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UAE stealing Yemen’s Socotra manuscripts and artefacts, reports

March 5, 2020 at 12:57 pm

The Yemeni island of Socotra, 24 May 2018 [Rod Waddington/Flickr]

Local sources on the Yemeni island of Socotra have expressed concerns over reports that the UAE delegate Khalfan Al-Mazrouei had facilitated the theft of antiquities and ancient manuscripts.

The sources told Socotra Post that an Emirati antiquities team accompanied by Al-Mazrouei visited the oldest mosque in Hadibu, the capital of Socotra known for its historic dome, in addition to other archaeological sites. The ancient mosque, dating back 750 years, contains rare manuscripts from the early Islamic period and other relics.

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According to the Yemen Press Agency, activists from Socotra highlighted on Facebook the manuscripts that were allegedly stolen from the mosque. Among the stolen items, they said, are banners and antiques related to incense, which are part of the religious rituals of Socotra society.

The UAE has previously been accused of stealing unique heritage from the island, including the indigenous and endangered Dragon’s Blood trees. Many locals view the UAE as an occupying force which is using it as a military base in the Indian Ocean, intent on staging a coup on the island. Emirati forces began to arrive on the island in April 2018 without prior coordination with the Yemeni government.