Archive | May, 2010

A thousand students graduate in the light and in the dark

31 May
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times


In the light, and in the dark (Photos by Malak Shaher)

Nada Al-Sho’aiby, 18, was one of a thousand students celebrating their graduation on Saturday morning in a large sports stadium in Sana’a.

She was very happy to be wearing a graduation gown after only two years of studying English at a language and computer institute and a whole three years before her graduation from university.

Adorned with the traditional garlands of Arabian jasmine, she and her fellow graduates walked around the large sports hall.

The beats of “Bailamos” by Enrique Inglesias vibrated through the hall so that everybody felt excited. Among the large number of graduates, Nada was a small dot seen from above.

The graduates walked with their heads held high to their chairs in front of the stage. The Yemeni national anthem was played and everybody stood up out of respect.

Then all of a sudden, the electricity went off. With light only on stage around the presenter welcoming the guests, the place looked like the Oscars.

In the dark, camera flashes sparkled. Whistles and shouts of joy filled the air with enthusiasm and cheered on the graduates.

Thousands of spectators sat above the graduates on the bleachers around the stadium. Girls with their colorful scarves appeared like colorful dots on a black background of baltos.

In spite of the electricity being off, the ceremony continued smoothly with the help of a generator.

Some of the male graduates danced on stage to traditional melodies, with dancers in white brought in for the occasion. One member of the audience gaped at them with his eyes wide open.

Hundreds of graduates grew restless from sitting. Some stood with their friends and smiled at cameras. As their relatives saw them get up, they hurried down to give them more garlands of jasmine.

The more they wore, the more the air was filled with its wonderful smell.


‘I’m not paying YR 30!’

24 May

Malak Shaher
On the minibusPublished:24-05-2010

The minibus stop on Hadda Street was empty after all minibuses had left to their different destinations.

As the sun grew hotter than ever, people waiting on the pavement held up books to cover their faces from the sun. Others used their hands to shade their eyes.

A minibus finally approached. Those who had been standing in the sun for about 20 minutes had no idea of the little surprise waiting for them.

So as not to waste any more time, most were holding the YR 20 bus fare tight in their hands. They would give it to the bus driver as soon as they got off.

They eagerly gathered around the vehicle and got on. They sighed in relief, as at last they had found transport to take them where they wanted to go.

Before the bus moved, the bus driver loudly announced that the price of fuel had increased and that today his bus fare would be YR 30, instead of YR 20.

The women in the back of the bus grumbled to each other.

The man sitting in the front seat next to the driver, however, objected loud and clear. He said he would only pay YR 20, because he didn’t know about the increase before getting on the bus.

“Then get out of my bus!” shouted the driver.

All the women remained silent.

“I won’t leave the bus unless everybody else does!” the man said.

“Shame on you!” the driver retorted. “They’re all women.”

   Eventually, the women all got off the bus, cursing their luck. The last one off was the man who had started the argument. 

As soon as he got off the bus, I climbed back on with the same driver. He was delighted to have support.

“Although the fuel price has increased, I will only take YR 20 from you because you understand,” he said with a grin.

Confused, I gave him two YR 20 coins in case he had changed his mind.

“Only YR 20,” he said.

A 24-hour trip to a virgin Yemeni Island

10 May
(YT photo by Khaled Al-Helaly)Malak ShaherPublished:10-05-2010

Our eyes glittered as we, the Yemen Times staff, heard of a trip to Kamaran, the largest Yemeni island in the Red Sea. Before getting to the island, we first had to go to Al-Saleef Port, in Al-Hodaida governorate. As we reached the coast guard authority “office”, near the coast, were spotted boats being prepared for us to leave for Kamaran.

As our boats moved across the sea, the waves took us high and low. Our hearts were pounding as we were taken up and down. The island was still not in the horizon.

As we travelled further out into the sea toward Kamaran, the peaks of traditional Tihama huts started to appear. Finally, it took about 20 minutes to get to the island. Our first steps on the hot sand promised an interesting visit, the island appeared untouched, clean and natural.

The island is quite flat, with few hills. The island is also extremely quiet with only the constant sound of waves crashing against the coast. One rarely hears any unnatural sound, like that of a car>s engine.

YT photo by Khaled Al-Helaly

Modern buildings are absent from the east side of the island, where we stayed. Only traditional Tihami buildings are constructed here.

As the sun was setting, it gave the sea a golden color. Soon, the moon switched places with the sun and reflected a silver color on the sea. The name of the island was originally Qamaran, or two moons in Arabic. This is a fitting name, given to the island by those who conquered it so many years ago.

At night, the tender fresh air swayed through our clothes and even through the small specks of sands touching our feet.

“You need to sleep so that you do not miss the sun rise, you can see dolphins,” an employee at the resort told us.

In spite of this, we preferred to stay awake so as not to miss the priceless moments of the full moon night. However, the early minutes of dawn also deserved not to be missed. We got up early in the morning, prayed and got to see the sea while the weather was subtle and not yet fiery hot. Unfortunately, this time, no dolphins were in sight.

With this breathtaking dawn scene, we snatched our cameras from their bags and tried to stop time with photos. Our results are hundreds of moments captured through photos. Time, however, was running out and the hot weather forced us to take shelter in the sea or under the shade of Tihami sun umbrellas.

A tour of the mangrove forest

One should not miss a boat tour of the mangrove forest, where trees grow in the water.

The mangrove forest is majestic. There is a mixture of rich and pale green. Magnificent white clouds hovered above the rich green of the forest, while the pale green of the forest reached deep into the sea.

On the way back, the driver of our boat, a small boy, decided to do us a favour and take us faster and faster over the relatively large waves of the turbulent sea. At one point, the boat bounced almost a meter into the air, hitting the water abruptly after. We felt our hearts jumping out of our chests. As we screamed, the boy was thrilled and made the boat move faster than ever, up and down over the angry waves.

We felt safe as we finally reached the Al-Saleef coast. “Oops, I forgot to take shells and corals with me,” I proclaimed. “Don’t worry; the sun did not forget to give you a tint of bronze color,” one of the young boat drivers murmured