Hostility on the Streets of Yemen

The day I was stoned in public happened to be my birthday.

I was walking along a quiet side street, close to the parliament building in Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

I was alone, but I did not think twice when a battered old pick-up truck drove towards me.

It was just like hundreds of other pick-up trucks that I saw every day in Yemen. There were two tribesmen in the driver's cabin and a handful of young men standing in the flat-bed, holding onto the side rails to keep upright.

Yemen Faces New Jihad Generation

The deadly car bombing outside the US embassy in Yemen represents an escalation in attacks against Western targets and shows al Qaeda-inspired jihadis are growing in ability and determination.

Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 16 people, but it is possible that other groups will come forward in the next few days.

There is a complex network of over-lapping splinter cells and claims of rival leadership within Yemen.

Yemen: The rhythms of Ramadan

Ramadan mornings are strangely muted. When I left Yemen last Friday at 8am, the streets were deserted. Even at midday, the shops are quiet and government ministries are running on empty.

The normal swing of things doesn't really get going til afternoon when workers in the juice bars and restaurants pull back the shutters, string up their bunches of mangoes and start setting out tables and chairs in preparation for the evening meal.

Yemen: Raindrops

Here's the husband and wife team that's taking Yemen's water sector by storm.

Rowyan is the brainchild of hydrogeologist Dr Michael Klingler, who runs the Integrated Water Resources Management Project for German development organization GTZ. Dr Klinger's team worked closely with Yemen's National Water Resources Authority to bring the cartoon characters to life and build a comprehensive national awareness strategy, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.

Comic Answer to Yemen Water Crisis

Yemen is projected to be the first Arab country that will use up all of its groundwater, but no-one knows exactly when the water table will dry out or fall beyond a viable level for human use.

In a race to shape public opinion, the government has developed a national mascot to encourage water conservation.

Rowyan is an animated raindrop, a cheery cartoon character with moustache and headdress. His wife, Rowyana, has curling eyelashes. She carries a handbag and wears a veil and full-length black robes.

Yemen: Doctors on the beaches

Night after night, from September to May, Yemen's wild, remote southern beaches provide the backdrop for a slow-burn humanitarian crisis.

Somali refugees stagger from the black sea in weak starlight. Some collapse on the sand flats, weak and exhausted. Others paddle in the silvery surf looking for plastic bags – thrown from the boat – containing their few belongings.

Yemen: Fake beards

I went to chew qat with the actors who play terrorists in a new feature film called 'The Losing Bet'. Ahmed was the first to wander in to the production offices. He had left his shoes outside and was wearing socks, Yemeni-style. He sat down next to me.

Ahmed plays Murad in the film – an unemployed youth turned suicide bomber. "What's in your bag?" I joked. "Don't worry. You're safe," he laughed. "I won't detonate."

Yemen's House of Peace

Tribal violence claims hundreds of lives every year in Yemen. The House of Peace encourages non-violent solutions to land disputes and 'love' crimes – violations of marriage arrangements that offend Yemen's conservative social code.

It's dangerous work. House of Peace members have died during mediation efforts, attempting to diffuse armed stand-offs.

But Sheikh AbdulRahman al-Marwani, the organization's director, also attends lengthy discussion forums with rival groups and arranges theatre workshops to spread the message of reconciliation.

Yemen: Facing forwards

Yemen's civil society is still in an early growth phase but non-profits and pressure groups will play an important role in strengthening democratic institutions for the future.

I wrote last Friday about the need for a new trust to support girls who escape from early, unwanted marriages.

But I recently spent the morning at an incubator organization, the Youth Leadership Development Foundation, which is training the next generation of managers and administrators who will help the civil society sector to grow.

Yemen: A cry for help

Twelve-year-old Reem has done so many interviews with journalists, she's lost count. "She's like Nancy Ajram now," her mother joked - referring to a famous Lebanese singer.

I visited Reem in her mum's Sana'a appartment for my Christian Science Monitor story on child brides. Reem's parents are separated. Since the start of her summer vacation in June, Reem has been kidnapped by her father, married, repeatedly raped by a man twice her age, rescued by police and reunited with her mother - but she is still waiting for a judge to annul her wedding contract.