With the start of the uprisings in Yemen, I knew well enough that the right place for me to be was in the masses of those leading the revolution. I understood the vitality of documenting this crucial moment in Yemeni history, documenting the demands of both the opposition and those loyal to the current leadership. Although born in the US, I have always felt an intense connection with Yemen. My first visit was in 2005, and I insist, it was love at first sight. Since then, I have spent over 30 nonconsecutive months touring the landscapes, studying the people and experiencing the culture. My distinctive identity of being both an insider and outsider gives me the ability of having both a broad and unique perspective. I would like to share my perspective along with my experiences throughout my stay here. Through my experiences, I hope to further explore Yemen and its complexities, at a time when all is transparent and shifting.
Raja Althaibani is a college student, a community organizer, media stringer, and a photographer, and she’s only 24. She is currently covering the revolution in Yemen working as a photojournalist and stringer for media outlets like CNN and MSNBC and has been a frequent guest on NPR’s The Takeaway and many other global radio programs. You can also find her work and interviews through other media outlets like the BBC. Ms. Althaibani is a proud Yemeni American, born and raised in Brooklyn, and her passion for her heritage is translated through her work with Not-for-Profit organizations domestically and internationally. As a researcher she focused on the evolution of tribal law and the influence of the Yemeni central government system on the traditional tribal systems. Raja Althaibani is an AmeriCorps alumna who served one year in the largest Arab American community in New York state providing bilingual culturally sensitive social service support to newly arrived Arab immigrants.
Most recently, Ms. Althaibani helped launch the “Understanding Islam Initiative” with President Jeremy Davis of John Jay College of Criminal Justice which included an exhibition of her photography. She is currently pursuing her CUNY BA in Human Rights and International Development. Through her work with numerous accredited human rights organizations, she has insight on diplomacy and international relations. Ms. Althaibani’s strengths lie in community mobilization, political analysis of the status of Yemen, international human rights and Islam.