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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Arab Spring: Popular Culture and the Shaabi Arts: Yemen

This guide covers developments in pop culture in parts of the Arab world affected by the Arab Spring and more recent political movements. Countries of focus include Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt

Sample Keywords

  • "Change Square" Yemen
  • ساحة التغيير اليمن
  • Murad Subay
  • Yemen Revolution
  • الثورة اليمنية
  • Yemen Protests
  • احتجاجات اليمن
  • Yemen Uprising
  • انتفاضة اليمن
  • "Day of Rage" Yemen
  • يوم الغضب في اليمن
  • "Arab Spring" Yemen
  • الربيع العربي اليمن
  • Yemen Taiz Protests
  • احتجاجات اليمن تعز
  • Yemeni Civil War

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Pop Culture



Yemen has, like many other countries covered by this guide, undergone a turbulent decade since the Arab Spring reached its borders. The Arab Spring itself prompted a revolutionary movement, which successfully overthrew the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. However, this revolution was contested at the national and international levels, ultimately giving way to further civil conflict. Contemporary Yemeni pop culture is almost singularly focused on various aspects of the country's ongoing war.

General Resources:

Hip Hop

Hip hop in Yemen is a small scene, but has a long history. In its early days, it was nurtured by Yemeni-American musicians who had been exposed to hip hop during the genre's rise to popularity through the 70's and 80's. Its modern profile is relatively low, in part due to the extreme disruption of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. This content particularly limits the scene's international footprint. However, some artists living abroad or who have fled their homeland are still active, rapping about Yemen's struggles and their hopes for change

Artist Profiles


General Resources:



(PC: The Intercept)




Murad Subay


Murad Subay is one of Sudan's most prominent street artists. He sometimes organizes his work into campaigns, such as "The Walls Remember Their Faces" (which presented the stenciled faces of disappeared Yemeni political prisoners) and the "12th Hour Campaign" (which discusses political and cultural concerns in Yemen).


Further Reading:



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