Private Project

Old Sana’a City: Samsarat Al-Nuhas

Yemeni jewelers at Samsarat Al Nuhas depended on tourism and international exhibitions to sell their work. However, the safety decline in Sana’a since 2006 reduced the number of tourists who used to fill Old Sana’a City. Many jewelers are also unable to participate in exhibitions abroad. Visa applications for Yemenis are made to be extremely difficult and getting rejected is common because of the constant fear of Yemenis seeking asylum and not returning to their war-torn home. Exhibitions used to be a key incentive for many Yemeni jewelers to keep creating new pieces and get wider exposure. The decrease in the demand for authentic Yemeni traditional jewelry led to cheaper material flooding the market with replicas from China and India. If nothing is done in order to salvage these crafts and practices, a huge part of this ancient culture is in danger.

  • Mariam Al-Dhubhani
  • Noor Abunaba
  • Nada Bedair
  • Mohammed Al-Jaberi
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Heritage, Culture, War, Heritage site, UNESCO Heritage Site, 360, VR
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mariam Al-Dhubhani

Mariam Al-Dhubhani is an award-winning Yemeni-Russian journalist, filmmaker, curator, and educator based in the MENA region. Her passion for media began during the 2011 Arab uprisings, where she co-founded her first media production. As a two-time TEDx speaker and a pioneer in using virtual reality to highlight stories from Yemen, Al-Dhubhani strives to counter the stereotyping of the region in mainstream media and promote equality in humanity. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Strategic Communication from Northwestern University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Museum and Gallery Practice from University College London. Her films have received numerous accolades, including the Most Promising Filmmaker award at the Toronto Arab Film Festival in 2019 for her film, In The Middle. Al-Dhubhani has provided mentorship and training to support young filmmakers in conflict areas, including Yemen, Libya, and Iraq. She has also served as a jury member for film grants and festivals in the US, Canada, and Yemen. In addition, she has collaborated with several UN agencies to produce and train young journalists on immersive reality in storytelling. Currently, Mariam is working on her feature debut, Let's Play Soldiers, highlighted at prestigious film festivals and markets such as Cannes, IDFA, and HotDocs.

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Director Statement

Whenever Old Sana’a City comes up, people cannot help but to exoticize it and romanticize about it. How can anyone not? It is after all the crown jewel of Sana’a with its unique architecture, culture, traditions, and history. There are so many stories to be told, and Samsarat Al Nuhas is one of many that has a community within communities of Yemeni crafts and practices. Yayah’s story helps not only to show the struggles of silversmiths and shop owners at the Samsarah but also to document the current situation Old Sana’a City is in under the ongoing war in Yemen. Reminding the world that this place is important and something needs to be done to preserve and protect it.