Tina Zorman and Eternal Yemen in Slovene media

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yemen; Fauna On The Brink Of Extinction (by Tarim C. Kennedy)


I'm republishing this wonderful article of a wonderful author, Tarim C. Kennedy.

Mikael Strandberg, a traveler, film maker, lecturer and life explorer, that lives his life to the fullest, and had first published this article on his blog (http://www.mikaelstrandberg.com), has described Tarim as an original human being, who fits in everywhere and with great positiveness heads out into the world.

After knowing Tarim, I totally agree with this. Tarim is kind, open minded teenager, passionate in his love of the nature. I’ve met him on one Friday afternoon at climbing in Sa’na village on the outskirts of Sana’a. He is the “guilty one” for my teaching for a short period in Sana’a International School, the kid’s friendliest school ever. I could see Tarim spreading good vibrations wherever he appeared; he is simply admired by everybody, from small preschool kids, teachers and the teenager girls from my class.

I strongly hope that we will be able to congratulate Tarim for being accepted to Berkeley for the next school year. I wish him a great future and that he will continue sharing his thoughts on ecological matters, like in his great article below.

Yemen; Fauna On The Brink Of Extinction


Tarim C. Kennedy

The word “Yemen” evokes a vast array of mental images in the minds of those who hear it. There’s the odd anthropologist, who upon hearing its name floats off into fantasies of Yemen’s diverse ethnic make up or the average Yemeni’s unequivocal sense of hospitality. There’s the photographer, who automatically pictures the breathtaking scenery from the mountainous landscape, or the artist who visualizes the near-mystical alleyways of the old city of Sana’a. There’s the avid naturalist who, like myself, instantly falls into reveries of the vibrant blue Agamas perched on the walls of houses, the almost psychedelic looking Veiled Chameleon as it stealthily glides from branch to branch or the jaw dropping majesty of the Griffon Vulture as it soars merely meters from your face on the cliffs of Mahweet. Lastly, and also most unfortunately, there’s the average person, who, upon hearing that peculiar country’s name sneers at the thought of a hostile terrorist haven, void of all moral values. Sadly the latter has become the most prevalent, and as a result, much like the trajectories of its many magnificent animal species, the more optimistic perspectives of Yemen in the eyes of the world have slowly begun to fade away.

Home to Socotra or “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean”, Yemen plays an important role in the region’s biodiversity. Home to 51 endemic and 22 endangered animal species, steps must be taken rather quickly to ensure that their presence in Yemen doesn’t become history. Although Yemen is unique in so many ways, the outer forces that are plaguing its animal species are similar to those affecting the fauna of any other country. The chief menace to Yemen’s pristine natural habitat lies in the social spectrum. The mixture of poverty, lack of education, lack of law enforcement and a rapidly growing population, large amounts of once untouched land are being developed and wild, and often-endangered, wildlife is being unscrupulously traded both domestically and internationally. With this encroachment into animal habitat, encounters between humans and animals become increasingly common, usually ending in a similar fashion: the animal losing its life. A few years ago I witnessed this very act in its crudest form. While searching for Yemeni Veiled Chameleons, a regional endemic and a popular item on the international pet trade, I was invited by the sheikh of a village to search his Qat fields for chameleons, his reason being “these chameleons break all my Qat, they can change colors you know? They are evil spirits!” Upon my trying to explain that the chameleons did not break his Qat but rather benefitted it by eating the insects that did break it, the sheikh readily accepted my opinion and told all the children of the village to stop killing chameleons. After witnessing how quickly and compliantly the sheikh changed his mind from evil spirits to welcomed, all natural pesticides, I was struck with idea of why these horrible practices are still taking place if it so easy to combat them?

Yet like most everything else in the field of science its simply more complicated than that. Firstly, and mainly for political reasons, Yemen is not the prime destination for animal rights activists. Secondly, it’s not always the case that animal and human interactions are symbiotic like that of the chameleon and the Qat farmer. An example would lie in the Arabian Leopard. Only recently, hard working individuals on behalf of the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen established and documented live Arabian Leopards on Yemeni territory. Being more susceptible to extinction in the wild than the Bengal Tiger, this was a big step. Arabian Leopards are an example of species that do not cooperate too well with farmers and angry villagers. As infrastructural development reduces the number of the leopard’s natural prey, such as ibex and rock hyrax, the leopard looks to the easier and more readily available alternative; domestic livestock. In response, when the chance arises leopards are killed without qualms.

As anyone who has been to Suq Nuqom in Sana’a knows, Yemen’s exotic animal trade flourishes with the lack of law enforcement. An average trip to Suq Nuqom, or one of the many exotic animal suqs around Yemen, can reveal such animal species as baby striped hyenas kept in cardboard boxes, Barbary Falcons with feet eaten away by cellular necrosis due to tight leg braces, new born Hamadryas Baboons chained around the neck being sold for roughly $30 and on rare occasions foreign species such as cheetahs or lions brought over the Red Sea for sale to the many wealthy “animal lovers” in Yemen and the rest of the Arabian Peninsula. In 1997 Yemen became part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Yemen has a government funded Environmental Protection Authority and yet nothing is done to halt the unethical imprisonment of endemic and potentially endangered animal species. In fact, the government run national zoo is just as bad. Emaciated lions greet you upon entry, followed by hyenas kept in cages barely large enough to walk in, native snakes dying of cold because of the lack of electricity to artificially heat their enclosures and a large and well built aviary dedicated solely to pigeons simply because the resident veterinarian has a personal love for pigeons while the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture is kept in an enclosure long three times its wing span. After my three years of volunteer work at the Sana’a Zoo I gathered some interesting observation on how such institutions work in Yemen. One of these observations presented me with a great irony; overall, Yemenis love the zoo! On an average month in 2009, the zoo would make around two million Yemeni Riyals (approximately $4690) in ticket sales, each ticket being only fifty Riyals. Approximately 20,000 visitors flood the relatively small zoo every month, which got me to thinking once again, how is it that none of them are doing anything about the animals? This, in turn, led me to my next observation: most of the zoo’s visitors love the zoo in the wrong way. They love the fact that for about $1 a “keeper” will go into the lion cage and beat the lions with a stick just so they move, they love that they can give balls, popcorn, or most anything else to the baboons and see what they will do with it, they don’t love the zoo for the beauty of its animals.

