yemen. 14 November, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | Boys attend a commemoration for victims on the fifth anniversary of the air strikes on a funeral hall in Sanaa, Yemen. 9 October, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | A teller counts cash inside a foreign exchange center in Sanaa, Yemen as the value of the Yemeni rial plummets. 24 August, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | People fill plastic kettles with clean water from a tap in Sanaa, Yemen amidst extreme water shortages. 17 August, 2021.
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IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | Rescue workers search for survivors at a prison destroyed in an airstrike in Saada, Yemen, on Jan. 22, 2022.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | A zookeeper examines a cheetah at the Sanaa Zoo in Sanaa, Yemen. Over a thousand animals face the risk of starvation in this main zoo of Yemen. 18 July, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Murad Abdo | Abandoned facilities of cable cars inside a coastal resort park in Aden, southern Yemen. 2 January, 2022.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | A farmer harvests fresh strawberries on a farm in the Sanhan district near Sanaa, Yemen. 10 September, 2021.
imago images/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua / Mohammed | Beach in Hodeidah, Yemen. 19 November, 2021.
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IMAGO / Le Pictoricum / Amira AlSharif | Sadiya walks an hour to Bab Al Khor to do fishing for her family. Detwah Lagoon, Socotra, Yemen. 8 May 2014.
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IMAGO / robertharding | Al Jaray village, Al Mahwit region, Central Mountains, Yemen.
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IMAGO / Panthermedia | Cliffs at Nugad, Socotra, Yemen.
imago images/Jack Malipan
IMAGO / agefotostock / Jack Malipan | Traditional Arabic architecture in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa.
Featured as part of our Conflict Stories Series. Written by writer,  Sofia Bergmann.
 

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