As the city receives more than half a million visitors for the Eid vacation:Almost a million tourists in Aden [Archives:2004/791/Reportage]

November 18 2004

By YT Aden Bureau
It has been reported that Aden in this eid vacation may receive up to a million visitors. This is a true milestone in the city's modern tourism history, as local tourism has now become the talk of town and a source of income and wealth for many business owners in this fabulous coastal city. Thanks to efforts by locals and the authorities in the city, particularly the governorate, the city is now slowly standing up as a competing tourist destination in the region.

Incredible boost in tourism
As the case in the last few years, Aden City continued to receive an influx of tourists from all over the country and even from neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Those tourists hope to spend the Eid vacation on its beaches, and they usually get what they bargain for.
Most of the tourists seize the opportunity to escape from the sizzling winter weather of Sanaa and other cities and head for the warm golden beaches in the south.
Last year's Eid Al-Fitr witnessed more than seven hundred thousand visitors to Aden. Meanwhile, the people of this hospitable city seize the opportunity by intensifying their trade and commercial activities during this season.
The fact that hotels become fully booked many days before the eid vacation is an indication of the high number of tourists visiting the city in such a short time.
Many investors have seized the opportunity and built apartments and hotels to accommodate the extra number of tourists and do generate huge income during the eid seasons.
But unfortunately, many locals believe that this type of tourism is seasonal, so they hope that investors and the authorities could work on plans to promote shopping and tourism festivals throughout the year to attract tourists continuously similar to Dubai, Qatar, Jeddah and other coastal cities.

Better looks than ever
A number of malls and shopping centers have been inaugurated in Aden in the last few years adding to the many attractions the city has to offer. The new governor of the city, Dr. Yahya Al-Shuaibi has also dedicated much of his time and effort to enhance the infrastructure and facilities of the city and focus on its natural beauty and cleanliness to become a preferred destination for families and foreign tourists.
The city currently has more than 100 hotels, of which two are five star hotels and the number is steadily increasing. With the expected inauguration of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Aden soon, and the anticipated opening of the gigantic shopping center near it, the city is bound to become a major attraction even on the regional level.
According to Tourism Office Manager in Aden Mr. Ali Naji, survey forms have been distributed to the different hotels to know the number of guests in each one and their requests and suggestions to improve the city further, so as to serve as a database for those who want to reserve rooms or apartments during the peak seasons and know their tastes and styles.

Prostitution: still a problem
Coastal cities have become a major destination during Eids in the last few years. However, the increasing number of wealthy youngsters coming from Yemen and neighboring countries raised the fears of potential increase of prostitution and other unethical acts such as the rise in alcohol consumption. But authorities in the city had confirmed that they are working hard to curb any attempts to convert the city from a family-friendly area to a town full with thugs and prostitutes.
Whether those actions will be affective remains to be seen, especially as the reports on increasing cases of prostitution are still emerging by the day.

New options for tourists
Meanwhile, this does not hinder efforts to provide new services to tourists who come mainly to enjoy the beach and the sunshine of Aden. A few years ago, many services have been offered in the two five-star hotels in Aden, including boat tours and riding jet skis.
Green parks have been emerging and tree plantations have also taken place in different sectors of the city. New corniches and chalets are also being constructed, and new beaches are now open for the public.
Children enjoy their time in Aden because of water sports, public and amusement parks, and even by having tours on camels and horses.

Adenese also celebrate eid
In a time the city gets overwhelmed with too many guests coming from other areas all at once, one cannot ignore the fact that locals in the city also have their moments to enjoy during this special time of the year.
Aden, just like any other Yemeni city, has its own unique rituals, customs and traditions adopted in the Eid days.

