Zayd Mutee' Dammaj

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Zayd Mutee' Dammaj
Zaid Dammaj 1.jpg
Born Zayd Mutee' Dammaj
As Sayyani District of Ibb Governorate
Died 20 March 2000
London, UK
Occupation novelist, writer
Nationality Yemeni

Zayd Mutee' Dammaj (Arabic:زيد مطيع دماج), (from 1943 to March 20, 2000) was a Yemeni author and politician. He is best known for his short novel The Hostage which was selected by the Arab Writers Union as one of the top 100 Arabic novels of the 20th century.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Dammaj was born in As Sayyani District of Ibb Governorate.[2] His father Sheikh Mutee' bin Abdullah Dammaj was a committed revolutionary activist against the rule of Imam Yahya and went on to establish a political party named Al-Ahrar in Aden in 1943. Sheikh Mutee' continued his struggle against Imamate regime and became the first governor of Ibb Governorate after the revolution of 1962. The young Dammaj was educated in the village madrasa and at home, before his father sent him to a school in Taiz. In 1958, Dammaj went to Egypt where he studied in schools in Bani Suwayf and Tanta before enrolling in Cairo University in 1964. He studied law for a couple of years before deciding to make the switch to journalism. He had already started to write political articles and short fiction that was published in the New Yemen periodical. In 1968, still in the middle of his studies, he was summoned back home to participate with his father in the anti-royalist movement.

In 1970, Dammaj was elected to the Shura Council, regarded as Yemen's first elected parliament, as a representative of his native district of As Sayyani.[2] His political rise continued. By 1976, he was appointed governor of the Mahweet governorate and in 1980, he became Yemen's ambassador to Kuwait. In 1982, he cemented his place in the political hierarchy when he was elected to the Permanent Committee of the General People’s Congress, the ruling party in Yemen.

Parallel to his political career, Dammaj also pursued a career as a literary writer. His first volume of short stories was published in 1973, while Al-Rahinah (The Hostage) was published in 1984.[3] It went through multiple printings in Arabic and has since been translated into French, English, German and Hindi among others. It is widely regarded as the most famous novel in Yemen and a classic of modern Arabic literature.

Dammaj was 57 when he died on March 20, 2000 in Middlesex Hospital in London.[2] His eldest son Hamdan Dammag is a Yemeni/British computer scientist and a prize-winner novelist. He has several poetry and short stories publications.



  1. ^ Qualey, M. Lynx (April 27, 2010). "Best 100 Arabic Books (According to the Arab Writers Union): 41-50". Arablit blog.
  2. ^ a b c "Zayd Mutee Dammaj Biography (1943-2000)".
  3. ^ Dammāj, Zayd Muṭīʻ "The hostage: a novel" ("Al-Rahinah", English tr.: May; Tingley, Christopher. 1994.) Interlink Pub Group Inc. ISBN 978-1-56656-140-2. (Google books)