Yemen has faced turmoil and chaos following the events of the 2011 revolution, and in particular following the overthrowing of the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in May 2012, and the Houthi-led rebellion beginning in September 2014. 5000 miles away, British Yemenis view events in their home country with concern – feeling a responsibility to offer help at such a difficult time.
As one of the longest established migrant communities, the Yemenis track their first wave of migration to sailors leaving the old colonial port of Aden in the mid-19th century. They began to settle in many coastal towns and industrial cities across the country, while working in the engine rooms of the British merchant navy steam ships. As WWI began, the Yemeni sailors participated as part of the British navy, and with its end they had to make a tough transition as cheap labour in heavy industries across England and Wales.
Some of the older members of the community share their stories and experiences from their arrival in the 1950s till today, providing a unique insight into the British Yemeni community – but also touching on race riots, unionisation, integration, intermarriage and cultural identity.
Second, third and fourth generation Yemenis in Cardiff, Sheffield and the West Midlands also talk about what it means to be British Arabs today, about maintaining tradition, the survival of their language and community, and about Yemen itself and what input they can have on these major events.
Director: Mohammed Alsaedi
Producer: Mohammed Alsaedi