Hodeidah: Picture of Beauty & Misery [Archives:2001/19/Last Page]
Yaser M. Ahmad
Yemen Times, Hodeidah
Hodeidah, 226km away from Sana’a, is located on the coast of the Red Sea. It is the biggest town in Tehamah. The name Hodeidah was coined after a lady’s name “Hodeidah”. She was a coffee owner, and prepared coffee and dinner for fishermen and whoever came to the village at the time.
In 1455 during the reign of Amer bin Abdulwahab al-Tahri, ships started to anchor in Hodeidah. Then, it was frequently attacked by the Egyptians and then by the Turks. The Turks made it the base to invade the whole country in 1872. In 1881, the first wharf was established by the Turks .
In 1911, Hodeidah was attacked by the Italian navy while during 1915 and 1919 it was bombarded by the British . In 1934, Saudi forces invaded the town.
Hodeidah: Strategic Location
Hodeidah has a strategic location on the Red Sea Coast. There are many forts and castles in the town and in the nearby villages which stand in testimony of the attacks the town was subjected to. There are more than 33 forts, the oldest of which being Kamaran which dates back to 620. Some of the biggest of these castles and forts are al-Lehiah, Zabid, Bait al-Fakih and al-Mahjam.
From time immemorial, Hodeidah was an important trade center like the other ports of Aden, al-Makha and al-Shaher. It was also an important tourist center too. There are many tourist sites. The town is surrounded by forests the most important of which being the Bara’a forest occupying more than 200 km2. It is a resort of many rare birds, wild animals and strange plants.
al-Hassnabah town is considered one of the most fertile lands in Yemen. It is famous for Mango and cotton plantations. Bait al-Fakih and al-Mansoorah are famous for fruit production. Zabid is another agricultural and archeological area. Zabid is also known as the town of science and scholars.
Simple Way of Life:
People in Hodeidah have traditionally lead a simple life. They are very friendly and kind. They are poor also. Difficulties of life have affected all the people in Hodeidah, especially those living on the coast. People living in agricultural areas including Zabid, Husainiah and Bait al-Fakih are in better living conditions.
Multi-Means of Transportation:
People use many different modes for transportation including donkeys, motorcycles and cars. Motorcycles are the preferred means of transportation. However, motorcyclists do not adhere to the traffic laws making a chaos of the whole thing. Accidents have increased remarkably due to devil-may care motorcyclists. Many visitors find it difficult to move swiftly inside the town. Motorcycles are also a source of disturbance for the residents of the town.
Most of the returnees from the Gulf countries during the Gulf crisis have settled in small areas. Due to their hard economic conditions, they were ostracized in these areas. Al-Salakhana is one of these areas. Most of their houses are made of zinc and wood. Other areas are rampant with diseases. They are leading a miserable life as they had no means to earn a living. Even if they could find jobs, they were poorly paid. Hence a good number of them took to the streets.
Many poor people take to streets as beggars. However, on Thursday their number swells. Hence, Thursday has become a real problem for shop owners.
Markets in Hodeidah:
Sana’a Street is the first main road you see as you enter Hodeidah. It ends up at al-Sha’ab Park, a remarkable attraction to Hodeidah. There are some markets including al-Metrak and al-Hunood which consists of small shops selling necessities.
Bab Mushtarif is a popular crowded market. The most beautiful thing in it is the sellers of jasmine.
Hodeidah, otherwise known as the bride of the Red Sea, has magnificent coasts. However, it is a pity these coasts are neglected and not utilized properly. If they are properly utilized, living conditions of the people can be improved.
Coasts are filthy. They have become a shelter for dogs and other animals. Garbage is spread every where. The calamity is that these coasts are now used for diverting sewage water as pumps are pumping sewage water from some streets to these coasts. Cornish established in the coast is not completed yet, neither are there any public services.
Hodeidah is a beautiful tourist town. However, there are lots of problems agitating the people including the hard economic conditions, absence of strict traffic regulations curbing the ever-growing rate of accidents, high costs of electricity, etc. We do hope the authorities concerned will heed and take constructive steps to solve these problems.