I went back home that day, sat down and thought to myself: what can I do to help the animals of this country? Eventually, the thinking led me to a number of different ideas. I could try and get some funding from NGOs, embassies and corporations to improve the general standards of the zoo, I could inform international organizations focused on animal rights about the immoral conditions of animal trade in Yemen or I could dedicate time and resources to one of the few organizations that already do focus on the issue. The list within my head went on. And that’s the beauty of it; it is really easier than one thinks to help such a cause. Behind the political turmoil, poverty and the futile government bureaucracy lies a population of people that when guided properly could accomplish the incredible. Like the humble sheikh that quickly changed his mind about the chameleon imposters, so can the general population of Yemen towards the animals it encounters and the general population of the world towards the country of Yemen. Like the spotty coat of the regal Arabian Leopard, the future of Yemen’s fauna will pass through periods of both dark and light. Yet measures can be and must be taken to ensure that the ancestors of the neonate Caracal kept in a birdcage in Suq Nuqom, will continue to enjoy their innate freedom.

Tarim C. Kennedy is an American-Italian that has grown up in Yemen. Living in such a diverse country, at a young age he developed a passion for the vast array of animals found in it. His email is tarimck@hotmail.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yemeni tourism in the time of crisis

Thoughts of some tourism workers (Yasmin Al Hamdani - Yemen Tourism Promotion Board, Tina Zorman - Eternal Yemen (http://www.eternal-yemen.com), Mahmud Al Shaibani - UTC, Fouad Hameed Saleh - Moevenpick Sana'a and Muneer Jahwash - Yemenia) about the situation of tourism in Yemen in the times of a crisis.

Travel trade monthly, December 2011, Issue 26. Pages 8-9.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Hey there,

it has been almost half a year since the Ministry of Interior in Sana'a has stoped issuing tourist visas due to the unrest in the country. This has affected many Yemeni people and especially inhabitants of magical Soqotra Island for whom tourism is an important source of income.

As Soqotra Island has always been peaceful and has not been affected by the Yemeni unrest, the authorities have decided to start issuing TOURIST VISAS for the visitors that will spend their time in Yemen in Soqotra Island and possibly 1-2 days in Sana'a.

If you wish to visit this extraiordinary Island, you are welcome to visit our website
http://www.eternal-yemen.com or contact us to info@eternal-yemen.com. For preparation of VISA, we will need a colorful scan of your passport main pages.

 - We know  the Island well and we know the traveller's expectations
 - For all of our clients we prepare well considered, tailor made itineraries, according to the clients wishes, time and fitness that will allow you to see the optimum in your time
- We support Soqotrian communities and work exclusivelly with Soqotrian people
- Our drivers, guides and other colleagues are responsible, experienced and trustful persons
- High satisfaction of our past clients

Create with us your Eternal travel tale !

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Grab your pen, make a story for Mynatour competition and win a free tour round Yemen: Sana'a, mountains and magical Soqotra Island !

Be enchanted by the mysteries around the last paradise beach in Soqotra, Yemen ! Travel like a local with Eternal Yemen, tour operator (http://www.eternal-yemen.comand experience the soul of Yemen ! Enjoy what is both a cultural and activities based holiday which includes hiking, walking and snorkelling !



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tina Zorman, Pismo iz Jemna 3: kdo se poteguje za oblast?

Clanek Tine Zorman, Slovenke, ki zivi v Jemnu, objavljen v spletni izdaji Dela.

Več kot polovica Jemencev je mladih in to je izjemen potencial, če bi le država imela primerno vodstvo.

Glavni igralci, ki se v Jemnu potegujejo za predsedniški položaj so, poleg predsednika Alija Abdullaha Saleha, ki vlada že 33. leto in po svoji volji niti slučajno ne misli odstopiti (razen če bil težko bolan), njegov sin Ahmed Ali, general Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar in pa družina Al Ahmar.

Predsednik Ali Abdullah Saleh pred poskusom atentata (levo), ki se je zgodil 3. maja 2011 in kasneje, ko so ga zaradi obseznih opeklin in drugih poskodb odpeljali na zdravljenje v sosednjo Savdsko Arabijo (desno)

Predsednik Ali Abdullah Saleh prihaja iz plemena Sanhan iz tako imenovane hiše Al Ahmar (spodaj so opisani tudi drugi igralci in videli boste, da se vsi pišejo Al Ahmar, kar otežuje razumevanje dogodkov, v primeru da samo občasno kaj prebereš v medijih).
Na oblast je Saleh prišel po kratkotrajnem vladanju predsednikov Hamdija in Gashmija. Takrat mu niso pripisali prav dolgega vladanja - ne daljšega od 6 mesecev. Kljub temu se je z zvitostjo, diplomacijo, razumevanjem narave Jemencev in spletkarjenjem uspel obdržati na prestolu več kot 32 let. Okoli sebe je zgradil režim, katerega center je on sam, obkroža ga krog sorodnikov na najvišjih državnih in vojaških pozicijah, potem pa še krog elite iz njegovega plemena Sanhan. 
V zadnjem desetletju je za prevzem oblasti pripravljal svojega sina Ahmed Alija, ki je tudi vodja specialnih enot jemenske vojske, sicer pa se o njem, kot tudi o drugih članih predsednikove družine ne ve prav veliko. V Sani je mogoče izvedeti, da je med Ahmed Alijem in brati Al Ahmar neka osebna zamera, menda povezana z eno izmed sester iz družine Al Ahmar.

Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar je bil general S in SZ območja Jemna. Kot predsednik tudi Ali Mohsen prihaja iz plemena Sanhan v bližini Sane, večkrat je slišati, da je predsednikov polbrat (po mami). V resnici se je predsednikova mati poročila s stricem Ali Mohsena. Bil je pomemben pri vzponu Ali Abdullah Saleha do oblasti, do desetletja nazaj je bil predsednikov zaveznik in bil ena ključnih osebnosti pri reševanju raznih kriznih situacij.
Med šejki Sanhana je bil menda dogovor, da podprejo Alija Abdullaha Saleha za predsednika, medtem ko naj bi ga nasledil Ali Mohsen. Tudi zato je Ali Mohsen veljal za drugega moža v državi, in ne samo zaradi visokega vojaškega položaja.
Odkar je predsednik favoriziral svojega sina in ga nekako pripravljal na prevzem oblasti, to seveda ni ustrezalo generalu Ali Mohsenu. Tri dni po pokolu 18. marca, je Ali Mohsen stopil na stran protestnikov in njegova vojska je postala zaščitnica protestnikov. To so mu zamerile velike množice in v plemenu je dogovor, da ga lahko kdorkoli ubije, če ga vidi. Od tega odstopa se je razkrilo veliko negativnih stvari, povezanih z omenjenim generalom in vsekakor njegov prevzem za državo ne bi bil pozitiven.
Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, general, ki je odstopil od predsednika po velikem pokolu demonstrantov

Hameed Al Ahmar, eden izmed 10 sinov slavnega umrlega sheikha Abdullah Al Ahmar, vodja plemenske konfederacije Hashed 

Najverjetnejši kandidat je Hameed al Ahmar iz družine Al Ahmar. Nekdanji vodja plemenske konfederacije Hashed je bil Sheikh Abdullah Al Ahmar. Predsednik Saleh je bil vedno diplomatski v odnosih do šejka, kajti stabilni odnosi med obema so bili podlaga za ohranjanje miru v regiji severno od Sane.
S pomočjo predsednikovega »blagoslova« je družina Al Ahmar postala ena najvplivnejših jemenskih družin; bili so vodje plemenske konfederacije, vodje glavne opozicijske stranke Islah, veleposestniki in veliki poslovneži.
Po smrti očeta je stvari v roke prevzelo deset njegovih sinov, ki pa jim manjkata očetova taktičnost in diplomacija. Menda naj bi se pred dvema letoma Hameed al Ahmar sestal z ameriškim veleposlanikom v Jemnu in predstavil načrt, kako spraviti predsednika Saleha s prestola. Organizirali naj bi mnozične proteste po celi državi in na svojo stran pridobili generala Ali Mohsena - scenarij, ki se praktično dogaja.
Družina, in predvsem Hameed al Ahmar, v Jemnu ne uživa prevelikega ugleda, saj je znana po svojih nečistih poslih in mnogi ljudje pravijo, da je bolje, da v deželi ni nobenega napredka, kot pa da bi jim vladal Al Ahmar.

Iz vsega tega je mogoče videti, da gre v Jemnu za boj za oblast med »velikimi«, tremi družinami (ter še nekaj individualnimi igralci, kot je na primer Zindani), ki so podkrepljene z zunanjim denarjem, za doseganje ciljev pa so s podkupovanjem mobilizirale velike množice ljudi. Žalostno je, da je pri tem umrlo in še vedno umira veliko ljudi, ki od vsega tega nimajo nič. Predsednik je še vedno na zdravljenju v Savdski Arabiji, kamor je šel dva dni po atentatu in o njegovem zdravstvenem stanju se bolj ali manj ugiba, prav gotovo pa ni najboljše, saj v nasprotnem primeru ne bi odsel, ali pa bi se že vrnil.

Možno je, da je šlo za poskus državnega udara, saj je menda prišlo do velikega tekmovanja med predsednikovimi sorodniki na položajih, torej prvega kroga režima (poskusi njegovega uboja s strani sorodnikov so bili že v preteklosti). Mnogi ljudje so takrat že praznovali, kajti menili so, da se predsednik ne bo več vrnil. Kljub temu mislim, da so praznovanja še preoranjena, kajti zagotovo predsednik Saleh še ni rekel zadnje besede. Morda ima v rokavu še kakšnega aduta, če ne osebno, pa prek svojega sina in nečakov na glavnih vojaških pozicijah. Ti so namreč še vedno v Jemnu.

Sin Ahmed se je kar preselil v predsedniško palačo, kamor bi sicer moral namestnik predsednika v njegovi odsotnosti, Abdurabu Al Hadi. Le-ta se se ni čisto izjasnil, kako in kaj (tako mu je najbrž ukazano).
Nevarno je predvsem zato, ker so igralci zdajšnje igre prepotentni in neučakani sinovi sicer bolj diplomatskih in preudarnih očetov in mnogi se bojijo, da bi lahko prišlo do vsesplošnega boja med posameznimi enotami vojske, ki jih vodijo igralci te umazane igre. Trenutno stanje je nekakšno »čakanje«, da se bo stvar kam premaknila.

Medtem vplivni ljudje, ki so ze prej odstopili od vlade, skupaj s predstavniki razlicnih opozicijskih skupin, pripravljajo plan za prehodno vlado in med kandidati za predsednika te vlade je tudi dekle, Karman Tawakkul. Dobra novice je, da so se organizirali tudi mladi protestniki in pred dnevi ustanovili Nacionalno demokratsko zvezo, ki bo predstavljala njihove zahteve, program in ne bo pod vplivom politicnih strank.

