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Najla Abu-Talib (20 April 1972 – 12 August 2011)

Najla Abu-Talib came from two highly cultured and respected families descended from a long line of religious scholars: on her father’s side from the Abu-Talib, from the Rawdha district of Sana’a, and on her mother’s side from the Zabarah, from the old city of Sana’a; the late Mufti of Yemen, Sheikh Ahmad Zabarah, was Najla’s uncle.

In March 1978, Najla’s father, Abdulkarim Abu-Talib, was appointed Economic Counsellor at the Yemen Embassy, London, and took with him to Britain his wife and two young children. London has been their home ever since. Najla first attended Oxford Gardens School in Notting Hill and then King Fahad Academy, Acton. She later graduated with a BA in Politics, Government & Law; and later obtained a Diploma in Information Systems and an MA in International Relations/Conflict analysis. 

Najla’s mother, Khadija, and the writer have been friends for over thirty years, and I first met Najla when she was nine years old. She was an intelligent, vibrant, positive person, with a warm personality and a great sense of humour. She involved herself with many charitable causes aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged people – Yemenis in particular. She served in a variety of fields such as the Peabody Trust (Energy Cooperation) and ‘Action for Children’, but the work which she most enjoyed and where she excelled herself was with Amnesty International (AI). Her posts with AI included Assistant Records Manager, International Information Coordinator, European Information Officer, Middle East Development Assistant, and Middle East Information Officer.

Najla worked voluntarily for various organisations. She was a founder member of the Women’s Network Committee and Sustainability Ambassador; she supported ‘A’ level English students (City Circle); Business Continuity Steering Committees (British Quality Foundation); she was Trustee and Secretary of Muslim Youth Helpline; Executive Committee Member of the British-Yemeni Society; and Festival Cultural Consultant (Arts World Wide). Najla will be especially remembered by the ‘Yemenis In Britain’ (YIB) e-mail group, which she formed in 2005 to give Yemenis the
opportunity to discuss any issues that arose regarding the Yemeni community at large.

Najla was very close to her immediate family, particularly to her mother and brother after the death of her father in July 2002. Najla and I had a great deal in common, and I will always remember her with great affection. She had friends in all walks of life, who really loved the person she was. Of the many tributes to Najla’s memory let me quote the moving words of her brother, Muhammad Abu-Talib: 

‘Najla played a very large part in a lot of people’s lives and hopefully some of her inspiration will have left an impression on those surrounding her. Ya Najla, we will all miss you very dearly and pray that you rest in

Najla, you will indeed be greatly missed. Rahmatu Allah a’alaik.

Assiya al-Haj Yousef