Event Detail

17
Mar
2011

The Yemen: Then & Now

Tim Mackintosh Smith
Thursday, 17 Mar 2011
Auditorium 1/F Duke of Windsor Social Services Building, 15 Hennessy Road, Wanchai
Tim MackintoshSmith speaks this time on The Yemen, his current place of residence.

No pre booking required, Members HK$100 Non Members HK$150.

Drinks 6.30 pm lecture 7.30pm

The Royal Geographical Society is delighted to welcome to Hong Kong Tim MackintoshSmith to lecture on "Yemen: Then & Now ". In this lecture, Tim MackintoshSmith, the acclaimed Arabist, traveller, writer and lecturer, speaks about Yemen, an ancient crossroads of the world's civilisations, but yet presently wrought with civil strife.

For almost thirty years, Mr MackintoshSmith has himself resided in the Yemeni capital San'a in a World Heritage Site tower house. He has most generously agreed to continue with his programme in Hong Kong, despite the perils of traveling from the Yemen in the midst of its present civil uprising. In this lecture, Mr MackintoshSmith's account of Yemen is told with his trademark humour and pathos, which has enthralled audiences worldw! ide.

Mr MackintoshSmith's lecture starts with a brief showing of an extract from his own BBC TV series about San'a, the 2,500 year old capital of Yemen, and the Walled City of Shibam, famous for its mudstone towers. He will then talk about the real country behind the famous images and headlines. Yemen is a land which has generated travelers' tales since ancient times, rich in history, including links with almost every ancient civilisation, which has enchanted visitors for centuries. Mr MackintoshSmith tells of some of the real characters who reside there, showing that the Yemenis are true to the old Arab reputation for hospitality, in spite of their current economic and political difficulties and

Yet Yemen is once again the scene of violent protests. President Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first President of unified Yemen in 1990, formed from the former Ottoman (northern) and British (southern) colonies, but had already been President of North Yemen since 1978. In February 2011, a number of protest rallies against the government occurred, and clashes with police and progovernment supporters continue. President Saleh has promised not to run again in the 2013 election but this has done little to abate the demands of young citizens for human rights and economic development which have led to attacks on antigovernment protesters across the country. Yet severe poverty and corruption, accompanied by historic rifts between north and south lead residents to fear for the future of the country, both if and if not President Saleh is deposed. Mr MackintoshSmith's lecture thus gives a unique perspective of the problems of modern Yemen, garnered from his near 30 year residence in the country.

Tim MackintoshSmith was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he read Arabic. Mr MackintoshSmith has resided for nearly 30 years in an ancient tower house off the "Market of the Cows " in the World Heritage Site ancient city of San'a, in the Yemen.! He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and a Research Fellow at the University of Durham. Mr MackintoshSmith's numerous prestigious lectures include talks at the Royal Geographical Society in London and in 2009 delivering the annual Professor Sir Hamilton Gibb Lecture at Harvard University. In 2010, he was awarded the Prize of Honour by the Arab Centre for Literature.

Tim MackintoshSmith's first book, Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land, won the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award and is now regarded as a classic. He is best known though for his trilogy on Ibn Battutah's adventures, including the bestselling Travels with a Tangerine, The Hall of a Thousand Columns and Landfalls, all of which were received to much critical acclaim and several awards. Mr MackintoshSmith's journeys in search of Ibn Battutah have also been made into a major BBC television series that was viewed around the globe. He has featured in documentary films The English Sheik and The Yemeni Gentleman, in addition to numerous other media appearances.

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