Najboljše za Jemen bi bilo, da se očisti vseh zgoraj opisanih igralcev v tej umazani igri, ki so si državo in njen aparat dobesedno prilastninili, sedaj pa ljudi potiskajo v medsebojne spopade. Ne bi bilo prav, da bi kritizirali samo kakšega izmed igralcev, kajti vsi imajo polno masla na glavi. Samo brez njih bi država lahko zadihala in se začela razvijati. Dokler so v igri in so vse stvari omejene na tak ali drugačen način, mladi nimajo nobene perspektive in s tem tudi izgubljajo svojo voljo in motivacijo. 

Več kot polovica Jemencev je mladih in to je izjemen potencial, če bi le država imela primerno vodstvo in bi znala to energijo usmeriti v pravo smer. Poleg tega ima dežela ogromno mineralnih bogastev, strateško lego, obdarjena je z monsunskim dežjem dvakrat letno, kar ji omogoča kmetijstvo. Imajo veliko sonca in vetra za proizvodnjo obnovljivih virov energije. S svojimi lepotami, avtentičnostjo in izjemnimi ljudmi očara tuje obiskovalce in le nestabilnost Jemna blokira prihod večjega števila obiskovalcev.

Med slovenskimi popotniki je Jemen že nekaj časa precej poznan in velika večina je nad deželo navdušena. Poleg naravnih lepot jih očarajo prijaznost ljudi, njihova odprtost in neposrednost, poleg tega mnogi menijo, da so se na redkokaterem potovanju počutili tako varno, kot se prav na potovanju po Jemnu.

Tina Zorman, doktorica biotehnologije iz Kranja, živi v Jemnu že slabih sedem let. Poročena je z Jemencem Waleedom Mugallijem, s katerim imata dva otroka. Z možem vodita turistično agencijo Eternal Yemen ter organizirata potovanja po celinskem Jemnu in otoku Sokotra.

Tina Zorman, Pismo iz Jemna 2: kako se je zacelo

Clanek Tine Zorman, Slovenke, ki zivi v Jemnu, objavljen v spletni izdaji Dela:

Mediji so razmere prikazovali mnogo bolj pompozno, kot so v resnici bile; velikokrat tudi napačno.

Jemen je dežela, kjer se vedno kaj dogaja in je vedno nekako stabilno nestabilen. Že od nekdaj so občasni boji med posameznimi plemeni; od združitve obeh Jemnov je na jugu aktivno gibanje za odcepitev južnega dela države, na severu pa je med leti 2004 in 2010 divjala vojna, med državno vojsko in tako imenovanimi hutijevci, ki nasprotujejo skorumpirani in zahodnjaško usmerjeni državi.

Poleg tega so v Jemnu tudi pripadniki AQAP, vendar jih je mnogo manj, kot se piše v medijih. Vsi ti dogodki, z izjemo plemenskih bojev, so krepko podžgani s strani raznih svetovnih velesil, ki jih Jemen s svojim strateškim položajem in mineralnimi zalogami še kako zanima. Glede na svoje interese stabilizirajo ali destabilizirajo določene regije (primer je vojna na severu Jemna).

Tu pa bi se omejila na letošnje leto, na dogodke, ki so zajeli mnoge države arabskega sveta. Po začetku revolucije v Tuniziji in Egiptu, so se ljudje na ulice podali tudi v Jemnu.
Kljub vsemu, jemenske revolucije ne moremo primerjati z revolucijami v ostalih državah, kajti vsaka od njih ima svoje ozadje, Jemen pa nosi s seboj zelo kompleksno zgodbo. Od poznavanja razmer v Jemnu in »občudovanja predsednika«, prisotnega pri večini ljudi, je že od vsega začetka delovalo, da je zelo malo protestnikov na ulicah iz lastnih vzgibov. Zagotovo so bili izobraženci, ki pa jih je v državi, ki šteje 25 milijonov prebivalcev, z več kot 50% nepismenostjo, na žalost zelo malo. Njim so se pridružile številne skupine, s skupnim imenovalcem, da so pozvale k odstopu predsednika, medtem ko so bile v svojih željah za naprej zelo neenotne.

Kasnejši dogodki so vedno bolj potrjevali, da je bila jemenska revolucija »pripravljena« in da je bila večina ljudi »kupljena«, da so šli na ceste; bili so le orodje velikih, tistih, ki se borijo za predsedniško pozicijo. O tem so veliko govorili tudi sami protestniki in mnogi so menili, da je bila to revolucija mladih in da je vmešavanje »velikih s svojimi interesi«, uničilo njihovo revolucijo. Prav zaradi tega je mnogo mladih proteste tudi zapustilo.

Z nekaj besedami, gre za boj za oblast treh jemenskih družin (ki so povrh še iz iste plemenske konfederacije in deloma v sorodu), kateremu je pridano se nešteto medsebojnih povezav med njimi (poroke) in povezav s plemeni, s Savdsko Arabijo, z ZDA, z nečistimi posli, z AQAP, z gibanjem proti državi na severu, z gibanjem za neodvisnost juga. Tako dobimo ogromen preplet številnih zgodb, kjer je rezultate vedno zelo težko napovedati.

Jemen je dežela tisoč in ene noči in v sedmih letih življenja tam vidim, da je nekoliko karikirano rečeno celotna scena v Jemnu res ena sama tisoč in ena noč, polna nenavadnih preobratov, nenavadnih ozadij, porok iz koristi, intrig in zarot. Samo primer, določeni člani družine Al Ahmar so poročeni s člani iz družine Saud, kraljevske družine Savdske Arabije. Znano je, da družina Al Ahmar prejme mesečno 7 milijonov USD od Savdske Arabije, da potem »plesejo, kot oni pojejo«. Predsednikova družina si krepko opomore z ameriškim denarjem za boj proti terorizmu, pri čemer je vedno več dokazov, da so predsednikov brat, njegov sin in Ali Mohsen povezani s treniranjem teh istih teroristov. General Ali Mohsen in predsednik Saleh nista v krvnem, sta pa v priženjenem sorodstvu (Salehova mati se je drugič poročila s stricem Ali Mohsena). General Ali Mohsen, ki je odstopil zaradi pokola demonstrantov, je v resnici odstopil zaradi drugih razlogov in ne ker bi se mu paralo srce. Krepko je povezan s pokoli na severu Jemna, z džihadisti, z AQAP in tudi z ugranbitvijo evropskih turistov v preteklosti. Njegova druga žena je sestra Tariq al Fadlija, ki je sin bivšega sultana, poleg tega pa se je v Afganistanu boril ob Osami bin Ladnu. Njihov sultanat se je raztezal od Abiyana do Adena in po odhodu Angležev se je zemlja nacionalizirala. Svoje ozemlje želijo nazaj in sprožijo razne akcije, ki so kdaj označene kot AQAP, drugič pa kot gibanje na jugu za odcepitev.

