It’s not often the Yemeni island of Socotra is in the news, and today it’s not for any good reason. A cyclone has torn across the island with some 17 people feared dead.

If you’re not familiar with Socotra, take this opportunity to introduce yourself. Home to some 60,000 people, it is an entirely unique place, the way Madagascar is. Because of its isolated location about 200 miles off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, it is home to flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth. The Independent newspaper ran this worthwhile two part series on Socotra recently. Check it out. There’s a video tour.

Yemeni Dagger er, oops, Made in China

KhanjarThese are traditional Omani knives offered for sale at the souk at Muttrah, near Muscat, Oman.

The knife, called a khanjar, is worn on a kind of belt over a man's dishdasha. The Omani Ministry of Information explains, "The shape of the khanjar is always the same and is
characterised by the curve of the blade and by the
near right- angle bend of the sheath. Sheaths may
vary from simple covers to ornate silver or
gold-decorated pieces of great beauty and

"Khanjars are worn on formal occasions and at
feasts and holidays, and almost all Omani men
boast one.

"Once worn in self-defence, the khanjar is today
both a fashion accessory and a prestige item much
in demand."

The Yemeni equivalent is called the jambiya. Yemen Post quotes a famous sheik as saying, "To this day a number of people would rather die than be seen in public without their Jambiyas."

But now Global Post has a nice photo essay and a dismaying story revealing that nowadays at the old souk in Sanaa, a large number of those jambiyas are
actually "Chinese-made imitations — plastic approximations of the
elegant, hand-carved originals — and they're selling like hotcakes."

See more Oman photos in the Oman Gallery at Photo from

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