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The Republic of Yemen is an Arabic country located in Western Asia. Yemen is the second biggest country in the Arabic Peninsula in terms of geographical size. Yemen borders both the African and Asian continents. Previously, Yemen was divided into two countries; North Yemen and South Yemen. The Northern faction gained independence in 1918 when it ceased being part of the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, South Yemen used to be part of the British Protectorate until it gained its independence in 1967.
Thereafter, South Yemen adopted communism, and this led to a massive citizens’ exodus from South to North. Both North and South Yemen merged to become a single country in 1990. The period after the unification of Yemen was followed by a series of civil wars, political uprisings, rebellions, and inter-border conflicts. Islam is the most dominant religion in Yemen, and several other cultural aspects of this country depend on this fact. Yemen has also gone through a series of political changes beginning from the 1800s.
These changes have had a big impact on the country’s intercultural outlook. The intercultural communication of Yemen is mostly characterized by the country’s history, religions, popular culture, and conflicts. This paper presents an intercultural analysis of Yemen in relation to the country’s history, among other factors. The analysis will employ four subtopics, namely national history, government, identity, and communications.
Over the course of history, Yemen has come into contact with several civilizations and cultures due to its geographical location. Yemen has a long sea border that has been used extensively for intercultural contacts between Africa, Europe, and Asia. The positioning of Yemen puts the country’s ports in the same category as other historically significant meeting points in Asia such as Mecca. Therefore, as early as 5000BC there were thriving settlements within Yemen’s mountains.
The history of Yemen before the Islamic era is not well documented. However, the country’s history during and after the Caravan-trade era is abundant. Experts had attributed this development to the fact that the institution of Islam discouraged exploration of history before the religion came into effect (Neuliep 68). The diverse and enriched nature of the Yemeni culture has been made possible by the country’s early exposure to different civilizations.
As early as 1100 BC, Yemen was part of a society that constituted of four autonomous tribal outfits. Until today, autonomous religious and tribal outfits are a common fixture in Yemen’s social outlook. During the middle ages, three dynasties took over the leadership of the Yemeni region. These three dynasties complimented their styles of leadership with teachings from the Islamic religion. Beginning from the sixteenth century, the Ottomans invaded and ruled Yemen.
The Ottomans had a great empire that stretched over several continents. However, they valued the possession of Yemen because of their deep interest in the Islamic holy cities of Medina and Mecca. In addition, Yemen was a gateway to the trade routes that brought silk and spices to the Arab Peninsula.
Most recently, Yemen has grappled with issues of unification of North and South Yemen. The efforts to unite the two factions have been characterized by miscommunications between the communist South and the capitalist North. The insistence on Islamic religion as instituted by the Ottoman Empire has also characterized the latter-day conflicts in Yemen. For instance, Al Qaeda, the world-famous terrorist organization, considers Yemen a strategic location in the course of its activities.
Yemen or Al Yamani in the local language is a sovereign republic, and it is considered so by other countries in the world. The Yemeni government is divided into twenty-one smaller governing units to ease the country’s administration. This mode of operation also ensures the different cultural voices that make up the country are heard by Yemen’s central government. The day the North and South Yemen factions became a single unit is considered a public holiday. The Unification Day reminds the citizens of Yemen about the struggle that led to the coming together of the two factions.
An understanding of Yemen’s legal system is important when considering the country’s intercultural communication systems. Yemeni government operates under a combination of English common law, Islamic law, Napoleonic law, and customary law. Nevertheless, Yemen does not actively participate in any relevant international law enforcement. For example, Yemen is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) agreement, and it has not submitted a declaration to the institution to the International Criminal Justice (ICJ) system.
In Yemen, the President is the head of state while the Prime Minister is the head of government. The country’s President has to be elected through a popular vote and remains in office for a term of seven years. The elected President proceeds to appoint both a vice president and a prime minister. Therefore, the institution of presidency wields a lot of power in Yemen. All communications from other cultures into Yemen can be ignored or upheld depending on the President’s worldview.
The country’s judicial system consists of a Supreme Court, courts of appeal, district courts, and commercial courts. The judicial pattern of Yemen lacks elaborate organization such as the one found in America. The names used by Yemen’s leading political parties provide insight into the country’s political ideologies.
For example, the leading political parties in Yemen are Yemen Socialist Party, Nasserite Unionist Party, Islamic Reform Grouping, and General People’s Congress (Dresch 123). These names indicate that Yemen’s political ideologies are formulated along with religious and socialist agendas.
Most Yemeni citizens identify themselves along with Arabic ethnicity. However, there are other ethnicities in Yemen, including Afro-Arabs, Europeans, and South Asians (El-Erian 89). Consequently, all official communications in Yemen are conducted in Arabic. Yemen is relatively a densely populated country with a current population estimate of around twenty-six million.
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Most people in Yemen adhere to the Islamic religion, although a small number of Jews, Christians, and Hindus are also found in the country. Most Yemeni residents are able to interact and communicate freely with people from other Muslim and Arab cultures. However, intercultural communication between Yemenis and other ethnicities and religions remains a challenge.
Yemen has above average connectivity compared to the rest of the world. For instance, the country had over fifteen million mobile phone users by the end of 2013. However, there is still no national telecommunications-network that covers entire unified Yemen. The country is making progress towards the modernization of its communication technology.
It is important to note that Yemen’s broadcast media is state-run and consists of two television stations and seven radio stations. However, as of 2007, the government allowed its citizens to access stations from neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman. This limits Yemen’s intercultural communication, especially with European and American cultures.
Dresch, Paul. Tribes, Government, and History in Yemen, Oxford, United Kingdom: Clarendon Press, 2009. Print.
El-Erian, Mohamed. “Currency substitution in Egypt and the Yemen Arab Republic: A comparative quantitative analysis.” Staff Papers-International Monetary Fund 4.2 (2008): 85-103. Print.
Neuliep, James W. Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, New York, NY: Sage, 2011. Print.