Heavy rains trigger collapse at Yemen’s newly restored museum

A picture shows a view of a historic building within the National Museum complex of Yemen’s third city of Taiz, on September 27, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 September 2020

Heavy rains trigger collapse at Yemen’s newly restored museum

  • The building became a museum in 1967
  • The renovation work on the National Museum had left parts of the complex beautifully restored

TAIZ: Heavy rains have triggered the collapse of parts of the newly restored National Museum in Yemen’s third city Taiz, in the latest loss to the country’s cultural heritage after years of war.
Established as an Ottoman palace, then a residence for one of Yemen’s last kings, the building became a museum in 1967 but has since been bombed and its collections pilfered.
It was partially restored in 2019, but a recent deluge caused the entrance hall to give way last week, with the facade and the rooms inside reduced to rubble.
“One of the main entrances collapsed... as a result of the heavy rainfall which poses a threat to all cultural and historical sites,” the museum’s director Ramzi Al-Damini told AFP, urging the international community to intervene to protect Yemen’s heritage.
Taiz, a city ringed by mountains, is under government control but surrounded by Houthi militants whose bombardments have hit the museum several times.
Yemen’s rich cultural heritage has been among the casualties of the conflict that has left thousands dead, millions displaced, and cities and villages stalked by famine and disease in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“I feel despair and sadness to see my country’s heritage destroyed, our civilization destroyed, our history destroyed,” said Akram Al-Hmeiri, a resident of Taiz.
“Everything in Yemen has been destroyed,” he told AFP.
The renovation work on the National Museum had left parts of the complex beautifully restored, with the facade, intricate ochre brickwork, and arched windows back to their original grandeur.
Other parts however remained pocked with damage, crumbling away to reveal collapsed floors and shattered walls.
The disrepair left it vulnerable to the heavy rains which hit Yemen in recent months, triggering flash floods that killed scores of people and damaged other UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites in the capital and in the cities of Zabid and Shibam.
Taiz’s museum had planned to re-open its doors in 2023, by which time officials hope the conflict will have abated.
“If the damage to the museum is not fixed and renovations undertaken... it will have a negative effect on the city,” said Ahmed Jasar, the region’s director of antiquities.
“The museum is symbol for Taiz,” he told AFP.


Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

Updated 27 min 4 sec ago

Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

  • Hariri immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan
  • He has previously led three governments in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Three-time Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri was named to the post for a fourth time Thursday and immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan.
Hariri said he would “form a cabinet of non politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap.”
“I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out and this is the only and last chance facing our country,” he added.
President Michel Aoun named Hariri to form a new cabinet to lift the country out of crisis after most parliamentary blocs backed his nomination.
Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down almost a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against the political class.
“The president summoned... Saad Al-Deen Al-Hariri to task him with forming a government,” a spokesman for the presidency said.
Hariri was backed by a majority of 65 lawmakers, while 53 abstained.
Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades and still reeling from a devastating port blast that killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of Beirut in August.
Aoun warned Wednesday that the new prime minister, the third in a year, would have to spearhead reforms and battle corruption.
A relatively unknown diplomat, Mustapha Adib, had been nominated in late August following the resignation of his predecessor Hassan Diab’s government in the aftermath of the deadly port blast.
Adib had vowed to form a cabinet of experts, in line with conditions set by French President Emmanuel Macron to help rescue the corruption-ridden country from its worst ever economic crisis.
He faced resistance from some of the main parties however and threw in the towel nearly a month later, leaving Lebanon rudderless to face soaring poverty and the aftermath of its worst peacetime disaster.