Tourism in Yemen: -Converting strangers into friends [Archives:2003/663/Last Page]

August 28 2003
Tomb of prophet Hud
Tomb of prophet Hud
Al-Kathiri palace
Al-Kathiri palace
Old transportation has been still used in Hadhramout
Old transportation has been still used in Hadhramout
Selected by Abduh M. Assabri
Yemen Times Staff

* Hadhamout
Hadhamout is one of the Yemen governorates. It lies in the south east of Yemen. It has integral geographical terrain reflecting diversified rich tourist structures. They include coastal plains on the Arabian Sea, mountains and plateaus at a height of 2000 meters above the sea level and large areas of al-Ruba' al-Khali.
It also includes Wadi Hadhramout which is one of the largest and most fertile Wadis in the Arabian Peninsula at length of 165 km.
Hadhramout has a glorious past and ancient history. The studies carried out in Wadi Hadhramout confirm that the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula has been settled by mankind for more than 700.000 years.
In Hadhramout was one of the oldest Yemen states whose civilization flourished in the middle of the first millennium BC.
Its economic structure largely depended on the commodity of frankincense. In addition, there were other commercial activities via land and sea roads.
It was also interested in agriculture, building of towns, establishing damps and canals, protecting trade routes by castles and fortifications, and establishing temples in its capital Shabowa and other Hadhramout towns.
Then came the time of its weakness following the recession of incense trade. The incense was prohibited in Christian churches. The other reason was the transformation of trade road from the desert to the main plateau which was starting from Aden via Dhafar and Sana'a to Mecca.
By the 4th century AD, the Himyarite king completed his domination over the oldest regions of Yemeni states.
From Raydan the royal palace at Dhafar, he announced his new title, the King of Saba, Dhi Raydan, Hadhramout and Yamanat, of Saba, Dhi Raydan, Hadhramout and Yamanat,

It is at the coast of Arabian Sea about 777 km from the capital Sana'a. It is the capital of the Governorate of Hadhramout and one of the Yemeni seaports on the Arabian Sea. It was known as ''Khaisa'' or ''Bandar Jacob''.
The name of Mukalla came late. The city was firstly settled by the fishers who came from the neighboring regions.
There the emirate of Al-Kassad was established, in the year 1115 A.H (18th century A.D). It was a capital of Quaiti Sultanate. The old city of Mukalla is characterized by a unique architectural design which was prevailing in the cities overlooking the coast of Arabian Sea and the ports of Red Sea like Aqaba, Jeddah, Hudaida, Mukha and Aden, during the 18th and 19th centuries. All these cities lost their original architectural fabric and nothing remains but Mukalla type which combines the elements of Yemeni architecture and the design of south East Asia. Husn Al-Ghuwayzi: Is one of the most important sights of Mukalla at the entrance of the city, built in (1884 A.D) Ma'in palace: which was built by Sultan Omar bin Awadh Al-Quaiti Mukalla museum currently occupies a large part of it. Mukalla is reputed for the production of gypsum. Mukalla is greatly expanding today, thanks to the renovation of its seaport and the extension of its beautiful coasts at the Arabian Sea like Khalf beach.
Hot springs
Hadhramout enjoys many natural resources for treatment tourism through the availability of various hot springs, the most important of which are: Al-Harshiyat: An agricultural village, 5 km north of Mukalla.
Tabala: lies on a highland, 7 km north of Shihr.
Al-Hami: A coast area 22-km from Shihr.
Thawban and Suwiaber: two small villages 5 km west of al-Dees.

Ghayl Bawazir
Ghayl means the under ground water. It is some 35 area. It was a station along caravan route and a connection point between the Wadi and the coast of Hadhramout. Al-Ghayl is famous of growing the best quality of Yemeni tobacco, has various water springs which water large areas of fertile lands. Yemeni tobacco has various water springs, which water large areas of fertile lands.

This small fishing port, 60 km east of Mukalla, is a very old settlement. The town also was named ''Al-Asaa''. It was a commercial outlet for the frankincense brought by land from the far east of Mukalla to Shibam then to Shihr from there, it is exported to outside world. Shihr was also one of the pre-Islamic Arab seasonal markets, which was called ''Souk of Shihr Mahra'' it was also a meeting point of commercial exchange between India, Arab Gulf, Egypt and East Africa, on one hand, and Yemen, on the other. The most important historical sights of Shihr include Bin Ayash fortress and the town wall the wall has two gates; ''Al-Aidarous'' and ''Al-Khour''.

The town of Shibam lies in the middle of Wadi Hadhramout, at its narrowest point. It is 19km from Say'un. It was one of most important souks in these regions. Shibam is a tight collection of some 500 skyscrapers, seven to eight-story high, crammed into an area of only half a sq. km. The city seems as a fortified castles one a hill of almost 30 meters from the Wadi bed. Shibam is a very old city. It was also the capital of the Hadhramout region for some period. The citadel of Shibam was the residence of the governor, dating from the 13th century A.D the biggest of the six mosques of the city is Shibam Mosque, built in the 8th century A.D at the time of Caliph, Harun ar-Rashid. The number of houses is a little more than 500.Most of the houses having four to seven stories. Because the town is built so low, it is vulnerable to floods and was party destroyed by floods in 1532 AD. Starting 1980, Shibam was declared by of a UNESCO as a world monument and initiated a program to safeguard its cultural heritage. It is sometimes known as ''Manhattan of Desert''.

