National Geographic Magazine Accused of Stealing Yemeni Cultural Heritage, Attributing It to Saudi Arabia

Published May 18th, 2020 - 08:03 GMT
National Geographic Magazine Accused of Stealing Yemeni Cultural Heritage, Attributing It to Saudi Arabia
The Arabic National Geographic Magazine was first published in 2010 by UAE-state owned Abu Dhabi Media. (Twitter)

Online pages of the Arabic version of National Geographic magazine have received a strong backlash for posting users' pictures portraying cultural heritage, labeling several photos with Yemeni elements as Saudi.

Translation: "Arabic Lenses: A girl from the Saudi city of Abha wearing the traditional Quftan and traditional silver accessories. The girl holding basil sticks has decorated her room with Al-Qatt Al-Asiri patterns."
 
Recently, NatGeo Arabic online pages have asked their audience to send some of the best photographs they have ever taken to be posted online. Yet, Yemeni users quickly noticed that many of the photos dubbed as Saudi represent strong cultural elements in their heritage, such as coffee beans farming which has for long been associated with Yemen.
 

Using the hashtag #لا_لسرقة_تراث_اليمن (No to stealing Yemen's heritage) Yemeni users protested "appropriating" their own culture and labeled it as "another Saudi attempt to take over Yemen," referring to the 5-year long military war Saudi has launched in the country.

Protesters also called on National Geographic Magazine to apologize for taking part in the "cultural heritage theft."

The Arabic National Geographic Magazine was first published in 2010 by UAE-state owned Abu Dhabi Media.

Meanwhile, some Yemeni users suggested that traditions and culture in Saudi cities and towns by the 1,800 km borders with Yemen are quite similar to that of Yemenis, urging outraged users "to think beyond the borders."

Translation: "Heritage of people in the south of Saudi is very similar to that of Yemen. It's a well-known fact, and it's not only about outfits but even food."

Translation: "Even if you steal our land and farms you can't steal our heritage! Our heritage is so deep in history. NatGeo is distorting facts!"
 
Some commentators noted that photos sent by Saudi users were meant to claim cultural elements of other countries as well, explaining that the north African Qfutan and its name never belonged in Saudi traditions.
 

Translation: "Since when has the Saudi traditional attire been called Quftan?"

Translation: "So Saudi wear Quftans? I always thought it's Moroccan!"

 

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