A translated version of this piece is Available in: العربية (Arabic)
In southern parts of Yemen, such as Hadramout, Lahj and Aden, local communities practice a traditional custom, known as ‘Makhdara’, during wedding celebrations. The custom involves a dance concert performed on a wood-framed theater that is set up near the groom’s house. On stage, the groom usually takes his place next to the band, to receive congratulations from guests. In Hadramout, for example, the family and neighbors meet during these celebrations at the neighborhood square, and dance to the tunes of Hadrami folk music from midnight until dawn.
Five years ago, my father was invited to attend the wedding of a friend’s relative in the coastal city of al-Shahr. He was in Sana’a at the time and was unable to go, so I went in his place. My mother and I took a three hour trip from Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout, which is about 68 kilometers from al-Shahr. When we arrived there, I was surprised by the warm welcome I received from the people and the good spirits and joyful atmosphere. All the residents of the neighborhood, where the groom’s family lived, had come to attend the celebration and share their joy. Having witnessed this, I immediately felt an urge to set up my camera to document these intimate moments.
Ahmad al-Hagri is a filmmaker and photographer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Currently, he is pursuing a degree in Digital Media at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur. He has over five years of experience in graphic design, film and content production. Ahmad began his film and documentary practice in Hadramout, and later developed his practice in the capital Sana’a, where he founded the RAW Media production house in 2014. Since then he has produced a number of short documentaries covering the war and conflict in Yemen. Ahmad is currently working on several documentary projects which will be released next year.
You can check Ahmed’s work via the following link: