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The Ninth Yemen Exchange An Intensive Online Course on Yemen

Online via ZOOM

September 25 - October 6, 2023 16:00-20:00 Sana'a / 8:00-12:00 EST Monday-Friday

Summary Agenda Details Fees Partners
Summary Agenda Details Fees Partners

The Ninth Yemen Exchange is an intensive online version of the Yemen Exchange organized by the Sana’a Center and The Exchange Foundation. The course is designed to provide unique access to information, perspectives, updates, and analysis on Yemen for those seeking to develop a working background on the country as well as those already thoroughly versed in its dynamics. During the ten-day program conducted online, participants from around the world will listen to Yemeni analysts, academics, politicians, bureaucrats, business leaders, and international experts to gain insight and rare first-hand knowledge about the country from a wide range of perspectives. Participants will have the chance to both virtually engage with speakers during the sessions and connect with speakers individually after the Exchange.

The sessions themselves – totaling more than 30 hours – will dive into several specific areas, including but not limited to: Yemen’s multifaceted conflicts, socio-political dynamics, internal divisions and alliances among parties to the conflict, developments in the southern governorates, military and political developments on the ground, the status of various armed groups, gender issues, the regional battle for Yemen, the global response, the state of the economy, the UN-led peace process, and a variety of other topics.

  • +60 Speakers and facilitators
  • +30 Hours
  • 10 Days

Please note that to ensure the safety of our speakers, many of whom will be participating from within Yemen, certain names will only be announced to accepted applicants.

Day One: / Monday, September 25
  • 16:00 - 17:00 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:00 EST
    Welcome, introduction, and course rules
    The Exchange team
  • 17:15 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:15 - 11:45 EST
    Who is fighting whom, where, and why?

    Via maps and other visual aids, this session will untangle complex political alliances, identify divisions, and outline major conflicts within Yemen. Analysts will give a synopsis of current frontlines, armed groups, local and regional actors, as well as other stakeholders, bringing unexplored roots of the war to light.

    Maged al-Madhaji
    Co-founder and Chairperson of the Sana’a Center and regular commentator on Yemen for Arabic media.
    Abdulghani Al-Iryani
    Senior researcher at the Sana’a Center. Prior to joining the Sana’a Center, Al-Iryani advised many INGOs and international organizations on politics and development realities in Yemen, working for the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, UNDP, and the World Bank.
    Maysaa Shujaa al-Deen
    Senior researcher at the Sana’a Center. Al-Deen’s research focuses on religious sectarianism and political transformation and Yemen’s geopolitical role in the region
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    Visualizing Yemen’s War

    An analysis of real-time data which will help you visualize the hard numbers and soft targets affected by Yemen’s war.

    Andrea Carboni
    Head of Analysis at ACLED.
    Ghaidaa Al-Rashidy
    Researcher and visual data specialist at the Sana’a Center.
Day Two: / Tuesday, September 26
  • 16:00 - 17:15 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:15 EST
    Making Sense of Houthi Power Structures

    Houthi ambitions and policy goals are famously opaque. By examining their governance mechanisms, organizational structure, and the public policy choices they have made thus far, this session sheds light on deeper political machinations.

    Maysaa Shuja al-Deen
    Senior researcher at the Sana’a Center. Al-Deen’s research focuses on the Houthi rise to power, religious sectarianism and political transformation, and Yemen’s geopolitical role in the region.
    Emanuel Schäublin
    Anthropologist working for the Mediation Support Team at the Center for Security Studies (ETH Zurich) and member of the Sana’a Center Geneva Association. Schäublin’s research is on surveillance, Islam, mediating conflict, and ethnographic research methods under political oppression.
  • 17:30 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:30 - 11:45 EST
    Tribes and the State: A Macro View

    Tribes have a highly complex history in Yemen, their relationship with the state has waxed and waned, at times strengthening tribal authority and influence, while other communities find themselves completely fractured as powerful relationships unravel. This session is essential to understanding life on the ground in Yemen.

