Student Account


Student Perspective

Despite the current political situation in Yemen students continue to choose the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies as their preferred study abroad destination. Luca Nevola, a PhD candidate from Italy, has had a long history of living and studying in both the cities and rural areas of Yemen. Before arriving in July, Luca had expected to find a Yemen much different from the one he has come to know. During a brief interview Luca was asked how the picture which media outlets have depicted differs from the reality of daily life here in Sana'a.

[2011-09-06. Editor's Note: Luca is back with us (he does this a lot), spending most of his time living in some village and doing anthropology things. If you are interested in doing research in Yemen, we can help you (I can never resist a plug)]

The Sana'a Cultural House

Looking through the window and out onto the street in the Old City.
Looking through the window and out onto the street in the Old City.

Yesterday a group of students traveled to the Sana’a Cultural Heritage House – an ancient home in the Old City that has since been turned into a museum.

The house is a fascinating glimpse into the long history of Yemen and Sana’a in particular.

The curator took a minute out of the tour to speak a little about the history of the house.

We climbed to the rooftop just in time to see the city awash in early evening light.

Bint as-Sahn: The Perfect (Yemeni) Dessert?

Bint as Sahn (“Daughter of the Dish”)  is a traditional Yemeni dessert consisting of light, flaky dough topped with sesame seeds and honey. Yesterday students were treated to a lesson in how to cook this tasty dish, and now we can share the recipe with you!

  • ½ Kilo of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large spoon of kreme caramel
  • ½ spoon of yeast
  • ½ spoon of salt
  • ½ spoon of sugar
  • ½ cup of sumun (ghee or clarified butter)
  • A little vegetable oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Honey, as much as you like!
  • A large, round baking tray (we used metal)

1. Heat up the sumun until it liquefies

2. In a large mixing bowl, put in your flour, yeast, kreme caramel, sugar, and salt

3. Make a hole in the middle of the flour

4. Put in your two eggs and one cup of liquid sumun

5. Add enough water and begin kneading with your hands. Slowly add water as needed until your dough reaches a gooey buy firm consistency. After about 6 minutes of kneading, add a small palmful of vegetable oil.

6. Once the dough is suitable solid, cover it with a plastic bag and let it sit while you grease the baking trays with a little leftover sumun and flour

7. Take little fist-sized balls of the dough and place them in the pan until you have used up all the dough. Then roll the balls until they are smooth and solid. Cover with plastic when you finish.

8. With the back of a spoon, lightly spread a little vegetable oil over each one.

9. Take a ball and put it on a well-floured surface. Flatten it out with the tips of your finders. Then toss it back and forth like a pizza, widening and flattening the dough until it is very thin (much thinner than pizza would be!). If it rips a little, its not a huge problem.

10. Place the dough in an empty baking tray and spread it out, pinching the sides to the sides of the tray.

11. Repeat the flattening process with each ball of dough. For one tray of bint as sahn you want around 8-9 layers of dough.

12. After you have applied the second layer of dough, drizzle a mixture of liquid sumun and vegetable oil over the dough. Spread about and repeat for each successive layer.

13. Once you have reached your top layer, drizzle sumun and vegetable oil and then spread the sesame seeds over the top.

14. Bake in a hot oven for around 10 minutes, or until the dough looks cooked. You do not want it too crispy – remember, these are very thin layers and will cook quickly!

15. As soon as the bint as sahn is removed from the oven, pour as much honey on top as you like, cut yourself a slice, and enjoy a bit of Yemeni cuisine at its finest!!

[2011-01-24. Editor's Note: If this looks slightly familiar, that is because I stole it, corrected the grammar, and put it here. Do not expect much more food blogging, though - we accept that we can't compete with yemenkitchen]

A Week in Aden

In November the YCMES, like much of Yemen, took an official break for the Eid al Adha holiday. During this time, several students took advantage of their free time and traveled to Aden, the famous port city of southern Yemen.

The view of Crater, a district in Aden, from the site of the old Zoroastrian temple

Traveling to Aden from Sana'a, one is able to fully grasp the geographic and cultural diversity of the country. Aden's history as a trading center and its almost 200 years under British rule have resulted in a a cosmopolitan center much different from the capital to the north. One is immediately struck by the wide streets, post-colonial architecture (the traditional 'gingerbread houses' of Sana'a are not to be found), and relatively laid back and liberal atmosphere.

Danielle hanging out with some new friends on the beach

During the trip, we made the most of our time by first exploring the old district, Crater. Evidence of its multicultural past could be seen in the numerous churches, Hindu temple and even a defunct Zoroastrian tower of silence. Afterward, we settled down for a cup of tea by the sea, climbed the famous Seera Castle (video above) and ate freshly-caught seafood. And of course, we spent plenty of time on the lovely, secluded beaches!!


Yemeni students head to Germany

Laila (featured in the video below) is participating in a Yemeni-German exchange program administered by the YCMES. Five German students arrived to the College a week ago and will remain here in Sana'a for 5 months. Today, our five Yemeni participants embark on their semester-long journey to Germany. In this video, Laila shares her thoughts about the upcoming trip.