Old Zabid treasured as ancient world site [Archives:2002/41/Business & Economy]

October 7 2002


The ancient city of Zabid is being targeted as a prime example of how preserving urban heritage will help Yemen’s economy.
Zabid is the recent recipient of a strategy implemented by the Dutch government in co-operation with UNESCO.
The new plan has been implemented at the city’s fortress for the purpose of creating an awareness of the economic value of urban heritage.
The campaign activities have been permeated with numerous theatrical parts, Zabid fashion show, Zabid wedding customs and children drawings, an exhibition containing drawings expressing sufferings of the city of Zabid.
The five-year program of heritage and preservation of old Yemeni cities was established in 2000.
The program has taken into consideration the city of Zabid and a number of other cities. It focuses on the environment where they are built because of their relationship to the urban fabric of these cities. It also intends to give prominence to characteristics of these cities with regard to historical aspects, architectural styles and modes of traditional life in them.
The city of Zabid is located on an elevation between Zabid valley to the south and Raqa’a valley to the north, to the south of the new city at a distance of about 100 km on the Hodeidah-Taiz road and at midway between the mountains and the Red Sea.
Zabid is one of the world cities that UNESCO has decided is a world heritage. What it needs now is a fertile economic and tourist environment,
The supervisor of the project says goals of the Dutch developmental policy are to reduce poverty and this policy applies to the poor in Yemen’s urban areas. This means that the program concentrates on the significance of improving the living condition of people in old cities. ”Culture has great economic and development factors as the tourist could be developed to for an important economic resource by reviving historical cities, he added.
According to the program publications, the revival of the city of Zabid would contribute to developing the domestic economy, “as the reviving operation would make this city, and others, more attracting to private sector investors and would lead to push forward the wheel of developing urban economy.”
Meanwhile, the preservation and rehabilitation of Zabid would urge the population to adhere to living and working and investing their old houses. And the process of reconstruction of destroyed parts would create job opportunities contributing to reduce unemployment in the labor market.
Throughout its long history the city of Zabid has been a centre of science and civilization and Islamic radiation. It has witnessed development in the fields of arts, architecture, industry, agriculture and fortresses and walls and decoration of doors.
As for the wall of the city of Zabid, it is different from walls of historical cities in Yemen. It is built of baked bricks, mud and gypsum. There are 29 old mosques in the city, most famous of which is al-Asha’er mosque established by the prophet companion Abumousa al-Asha’ri in 8 Hegera year. The mosque of prophet companion Ma’adh Jabal is situated at the head of Zabid valley.
The program continues its campaign in cooperation with the local council of the city and other concerned authorities for the protection of the city of Zabid. It urge the population for cooperation in order to improve their economic conditions.