The initiative to represent Yemen in Venice

How it started

Back in the Netherlands – after having worked  for years in Yemen – Lidwien Scheepers was looking for an opportunity to present Yemen in a positive way on the world stage as Yemen is a misrepresented country from various perspectives.  The Biennale Architettura 2016 – the leading international platform for architecture in the world – offered the possibility to bring the rich and fascinating architectural heritage of Yemen under the spotlight as well as to draw the attention of the world to the current destruction of the Yemeni architectural heritage sites.

In November 2014 Lidwien Scheepers visited the International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. She noted the presence of some Arab countries and the absence of Yemen. During this visit she managed to contact the responsible person of the Visual Arts and Architecture Department of the Biennale who explained to her the procedure to follow in order to have Yemen invited as a national participant by the President of the Biennale.

Seen the rich and fascinating architectural heritage of Yemen Lidwien DSCF1397Scheepers was eager to have this beautiful country for the first time shining on this leading international platform for architecture in Venice in 2016.

The first step to be taken in order to represent Yemen in Venice was the participation request “by the competent Governmental Authority through which the Country normally performs activities of the same type”. Therefore, two Yemeni members of the Beautiful Yemen team approached the Yemeni Deputy Minister of Culture, H.E. Huda Ablan. She welcomed the idea to represent Yemen in the International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. Subsequently, a formal letter signed by H.E. Huda Ablan was sent to the Biennale President, Mr. Paolo Baratta, requesting the Yemeni participation in the Architecture Biennale. The remaining correspondence required from the Biennale was drafted in close cooperation with the Deputy Minister of Culture and the Undersecretary for Cultural Relations, Mr. Ayed Ali Al-Shawafy. On 9 September 2015 Yemen received the official invitation from the President of the Biennale as a national participant.


Where we stand right now

On 21 November 2015 the Ministry of Culture nominated Mr. Ayed Ali Al-Shawafy, Undersecretary for Cultural relations, Ministry of Culture, as the commissioner of the Yemeni national participation at the International Architecture Exhibition 2016 in Venice. On 18 February 2016 the Ministry of Culture in Yemen appointed Arch. R. Ravagnan, Director of the Istituto Veneto per I Beni Culturali, as the curator of the Yemen Pavilion.

Attending for the first time the Biennale Architettura 2016, the curator – in cooperation with the Beautiful Yemen team and other experts that worked on Yemen heritage – has conceived a pavilion, whose core objective is to depict the strong boundary between Yemeni cultural heritage and Yemeni national identity, taking vernacular architecture as an example. The promotion and the transmission of traditional building techniques have been proven vital for the preservation of the authenticity and the charm of Yemen’s historic centers.

We are proud to show you an impression of the National pavilion of Yemen at la Biennale di Venezia. Media attention for the National pavilion of Yemen was generated in Europe, Yemen and New York! You are invited to read the remarks received on the pavilion in English.


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