Aden's tourism enhancing
At Gold Mohur coast in Tawahi, tourists usually spend fine hours under the sun or swimming and children enjoy laying with beach sand.
One of the families from Maalla area was having a walk near the beach when they expressed their joy for receiving the eid. Ms. Nisreen Fouad said, “Eid brings family members together to rejoice the cheerful moments that signal the end the blessed Ramadhan fasting. We feel that Eid-el-Fiter of this year will be the best of all the Eids because it will witness the inauguration of new recreation grounds and public gardens, including the fabulous corniche of Khormaksar (Abyan beach) which will attract visitors from all over the country to enjoy the sea breeze and be inspired by observing its fascinating waves.”
Regarding the customs and traditions adopted in Aden Governorate, locals agree that they are quite similar to those of other Yemeni and the Arabs families except of slight differences that are unique to Aden including the way Eid congratulations are exchanged and dining tables are arranged with the neighbors, relatives and friends around them.
Furthermore, the “Henna” that children and kids have painted on them represents a unique characteristic about Aden during eid. This tradition actually attracts many females who enjoy coloring their hands and feet using Henna brushes (Asa').
The owners of camels in Aden also celebrate the eid by painting their camels with Henna, and some even put some ornaments on their necks.
Then those camels are then used as a means of entertainment for children who enjoy rides on carts pulled by those camels through the city's lanes, particularly in the Shiekh Othman district.

Eid of cheerfulness and forgiving others
Mr. Saleh Muhammad al-Wuhaishy talked about the Eid by saying that it is “a time to express cheerfulness and to forgive each other. It is the time to meet others with pure hearts and make fresh starts for friendships. It is also an opportunity to assess ourselves and abandon any hatred that remained in us throughout the last year.”
He added, “However, Eids of today are not like those of the past from the point of traditions. Today, family bonds are weaker, and traditions are given less importance, especially by the young generation. I fear that they could even disappear if things continue this way. The economic hardships and the high cost of living make people become occupied by daily worries.”
“We hope that family and neighbor bonds would be preserved and strengthened, and our centuries-long heritage would not be lost.”
He the continued, “Aden of today attracts many visitors from the different governorates of Yemen and it also attracts foreign and Arab tourists, who would like to spend the Eid in the city and enjoy the beautiful weather and its fascinating beaches. We hope that the governor would consider enhancing the infrastructures and tourism facilities further to enable it to generate better income for the city's residents.”

Eid & the “Zurbeyan” dish
Ms. Emtinan Abubaker al-Sana'ani, who is a resident Aden said she feels glad to spend Eid in Aden and that she particularly enjoys the special meals of this season. “We usually have liver, hearts and the kidneys for breakfast. As for lunch and dinner, we prepare “Zurbeyan” (Rice with meat plus necessary spices) besides the lot of salads and Shaeeriah (a kind of local sweet to be taken along with the Zurbeyan) plus other sweets, especially “Halwa” (a local sweets to be taken right after having the Zurbeyan).” she explains.
On the next day of eid, it is a tradition to arrange visits to different family members and ensure that each one meets each other relative.
Another tradition in Aden that is adopted by families is to visit the graves of their buried relatives and recite the first surat of Qura'an “al-Fatehah”

Eid and children
In Bureiqa “Little Aden” Ms Fatemah al-Afeefy said that “Eid reminds us about our early childhood when we used to have different feelings and traditions. It was much more joyful in the past. I feel sympathy to the children of today who seem to lack a lot of the joy we used to have especially when we go from door to door asking for Eid money, gifts, sweets or chocolates.”
“However, even today, families go to visit their patient relatives in the hospitals and deliver their best Eid wishes and congratulations. Meanwhile, some families convey their eid wishes to their relatives living far away by telephones.”

Eid in Aden: A spectacular experience
When looking into what Aden offers, not only in Eid, but at any other time as well, one can only realize the great potential this city can have and the opportunities that could be explored in it.
The city of Aden has a much better location, richer history, more diverse geography than many other larger ports in the Arabian Peninsula, but it is unfortunately, under-exploited.
For those who did spend their eid in Aden and enjoyed the spectacular experience on its beaches would realize this fact and hopefully would help others realize the importance of this city and help it go back to its days of glory.