Photo of the palace of Arwa al-Sulayhi. Image Credit: WikiCommons (

Yemen has been the site of many kingdoms and the seat of many rulers from the ancient era through to the premodern times. In particular, many dynasties emerged between the ninth and sixteenth centuries, including the Sulayhid, Ayyubid, Rasulid, and Tahiride dynasties. Presiding over diverse religious communities, many of the rulers faced sectarian conflict and revolts during their tenures. However, there were also great times of tolerance, and female rulers from this area are often recorded for their wisdom and tolerance during times of crisis. During the early modern through to the modern period Ottoman rule has been the main power in the area, with attempts by the British to install colonial rule in Yemen. Monarchical rule came to an end with revolution in 1968 as part of the wider Yemeni civil war that emerged in the twentieth century.

You can find out more about some of the female rulers of Yemen below!


Haeri, Shahla. The Unforgettable Queens of Islam: Succession, Authority, Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Mernissi, Fatima. The Forgotten Queens of Islam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

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