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Yemen’s Saleh opens museum - about himself

He is no longer the president of Yemen, but that doesn’t mean former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh has disappeared from view.

Saleh was ousted from power last February, following over a year of mass protests against him and an assassination attempt.

But now, he is opening a museum in the capital, Sanaa, documenting his 33 years in power.

Located in a wing of the Saleh mosque, one of the museum’s central display cases exhibits some of the clothes the former president was wearing when rockets struck his Sanaa palace in June 2011, in an apparent assassination attempt.

As well as Saleh’s burnt suit and accessories, the exhibit also includes fragments of shrapnel that were taken out of the former leader’s body during his hospital treatment in Saudi Arabia.

“As you can see, this is what remains of the suit that his excellency the leader [former president Ali Abdullah Saleh] was wearing and the carpet that he was praying on. As you can also see, there are fragments, small pieces of wooden shrapnel and screws that were taken off his [Saleh] body. Also the glasses and watch he was wearing,” said museum worker, Sadeq Mohsin Ashiya.

Also on display at the museum are many of the gifts given to Saleh by kings, presidents and world leaders over the course of his rule. These include Korans, ancient manuscripts, golden swords, daggers, firearms, shields and medals.

Museum worker Abbas Mohammed al-Nawirah said the collection represented items that Saleh received as personal gifts.

“The private possessions of President Ali Abdullah Saleh were transferred to al-Saleh Mosque (where the museum is located), and what is public property was left at the Presidential Palaces,” he said.

At the museum’s entrance, visitors are greeted by a large portrait of the former president, as well as paintings of trees depicting the lineage of Yemeni tribes and rulers.

Museum curator Abdul-Wali al-Qadi said that with nearly everything now in place, the exhibition would soon be officially opened.

“Now, it [the museum] is ready, just the finishing touches need to be done like the lights, air-conditioning and cameras before it is officially opened,” he said.

But the first visitors have already had a chance to preview the exhibits.
One man said the displays reflected an important part of Yemen’s modern history.

“This is a history that all generations will undoubtedly benefit from in every way. There are antiques of political, historical and social relevance. It also shows a lot of the leader Ali Abdullah Saleh’s activities during his rule,” said visitor, Mohammed Ba Alawi.

The Saleh mosque, which houses the museum, was built by the former president himself during the final decade of his rule.

He closely supervised the building work in a bid to create a stunning monument, using building and decorative techniques modeled on some of the world’s most important Islamic buildings.
The Saleh mosque, which can accommodate around 40,000 worshipers, was completed in 2008.

But with its new addition, is not just a place for worshipers but for curious visitors, wanting to take a look into the life of their former president.