At an early age, al-Salami was sent to live with relatives after her mother divorced her father over severe domestic abuse. At age 11, she was forced by her uncle into an early marriage and was raped by her husband. Some weeks later, after much protest and disobedience, her husband returned her to her uncle, who immediately disowned her and returned her to her single mother. She escaped the immense family and society pressure by finding employment with the local television station and simultaneously attending school in the mornings.
At the age of 16, she received a scholarship to finish secondary school in the United States. Subsequently, she enrolled at the Mount Vernon College for Women, in Washington, D.C. After a period in Yemen and Paris, she returned to Washington to earn her Master's degree in communications at the American university. For her thesis, she produced her first film.
Since then, al-Salami has produced several documentaties for various television networks in France and Yemen. The primary focus of her documentaries focus on women, possibly as a reflection of her life experience. She has also co-authored with her current husband, the American Charles Hoots, an autobiography, The Tears of Sheba.
- Hadramaout: Crossroads of Civilizations (1991)
- Le pays suspendu (1994)
- Women of Islam (1995)
- Land of Sheba (1997)
- Yemen of a Thousand Faces (2000)
- A Stranger in Her Own City (2005)
- Amina (2006)
- "The most 500 powerful Arabs". Arabian Business. 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Publishers' Biography