Karman Tawakul                                                         Glavno mesto Sana'a, staro mestno jedro

Prve študente in študentke, ki so zahtevali odstop predsednika Saleha in njegovih sorodnikov z vodilnih položajev, je na cesto popeljala Karman Tawakul (na sliki), novinarka, borka za človekove pravice (aktivna pa je tudi pri opozicijski stranki Islah).

Tako imenovana »revolucija mladih« je postala mnozičnejsa v februarju, vendar je bila še vedno popolnoma mirna. Protesti so se odvijali na ulici ob državni univerzi in najbolj neprijetno je bilo za prebivalce tamkajšnjega območja, medtem ko je v ostalih predelih Sane življenje potekalo normalno in če ne bi prebirali medijev, ne bi vedeli, da se sploh kaj dogaja. 

Vzporedno s tem so se dogajali se več desetkrat večji shodi v podporo predsedniku, saj je le-ta pri večjem delu ljudi še vedno zelo priljubljen. Razmere do začetka marca še zdaleč niso bile dramatične. Predsednik je stopil v stik s protestniki, obljubil jim je nekaj željenih stvari, naredil nekaj hitrih reform, vse to pa ni učinkovalo, kajti protestniki so menili, da je imel v svoji karieri dovolj časa in še naprej zahtevali njegov takojšen odstop.

Mediji so razmere prikazovali mnogo bolj pompozno, kot je v resnici bilo, velikokrat pa tudi napačno. Nemalokrat sem videla posnetke s shodov v podporo predsedniku, medtem ko so zraven komentirali, da so to protesti proti predsedniku.

Do prvih žrtev na demonstracijah v Sani je prišlo v začetku marca, prelomnica pa je bil 18. marec, ko so ostrostrelci pobili 52 protrestnikov. Iz katerih vrst so bili ostrostrelci se točno ne ve, vsekakor pa stvar »smrdi«; kar se dogaja tudi v drugih državah, npr. v Siriji. Proteste so namreč kot krinko izkoristile številne osebnosti, ki ciljajo na položaj bodočega predsednika in za svojo podporo podkupovali plemena, pri katerih je bila njihova priljubljenost velika.

Jemen ima tri velike plemenske konfederacije, največjo in najšibkejso Madhaj, ki ji pripadajo plemena južno od Dhamarja, veliko in močno konfederacijo Bakil in najmanjšo in najvplivnejšo konfederacijo Hashed.
Regionalno sta konfederaciji Hashed in Bakil prepleteni. Znotraj teh konfederacij so številna plemena in podplemena in še zdalec ne moremo posploševati, da je določena skupina politično v celoti na eni ali drugi strani. Tudi znotraj podplemen posamezniki nimajo enakih političnih prepričanj.

Tina Zorman, doktorica biotehnologije iz Kranja, živi v Jemnu že slabih sedem let. Poročena je z Jemencem Waleedom Mugallijem, s katerim imata dva otroka. Z možem vodita turistično agencijo Eternal Yemen ter organizirata potovanja po celinskem Jemnu in otoku Sokotra.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tina Zorman, Pismo iz Jemna: trenutki, ko smo zapuščali državo, so bili najbolj nevarni

Clanek Tine Zorman, Slovenke, ki zivi v Jemnu, objavljen v spletni izdaji Dela.

Od sredine maja je življenje v Sani na minimumu, hkrati pa mnogo dražje.

V petek, tretjega junija, mi ni bilo všeč, da je moj mož Waleed najine in sestrine otroke kot ponavadi odpeljal s seboj, ko se je odpravil k petkovi opoldanski molitvi v bližnjo mošejo. Dve noči prej namreč nisem zatisnila očesa, saj sem zvečer slišala pogoste eksplozije v drugem predelu Sane, imenovanem Hasaba. Tam so že od 23. maja divjali spopad med vladnimi vojaki in vojaki, ki jih je najela družina Al Ahmar. Poleg tega je do nekaj izmenjav rafalov prišlo tudi v našem naselju in kljub temu, da je po nekaj urah vse utihnilo, je bilo dovolj adrenalina, da nisem mogla zaspati. Pač nisem ravno navajena poslušati eksplozij granat v mestu ...

To je bila noč, ko me je v Jemnu prvič postalo strah. Naslednji dan sem se odločila, da v državi do predvidenega odhoda v Slovenijo nima smisla vztrajati in Waleed je že rezervirane letalske karte prestavil za nekaj dni. Če bi vedela, kaj se bo dogajalo na dan našega odhoda, ko smo se na letališče peljali med rafali vseh mogočih streliv, kajti Jemenci so »praznovali« novico, da se predsedniku zdravstveno stanje izboljšuje, bi si najbrž izbrala drug datum. Prav trenutki, ko smo zapuščali Jemen, so bili za nas najbolj nevarni.

