UNESCO and the European Union support youth employment through culture in Yemen

Amman, 3 March 2022 - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Union (EU) signed a new 20 million euros agreement to further support the cultural sector in Yemen create employment opportunities for 8000 young women and men and safeguard the country’s unique cultural heritage. The project will start in June 2022 for a period of four years and will be implemented in different governorates across Yemen.

Youth Employment through Heritage and Culture in Yemen Project will focus on employment opportunities for young people, who will increase their families’ resilience by protecting and preserving important assets of Yemeni selected cities. The project will also support small and micro-enterprises, and cultural civil society organizations to use culture and cultural heritage as a unifying factor and a viable form of economic growth. Communities will design cultural programmes, enhancing peace-building and social cohesion. The project will be implemented in collaboration with local institutions.

Culture is a common good, a symbolic force for cohesion, stability, dialogue and peace. It belongs to the past and serves the future. Cultural heritage is also an opportunity to enhance sustainable development by providing jobs and supporting economic livelihoods. The EU firmly believes that culture can contribute to the economic development of a country like Yemen, but also to promoting peace, reconciliation and development.
Gabriel Munuera Viñals, EU Head of Delegation to Yemen
UNESCO’s partnership with the EU has taken stock of innovative modalities to harness the role of culture in sustainable development focusing on human dimension and ensuring that Yemenis are able to safeguard their culture and live in dignity
Anna Paolini, UNESCO Representative to the Arab Gulf States and Yemen

The culture sector in Yemen has been dramatically affected by the prolonged conflict resulting in higher rates of unemployment, especially for youth and drastic scarcity in cultural programming. Historic settlements and archaeological sites have suffered collateral damage from the crisis. The situation is exacerbated by the long-term lack of maintenance and weak governance of heritage properties, as well as by the lack of technical and financial resources.


In 2018, UNESCO and the EU launched a four-year project, Cash for Work: Improving livelihood opportunities of urban youth in Yemen (12 Million USD), to respond to urgent human needs and threats to urban heritage environments in the World Heritage Sites of Sana’a, Shibam and Zabid, in addition to historical buildings in the city of Aden. The Cash-for-work project has employed more than 3380 young women and men, rehabilitated more than 166 historical buildings, surveyed 18 000 buildings, supported 485 artists and cultural operators through 13 cultural organizations. The impact of the project goes beyond the direct beneficiaries and rehabilitated sites to an overall revival of traditional cultural practices, which have been endangered in the recent decade.

The European Union adopted in June 2021 a concept document called:  Cultural heritage in conflicts and crises. A component for peace and security in European Union’s external action. It confirms that the EU firmly believes in culture and cultural heritage factors contributing to the development of peace, reconciliation and mutual understanding, intercultural dialogue, international solidarity, identities and social cohesion, capacity building, local, inclusive and sustainable development.  This is why the EU has invested again in this initiative.