It was the capital of Kathiri Sultanate for the period between 1400 and 1967 AD. It is the current administrative center of Wadi Hadhramout and the largest city there Say'un is 320km north of Mukalla. Its economy was greatly boosted in the 15th century AD, when Sultan Badr Abu Tuwairiq (982AH- 16th century AD) made it a capital of his state. Say'un Grand Mosque; dates back to the 11th century AH (17th century AD). The Palace of Sultan Al-Kathiri; is the most important tourist and historical site there. It was built of clay brick and decorated with gypsum. It is characterized by beautiful artistic elements reflecting the Arab Islamic and Far East architectural elements. The museum occupies part of this palace, whereas the other part is occupied by a public library. Among the sights of Say'un is the market of traditional and handmade products. Say'un is surrounded by of palm groves and several gardens.

Tarim is situated on the east bank of Wadi Hadhramout some 35km to the northeast of Say'un. It has received much attention in the historical narratives for the importance of its role throughout the ages. The town was a capital of Kinda Kings for a period of time. After Islam, it became one of the religious centers. Until recently, it was a town of knowledge and one of the most important teaching centers in Yemen. Tarim was the capital of Kathiri Sultanate. A lot of its inhabitants immigrated to the western coast of India and established commercial settlements in Singapore and Indonesia since 1220AD. Many of the immigrated used to return to Tarim, and build a mosque ''Thanks to God for safe return''. Then the immigrated starts to build a luxurious house reflecting the volume of wealth he had earned. Thus, the architectural movement developed and many houses and palaces were built. They introduced new styles mixing between Southeast Asian character and local design. Tarim's houses are beautiful surrounded by palm trees. Tarim Citadel is an important historical site of the town. There are also a number of old fortifications and castles, the most important of which are Al-U'rr fortress (Husn) Al-Muhdar Mosque (1915AD), its 125-foot-high square minaret, and Al-Ahqaf library which is one of the most important Yemeni houses of manuscripts.

It is 8km east of Tarim. It is a beautiful village dates back to the 16th century. It has a distinguished design of religious tombs and shrines in addition to some unique architectural structures.

Religious Sites
Hadhramout is a land of Prophets and messengers. There lie the tombs of the Prophet HUD and the Prophet Saleh (peace be upon them). There are also the seasonal festivals of religious nature at specific sites near some famous tombs. Among these sites is the tomb of the Prophet HUD (peace is upon him) which is 90km east of Tarim. The date of the pilgrimage is from 6th until 12th of the month of Shaa'ban, every year. A seasonal market is held on the occasion of the pilgrimage. There are also a number of tombs like the tomb of the Prophet Saleh (peace is upon him), the tomb of the holy man Ahmed Ibn Isa Al-Muhajir and the tombs of Mashhd on the way to Al-Hajarayn.

It is some 90km from Say'un. Mashhd is a small village with some fine tombs. The tomb of Sheikh Ali Ibn Hassan Al-Attas, died in 1127AH. (18th century AD) was reputedly rebuilt in the 1830s. The tomb is annually visited during the period (8-16) of the month Rabia Al-Awal every year. Here, also a local market is held at the same time.

It is 94km from Say'un near the outlet of Wadi Dawa'an into Wadi Hadhramout. It is one of the most important archeological sites dates back to the 10th century BC. Not much of it remains today but only few ruins of old temples, a part of the old city, and an old irrigation network.

Wadi Dawa'an
There are a number of tributaries for Wadi Hadhramout including Wadi Dawa'an, Wadi A'ian, Wadi Amad and Wadi Sar. Wadi Dawa'an is considered the most important and famous one along the valley a number of beautiful villages are spreading, representing the majesty of Yemeni architecture. Wadi Dawa'an is also well reputed for the production of super quality of honey which made it famous every where.

Al-Hajarayn literally means ''the two cities'' in the old Yemeni language. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Yemen, in general, and in Wadi Hadhramout, in particular. It is a remarkable stone village atop a rocky slope of Wadi Hajarayn over-looking a forest of palm trees. It is one of the most ancient villages in Wadi Hadhramout. There are a lot of beautiful villages at the two banks of Wadi like Seef, Budha, Rashid and Al-Khuraiba.

Incense Route of Hadhramout
It was one of sub-routes of Frankinces Road. It starts in the land of Mahra and Dhafar, and passes through Sayun. Then it takes its path in the direction of Abr, Gudran, and Kanais up to Jauf region. From there, the caravans journey is resumed via Najran northwards to Gaza at the Mediterranean coast. Today, there are regular tourist trips starting from Hadhramout valley via Al-Abr area to Marib. There are also other trips starting from Hadhramout valley via the old city of Shabwa to Marib. It is considered among the most amazing tourist roads.

Folklore and Traditions
The folklore of Hadhramout is rich. In music and singing the region is famous for Dan ensemble. Folklore dancing is diverse of which Shabuani Zarbadi and Iddah are well known among the people. The people of Hadhramout enjoyed good and noble qualities, the most important of which:-
Love of guests
Love of sea
Working in trade
Love of travel. They spread Islam in southeast. Asia.

The climate of Hadhramout is equatorial and hot. In summer, the daily temperatures exceed 40 C; coastal areas are very humid. In winter, temperatures tend to be moderate. They are 20-24 C in coastal areas and 17-20 C Inland areas.
How to reach Wadi Hadhramout
You can travel to Say'un;
Via the Yemeni Airlines flights from Sana'a, Aden, Mukalla and other local airports. Via the asphalted land road network connecting Mukalla and Wadi Hadhramout. Via the desert road Marib- Safer- Wadi Hadhramout or the road of Marib n Harib n Shabwa n Wadi Hadhramout
By sea to Mukalla seaport and then to Wadi Hadhramout.
* General Authority of Tourism