Moji strahovi so se izkazali za upravičene, kajti petkovo opoldne tretjega junija, se je začelo zares tudi v našem koncu. Takoj po končani opoldanski molitvi sem zaslišala oddaljeno eksplozijo, vendar takrat še nisem vedela, da je bila ta eksplozija v mošeji same predsedniške palače in je ubila sedem ljudi, med njimi več najvišjih državnih uslužbencev, predsednika pa je ranila. Le nekaj minut po vrnitvi moža in otrok se je začelo silovito obstreljevanje višje na naši cesti.
Državna vojska je s svojih postojank obstreljevala in raketirala stanovanjske hiše treh bratov družine Al Ahmar, za katere so »predvidevali«, da so izvedli napad na predsednika, ker so o tem že nekajkrat javno govorili in ker so bili odgovorni za številne incidente v zadnjih mesecih.
Družina Al Ahmar je »udarce vračala« s pomočjo najetih mož iz okolice Amrana, ki pripadajo plemenski konfederaciji Hashed. Družini našega strica, ki stanuje na strateški točki, med vojaškimi pozicijami in naseljem Ahmarjev, so nekaj minut po napadu na predsedniško palačo vojaki ukazali, da naj takoj odidejo iz hiše, ker bo vroče. Sprva niso šli, pozneje pa skorajda niso več mogli in so se zatekli k nam, približno 1,5 kilometra nižje na Cesti 50, v južnem delu Sane. Umaknjeni v notranje prostore smo poslušali eksplozije in gledali tresoča se okna. Obstreljevanje je utihnilo približno ob sončnem zahodu. Bila je mirna noč, kljub temu pa je spalo zelo malo odraslih ljudi, kajti bili smo na trnih. Sama sem pripravila »vredne stvari«, če bi se bilo treba na hitro umakniti.

Vse to je pomenilo, da se je življenje v Sani popolnoma ustavilo. Že tako smo bili zadnja dva meseca zaradi načrtne blokade Sane ter zaradi uničevanja naftovodov in plinskih central v popolnem pomanjkanju goriva, elektrike, kuhinjskega plina. Zaradi vsega tega pomanjkanja je bila zelo otežena ali celo po nekaj dni nemogoča tudi oskrba z vodo. Po napadu na predsedniško palačo so zaprli veliko cest, številne trgovine, mnogo ljudi pa se je odselilo k svojim sorodnikom izven mesta, saj je bilo stanje z oskrbo drugod po Jemnu boljše kot v Sani.

Turistov od sredine marca praktično ni bilo več - z nekaj svetlimi izjemami, na primer iz Slovenije. Stvari so se ustavile tudi v šolstvu. Državne univerze praktično niso imele drugega semestra, šole in vrtci so delovali z občasnimi krajšimi prekinitvami (odvisno od šole), vsi pa so za dva do tri tedne skrajšali šolsko leto. Srednješolci so se že več kot mesec dni učili za zaključne izpite, nekako primerljive z našo maturo, po dogodkih tretjega junija pa so jim rekli, da izpitov najverjetneje sploh ne bo in bodo šele drugo leto ob tem času, kar pomeni, da jih bo večina izgubila eno leto. Vse to je katastrofa za jemensko šolstvo, ki že tako ali tako ni bleščeče.

Od sredine maja je življenje v Sani torej na minimumu, hkrati pa mnogo dražje kot ponavadi. Na cestah ni običajnega vrveža, avtov je malo, veliko stvari je zaprtih, državne institucije praktično ne delujejo. Zaradi pomanjkanja je vse drago, ko pa se kaka stvar pojavi se vsi angažirajo za nakup, za to čakajo pol dneva in plačajo po dva- do osemkrat višji ceni. Ampak vsako takšno priložnost je dobro izkoristiti, kajti ne veš, kdaj se bo spet pojavila. Nič ni predvidljivo. V zadnjem mesecu in pol sem iz južne Sane le redko prišla v center, v staro Sano, kjer se vsaj navidez življenje ni dosti spremenilo. Običajno me je taksi do stare Sane stal približno 1,5 evra, v juniju pa se je za isto razdaljo cena dvignila na šest do osem evrov.

Večina običajnih Evropejcev si tako življenje le težko predstavlja in komentira »kako sploh lahko tako živite?« Vendar je treba vedeti, da so Jemenci bolj »trpežni« in je njihovo običajno življenje tudi v mirnih časih mnogo bolj preprosto od našega in manj odvisno od vsake tehnologije. Seveda vsako tehnološko novost, ki pride, takoj privzamejo, vendar brez nje tudi ni konec sveta. Preživeti so sposobni z zelo malo sredstvi, saj so v velikih mestih tako praktično živeli še 20 let nazaj, medtem ko na podeželju se vedno živijo na tradicionalen način. Zelo malo ljudi ima redno službo, največ jih služi s priložnostnimi deli in z drobnimi uslugami, ki jih poplačaš z »baksisem« in zaradi takega načina so ljudje bolj prilagodljivi na razne politične spremembe, ki imajo tudi ekonomske posledice. Kljub temu pomanjkanje res osnovnih dobrin, kot sta voda in bencin, vodi v številne, ne samo ekonomske, temveč tudi humanitarne in zdravstvene probleme. Resnično se katastrofa v Jemnu že dogaja.

Tina Zorman, doktorica biotehnologije iz Kranja, v Jemnu živi že slabih sedem let. Poročena je z Jemencem Waleedom Mugallijem, s katerim imata dva otroka. Z možem vodita turistično agencijo Eternal Yemen ter organizirata potovanja po celinskem Jemnu in otoku Sokotra.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Where the Waves Fall – Exploring Socotra Island - Yemen

An interview with Tina Zorman, Managing Director of Eternal Yemen, about magical and pristine Socotra (Soqotra) Island, published by Ms. Irena Knehtl in American Chronicle

Irena Knehtl
Oceanic climate has created a spectacular biodiversity! The exceptional and dazzling natural beauty of Socotra makes the island a world unto itself. Socotra has been described as a "jewel of biodiversity" and the "other Galapagos" because it contains some of the most unique flora and bird, reptile and marine life in the world.