    Nadwa Al-Dawsari
    Non-resident Scholar with the Middle East Institute and fellow at the Center on Armed Groups. Expert on tribes and non-state armed groups.
    Faisal Abu Ras
    Tribal shaykh, Member of Parliament from 2003-05 and former Ambassador of Yemen to Lebanon and Cyprus.
    Bilqees Al-Lahabi
    Researcher at the Sana’a Center, focusing on political and social developments in Yemen. Al-Lahbi has more than 15 years’ experience in research, civil society, development and project management.
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    Political Representative

    A representative from the Islah party in Yemen will speak about the party's history, its positions during the conflict, and its current state.

Day Three: / Wednesday, September 27
  • 16:00 - 17:00 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:00 EST
    The Fractured Rial: Yemen’s Financial sector

    This session will examine current and post-war challenges facing Yemen’s economy, as this war is in many ways an economic one, and introduce possible economic frameworks to rebuild a post-war Yemen.

  • 17:15 - 18:15 Sana’a / 10:15 - 11:30 EST
    Salafist Movement in Yemen

    Tensions between Salafi and Houthi groups are relatively new to Yemen, emerging in the 1980s and 1990s. This dynamic plays a huge role in the current conflict, and is essential to understanding the Houthi stronghold over northern Yemen.

    Amjad Khoshafa
    A journalist and researcher focusing on Salafist groups in Yemen.
    Laurent Bonnefoy
    Research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and author of Salafism in Yemen: Transnationalism and Religious Identity, London: Hurst, 2011.
  • 18:45 - 20:00 Sana’a / 11:45 - 13:00 EST
    Water — the Next Crisis

    As the conflict converges with climate destabilization, in a nation suffering from extreme water-scarcity, a conversation about water is essential. This session brings together three experts, who all share water as their research focus.

    Helen Lackner
    Author of “Yemen in Crisis” (2023) and “Yemen: Poverty and Conflict” (2020), and consultant in developmental issues, focused on water. She has been working in Yemen for more than 50 years.
    Musaed Aklan
    Senior Researcher at the Sana’a Center with focus on water and environment.
Day Four: / Thursday, September 28
  • 16:00 - 17:15 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:15 EST
    Powering Yemen’s Future

    For a gulf nation, Yemen’s energy sector is quite young. This opens the door to conversations about sustainable and renewable energy as experts from the energy sector discuss realistic options for Yemen’s future.

    Abeer Al-Iryani
    Doctoral Tutor at University of Sussex, Al-Iryani’s research intersects politics, economics, sustainable development, and innovation systems, particularly the adoption of Solar PV technologies in a conflict context.
  • 17:30 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:30 - 11:45 EST
    Tribal Justice and Conflict Resolution

    In a deeper discussion of tribes and their role in Yemen, this session specifically focuses on conflict, and the ways that tribal resolutions can help or harm peacebuilding in Yemen.

    Ali Abu Suraima
    Tribal shaykh and political leader.
    Hayam Al-Qarmoushi
    Yemeni tribal and social activist who contributes to resolving conflicts at the local level.
    Ahmed Al-Arami
    Contributing researcher at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and the executive director of Arabia Felix Center for Studies. His research focuses on social and tribal structures and transformations in Yemen.
    Adel Dashela
    A researcher with a PhD in English literature focusing on political prison literature in the Arab world. His studies focus on Yemeni affairs, including political, social dynamics, and tribal issues.
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    Political Representative

    A representative from the Southern Transitional Council in Yemen will speak about the party's history, its positions during the conflict, and its current state.

Day Five: / Friday, September 29
  • 16:00 - 17:15 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:15 EST
    The South

    The “southern issue,” shorthand for the political and economic fallout from Yemen’s 1994 civil war, has weakened the social fabric that holds Yemen together. This panel will attempt to outline the history of this rift, the very real inequalities, and perceived injustices, which lead to calls for southern secession.

