When we think of Yemen how many of us actually have a clear picture of what it looks like? It’s hard for us to imagine Yemen as anything but what we see in the recent news and the humanitarian crises currently taking place there.
In fact, it’s easy to forget that Yemen is a country full of wonder. Yemen isn’t only the second-largest Arab sovereign state in the peninsula but Sanaá is the largest city in Yemen and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
‘I never missed Yemen so much because I knew I’ll eventually visit again in the summertime,’ Yemeni Instagram photographer Bashayer Ali told The Arab Edition, ‘when I was eighteen it was time to attend university and there was no other choice but Yemen since my older brothers already studied there. And living in Yemen, not just visiting made me realize how so much I -as a female- miss out on in Saudi.’
Bashayer Ali was born and raised in Saudi Arabia but her family are originally from Yemen and her trips back home were often reserved for summer vacations.
‘Reaching Yemen’s borders always gives me a sense of relief, a sense of “we’re finally getting there” but not the (recent) uncountable Houthi checkpoints that you approach every 10-15 minutes of your trip. They always tend to ask you four main questions “Your Passport? Where did you come from? Which tribe do you belong to? and Where is your destination?”. So I’ve heard, they do that to cross you out of their wanted list.’
Since the growing conflict in Yemen, Bashayer’s opportunities to go back to her home country decreased exponentially. But then an opportunity presented itself when her older brother was planning to drive out from the district of Ibb to Sanaa to retrieve their younger sister who also studies there.
‘The original plan was for him to go alone,’ Bashayer said, ‘but rumours had it that Houthi rebels hijack vehicles but not the ones with family or females in it. So there it was, an opportunity I had to take. I suggested the idea of going with him to be on the safe side, with my parents hesitating and questioning my decision… I had already packed my bags and off we went.
Bashayer documented her road trip to Yemen and all the things she loves about her homeland on her Instagram account. Her images astounded us. Modest but ancient and grand this is the Yemen we hardly ever get to see. Check them out and let us know what you think.