Stories from Afar & Up Close

A most peculiar visit

...to the Military Museum of Sana'a


One day after class I decided to go explore the cultural life of Sana'a. I went to Midan al Tahrir looking for the National Museum, but ended up in the Military Museum. It must have been my lucky day.

Entrance: a steep 300 rials ($1,50). Click on the image to see a bigger version.

I almost (accidentally) sneaked in for free, until a grumpy officer barked 'must ticket! must ticket!' and sent me back outside. I'm glad he did, otherwise how would I have known that this museum falls under the Department of Moral Guidance, or that it is not allowed throwing the rubbish in?

On the ground floor I was greeted by a couple of old English cars that weren't militarily connected, but didn't fit in the National Museum so they were (quite literally) parked here. Outside, in the sheltered yard, there was an Italian plane almost a century old which attracted a lot of little boys with cameras – although judging by the angle of their lenses this tall foreign woman was a more interesting object to photograph than the leftover pieces of the airplane.

Beautiful displays and beautiful explanations. Just not sure I'd trust that 'armoured' car... (click for bigger!)

Aside from that, this floor was room after room after room of weapons, wars, conquests and peace treaties, sometimes with descriptions googletranslated into English. Not all showcases were intact, tempting me to take out a 'gun captored from the Britain Army', which I decided against on account of the 'do not touch'-signs that were almost as numerous as the bullets lying around next to all the weaponry.

The second floor was even more exciting, because here the museum branched out into other tasks of the military, such as fighting fires in moonlanding gear and being entertained by singers to keep up morale. There were also some taxidermied birds and a mounted tiger that looked very unhappy. However, I was most intrigued by a room with the name 'Hall of the Seventy Days Epic.' I mean, seventy days of Epic, what more could I want, right?

Moonlanding-firefighting gear, fighters 'defencing the revolution' and boys wondering about Seventy Days of Epic. (click for bigger!)

Unfortunately, the Seventy Days Epic must have been a war like any other, because there were the same uniforms, the same medals, and the same overview of the battlefield with little red lights where explosions occurred as in the other rooms. Luckily, the room next to it held a pleasant surprise:  

Look who we have here... (click for bigger!)

Former US president George Bush Sr., smiling at the camera, and former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Salih sporting a 70's suit and an afro! Maybe that's what they meant with EPIC…

All in all a very educational afternoon, brought to you by – let's not forget – the Moral Guidance Department of the government of Yemen. Shukran!