University description (as per official university website)
The Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies (YCMES) is a fully accredited, non-profit college that provides students, researchers, and professionals from around the world the opportunity to develop a complex and thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and the contemporary Middle East.
Students enrolled in the College are principally from North America and Europe, but the college is open to all qualified individuals wishing to seek a greater knowledge of the Arabic language and the contemporary Middle East.
Located at the edge of the Old City of Sana'a, which is one of the world’s most ancient cities, the YCMES is an ideal context for language acquisition and cultural immersion. Unlike other Middle Eastern cities such as Beirut or Cairo where English and/or French are pervasive, Sana’a is one of the few remaining places in the world where Arabic is spoken exclusively.
In addition to the academic coursework offered at YCMES, students may take advantage of a series of day and overnight trips, lectures, and other cultural activities. These activities strengthen students’ integration into Yemeni society.
Thousands of students from around the world have studied under the auspices of the YCMES, preparing them to become true citizen-ambassadors between Yemen and their home countries.
For almost two decades, the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies has played a leading role in the education of foreigners in Yemen. Founded in 1989 by Sabri Saleem, the Yemen Language Center (YLC) was the first institution devoted to teaching Arabic as a foreign language. With increasing interest from international students, the Center expanded to include the Yemen Center for Arab Studies in 1993. Over the next fifteen years, programs and student numbers fluctuated due to local and world events, but, overall, the Center witnessed a steady increase in the number of international students wishing to study Arabic in Sana’a, Yemen. During these periods, the YLC continuously invested back into the institution, establishing excellent facilities, a first-rate Arabic program, and an outstanding reputation.
With the demand and need for new study abroad programs in the Middle East, the YLC was incorporated into the newly-created Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies (YCMES) in 2006. With the help of Dr. Steven C. Caton (Harvard University), the YCMES developed the new Program in Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies (PCMES). Today, the college consists of these two main entities: the PCMES and the Program in Arabic Language (PAL).
More recently, the YCMES has further developed and expanded its facilities, academic programs, and administrative services to meet the highest standards found at western universities. The YCMES offers its students unmatched language and academic programs, cultural activities, and volunteer/community service opportunities to engage students within Yemeni society. Additionally, the College hosts delegation visits, university study-tours, academic researchers, and visiting professors. The YCMES opened its doors as a full study-abroad college in the fall of 2008, welcoming its inaugural class for the accredited semester. The College offers a one-year certificate program in contemporary Middle Eastern studies, and plans to expand into other postgraduate degree and certificate programs as well as a four-year bachelor’s degree.
The YCMES has increased the visibility of itself and Yemen locally and internationally through institutional cooperation, promotional tours, inter-administrative associations, and reputation. With a large administrative and physical expansion starting in 2006, the College has generated programming and/or memorandums of agreement with key universities such as Duke, American, Columbia, Portland State, Harvard, George Mason, DePaul, Granada, and Siena. The YCMES was chosen in 2006 and 2007 to host the Critical Language Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational Affairs. In June 2007 the YCMES announced its partnership with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, increasing its collaboration on numerous educational ventures aimed at improving relations between the U.S. and the Arab world. During 2006-2008, the YCMES administration visited over 100 universities in North America and Europe, informing students, administrators, and academics about the educational opportunities available in Yemen. The YCMES is a regular participant at the MESA conference, as well as a sponsor of the U.S.-Arab Policy Makers Conference. Promoting more than its own programs, the YCMES publicizes Yemen as a place of academic study and education.
The YCMES is advised by key individuals in Yemen and the West that form the college’s Board of Advisors; these individuals have been crucial to the past and future successes of the College. Key individuals involved in the success of the YCMES include senior academics in leading Western institutions and local leaders in the business, government, and educational communities. Dr. Abdul Kareem el-Iryani, former Prime Minister of Yemen, was elected unanimously as the chairman of the Board of Advisors in January, 2008. His leadership and passion for educational projects in Yemen is a great asset to the YCMES team. The YCMES has also advanced its relationship-building locally by establishing partnerships with local and international NGOs, adding service-learning opportunities so students can donate their time and effort to the Yemeni community.
What began as one rented floor for teaching Arabic has grown into a four building campus, wholly-owned by the YCMES, and incorporating numerous academic and extra-curricular activities for over 500 international students annually. The YCMES openend its newest and largest campus site in August, 2008, as a full study-abroad college, thus fulfilling its recent development goals and setting the stage for future growth.