IBB PAST AND PRESENT [Archives:1999/45/Governance]

November 8 1999

Abdulraqeeb Mansour
The old city of Ibb occupies a strategic location amongst the cities of the Republic. It was known as Al-Thogah city. The remaining archaeological landmarks still exist there. The resources indicated that the old part of Ibb city belongs to the Islamic Era. During the ancient periods it was a big trade center. There is a historical mosque which relates to the ancient period of Caliph Omar Bin Al-Khatab.
The city is built on top of Baadan mountain. There are such famous valleys as Al-Sehoul, Al-Dehar and Maitam. These valleys witnessed a prominent development during the ancient Yemeni eras. The glorification of this city coincided with the old period of Al-Saleheen State in Jeblah city. The historical landmarks of the two cities are still evident. Castles and fences built during the period of Sultan Al- Horaibi bear testimony to it.
The purpose of this brief research is to draw the attention of the rich families to revive cultural and historical tradition of the city and cooperate to focus on the fabulous cultural heritage. The information should be added to the incomplete book which was written by the late Mohammed Yahia Al-Hadad titled “The History of Ibb.” Most people have historical texts about Ibb city. So, they must contribute this information in order to make a complete book. Ibb is supposed to be one of the ancient cities in Yemen; as Old Sana’a and Shibam.
If we look with a discerning eye at the historical and archaeological landmarks of Ibb city we will understand the real history and tradition of the city.
The originality and the historical wealth of Ibb can be summarized in the following points:
1- It contains about 35 mosques. The most prominent is the great mosque which is located in the heart of the city. The waterways of the mosque is divided into two paths. The first one heads towards Aden Gulf. The second one runs towards the Red Sea. The author Amin Al-Raihani has mentioned about the minarets of the mosques in the city as he visited Ibb in the beginning of the twentieth century. He said that those minarets are not different from those minarets of Jiblah. The old city has the same architectural style. It has the same height of the minaret of Yemen, which was built by the II Assad’ edeen. The Qour’an was being taught at the center of mosque. It has produced a number of scriptural books which enriched Islamic culture with a number of manuscripts.
2- The old city is surrounded by walls. It has five gates. These gates are Al-Nasier, Sonbal, Al-Kabeer, Rayha and Al-Rakizah. The buildings of the city were built with strong volcanic rocks. Limestone had not been used in those buildings. It did not have limestone. All the buildings had the same style of Kamariah and variegations. There are such historical houses as Al-Thogah, Al-Hamam, Al-Qalam, Al-Sabse, Safeir, Al-Hakeim, Al-Ezwah, Aqeel, Al-Shoja’a and Dolamah house.
3- Among the landmarks of Ibb, there are 14 water canals. Water flows through these canals into the mosques and to the near villages.
4- The city is surrounded by beautiful fruit gardens. The famous fruit gardens are Hawl Al-Hamam, Al-Ahowaiter, Omqi, Al-Rakezah and Komaish. In addition to this, there are fascinating mountain passes as Al-Mazeha, Al-Moqairah, Al-Geloud, Al-Makhaba, Al-Karneen and Al-Akhdam mountain pass.
5- Each house contains a basement suite used as a store for keeping wheat. The Alms are kept inside those stores.
6- There are a number of roads which lead to the main gates of the old city. They contain a lot of pools and dams as Jorafa, Allapa’a, upper Jabanah, lower Jabanah, Al-Armah and Iblan which filled up with dust.
7- As we come to talk about the social life, we find social cooperation between people. This cooperation is manifest during the occasions of marriage, funeral ceremonies and at the harvest time. The Al-Dawreah or Al-Yask system needs a special mention. This system threatened the life of people at that time. It envisaged taking contributions from people whether they were rich or poor. Hence, the generation needed for the present to know the salient features of the city at that time.
Preface to the History of the City:
The beauty of the city attracts visitors and arouses their curiosity. It reminds us of the memories and profundity of the glorious heritage. One who has walked through its pastures, seen waterfalls and fountains and wandered about the old landmarks and zones will not forget those fascinating views, and also that fragrant perfume, which comes from the fruit gardens. But since the city lost those views of ancient landmarks, everything changed. Unfortunately, people do not pay attention to those historical landmarks and remains now.
However the dreamy city still preserves its beautiful face. In spite of all these the city has archaeological landmarks.
We took stock of the traditional architecture as a result of the meeting which we conducted with Colonel Abdulkhader Ali Hilal, governor of Ibb, who contributed a lot in the founding of the new city of Ibb. He also contributed to found the sports stadium and Ibb university. He has unleashed efforts to initiate and reconstruct several projects. The historical landmarks of the city will always be alive in the hearts of the coming generations. Now, the city occupies a strategic and touristic location in the heart of the country. For example, we saw the colorful festival of Independence Day on November 30, 1997. This means that Ibb will be a carnival center in Yemen as Kortaj, Balabak, Jarash and other cultural centers in the world.
