28 October, 2006

Yemen As Viewed By Others

Late last year, I did a blog search for blogs on Yemen and Hadhramout in particular. I was more interested on those written in English. I found very few and was surprised that all the prominent ones I did find, were written by non Yemenis; most of whom were living out of Yemen. Most had never even visited Yemen at all. And yet the sites were considered as reliable sources on information on Yemen.

What disturbed me about these sites, was that - they had very little good or positive things to say about my country. Most simply focused on the bad and negative aspects. It was/is as if, nothing good or encouraging happens in Yemen. The most prominent of these blogs was/is mainly political, and was/is used, mainly, as a forum for dissent and almost every thing it writes on Yemen's politics - is negative. One blog, went as far as saying that there were no beautiful beaches in Yemen; to the contrary - some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, are here; and I have been to some world renowned ones in East Africa. In fact, I have never seen beaches as beautiful and pristine as some that I have seen in Hadhramout and Mahra (the Eastern side of Yemen); they only lack coconut trees and need to be developed. Another blog went on to have all these ugly pictures of public toilets around Sana'a and Aden with very negative comments; and yet another repeatedly shows the ugliest photos of parts of Yemen: dirty streets, garbage and litter, poor and ugly neighborhoods, beggars in the streets and so on.

Of all the sites I found, then, one (American) which was prominent and was well read with many comments - had very ugly things to say about Yemen. It went on to say that, most Yemenis possess guns (which is a fact), that most of us, men, are terrorists and are violent (which is totally wrong!) and that average life expectancy here is only 42 years (again,very wrong!). It went further on, to say - that my country is very violent and extremely dangerous to visit; while, honestly, Yemen is one of the safest places on Earth one can visit.

I wondered at how people can believe and rely on these sites written by people who have never ever been to my country! And whose only interests, is to spread lies and a wrong impression of Yemen (so it seems to me). Some of these sites are intentionally written to make Yemen appear ugly and unattractive; while some, are simply so - due to the authors' ignorance of my country.

It's not that it's wrong to write negatively on any subject or issue; in fact, that can be helpful and constructive. But, I find it totally wrong and unacceptable for any one to write repeatedly and continuously - only negative and bad things about my country. More so, from sources living out of here, who have never been here and who - apparently - have very little interest in us and our country, here.

It's us Yemenis ourselves, to blame for this; we should be more active in presenting, portraying and giving our views on our country; bad or good, negative or positive - but, our own views. Especially through the web. We are not doing much of that now.

Sources On Yemen: Arab.net,Yemen Times, Al-bab, YouTube