For many centuries, European cartographers labeled the southwest corner of the otherwise mostly desert Arabian Peninsula as Arabia Felix, or “Happy Arabia.” It was a place where towering mountains trapped clouds blown in from the Indian Ocean so that twice-annual monsoon rains blessed terraced slopes and lowland wadis with plentiful crops. Sadly, since fighting engulfed the country in late March 2015, Yemen has never been less felix.

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Copyright © 2017 Current History. This article first appeared in Current History 116: 794 (2017), 360-362.

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