“Arwa Othman, head of the Traditional Heritage House in Sana’a, spent two years collecting traditional artifacts to fill the museum. She was devastated when it was robbed earlier last month. The padlocks were broken and glass windows were smashed. Important collectibles were found scattered around the house and precious silver items were missing, along with rare traditional clothes.
Established in 2004, Othman says the museum is one of a kind and contained important pieces of Yemen’s rich heritage. Museums in Hadramout, Seyoun, and Al-Dhale have also been robbed in the past, Othman said.
“On May 16, I was surprised to find the house robbed by unknown individuals. Some other collectibles were tampered with. So far, we have not identified who did it,” said Othman. The problem of robberies is particularly acute at the moment, given that the government’s hands are full in dealing with multiple crises and it cannot pay much attention to matters of heritage. What happened to the Traditional Heritage House is a case in point.
Othman said the house is a cultural entity that was formed to help safeguard the spiritual and material heritage of Yemen. She said she aims to preserve it and make it accessible to researchers.
Othman has been interested in Yemen’s history since she was a teenager. She used to save her allowance and buy traditional collectibles. “Every time my family gave me YR50 ($0.23), I headed to the market in Taiz where I was living. I used to buy many old items,” Othman recalled. . . . .”