Yemen on Twitter

20 people to follow

Society
Afrah Nasser

After being inspired by a piece selecting 20 tweeps from Lebanon, I prepared this list of people tweeting about Yemen. Originally, I wanted to do a 10 must-follow-list, but since there are so many good tweeps, I expanded the list to include 20 tweeps. They have made the list based on three factors. First, my own preference. Second, they truly have something worth saying. Third, they have commitment and integrity. The descriptions provided about each tweep is based on my own experience of  interacting with them.

Mohammed al-Asaadi (238 followers) @alasaadim

A prominent Yemeni journalist, who in 2006 was involved in a big scandal when the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad was posted in the newspaper Yemen Observer. Mohammed was jailed for that several months and was only released after submitting a bailout. At the moment, he is the spokesman of UNICEF’s Yemen office. His tweets are personal and has nothing to do with the UNICEF, but they are often very warm and concern children and young orphans in Yemen. On a personal level, I have had the privilege to meet Mohammed in person in Yemen. I can not describe how humble and supportive he is.

Abdulrahman Jaber (647 followers) @ARJaber

Abdulrahman is not someone who tweets all the time, but whenever he does, he really has something worth saying. He is a very open-minded photographer and graphic designer who lives between Yemen, KSA and Malaysia. He tweets about his own observations of daily life in Yemen, and sometimes he also gives tips on self-development. When the uprising in Yemen started, he was one of the first revolutionary photographers at Change Square in Sanaa. Later, that experience inspired him to come out with some wonderful artistic work.

Osan Boairan (840 followers) @OsanBoairan

If you need a real laugh about the current political situation in Yemen, Osan’s tweets are the answer for you. They are funny, sharp and cynical, and concern both Yemen and the region. Osan is a young Yemeni who works as an accountant in Aden, but on his free time he blogs and tweets about developments in the country’s south. He only writes in Arabic, and his tweets are both insightful and provide a historical context. He sometimes curses, which adds a distinguished flavour to his tweets.

Abubaker al-Shamahi (849 followers) @abubakrabdullah

Some time during February or March 2011, as I entered the building of Yemen Times, I noticed a young outsider at the office, glued to his laptop; working. Months passed, then I found him on Twitter since he usually tweets about Yemen. His name is Abubaker and he is a British-Yemeni freelance journalist and editor of Comment Middle East. I like reading his pieces about Yemen because he always makes sure to explain things and never takes things for granted.

Sadeq Maktary (888 followers) @sadekmaktary

During the fierceful armed fight that was brought about by the security forces in Taiz city last year, Sadeq was one of few reliable tweeps from Taiz who could describe the situation and provide political analysis. He seems to be a young, liberal revolutionary who had very high expectations of the revolution, but got disappointed with all the setbacks Yemen has witnessed. I say “he seems” because I have not met Sadeq in person – yet. One day I will! His tweets about Yemen always provide info about Taiz that mainstream media fail to do.

Fahd Aqlan (952 followers) @FahdAqlan

Before the start of the so-called Arab Spring, Fahed was very successful in using Facebook to connect with thousands of Yemenis around the world through the page You think you’ve seen Yemen?, which collects photographs taken in Yemen. The page’s around 7,800 fans makes it one of the most popular Facebook pages ever about Yemen. Fahd himself is a Yemeni man who lives in Egypt. He tweets mostly in Arabic and shares comments on current political developments, flavoured with his own analysis.

Farea al-Muslimi (1,318 followers) @almuslimi

I have e-known Farea since 2009 when I was working at the newspaper Yemen Observer. After reading an article where he was quoted, I was very impressed by him. Later, somehow I found him on Twitter, and since then, we have kept in touch. Farea is an intelligent young Yemeni who is studying Political Science and Public Administration at the American University in Beirut. His serious and sharp tweets about Yemen always provide a different dimension which helps to evaluate the political situation. Periodically, he also writes essays for different publications about Yemen.

Amal Nasser (1,954 followers) @Amal_Nasser

I am not including Amal in this list because she is my sister, but because I honestly think that she has something worth saying. A soon-to-be-called economist, Amal is a young Yemeni who lives in Berlin where she is studying. She is one of the leading Yemeni tweeps who  always makes use of her economist mind to analyse developments in the country. Her tweets are witty and intense, she curses a lot, and has great level of cynicism and satire.

Summer Nasser (2,160 followers) @SummerNasser

Summer is my spiritual sister. We quite often get the question: “Are you sisters?”, to which we both answer: “I wish!”. Summer is a young, vibrant and outspoken Yemeni-American living in New York. Even though she is only 18 years old, she surprises me with her wise and sophisticated tweets. She diligently tweets about Yemen, always brining fresh info – like when she tweeted about the incident when a young man threw his shoe on Yemen’s former President Saleh during his visit to New York in February. Summer also tweeted from Aden when she visited her home city a few months ago, telling about a very harsh reality for IDPs in southern Yemen.

Alaa Isam (2,152 followers) @AlaaIsam

Alaa blogs and tweets from Aden where he has endured lots of trouble because of his political stance. Yet, he never complains. He is one of the bravest tweeps that I know from Aden. I had the chance to read his blog during the very first days of Yemen’s uprising, and later on I found him on Twitter. Alaa is an activist and a human rights defender, who tweets mostly about Aden but tries to cover other issues as well.