    Mohammed Al-Kathiri
    Founder and executive director of the Peace and Building Foundation.
    Abdulrahman Anees
    Writer, journalist, and lecturer at the Faculty of Mass Communication at the University of Aden.
  • 17:30 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:30 - 11:45 EST
    Women at War

    The war has heightened the restrictive nature of gender norms, seriously impacting women’s daily lives in Yemen. Yet, women’s daily practices, from caregiving to resolving conflict on community levels, have slowly but steadily impacted peacebuilding.

    Dr. Maryam Alkubati
    Lecturer, researcher and gender specialist.
    Sawsan Al-Refaei
    Gender and equity expert
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    The Politics of Economic Development
    Conflict has created the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, but the collapsing economy is sustaining it. Reconstruction and recovery will demand public and private partnerships, with local voices raised to the ears of policymakers.
    Rafat Al-Akhali
    Co-founding Partner at DeepRoot Consulting and former Yemeni Minister of Youth and Sports.
    Osamah Al-Rawhani
    Co-Executive Director of the Sana’a Center and expert in the field of peace and conflict resolution.
Day Six: / Monday, October 2
  • 16:00 - 17:00 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:15 EST
    Regional dynamics in Yemen

    Dynamics are constantly shifting in Yemen and throughout the region. In a summary of research provided in real-time by a team of analysts throughout Yemen and the Middle East, Thomas Juneau and Sanam Vakil will spend this session providing an up-to-date synopsis of regional power shifts.

    Thomas Juneau
    Non-resident fellow at the Sana’a Center and associate professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, focusing on Iran and Yemen.
    Sanam Vakil
    Director of Chatham House MENA Programme, and Adjunct Professor of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe.
  • 17:30 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:30 - 11:45 EST
    Saudi-Iran Rapprochement

    Rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran signaled the arrival of an unexpected new era in Middle Eastern diplomacy. To help contextualize this agreement, representatives from research centers in Saudi Arabia and Iran will speak together.

    Hasan Ahmadian
    Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Tehran.
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    The UAE in Yemen

    When the conflict began in 2015, the UAE took swift action in southern Yemen. This session will focus on the strategic objectives of the UAE’s outsized presence on the ground in Yemen, their interest in stability along the Arabian peninsula, and the UAE’s current strategy in Yemen.

Day Seven: / Tuesday, October 3
  • 16:00 - 17:30 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:30 EST
    AQAP & the Islamic State in Yemen
    This session will use visual aids to map the activities of non-state armed groups currently active in Yemen’s civil war, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and ISIS, and their potential involvement in post-war Yemen. It will also cover foreign counterterrorism operations inside Yemen.
    Hussam Radman
    Sana’a Center researcher, focusing on southern politics and armed groups.
    Elisabeth Kendall
    Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge University, expert on militant Jihad and Arabic poetry, and member of the Sana’a Center advisory board.
    Yemeni Journalist
    Yemeni journalist and researcher specializing in Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
    Eleonora Ardemagni
    Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).
  • 17:45 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:45 - 11:45 EST
    UN Missions in Yemen

    From peacekeeping to development and distribution of aid, this session details the UN’s intricate involvement in Yemen.

    Muin Sherim
    Deputy Head of Mission at the Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen.
    Ahmed Nagi
    Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Yemen.
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    Saudi Representative

    A representative of Saudi Arabia will speak about the Kingdom’s current involvement in Yemen, the history of their relationship and the way forward for the two neighbors.

Day Eight: / Wednesday, October 4
  • 16:00 - 17:15 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:15 EST
    The Global Response to the Yemen war

    This session will explore the international aid responses to the war in Yemen, with a particular focus on humanitarian initiatives and the FSO Safer.

  • 17:30 - 18:45 Sana’a / 10:30 - 11:45 EST
    Security and Pollution in the Oil Sector

    Crude oil has the power to sink or float Yemen’s economy, but production is currently halted by security concerns, causing new layers of environmental damage.

  • 19:00 - 20:00 Sana’a / 12:00 - 13:00 EST
    Coffee and Honey Production in Yemen

    Beekeeping and coffee production are ancient Yemeni practices still performed in the same ways today, in small batches, by hand, with expert attention. Just as the global market has begun to value the generational knowledge and unique natural environment that makes these delicacies irreplaceable, war threatens these ancient ways of life.

