Archive | July, 2010

Do not look at a beautiful girl in the morning

27 Jul

 
“If you see a beautiful girl in the morning before any other thing, you will have bad luck. In Taiz, we believe that seeing an ape is better than seeing a beautiful lady,” Mahmoud Ali, 38, told the Yemen Times.

Malak Shaher

Published:26-07-2010

 

In Yemen, people believe in things that cannot be explained by common sense or by science. Seeing a black cat or a black dog means the same for people all over Yemen, including Taiz. They believe that their day will not pass smoothly.

Almost all Yemenis, especially the old ones, associate bad luck with magic. If a girl is divorced many times, her mother interprets this by saying that her daughter has been affected by magic or by the evil eye.

“This is the third time that my daughter has divorced. She is beautiful and should not be divorced at her young age. Someone must have put a evil eye on her or maybe she is under a spell,” said Fatima Ali.

Almost all those who believe in superstitions are older people. The daughter, who has been divorced three times, does not believe in this and said that it was her destiny to divorce three times.

“We just did not get along with each other and that is the story. The evil eye or magic has nothing to do with me getting divorced three times,” Ruba said.

As Yemenis believe in the evil eye, they try their best to discover if they are affected by someone of not.

In Sana’a, in the north of Yemen, people hold red and white material over the head of someone suspected of having been affected by the evil eye and read verses from the Quran. They then burn the material on top of incense. He or she stays in the room where they walk around and spread the incense fumes. If the incense makes a low popping sound, it means that the person is truly affected by the evil eye.

Nevertheless, superstitions in Yemen are not just associated with bad luck.

Um Hani said that she can tell if someone is to visit her or not. Sometimes, a black flying insect called a ‘hanthor’ in Yemeni Arabic, comes from the window and flies inside the house telling her that someone will visit her. She said she feels happy if she sees the insect.

“If the house is untidy, I get up and clean it just in case somebody appears suddenly,” she explained. “The flying black insect is not the only one who makes me guess if someone is to visit me or not. Sometimes my left foot itches and that means that someone is to show up for sure.”

“Every time it appears, in minutes or no more than a few hours, somebody shows up,” explained Um Ali.

The position of shoes when people take them off says if someone will travel or not.

“If one shoe got above the other while taking them off, it means you will travel,” said Marwan Saleh.

In Yemen, not only can insects or the position of inanimate things predict the future, but people also believe in their bodily instincts too. They also believe that they can tell if things are happening behind their back.

It is common for example in Dhamar, in the north of Yemen, that if someone bites his tongue by accident, it means somebody is talking behind his back maliciously.

Hands can foresee the future too. But the two hands do not indicate the same thing. When the right hand itches, they expect to spend money. However, when the left hand itches they expect to receive money.

Eyes are predictive too. If the upper eyelid of a Yemeni person flickers, it says that he is to see somebody dear to his heart. However, flickering in the lower eyelid indicates that he will cry.

If an eyelash falls on someone’s cheek, they ask you to make a wish and ask you to guess where the eyelash is. If you can tell, your wish may come true.

For You

In order not to be accused of affecting someone with the evil eye, one should say Mashalla for something he or she likes. Mashalla means that whatever this person likes is what God wants

 

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Experts discuss improving education in Yemen

22 Jul
 
Malak ShaherPublished:22-07-2010

SANA’A, July 21 – Abdulraheem Abdullah, 44, believes that his daughter should not stay in school after she passes sixth grade because it is only necessary for her to read and write.

Anouf and Ahlam on their way back from school
Sayoun, Hadramout  – (Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam 

Like Abdullah, there are thousands of Yemenis who believe that their daughters do not need to continue their education. Thus, their daughters leave school by the time they reach the sixth or even the fifth grade, and this increases the school drop-out rate in Yemen.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, joining forces with the World Bank, held a workshop about the future of education in Yemen.

“There is a problem regarding education in Yemen. We should admit it in order to solve it,” said Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdulkareem Al-Arhabi, in the workshop.

The Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank, Liangin Wang, said that there must be a fresh policy in order to come up with a successful strategy.  

“The Ministries of Education, Civil Services, Finance and the governorates should work collectively to detect the flaws in the previous strategies that did not help Yemen improve its educational situation over the past 12 years,” she explained.

According to the Education Status Report published by the World Bank, the number of girls who drop out from schools exceeds the number of boys, and less girls actually enroll in schools in the first place.

“This can be explained in terms of the traditions that govern people’s lives. Most families, especially in the rural areas, prevent their daughters from studying when they get to the sixth grade,” said Hamoud Al-Sayani, the consultant to the Minister of Education.

Al-Sayani said that the number of female students and male students is nearly the same throughout primary schools before the sixth grade in Yemen, especially in the rural areas. However, many believe that sixth grade is the maximum level of education their daughters should achieve.

However, not only girls drop out of school: Boys also leave school due to financial difficulties. According to the report, since 2005, the number of boys who left school increased as their standard of living became worse.

“In the end, boys also drop out of school to work and help their families. The real problem regarding the educational situation in Yemen is the large number of students who drop out, not the number of students who enroll. As most of the people in the rural areas are poor, they are in need of financial help from the government,” he commented.

However, Lamya Al-Eryani, deputy minister of education for girls’ education, told the Yemen Times that helping poor people in rural areas by giving them food to make their daughters enroll in school does not necessarily encourage them to allow their daughters to continue studying.

“It is good to help people,” she said.  “However, this way does not work with some people. If they do not get the support each month, they come to the ministry and have a sit-in with their families demanding the support. Simply, these people need to believe that education is the way to get rid of poverty.”

The participants in the workshop also listed the most important difficulties facing education, the first of which is to improve the quality of education in Yemen.

One problem in the educational system, according to Tawfiq Al-Mekhlafi, lecturer at Sana’a University, is that primary school teachers are often less qualified than secondary school teachers. In Al-Mekhlafi’s view, the more qualified teachers should be in the primary schools.

According to a recent international assessment, the levels of achievement in school in Yemen are quite low. In fact, the percentage of students who can read well does not reach 90 percent until the seventh grade

Experts discuss improving education in Yemen

22 Jul
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times

Published:22-07-2010

SANA’A, July 21 – Abdulraheem Abdullah, 44, believes that his daughter should not stay in school after she passes sixth grade because it is only necessary for her to read and write.

Anouf and Ahlam on their way back from school
Sayoun, Hadramout  – (Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

Like Abdullah, there are thousands of Yemenis who believe that their daughters do not need to continue their education. Thus, their daughters leave school by the time they reach the sixth or even the fifth grade, and this increases the school drop-out rate in Yemen.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, joining forces with the World Bank, held a workshop about the future of education in Yemen.

“There is a problem regarding education in Yemen. We should admit it in order to solve it,” said Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdulkareem Al-Arhabi, in the workshop.

The Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank, Liangin Wang, said that there must be a fresh policy in order to come up with a successful strategy.

“The Ministries of Education, Civil Services, Finance and the governorates should work collectively to detect the flaws in the previous strategies that did not help Yemen improve its educational situation over the past 12 years,” she explained.

According to the Education Status Report published by the World Bank, the number of girls who drop out from schools exceeds the number of boys, and less girls actually enroll in schools in the first place.

“This can be explained in terms of the traditions that govern people’s lives. Most families, especially in the rural areas, prevent their daughters from studying when they get to the sixth grade,” said Hamoud Al-Sayani, the consultant to the Minister of Education.

Al-Sayani said that the number of female students and male students is nearly the same throughout primary schools before the sixth grade in Yemen, especially in the rural areas. However, many believe that sixth grade is the maximum level of education their daughters should achieve.

However, not only girls drop out of school: Boys also leave school due to financial difficulties. According to the report, since 2005, the number of boys who left school increased as their standard of living became worse.

“In the end, boys also drop out of school to work and help their families. The real problem regarding the educational situation in Yemen is the large number of students who drop out, not the number of students who enroll. As most of the people in the rural areas are poor, they are in need of financial help from the government,” he commented.

However, Lamya Al-Eryani, deputy minister of education for girls’ education, told the Yemen Times that helping poor people in rural areas by giving them food to make their daughters enroll in school does not necessarily encourage them to allow their daughters to continue studying.

“It is good to help people,” she said.  “However, this way does not work with some people. If they do not get the support each month, they come to the ministry and have a sit-in with their families demanding the support. Simply, these people need to believe that education is the way to get rid of poverty.”

The participants in the workshop also listed the most important difficulties facing education, the first of which is to improve the quality of education in Yemen.

One problem in the educational system, according to Tawfiq Al-Mekhlafi, lecturer at Sana’a University, is that primary school teachers are often less qualified than secondary school teachers. In Al-Mekhlafi’s view, the more qualified teachers should be in the primary schools.

According to a recent international assessment, the levels of achievement in school in Yemen are quite low. In fact, the percentage of students who can read well does not reach 90 percent until the seventh grade.

So you think you have seen Yemen?

12 Jul
Online photo album to counter stereotypes about Yemen abroad

Malak ShaherPublished:12-07-2010

 

“It’s about Yemen, the origin of civilizations…
Where beauty was born and grew up…
The country combined nice people and charming nature.
This group is open for everyone to upload their pictures and share them with others in this community.
Let’s discover the hidden beauty of home.” 

With these words, Fahd Aqlan, Yemeni engineer working in a multinational environment and living in Egypt welcomes every visitor to the group he created four months ago on the social networking website Facebook.

Aqlan left Yemen in 2007. He found that most people abroad believed that Yemen was “no more than savages living in a desert.”

He tried to change people’s idea about Yemen by talking to them, but he found that it was no help with people who already had preconceptions about Yemen from the media. He tried to think creatively.

He started to do what in business is called a SWOT analysis to evaluate the strong points he could focus on in promoting his country, Aqlan told the Yemen Times.

The 32-year-old Yemeni squeezed his mind and came up with an idea to defend his homeland’s image and change these negative preconceptions. He found that, above all, Yemen is famous for its “beautiful nature and civilization.”

