In true Yemeni style, the newly enlarged National Museum was ceremonially opened on the morning of 27 May 2006. A red ribbon was cut and a plaque in Arabic and Sabaic unveiled by the Vice-President, HE Abdul Rabbo Mansur, before a throng of dignitaries including Khalid Ruwaishan, Minister of Culture. The opening of the Museum was a necessary precursor to the opening of the British Council’s ‘Sands of Time’ exhibition in the Museum’s new gallery the same afternoon.
Somewhat to the disturbance of qat-chewers, at 4pm a second throng assembled for the launch of an exhibition of photographs taken mainly by Nigel Groom when a young Political Officer in Bayhan in 1948–50. To his photographs, which were first put on display (with support from Dirham Abdo Saeed and Longulf Trading) by the British-Yemeni Society at its AGM in June 2005, Elizabeth White, Director of the British Council, had added several, more contemporary pictures of the Al-Habili family in the possession of Sharif Haidar Saleh Al-Habili, and had entitled the exhibition ‘Sands of Time’. After the exhibition closes on 16 June, it is planned to move the photographs to a house in Bayhan for permanent display. This accords with Nigel Groom’s wish that the younger generation should have the opportunity to see something of the way of life which their antecedents led but which has since disappeared.
The British Ambassador, Michael Gifford, and Abdulaziz al-Gendary, General Director of the National Museum, both gave short addresses to mark the occasion, whereafter Sharif Haidar led the guests through the new gallery where the 40 or so photographs were displayed.