Friday, January 08, 2010

'Faces' from the Yemen No. 5

Woman in traditional dress, Thulla

When I was in Yemen, three years ago, I commented on the colourful traditional dress that many Yemeni women wear, and got an interesting reaction. Traditional dress was dying out, a Yemeni man told me. Instead, he said, more and more women were wearing black abayas - influenced by Saudi habits to the north.

Woman in Saudi-influenced dress, Shibam

It struck me then, and much more now, that there is an important metaphor here. As local and international politicians seek to blame Yemen for the problems that are festering there, it would be useful to ask the question of where the influence that drives them comes from. The answer, as with fashion, is, from the fundamentalist state that lies directly north.

No comments: