Al-Mukalla Hadhramout: Place of Forts & Multicultural Society [Archives:2001/43/Culture]

October 22 2001

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Cultural Editor
Yemen Times
Once you set both feet on Yemeni land, you might be taken aback by the different kind of atmosphere and surroundings. Whether it is your first time or not, every time you visit Yemen it seems like the first time. Is it about the nature? Climate? People? Or maybe all of these together?
In history, many a story was told about Yemen being the origin of the Arabian race.
Moreover, it is mentioned in the three holy books (Old Testament/Torah, Bible and Quran) the charming story of King Salmon and Queen Belqis of Sheba, Sheba being an old kingdom in Yemen.
Al-Mukalla is the place of art, poetry, and folklore. Its enchanted beauty makes the people visit this place from time to time. It is a reminiscent of deep history mixed with different cultural societies which embraced it willingly. It is this Al-Mukalla that is enriched with history. The crowded old streets, fascinating coasts, green meadows, and gentle breezes make it an attractive city for all visitors. We will join to learn about this historical place in our heritage.
Al-Mukalla is a historical city, which is situated 315 miles from Aden. It is a popular place for tourists. The history of the city dates back to the 11th century. It is said that King Al-Modhafar built the city in 670. He built the invincible forts and castles around the city. The city became more popular when it was ruled by Sultan Al-Kaeti at that time. The city is characterized by its architectural designs, its tall minarets and its white buildings overlooking the sea.
Al-Ghouzi Fort
One of the historical and distinguished monuments in the city is Al-Ghouzi fort. It overlooks the entrance of the city and is located in the northeast of the city. This famous fort is located on a big mountainous rock overlooking the valley. The history of this fort dates back hundreds of years. It was built in 1716 during the reign of the Al Alkasadi and was established with the goal of supervising military raids, which were launched from the north.
Sultan Palace
This palace is one of the most distinguished palaces in Al-Mukalla and is situated at the main entrance of the city. It was known as Beda Assadah and was built in 1925 during the reign of the Sultan Ghaleb Ewadh. The palace consists of three stories surrounded by a large fence. The architectural designs of this palace were greatly affected by the Indian designs, which prevailed at that time. For the time being, the palace has been changed into a museum. It is known as the National Museum, which includes archeological pieces, such as inscriptions and old coins which date back to the pre-Islamic period. These pieces were discovered by the joint Yemeni-French mission in Shabwa (an old city) and other pieces were found by the Russian-Yemeni mission during its surveys in several sites in the Old Hadhramout and Al-Mahra.
The Sultanic Library
The Sultanic Library is located on the roof of Omar Mosque in the center of al-Mukalla. The library is fully equipped with valuable books, historical references and the periodicals. It is said that the books were brought from India and other countries written in several languages. The library now is known as the Public Library (Al-Maktaba Ashabia). It is supervised by the Yemeni Center for Cultural Research and Museums. During the declaration of Yemeni unification on May 22, 1990, it was under the supervision of the General Cooperation for Antiquities and Manuscripts. The library includes more than 21,000 books in all different areas of sciences and knowledge.
Al-Mukalla is a source of learning and art. This city still retains its originality with the soul of modernization. It has become the focus of all communities and nations’ cultures.
The tourism infrastructure in Yemen is not strong enough to make a great move in the field of investment. In fact, great attention must be paid to the tourism infrastructure as well as to the places aimed at for tourist investment.