The island`s lichen covered mountains rise 1,550 meters over limestone plateaus, fertile palm groves and white sand beaches strewn with colossal conch shells. Croton trees and bulbous desert rose trees lead to dark caverns and lush wadis. A sense of space and quietude on the open road awaits the visitor, or the shooting stars one can watch from an open air camp on sand dunes on the south coast.

The Socotris are warm and hospitable people, who know and respect their island well and are always happy to take visitors around.

With the end of isolation, countless new pressures could change the fragile island and its ancient culture. Yet many inhabitants and visitors now realize that preservation is as key to their future as it has been in the past. I talked to Tina Zorman of "Eternal Yemen Tour Operator", who just returned from the island about the challenges in the field of tourism.

Q: You are just back from the beautiful island of Socotra. What is the best best way to travel to Socotra?
Tina Zorman: Most visitors travel to Socotra by plane from mainland Yemen, Sana`a, Aden or Mukalla. The flight connections are good and flights are frequent, 4 to 5 flights per week from Sana´a, 5 to 6 flights per week from Mukalla and once a week from Aden. One can travel to Socotra by sea, i.e. by boat, but the trip is long, tiring and less safe.

Q: Would you like introduce the character of this extraordinary island briefly?
Tina Zorman: Socotra, with its unique flora, fauna, geology and underwater world, is the "pearl" in the Indian Ocean. The Island´s flora represents the floras of thousands of years ago. Those probably were the plants that used to cover the vanished continent Godwana.

With the opening up of Socotra to the outside world in the late 1990, triggered by the constructions of a year round accessible airport and roads, things began to change and Socotra started to receive significant numbers of tourists.

As result, many Socotris have settled in the rapidly expanding town of Hadibu or other villages, while their traditional settlements are being abandoned. In addition to local threats such as language, cultural tradition, climate change. tourism threatens to put further pressure on Socotra`s delicate environment.

Q: Some of Island`s sounds, scent of ocean, colors…?
Tina Zorman: Coming to Homhil plateau, a wind, full of fragrances from incense plants resins, embrace. One feels as if in wonderland, surrounded with unusual curved incense trees branches. Goats, people and Egyptian vultures are living in a symbiosis. Goats are everywhere, under the table during lunch in Hadibu, on your towel on the beach. They just started eating your book and the leftovers of your lunch in Wadi Ayhaft - and as you rush to the airport waving goodbye. My tip, try the fresh curdled goat´s milk, or delicious dates which men usually carry in their goat skin bags.

For those who are not under time pressure and in good physical condition, a visit to the Hagghar Mountains where one is embraced by mysterious palette of numerous small flowers, fabulous geological formations and morning mists and clouds, is a must.

Most Socotri homes are decorated with bright colors. Women are wrapped in long shawls, a blend of sunny colors, wearing big smile and curios eyes. Their cheeks are reddish in order to protect their skin. Their lips are reddish too from local lipstick- the Dragon´s blood – a habit perhaps from Cleopatra time. Their gums are reddish from chewing Dragon`s blood, their henna colored hands, are shaping the clay incense burners and decorate them with Dragon`s blood as well.

It´s all about the Dragon`s blood.

Q: Some must-see places, sites?

Tina Zorman: The marine area of Dihamry, Homhil reserve, Dixam plateau, Hoq cave and Qalansiya beach are must. They are considered by many as one of the wonders of the world.

In Dihamry, one can enjoy snorkeling and explore the highly endemic under water world. The scenic beaches of Erher, Qalansiya, and the remote beach of Schuab are for sea lovers. Those interested in plants should visit the central plateau Dixam with its umbrella like Dragon´s blood trees and Homhil, a virtual "botanical garden", with great variety of incense trees, the Socotri bottle tress, umbrella trees, and many other plants.

Q: Socotra is all about nature….. favorite paths, trails, walking tours, mountain sceneries, day trips, sites at the sea and under the sea?Tina Zorman: Walking tours are the best way to experience the pristine nature of Socotra! We suggest them in all of the tourist programs. There is a scenic – and not at all difficult walk from the northern coast via Wadi al Shiifa to Homhil protected area.

Worth exploring is also on of the trails from the central plateau Dixam to one of the wadis, either Wadi Dirhur, either Wadi Dha´ro. The paths are not marked and the walk is not too difficult, 3-4 hours.

There are more difficult walks, trekking tours, to the Hagghar Mountains and are well marked. Several other trails are also possible, starting from Dixam plateau to Hagghar Mountains, or from Wadi Ayhaft or one of the southern wadis and coming towards the high plains of Scand area and going further to the northern coasts.

Another suggestion is to spend longer time on Qalansiya beach and climb the mountain above Qalansiya and enjoy the view of – perhaps - one of the loveliest lagoons in the world.

Other activities include snorkeling and diving, which is possible on the northern coast. There is one diving center on the island. The most popular diving and snorkeling area is Dihamry, rich in variety of fish and corals. The Marine Sanctuary Rosh lies about 15 km east of Dihamry. It is recommended to have your own snorkel as each coastal area offers unique sites.

Our web site (http://www.eternal-yemen.com/) offers Socotra tour programs. Several daily excursions and trips are being suggested.

Q: The rising number of tourists visiting Socotra has presented a threat to the delicate ecosystems. What are the challenges in the field of tourism?

Tina Zorman: The challenge is to strike a balance between development and environmental protection. Currently the number of visitors to Socotra is manageable. Much greater challenge represents the changed lifestyle of many Socotris. Many have abandoned their villages and houses in the mountains and settled in Hadibu.

As far as tourism is concerned, the challenge is to formulate a plan for sustainable tourism. It is not difficult to attract tourists with such fabled nature, but also adequate services should be provided.

The bright example, the seeds of sustainable tourism on the island, is the private campsite, run by Adeeb family near Hadibu. The camp resort is simple, but lovely and built from local materials. Adeeb camp offers meal of fresh fish with special Socotri sweet tasting bread and Socotri honey.

