Captivated by Yemen’s abundance of incense, spices and silks the Romans named her “Arabia Felix” or “Happy and prosperous Arabia”. Yemen’s position made it the natural crossroads for trade from the Orient, Africa and the Mediterranean. As early as 1500 BC the region enjoyed long periods of wealth and abundance.
Yemen is a country with contrasting geography. Moving inland from the narrow coastal plain one quickly arrives in a relatively well watered mountainous region which eventually leads to the desert “Rub al-Khali”. The capital, Sanaa, with its 1,3 million inhabitants, is located at an altitude of 2350 meters. Isolated during 1500 years, visited only by a relatively small number of foreigners, this city is legendary for its brutally. The architecturally unique old city stands proudly in the middle of modern districts swept by the clouds of dust raised by passing cars.
Christian Missionaries to Yemen
Christian missionaries came to the Arabian Peninsula around Yemen in the early 4th century and won many converts. Christianity eventually became the official religion and pagan rituals were abolished affecting the trade of incense and therefore Yemen’s economy.
When Islam came to Yemen it was readily embraced as a refreshing change for most of the population. Yemen or el Yemin, was the name given by Muslims which means “the right hand side when facing East from Mecca”. Some Yemenis claim they were the first to turn to Islam as a nation. Since Islam was embraced it has been the religion of almost everyone but there has never been an atmosphere of unity in the country either religiously or politically. After suffering four centuries of occupation and then division between the north and the south at the hands of the Turks and the British, Yemen eventually united as a republic in 1990.
However after 1993 elections civil war erupted with the South wanting to separate, since that time Yemen has had an unsettled peace. Little progress has been made in national life since much foreign income was lost during the Gulf war when a million Yemeni’s were repatriated losing lucrative jobs in Saudi Arabia.
Khat or qat – destructive however it is spelled!
Much of the male populations meager income supports the habit of chewing “qat,” (or khat) a green leaf that acts as a mild stimulant inducing euphoria when chewed. Due to its high market value qat is produced instead of coffee and other crops.
Yemen has almost been forgotten for centuries by the western world. Renowned for its remoteness this nation has had little desire to come to terms with the rest of the world. Yemenis themselves are a hard independent people not easily touched by the Gospel message. The few known national believers are isolated without an indigenous church. As a result of the prayers of God’s people over the past few years there is now a softening and growing interest from among some Yemenis. Many listen to Christian radio broadcasts from outside in Arabic and there is demand for Bibles even though it is difficult to distribute them.
Prayer is needed for this nation as the Party for Islamic reform in the country is strong and there is much pressure on Yemenis to remain Muslim.
Prayer Guide for Yemen
* Pray for the nations leaders to come to know Christ and for wisdom to rule their land in righteousness and justice.
* Pray for the heritage of Arabia Felix and prosperity to be restored.
* Pray for aid opportunities to open up in the nation for Christian workers.
* Pray for Christian Radio programmes to reach into remote villages as well as the cities.
Yemen , officially Republic of Yemen, republic, 207,300 sq mi (535,800 sq km), SW Asia, at the southern edge of the Arabian peninsula. The present nation of Yemen was formed in 1990, when the Yemen Arab Republic (the former Yemen or Northern Yemen) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (the former Southern Yemen) were unified. Yemen is bordered on the north by Saudi Arabia, on the east by Oman, on the south by the Gulf of Aden, and on the west by the Red Sea. The islands of Kamaran, in the Red Sea, Perim, in the Bab al-Mandeb, and Socotra, in the Arabian Sea, are part of Yemen. Sana is the capital; the port of Aden is the country’s commercial capital.
Background on Yemen (World Factbook)
North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued.
Saleh Steps Down
After ruling over this fractious country for 33 years, President Ali Abdulla Saleh became the fourth casualty of the Arab Spring. On 27 February 2012, Saleh formally ceded power following changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Public rallies in Sana’a against President SALIH – inspired by similar demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt – slowly built momentum starting in late January 2011 fueled by complaints over high unemployment, poor economic conditions, and corruption. By the following month, some protests had resulted in violence, and the demonstrations had spread to other major cities. By March the opposition had hardened its demands and was unifying behind calls for SALIH’s immediate ouster. Media reports indicated that as many as 100 protesters had been killed and many more injured amid the protests. Following elections in February 2012, won by former Vice President Abd al-Rabuh Mansur HADI, SALIH formally transferred his powers.
Economy of Yemen
Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported average annual growth of 3.5% from 2000 through 2006. Yemen is struggling to control excessive spending and rampant corruption. Yemen is dependent on foreign aid to finance its budget deficits and development projects. A liquefied natural gas facility is opening. Yemen has limited exposure to the international financial system and no capital markets. Yemen continues to face difficult long term challenges, including declining water resources and a high population growth rate.
Children in Yemen
The number of malnourished children under the age of five (5) years old has now exploded to 750,000 in Yemen. UNICEF says the number has been pushed up because of the turmoil in the country.
Population: 24,771,809 (July 2012 est.) World rank #47
Life Expectancy at Birth: 64.11 years. World rank #172
Ethnic groups: predominantly Arab; but also Afro-Arab, South Asians, Europeans
Religions: Muslim including Shaf’i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi’a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu
Literacy: 50.2% — Male: 70.5%, Female: 30%
School life expectancy: 9 years
Video – Yemen: Qat (2:10)