Saturday, 29 December 2007

New York Times: Yemen

Image © Evelyn Hockstein/New York Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a slideshow about Yemen with Evelyn Hockstein's photographs of this stunningly exotic country.

The accompanying article is by writer Tom Downey, and he writes this: " On the main street of Sana’s souk, black-clad shadows — local women — duck into fabric stores to buy colorful garments I’ll never see them wear. Working teenagers huddle next to food vendors, eating boiled potatoes and eggs dipped in coarse salt and bright red pepper. A fruit vendor wearing one thick rubber glove carefully selects a prickly pear from a wheelbarrow and strips off the spiky outer skin. Men and boys wear the curious costume of northern Yemen — a Western suit jacket over a one-piece jalabiya. The crowning accessory is a curved dagger called the jambiya that’s sheathed in a fanciful scabbard belted across the belly."

These daggers are must-wear for most Yemeni men, as well as for their Omani neighbors. It's an accessory that men will not be seen without...perhaps akin to businessmen wearing ties in the West.

Yemen is indeed exotic and its architecture is certainly atypical, and I would love to travel to and in Yemen to photograph. However, and shrugging off the standard alarmist warnings issued by the State Department, street photography is reportedly difficult as -common with the attitude prevalent in some Islamic countries- Yemenis do not wish their wives, sisters and daughters to be photographed. I had a difficult time photographing in the streets of Moroccan cities because of this attitude.

The New York Times' slideshow: Yemen

The New York Times' article:Yemen's Exotic Secrets