Be cautious of cement and plastic invasion [Archives:2007/1097/Opinion]

October 25 2007

By: Badr Bin Aqeel
One of the most prominent titles associating with the traditional and contemporary civilization of Yemen, which calls for pride, is that this civilization knew how to deal with and benefit from clay/mud.

It mastered well the production of fascinating geometrical shapes and attractive decorations that speak about themselves with high pride and wonder. It is enough for the reader to be told by the Old Sana'a City and Shebam Hadramout about such striking features, as the Yemeni mud architecture constitutes a unique source for attracting tourists and visitors from different parts of the globe.

On more than one occasion, and during his visits to several cities rich with unique mud architecture, including the visit to Tarim City in Hadramout Valley, the President of the Republic called for maintaining mud buildings and sites in theses cities. He also advised people to refrain from constructing concrete buildings, which, he believes, damage beauty of the ancient architecture.

Several symposiums and workshops on this respect have been organized, but no positive response was seen, particularly as there are no laws and regulations regarding the maintenance of Yemen's ancient architecture and historic sites. In addition, a broad media campaign was launched with the aim of increasing public awareness about the significance and vitality of conserving mud architecture. This campaign highlighted civilized, aesthetic, cultural, tourist and economic values of the architectural sites scattered throughout the country.

The cement invasion that violated the mud cities and buildings appeared with an ugly face and intimidated us with its horrible teeth, and amid indifference at the long term, it will uproot our identity and originality.

The clay civilization was not only confined to the ancient times and stopped at a specific stage of history, but it is a kind of civilization, which the Yemeni man maintained and innovated in a way not staining its beauty and historic color. These facts embody the Yemeni man's ability to exercise creativity, retain the original heritage and master clay/mud construction.

This type of industry (Mud-brick Construction) helped the Yemeni man obtain a meritorious certificate as his work was appreciated by the Prophet Mohammed (Peace May Be Upon Him). While the Prophet Mohammed was reconstructing the Exalted Prophetic Mosque with mud and bricks along with his fellowmen including the Yemeni man Talaq Bin Ali, the Prophet said to his fellows: “Let the Yemeni and mud alone. The Yemeni is the most skilled one among us in mud construction.”

Another harmful and dangerous invasion experienced in our country is the plastic invasion. Our ancestors and forefathers had been using bags, baskets and some articles made of leather, cloth and the likes. By this, they maintained the environment tidy, clean and healthy. But the plastic invasion of today and its heavy use in our daily life, as well as its spread over trees and on the ground constitutes a terrible threat to the nature and man.

What is the solution? And, how can we eliminate this phenomenon? I by chance found an answer to these questions while reading the impressions of a German tourist, who recently visited Yemen. He said, “Yemeni is beautiful, particularly as it is rich with its ancient sites, heritage, topography, unique architecture, luxurious and clean hotels, diversity of meal dishes and availability of various services. But, the spread of plastic bags, waste of beverages and foods bothered me.

The strangest thing is that we don't know why some factories, specifically the ones producing cement, never care for conducting economic studies to benefit from them as one of neglected energy sources, which are offered for free. This will help Yemen get rid of such waste and maintain the environment tidy and clean.

No doubt that this idea is feasible and worth-studying. It is nice for Yemen (Arabia Felix) to remain happy and proud of its mud architecture. It is good for Yemen to be free of cement and plastic invasion.

Source: Al-Thawra State-run Daily.