While Trump escalates long-standing US complicity in the catastrophic war on Yemen through its arming of Saudi Arabia and more, we are deeply inspired by the launch of مجلة صنعاء "Sanaa Review": an e-zine by Yemenis that cuts through silence and distortion, bringing us the brilliance of independent Yemeni journalism, art and thought now. This media work is all the more timely since according to Reporters Without Borders, Yemen has become the second most dangerous place for journalists on earth, due mostly to repression by "rebels" . Below Sanaa Review's editor-in-chief Afrah Nasser describes why this independent project is so needed, and gives us a glimpse of the content they put out in the Fall of 2017. (Translation from the Arabic by Ali Issa.)
September 22nd, 2017
Sanaa Review's founding comes at an exceptional moment in the modern history of Yemen. At a time when Yemen is experiencing a brutal war and a glaring lack in coverage of political and cultural events, we decided to launch this platform with a group of independent Yemeni writers contributing on a volunteer basis. This effort was born of our frustration at the obstacles we repeatedly face in reporting on Yemeni issues today.
We hope that Sanaa Review will overcome these obstacles and build towards overcoming them for good. Knowing that the stories of Yemenis are mainly scattered in an obscure article here, a facebook post there, and not seen by editors as "significant", we offer Sanaa Review as a legitimate space that recognizes the stories of Yemenis, works with Yemenis and publishes our work, locally, regionally and globally.
Due to the fact that Yemeni media in its present form reflects only the deep polarization in the country, and the power of money to generate propaganda from each camp, you often find Yemenis on either side unable to rely on any website as a real source for news and information. They feel strongly that no media speaks for them.
We may not have the solutions to the root causes of the problems we describe here, but we do strive to offer beginnings. In that light, we work towards forming a platform dedicated to Yemen, beyond political and social divides. That is why we will publish work which plumbs the depths of art, culture, politics and the daily life of Yemenis in Yemen and the diaspora.
We are an e-zine published in Arabic (hoping for an English edition soon) on an irregular basis for now, by Yemenis and friends who care deeply about Yemeni issues. With this first appearance, we want to make clear that the name of our e-zine should not indicate a focus only on Yemen's capital Sanaa. On the contrary, our goal is to provide material from and on all parts of Yemen. We also aspire to include a section on international issues. That's why our first issue focuses on a variety of themes. For example: for a glance at the archive of Yemeni writer and poet Abd al-Wahab Nu'man (1917 - 1982) we look back to a piece he put out in "al-Fudhool", a paper he founded in Aden in the 1950s. In light of the current war, the Yemeni visual artist Adnan Jaman, tell us in an exclusive interview what led him to step away from painting and turn to cooking. In a long form piece, I discuss the relationship between Yemen, documentaries and dramatic features produced up until 2014. In a special report by cultural blogger Amro al-Amiri, you'll find the backstory on the rising piracy of Yemeni songs over the past few years. In a selection by the Yemeni novelist and poet Abdullah Abeed, we publish the poem "The Crow" that outlines some of the bloody scenes playing out in Yemen now. Finally, we can't forget to thank the Yemeni translator and critic Mohammed al-Daba' for allowing us to publish an excerpt of his upcoming book "Journeys to Beautiful Places", appearing for the first time on our site.
We plan to cover other topics we hope will capture your interest. While Sanaa Review is an independent publication, and relies on the efforts of volunteer editors and writers around the world, we are happy to receive submissions at info [at] sanaareview.com prioritizing in particular younger writers.
And thank you to designer Asaad Mulhi for making our banner.
Afrah Nasser - Chief Editor