Wadi Al-Sahwel: Famed bounty [Archives:2006/979/Last Page]

August 7 2006

Moneer Al-Omari
Wadi Al-Sahwel is one Yemen's richest and most fertile valleys named after a famous Yemeni dignitary known as Sahwel Bin Nagi, who lived there long ago.

Extending north-south, Al-Sahwel Valley lies between Mount Sumara, which rises to 2,800 meters above sea level, and the hill embracing Ibb city. It extends over 20 km. and contains two small cities, Al-Makhader and Al-Dalil, as well as a large number of villages. Administratively, Al-Sahwel Valley now belongs to Al-Makhader district.

Lying in Ibb governorate, Al-Sahwel Valley is green year-round, enjoying high average rainfall between 800 and 1,200 millimeters. It previously produced many grains like corn, wheat and similar crops; however, qat trees now rival such crops.

Cotton also grew in Al-Sahwel Valley, which was famed for its textiles industry. According to the Arab writer Yaqout Al-Hamoui's guidebook on Middle East countries, “Al-Sahwel is a Yemeni village from which Sahweli textiles come. According to the hadith, upon his death, the prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was shrouded in three Sahweli cotton pieces containing neither dress nor a turban.”

In the past, Wadi Al-Sahwel was Yemen's food basket and a safe haven for all those escaping hunger. Everywhere one went and whatever he ate, no one would ask why he ate, happily providing any food or help.

The goodness of Al-Sahwel's inhabitants and its valley's richness prompted famed Yemeni wise man, Ali Bin Zaid, to utter the famous saying: “If you're escaping death, it's inescapable; but if you're escaping hunger, then go to Sahwel Bin Nagi.”