Arab, Yemeni in United Kingdom

Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Arab, Yemeni
Country: United Kingdom
10/40 Window: No
Population: 34,000
World Population: 8,798,200
Primary Language: Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.10 %
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, especially in nearby countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, and Kenya.

There is also a diaspora in Western nations like the UK and the US. Yemeni Arabs have been in the UK since the 1860s. They served in the British navy in World Wars I and II. They also worked in shipyards during these conflicts. Most were from rural parts of Yemen, and they had to learn both a new language and British ways. A large number of Yemenis arrived in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Yemeni Community Centre in the UK offers a festival, fashion show and folk dancing. Their community also teaches Arabic and helps support newly arriving Yemenis in need of education, medicine, and help. These Yemeni expatriates also send money back home to Yemen.

There are Yemenis who have been in the UK for generations. These Yemenis can be lawyers, shopkeepers, dock workers, or anything else. It was difficult when they first arrived, but now they are doing well. Some have inter-married with the British.

Others have arrived more recently. The new arrivals need help in overcoming the traumas of war and getting re-established in their new homeland. Most of them live in various urban centers in the UK. They prefer to live near other Yemenis. The fierce controversies in Yemen spill over to the Yemeni diaspora in the UK. There are those who sympathize with either side of the Yemeni civil war.

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 the UK.

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

Text Source:   Joshua Project