Arab, Yemeni in Djibouti

Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Arab, Yemeni
Country: Djibouti
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 75,000
World Population: 8,031,000
Primary Language: Arabic, Taizzi-Adeni Spoken
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.09 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Arab, Yemeni
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula are the original Arabs. Tribes of nomads from the Arabian Desert developed Arab culture. From there, they expanded into what we now know as the Arab World, where Arabic is the key language.

Yemenis started migrating north during the pre-Islamic era. Many Arab families with common names (e.g., Haddad, Haddadeen, which means Smith or metalworker) that have long family trees in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan trace their ancestry to that early migration from Yemen. For example, the family name, Haddadeen, originated in Sana’a.

There are many Arabic dialects spoken in Yemen. Today, there is a sharp division between Yemeni from the northern tribes and the southern ones. Those from the north descended from Mesopotamians, who entered their land 1,000 years before Christ. They claim Ismail from the Book of Genesis, and their patriarch. Those from the south believe they descended from Qahtan, also known as Joktan, in the Bible.

The north and the south were separate nations in the 70s and 80s; one backed by communists and the other by the West. They merged for a couple of years, but now they are fighting once again. Iran backs one side using Shia Islam as their banner, while the other supports a Sunni Muslim head of state. Yemenis would love to have the fighting stop, but the situation is out of their control.

The war is driving people out of Yemen, and there is a large Yemeni diaspora. Some of these are in Djibouti, specifically at the coastal town of Oback.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Djibouti is very close to Yemen, so some Yemenis will flee there and start a new life. One such man started a popular restaurant where the local people enjoy Yemeni dishes. He hires other Yemeni refugees, even those who are only staying for a short time.

Most Yemenis who have fled to Djibouti do the same kind of work they did in Yemen. Businessmen, oil workers, shop keepers, etc. pick up where they left off. Many have to deal with the trauma they faced while trying to start new lives in a new land.

Yemeni Arab society is patrilineal, so they pass down inheritances through the males. Since they consider children a family’s greatest asset, women are valued according to how many children they can bear.

Although Muslims can have up to four wives, most marriages among Yemeni Arabs are monogamous. In the past, the parents arranged all marriages; however, it is becoming more acceptable for young people to choose their own mates.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Yemeni Arabs have had a close association with Islam since it began in the 600s. Today, nearly all the Yemeni Arabs are Muslim, no matter where they live. Two-thirds of Yemenis adhere to some form of Sunni Islam, and about one-third are Shia Muslims. Though they vary in terms of tribal loyalty, one thing Yemeni Arabs all agree on is devotion to the Islamic religious system. Almost none of them have put their trust in Jesus Christ, no matter where they live.

What Are Their Needs?

Yemeni Arabs in diaspora need peace in their homeland. All of them have family members whose lives are in jeopardy because of the fighting. There will be no end to the fighting until there is humble repentance, and the acknowledgement that they must submit to the sin-free savior. They need the intervention of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for a lasting and just peace in Yemen that will allow the Yemeni diaspora to return home.

Pray for an end to foreign military intervention and blockades in Yemen.

Pray for the Lord to use the instability in Yemen to help Muslim Yemenis to understand they need a savior.

Pray for the small number of Yemeni believers to boldly proclaim the gospel to their families, friends and neighbors.

Pray for small, extended-family based home fellowships to multiply in Djibouti.

Pray for more workers to enter the harvest via foreign assistance organizations.

Text Source:   Joshua Project