Another example of sustainable tourism worthy of praise is the Rosh community which was awarded the Equator Prize for 2010.

Q: Where one can stay, accommodation, resorts, home stay…
Tina Zorman: The hotels are located in Hadibu. One can stay in Adeeb camp near Hadibu, the island`s main settlement, or similar sites around the island. The most popular choice is to stay in a hotel in Hadibu (there is one good hotel and about 4 simple ones) and make daily excursions round the island. This is now possible as there are good road connections to the east, west and south of the island.

Many tourist spend the first and the last night in Hadibu, while other days camping. In many protected areas around the island, there are several simple places where one can camp. These camps – resorts offer basic facilities and offer also food.

A nice example of sustainable campsite is eco – camp run by the villages of Sacra and Diherhom that own Rosh Marine Protected area. The operation of the eco-camp is organized on a principle of community sharing benefits so as to motivate the whole community to conserve their natural resources. Supplies for the eco-campsite are bought from different villagers. The income generated from tourists goes into community development projects. This eco – campsite is an excellent example that should be followed.

Q: Which is the best time to visit? Tina Zorman: Between second half of September to mid- May. From April to May and from September to first half of October, Socotra is rather hot. Most visitors come from November to March.

As far as weather is concerned, November is a pleasant month; while there can be occasional showers. Those who wish to see the flowering of bottle trees should come end of February or in March.

Socotra is safe place to visit. It is being visited even during the time of demonstrations in Yemen.

Q: Local foods, habitat…?
Tina Zorman: Rice with fish, rice with dates. The diet is basic, fish, dates and cooked potatoes. On occasions, the goat meat is specialty. The life of Socotris is closely associated with dates.

During summer, when the winds are strong, the Socotris take shelter in different homes or caves. Many have houses in various parts of the Island and they move from one place to another according to best climatically conditions. When they are unable to fish due to strong winds and sea waves, their diet is limited to rice, dates and tea.

In some parts of the Island, the islanders begun to introduce new crops and other cultures, like papaya. One such example is Mahatta village, where they grow olives, limes and guava. I think it is not very well thought over. It can ruin the fragile ecosystem and in time may have consequences to larger environment.

Q: Final words, invitations, promotions…
Tina Zorman: If you are a nature lover, if you long for virtual honeymoon under thousands stars, then come to Socotra. It is the place to be visited during the next few years. At Eternal Yemen, we offer attractive, up to date tour programs, with high quality of performance. Our colleagues in Socotra Island are strictly Socotris and are always paid fair wages.

Anyone visiting Socotra should keep in mind, that this is a place of pristine nature and environment should be respected.

My advice, leave the Island intact for others who will visit it after you.

Tina Zorman in Sana`a, Yemen thank you.


Ms. Tina Zorman is founder and Managing Director of "Eternal Yemen Tour and Travel Operator". She holds Ph. D in Microbiology and lives with her family in Sana`a, Yemen. Tina is also on Facebook. Interested? Get connected

Web site: http://www.eternal-yemen.com/


Socotra, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, was for centuries an important strategic and trade destination for empire builders and merchants riding the monsoon trade winds. Socotra is also the name of the largest island.

The islands are famed for their diversity of plant species, about a third of which are found nowhere else on earth. The natural resources and strategic location of the Socotra, 80 km east of Somali coast and 380 km south of Yemen, led the archipelago to play a major role in the ambitions of empire builders from as long ago as Alexander the Great.

The Island of Socotra is a World Heritage Site.

IMAGE: Socotra, a place of pristine nature, is to be visited in the next few years.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Here we are, ETERNAL YEMEN - not new to the business, but new to the blog

And here we are !

Finally, we could say.

Eternal Yemen, tour and travel operator
is coming in the second stage of its work.

In our first period, since late in 2006, two births were interweaving, the establishment of Eternal Yemen, with all the tasks and obstacles, and at the same time it was establishment of my life and existence in Yemen. Moving from my home country Slovenia to Yemen, to this magical country, incomparable to any other in the world, marriage with Waleed, birth of our little villain Ranya, and 2 years later a birth of our merry baby-boy Jamal.

I confess that was a difficult period. A joy of having small angels near me and taking care of them and the satisfaction about the successful work in tourism, were accompanied also with less pleasant moments. Uncountable number of sleepless nights as all the mothers experience in first months after the baby’s birth, endless hours of work during the nights when everybody else was sleeping and when I was longing for a sleep, feeling guilty of working too much and spending too little time with children, feeling guilty of thinking about the work when I was breastfeeding that lead to the baby’s rejection of my milk. And there were too many small problems that anybody in tourism business in Yemen is facing, and there were intrigues and disappointments and there were “expensive” hours of “getting knowing” Yemen (while I believe that understanding Yemen is a never ending process) and finally it was a concern about the Yemeni situation and about our future work

The demonstrations this year came to Yemen as well, started slowly, but progressing into a complex situation, full of violence, confusion, scarcity and uncertainty. As usual I went for summer vacations to Slovenia, while this year a visit was a matter of urgency. When I’ve heard the first bombs, it was just a sparkle for making a quick decision and to leave Yemen with my small kids.

Now we are waiting. Waiting for the things to set in motion, to solve, to get better. Inshallah we say. I’m optimistic. In the low stage that Yemen is now, things have to go better. I have always said in the past that once this will happen, and now it is happening.

The time has stopped.

For me, it is a time for rethinking everything, a time for enjoying time with my kids, playing with them, relaxing. Getting closer to some people, getting away of some others. For getting strength for a new start, for a second period of Eternal Yemen with refreshed team and refreshed approach.
And finally, it is a time for finishing some small projects that were long waiting to be realized. Among them is also this blog, where activities of Eternal Yemen will be presented, as well as news about Yemen, thoughts and opinions.

We’ll be happy for anybody of you
being interested in this blog :) 

Tina Zorman
Director of Eternal Yemen,
tour and travel operator