It is understandable that an intrepid journalist would want to lawfully venture into Yemen to cover Saudi-American war crimes and the suffering of ordinary people. However, sneaking into Yemen to garner ratings for a primetime entertainment TV show is utterly absurd and unacceptable. This is precisely what ex-British soldier and self-declared “explorer” Levison Wood recently did along with his crew for a new episode of “Arabia,” a show broadcasted on Discovery UK.
The episode is premised on orientalist vigilantism; tense and dramatic trailer music plays in the background while they figure out how to enter “exotic” Yemen in the most illegal way possible. While Yemenis endure over four years of ceaseless aggression by the Saudi-American coalition, Levison and his team go under the radar, smuggled into the country by an anonymous Somali man. Little-to-no context of the political and humanitarian situation is provided, instead they focus on inane episodic commentary–a total affront to the genocide taking place around them. Wood is now deservedly trapped in Yemen, and the production claims the Yemeni national Intelligence Unit is currently searching for him and his crew. This has yet to be confirmed by a reliable source, however a tribal militia truck bearing the flag of the Al-Mahrah region can be seen pursuing them in a video posted to the Discovery UK YouTube channel.
The episode has sparked an outcry among the Yemeni population, and many are calling for Discovery to retract the episode and issue an apology for exploiting the chaos of the war for primetime TV ratings.
One Yemeni replied: “Getting you a visa won’t take 2 days and won’t cost much. But I guess your documentary producer doesn’t like you and want to send you in a one way trip”, while another said “Dude…chill out! Things aren’t easy in Yemen these days, but this type of BS is just too much… it’s been 5 years since the unrest started, but getting into the country doesn’t require this much of drama”.
When will Westerners learn the Global South does not exist to be their personal playground or source of amusement?
Getting you a visa won't take 2 days and won't cost much. But I guess your documentary producer doesn't like you and want to send you in a one way trip 🤔
— Fayad Saleh فياض صالح (@Fayad__Saleh) July 5, 2019