 

The four-month-old group “So you think you have seen Yemen” on Facebook had a 1,000 photos by Monday afternoon. People who want to contribute send photos to Aqlan and he posts the best on the group’s page. 

The group was originally called “Yemen… the Story over the land,” but it did not attract people as expected. Aqlan changed the name to “So you think you have seen Yemen,” which he described as “more exciting” so that more people would respond. 

The photos show nature in Yemen in all its beauty and color: blue or golden seas, yellow and brown mountains, and green plains. The people of Yemen are also represented at weddings and in traditional dress. All manner of photographs from Yemen are present in the group.

 

But photos are not the only way to show the beauty of Yemen. In the group, there are videos too. They show the real magnificent nature of Yemen. 

The group is open for everybody to participate in and send photos of Yemen, but with certain conditions. The photos, for example, must tell a story or provoke admiration.

If you want see or participate in the group go to:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102503199787214

Mangroves, the voiceless guards protecting marine and human life need help

5 Jul

Malak ShaherPublished:05-07-2010

 

A vibrant mangrove from Kamaran Island untouched by human activities

TY phtot malak shaher

 

 

Mangrove trees, which in Arabic are known as qurm or Al-Shora, grow extensively in Yemen around the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.

These trees, which help to protect marine life and reduce global warming, are said to have decreased worldwide by 20% since 1980, according to mongabay.com an environmental science and conservation news sites.

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that grow in saline coastal habitats in the tropics and subtropics mainly between latitudes of 25° N and 25° S. The common mangrove grows to about 9m tall and bears short thick leathery leaves on short stems and has pale yellow flowers.

Critical situation of mangroves in Mocka
Mocka is one of the 29 mangrove localities along the Red Sea coast in Yemen, according PERSGA an intergovernmental organization for the conservation of coastal and marine environments in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In May 2009, a visit was conducted by Yemeni plant experts from the Ministry of Agriculture to mangroves in the north and south of Mocka, Taiz governorate.

The environmental situation in Mocka is now critical as the trees are being harvested on a destructively large scale. The locals assume that using wood from these trees facilitates their lives, but they have no idea of the long term problems that over harvesting is going to cause them. They use the wood in constructing buildings, making coal and building boats.

Wadi Al-Mulk’s mangroves in particular have been dying at a disturbing rate. A plan to investigate the causes of this die back is critically needed, according to Abdulwali Al-Khulaidi, one of the experts at the ministry.

The making of salt in these areas accelerates the destruction of the mangroves. The locals dig holes and fill them with saline water, waiting for the sun to dry off the water so they can collect the salt. When the holes are near the mangroves trees, it deprives the trees of the water they need to survive. Over time, the sea line has receded up to one kilometer from the trees creating localized drought conditions, according to the experts’ findings.

Mangrove’s tangled roots

 

Water receding has left the mangrove roots dry creating a localized drought in Mocka area.

Photo by Abdulwali Al-Khulaidi

 

 

Mangroves grow in dense thickets or forests along tidal estuaries, in salt marshes, and on muddy coasts. The mangrove fruit is a conical reddish brown berry. Its single seed germinates inside the fruit while it is still on the tree, forming a large, pointed primary root that quickly anchors the seedling in the mud when the fruit drops.

Mangroves produce aerial roots from their trunks and branches that become embedded in the mud and form a tangled network. Once they are secure in the mud, they send up new shoots. These serve both as a prop for the tree and as a means of aerating the root system. Such roots also form a base for the deposit of silt and other material carried by the tides, and thus land is built up which is gradually invaded by other vegetation.

Once established, mangrove roots provide an oyster habitat and slow water flow, thereby enhancing soil deposition in areas where it is already occurring. Mangrove removal disturbs these underlying sediments, often creating problems of trace metal contamination of seawater.

Guardians of marine and human life 
It has been cited that mangroves can help buffer against the effects of tsunamis, cyclones, and other storms. An Indian village in Tamil Nadu was protected from tsunami destruction by a kilometer wide belt of trees. When the tsunami struck, much of the land around the village was flooded, but the village itself suffered minimal damage.

Mangrove forests are among the most biologically productive marine ecosystems. These forests are an essential habitat for many species. They maintain water quality and function as the kidneys for estuarine environments by purifying water and ensuring sufficient oxygen for marine species.

The complex vegetative system around mangrove roots provides protection for shrimp that remain in the estuaries for between three and five months before returning to the ocean. The mangrove roots provide a nutrient-rich food source for the shrimp.

Shrimp and mud lobsters use the muddy bottom as their home. Mangrove crabs mulch the mangrove leaves, creating food for other bottom feeders.

The mangrove forests can protect inland coastal areas by absorbing the effects of storms and some tsunami waves, their massive root systems being efficient at dissipating wave energy. Mangroves also protect coastal areas from erosion. Likewise, they slow down tidal water enough that  sediment is deposited as the tide comes in, leaving only fine particles in the water when the tide ebbs.

The mangroves also provide a valuable bird habitat and a renewable supply of forest products such as edible fruits and wood for construction.