Ibb is in the heart of Yemen. It is the connecting link between all governorates of the Republic. It is the fountain of vegetation, and the connecting link between mountains and hills. Ibb is the cradle for immigrants and patriots and the stronghold of liberation movements.
We must join forces to develop this city and preserve its immortal tradition. We found a lot of enthusiasm among the intellectuals, from those who perceive the importance of the city.
We have to shed light on some of the different services which were an inseparable part of the old city. It gives a challenge and and an opportunity to the present generation to work hard to blend the past with the present. These services are as follows:
First – Tourist Field:
These days we attach a lot of importance to domestic tourism which may help raise income of the people. New buildings have posed a threat to agriculture because they have changed large areas of green oases to modern buildings. As the foreign tourist comes to Ibb, he does not look for comfort, but rather he seeks the archaeological and traditional points of beauty of the city. He aims at getting acquainted with the ancient ways of life of Yemeni people.
We are pointing to the main gate of the old city, which was destroyed by some unscrupulous elements ignorant about the value of our tradition. This gate was one of the prominent landmarks of the old city of Ibb, which does not exist now. Even the dams situated outside the walls of the old city such as upper Japanah, lower Jabanah, Eblan and A’alabi dam have disappeared. The demolition of the walls was caused by absence of control and by the ignorance of people. The underground water canals are now filled with earth. A number of manuscripts drawn on the walls of the ancient mosque have been defaced. We have learned that a number of traditional manuscripts had been sold to neighboring countries. We call upon all to revive the historical landmarks, and to set up a big university library to collect the remaining gems. We appreciate those who work to develop the new city and every one who participated in achieving that development. All should know that the present is an extension of the past.
Second: Public Associations:
According to the information we have got a clear idea on the needs and facilities for the new city. Hence, we recommend that people should make good use of the remaining areas. They should preserve public gardens. We also recommend that people organize a proper planning for the total landscape of the city to supplement the services offered by the government. The villages of Ibb city are close to each other. They are also near the ancient town of Jiblah. It is difficult to allocate a general budget to the city. It has narrow streets and fivefold crossroads as in Al-Odain crossroads which is a very crowded street.
We must not forget Taiz city which suffers from the same problem, and from the problem of water shortage.
Third: Local Investment:
The President of the Republic and the governor of the governorate has dealt with this matter on different occasions. The businessmen did not pay attention to develop the different services at hotels in spite of the assistance by the government. On our part, we see that this ignorance interrupted the progress and development. We can say that this is the legacy of the Imam, who aimed at inciting battles amongst tribes. This city has fertile areas for agriculture which cover the needs of the population of the city. Most of people have moved from the rural areas to the city. They have ambition to get more and more development in the future. But the difference between the new generations and the old ones still exists there. So, the one who can change this is the government. People should forget the unhealthy customs. They must glorify their ancient tradition. People should change their attitude by themselves.
Fourth: Environment Pollution:
People should pay attention to the following points:
1- Removing garbage from the street and covering the open sewage which helps spread bacteria. Chronic diseases are caused by this. They should develop the Health Sector, Red Crescent and the Civil Defense Association.
2- The high voltage cables should be removed from the main streets of the city to avoid danger and make them safer.
3- The old garden of Al-Hamam which turned into a pit of garbage should be removed or filled up. People should cooperate to keep their city clean.
4- The old city was built on high rocks, while the new city is dispersed around the high mountains. It has hot weather. The crowded streets and the large number of cars are causing pollution and different diseases. Hence, we call upon the health sector to adopt timely measures in this regard. All should take the responsibility of giving correct statistics to make accurate scientific researches concerning environmental pollution.
5- They must make an accurate study on water wells. Most of the sewage pour near the wells. The burnt oil poured there as well. As it is commonly known one liter of oil pollutes one million liters of water. This means that the city will witness a big crisis in future. We appeal to the government to put an end to this problem. We praise the activity of Mr. Mohammed Al-Mansoub, and appeal to all doctors who are specialized in this field to offer their medical researches on the epidemic diseases. We also have to painful mention about the failure of the campaigns of tree-planting because there is no mechanism to preserve plants.
6- Cultural and Traditional Field:
(a) We have to re-establish a university library, through which we can collect and preserve our cultural tradition.
(b) We should found a local museum to collect the archaeological gems, which are available in the city.
(c) We should activate creative and cultural work of the Yemeni authors and Writers Union. We must contact the international associations to help preserve and develop our national tradition. The old city of Ibb must be considered as one of the archaeological cities in Yemen.