Mohammed al-Basha (2,577 followers) @Yemen411

Mohammed is one of few Yemeni governmental officers on Twitter, and he is famous for his facilitating of international journalists’ visa applications to enter Yemen. He is also the spokesperson of Yemen’s embassy in Washington DC, USA. While his Twitter account is not an official one, he nevertheless often shares exclusive tweets fresh from the oven. What I find interesting is how he is very diplomatic when interacting with anti-government tweeps.

Ibrahim Mothana (3,122 followers) @imothanaYemen

Whenever I have an argument with Ibrahim, he always wins. He is one of the most intelligent Yemeni men I have ever met. A young activist, author and Arab Thought Foundation ambassador who lives in Sanaa, Ibrahim was one of the first people to actively tweet about the situation in Yemen when the protests started. Since he is engaged in much work, he tweets periodically. However, whenever he is on Twitter, he provides insightful tweets. I feel really blessed that he is also one of my good friends.

Gregory Johansen (4,515 followers) @gregorydjohnsen

Gregory is a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern studies at Princeton University who lives in the USA but regularly blogs about Yemen on his blog Waq al-Waq. He is not any ordinary “foreign expert” on Yemen, but has been to Yemen many times and spent several years learning Arabic. Gregory mostly tweets about Yemen and is never afraid to openly criticise US policies towards Yemen. His tweets are sharp and very sophisticated.

Iona Craig (5,610 followers) @ionacraig

Iona is a British freelance journalist who has covered Yemen’s political developments widely. I once met her when she came to Yemen Observer to train us journalists in how to report in hazardous situation. She was great! In fact, she was one of few female foreign journalists who were at the frontline during the clashes with the security forces, where she fearlessly reported about the crackdown of protesters. In her tweets, she humorously complains about the recurring electricity blackouts and the water shortage in Sanaa.

Hind al-Eryani (7,418 followers) @Dory_Eryani

Better known as “The Mother of all Yemenis on Twitter”, Hind is online almost 24/7, diligently tweeting about Yemen. She resides in Beirut, Lebanon, where she works as a social media analyst. Hind is the mastermind behind exposing the unprofessionalism of Reuters who had their main correspondent in Yemen working closely with former president Saleh. She is also the person behind two famous campaigns in Yemen: No Qat a Day and No Qat at Government Facilities. Her tweets are both bold and controversial.

Tom Finn (8,636 followers) @tomfinn2

I used to consider Tom as a rival after he joined the newspaper Yemen Times and reported about Yemen for several international publications. Then, sometime during January or February 2011, he wrote a lovely blogpost naming five bloggers from Yemen to follow. Yes, he mentioned me there. From that point, my perception of him changed. A British freelance journalist, Tom has been living in Sanaa since before the protests started. Although busy most of the time, he tries to tweet about Yemen, providing fresh and insightful news.

Noon Arabia (8,735 followers) @NoonArabia

Noon Arabia has been one of Yemen’s strongest social media voices since the start of the so-called Arab Spring. She blogs and tweets rigorously about the situation in Yemen, as well as on other topics. She is now part of the Global Voices online community and writes about political and social developments in Yemen. Noon Arabia has lived in Yemen and several other countries, both Arab and European. Her heart, however, is in Yemen and Egypt where she holds dual citizenship. Her tweets are simple but profound, and she prefers to remain “Noon Arabia” instead of revealing her real name.

Atiaf al-Wazeer (8,834 followers) @WomanfromYemen

Right in the middle of the uprising in Yemen, in February 2011, I was at a seminar in Sanaa to discuss the political situation. There, I met this lovely lady. I introduced myself: “Hi, my name is Afrah,” I said. “And I am Atiaf al-Wazeer,” she answered, and continued: “Oh wait! I follow you on Twitter, where my name is Woman from Yemen.” I replied: “Finally we meet. I follow you too!”. That was our first meeting. Since then, I have gotten to know more about Atiaf, who blogs  and tweets with passion from Sanaa. Even though she has been blogging since 2007, it was with the protests last year that her sharp blog posts and tweets really started to shine.

Marwan al-Muraisy (11,781 followers) @almuraisy

The first time I got to know about Marwan was in Sanaa. I saw him speak on TV to France24 about the scandal of Saleh supporters having manipulated pictures at the national newspaper Al-Thawra. In the interview, he beautifully reported how the newspaper had manipulated a photo to make it look like Saleh’s supporters were millions while in reality they were much fewer. Marwan, who lives in Saudi Arabia, tweets about the situation in Yemen and other countries. In addition to that, he is very interactive with other tweeps.

Tawakkol Karman (26,682 followers) @TawakkolKarman

A few years before the so-called Arab Spring, Tawakkol was organising regular protests in front of Yemen’s cabinet, demanding political reforms. Today, she is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and all eyes are on her. She is new on Twitter, but in a very short time, she managed to score the highest number of followers of any Yemeni tweep, as far as I know. Given the fact that she is a very busy person, she mainly uses her Twitter account to distribute her Facebook statements about the situation in Yemen and the region.

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