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Sana‘a, the Arab Venice needing Saving

‘Architecturally, Yemen is the most beautiful country in the world. Sana‘a, its capital, is an untamed Venice built on dust without San Marco and without the Giudecca, a city-form the beauty of which resides not in its perishable monuments but in its incomparable design… One of my dreams is to busy myself with saving Sana‘a’.

These are the still highly relevant words with which Pier Paolo Pasolini described Sana‘a in an interview that was later published in L’Oriente di Pasolini (‘Pasolini’s East’). Precisely in Sana‘a, Pasolini had filmed a short documentary in 1970, with the intention of launching an appeal to UNESCO for the safeguarding of a city unique in its kind for its historical, cultural and architectural value. Italy (and Venice, in particular) took up Pasolini’s heartfelt appeal and has launched a project in this border country tormented by grave political and economic unrest but possessing a cultural heritage that is both one of the richest and one of the most threatened in the world.



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