Shibam in Yemen

Thursday, 9 May 2024 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  4 minutes

© Maria Gropa/cc-by-sa-3.0-igo

© Maria Gropa/cc-by-sa-3.0-igo

Shibam Hadramawt is a town in Yemen. With about 7,000 inhabitants, it is the seat of the District of Shibam in the Governorate of Hadhramaut. Known for its mudbrick-made high-rise buildings, it is referred to as the “Manhattan of the Desert” or “Chicago of the Desert”.

The first known inscription about the city dates from the 3rd century CE. In the 20th century, it was one of the three major cities of the Qu’aiti Sultanate, the others being Al-Mukalla and Ash-Shihr. The city was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982. In 2008, a tropical cyclone flooded Shibam. During the Yemen Civil War, the city suffered some damage after insurgents detonated a car bomb. There was also coalition bombing in the area. In 2015, UNESCO listed the city as “cultural heritage at risk”.

© Jialiang Gao - www.peace-on-earth.org/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Maria Gropa/cc-by-sa-3.0-igo © Maria Gropa/cc-by-sa-3.0-igo © Aiman titi/cc-by-sa-3.0 City gate © Aiman titi/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Ljuba brank/cc-by-sa-3.0
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© Jialiang Gao - www.peace-on-earth.org/cc-by-sa-3.0
Shibam, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its distinct architecture. The houses of Shibam are all made out of mudbrick, and about 500 of them are tower blocks, which rise 5 to 11 stories high, with each floor having one or two rooms. This architectural style was used in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks. While Shibam has been in existence for an estimated 1,700 years, most of the city’s houses originate from the 16th century. Many, though, have been rebuilt numerous times in the last few centuries. Shibam is often called “the oldest skyscraper city in the world”. It is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. The city has some of the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 m (98 feet) high, thus being early high-rise apartment buildings. In order to protect the buildings from rain and erosion, the walls must be routinely maintained by applying fresh layers of mud. The city is surrounded by a fortified wall, giving it the name “the walled city of Shibam”.

The mudbrick buildings are frequently threatened by wind, rain, and heat erosion, and require constant upkeep in order to maintain their structures. The city was heavily affected by flooding from a tropical storm in 2008. The foundations of many of the buildings in the city were compromised by the flood waters, eventually leading to their collapse. It was also the target of an Al Qaeda attack in 2009. In 2015, Shibam was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in danger when violent civil war erupted in Yemen. Historic buildings were significantly damaged during heavy bombing in Sana’a, and remain at risk from armed conflict.

The Dubai Global Village, an open-air shopping and entertainment complex in the United Arab Emirates, includes a Yemeni pavilion with mud-brick structures intended to evoke the architecture of Shibam.

Read more on Wikivoyage Shibam and Wikipedia Shibam (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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