    Dr. Abdullah Nasher
    Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Sana’a.
    Sumaya Abdulsattar
    Sana’a Center Project Manager and International Partner at World Business Angels Investment Forum.
Day Nine: / Thursday, October 5
  • 16:00 - 17:15 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:15 EST
    Prisoner Exchanges
    In April, 2023, over the course of three short days, nearly a thousand prisoners were exchanged among warring parties in Yemen. This exchange was the result of several rounds of negotiation, with different parties eventually striking a deal in Stockholm Sweden, 2018. No swap materialized for years following the agreement. This session discusses the complicated negotiations, and life in Yemen for families of prisoners of war.
  • 17:30 - 18:30 Sana’a / 10:30 - 11:30 EST
    The Art Scene’s Survival in Yemen

    Without encouragement, without funding, without visibility, Yemen’s art scene still holds on. Art has become an essential outlet for the struggles artists face daily, and so art manages to sustain itself in an otherwise unforgiving environment.

    Amna Al- Nasiri
    A Yemeni visual artist.
    Ryan Al-Shibani
    A Yemeni journalist and writer.
  • 18:45 - 20:00 Sana’a / 11:45 - 13:00 EST
    Political representative
Day Ten: / Friday, October 6
  • 16:00 - 17:15 Sana’a / 09:00 - 10:00 EST
    Architecture in Yemen: A Fragile Heritage

    Yemen is full of buildings unlike anywhere in the world. Ancient high-rises defy imagination; built using sustainable materials, mud-brick, traced with white lime to reflect the sun, with bio-waterless plumbing and rooftop gardens, somehow modern skyscrapers built according to trendy ecological design principles are centuries old.

    Noha Sadek
    An independent Islamic Art historian based in Paris and a research associate with the Centre Français d'Archéologie et de Sciences.
    Elham Omar
    Translation Coordinator at the Sana’a Center.
  • 17:15 - 18:15 Sana’a / 10:15 - 11:15 EST
    Political Representative
    Jamila Ali Rajaa, vice-chairperson of the Consultation and Reconciliation Commission, will speak about the Commission’s work to support the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC).
    Jamila Ali Rajaa
    Sana’a Center advisory board member and former Yemeni diplomat. She has worked as an ambassador, senior analyst, lecturer and policy consultant for the UN and European foreign agencies, and currently serves as vice-chairperson of the Consultation and Reconciliation Commission.
    Ryan Bailey
    Chief editor at the Sana’a Center.
  • 18:30 - 20:00 Sana’a / 11:30 - 13:00 EST
    Debrief and Evaluation
    Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies

All costs related to The Yemen Exchange are funded by participant fees, except for scholarships provided by both organizations (see below). There is no supplementary government or private sector support, a fact that allows us to assure participants of a relatively independent platform for the exchange of information, open dialogue, and understanding.

All sessions are held under the Chatham House Rule, with some sessions consisting of only one speaker in order to assure as open and unfiltered a discussion as possible when covering sensitive topics. Simultaneous translation to English and Arabic will be provided.

Before the course begins, accepted applicants will receive a course syllabus and the final agenda. Throughout the course, necessary agenda updates will be communicated with the participants on a daily basis. Participants are encouraged to connect with experts and speakers after the sessions, to pursue deeper lines of questioning for their own work and research, subject to each speaker’s approval.

Applying for a scholarship – The Yemen Exchange currently has five scholarships (covering the participation fee) available for researchers who will deepen the social, political and geographic diversity of the Exchange and who can demonstrate both a lack of institutional support or ability to self-fund, and a deep interest in Yemen. For questions related to scholarships, email [email protected].

Participation Fees
1800 $
For governments & for-profit companies
1200 $
For NGOs, non-profit & UN organizations
500 $
For freelance journalists, unaffiliated researchers & academics
For the recipients of five available scholarships

Apply Now

Deadline September 8, 2023

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