Mukalla (Arabic: ٱلْمُكَلَّا, Al Mukallā) is a seaport[2] and the capital city of Yemen's largest governorate, Hadhramaut. The city is in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula on the Gulf of Aden, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, about 480 kilometres (300 miles) east of Aden. It is the most important port city in the Hadhramaut region. It is also the sixth-largest city in Yemen, with a population of approximately 595,000 as of 2023.[3] The city is served by the nearby Riyan International Airport.

Mukalla
ٱلْمُكَلَّا (Arabic)
City and Federal Capital
Khor of Al-Mukalla
Khor Al-mukalla, Hadhramout
Al-Gwayzi fort in the Gwayzi District
Night view of the khor
Riyan airport
Nickname: 
Bride of the Arabian Sea
Mukalla is located in Yemen
Mukalla
Mukalla
Location in Yemen
Coordinates: 14°32′N 49°08′E / 14.533°N 49.133°E / 14.533; 49.133
Country Yemen
RegionHadhramout Region Hadramaut
GovernorateHadramaut
DistrictMukalla
Founded as a fishing settlement in1035
Area
 • Total757.94 sq mi (1,963.05 km2)
Elevation
1,178 ft (359 m)
Population
 (2023)[1]
 • Total594,951 Increase
DemonymMukallawi
Time zoneUTC+3 (AST)
Area code+967-5

Etymology edit

The current name "Mukalla" (المكلا) is derived from the Arabic verb "kala" (كلا), meaning "to preserve" or "to nurture." This reflects the city's historical role as a safe harbor and bustling port, providing shelter and nurturing trade in the region.[4][5][6]

However, several other names and epithets have been associated with Mukalla throughout its history, each offering insights into its development and cultural significance:

  • Al-Kheesa: This early name, meaning "bay" or "cove" in Arabic, highlights Mukalla's sheltered location and its early function as a fishing village.[6]
  • Bandar Yaqoub: This name comes from the saint Yaqoub bin Yusuf, a man who settled in the city around the 12th century AD. His shrine remains a significant local landmark.[6]
  • Bandar Omar: Named after a local figure, Omar bin Ali bin Sheikh Abu Bakr, who founded the Al-Rawd Mosque near Yaqoub's shrine.[6]
  • Bandar Al-Naqeeb: Attributed to Captain Salah bin Hamad Al-Kassadi, a prominent ruler from the Al-Kassad dynasty that governed Mukalla in the 18th century.[6]
  • Bandar Ghalib: This name emerged during the reign of Sultan Ghaleb bin Awad Al-Quaiti, who ruled the Hadhramaut region in the early 20th century.[6]

History edit

Mukalla is not far from Qana, the ancient principal Hadrami trading post between India and Africa, with incense producing areas in its hinterland.[7]

 
Aerial View of Mukalla, 1932

Mukalla was founded in 1035 as a fishing settlement. After witnessing a struggle for control by the Kathiri and Qu'aiti Sultanates in the 19th and 20th centuries, it became the capital of the Qu'aiti State of Hadhramaut. The Qu'aiti Sultanate was part of the Eastern Aden Protectorate until that merger, and a British Resident Advisor was stationed at Mukalla. The other major cities of the Sultanates were Ash-Shihr and Shibam.[2]

Captain Haines, a British officer who surveyed Yemen in the 1830s, described Mukalla as a town of 4500 inhabitants with a significant trade in slaves.[8] British explorers Theodore Bent and Mabel Bent used Mukalla several times in the 1890s to enter and exit the Wadi Hadhramaut:

“Our starting-point for the interior was Makalla, which is 230 miles from Aden, and is the only spot between Aden and Maskat which has any pretensions to the name of port. The name itself means 'harbour'… Here we were deposited in December 1893 by a chance steamer, one which had been chartered and on which for a consideration we were allowed to take passage. I took turns with the captain to sleep in his cabin, but there was nothing but the deck for the others.”[9]

In 1934, British traveler and explorer Freya Stark began her journey into the hinterland of the Hadhramaut from Mukalla, and her stay in that city is recorded in her book, The Southern Gates of Arabia.[10]

in 1967, it became a part of the communist South Yemen and in 1990, a part of Yemen.

On 3 November 2015, Cyclone Chapala struck the city and destroyed the city's waterfront.[11]

 
This is a photograph of Mukalla taken in the 1940s and showing that it still had its almost medieval qualities about it.

Yemeni Civil War edit

During the Yemeni Civil War, on 2 April 2015, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) stormed the central prison, freeing hundreds of prisoners including two senior AQAP commanders. They attacked the central bank and seized 17 billion Yemeni riyals and 1 million U.S. dollars before taking control of the presidential palace in the city. It was reported the entire city was under their control and they plan to establish an Islamic emirate in the wider Hadramaut region.[12] Mukalla became AQAP's headquarters, and the capital of their Emirate in Yemen after their takeover.

In April 2015 Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi was killed in a US drone strike in the city, the SITE Intelligence Group said, citing media reports.[13]

On 23 March 2015, a US airstrike hit an AQAP training camp, killing at least 50 people. Some days later, AQAP held a major rally in the city, against the US and their airstrikes.[14] In April 2016, is reported that AQAP bounds at last 1,000 of its fighters inside the Mukalla only, with their taxes profit in the city to be from 2, to higher than 5 million U.S. dollars per day.[15]

In mid April 2016, AQAP was consolidating its control in Mukalla and took over control of Mukalla's airport from forces affiliated with the pro-Ansar al Sharia Hadhrami Domestic Council, while also evacuating and planting explosives around nearby al Dhaba oil port. AQAP also arrested seven Yemeni fighters from a camp north of Mukalla in Wadi Hadramaut, where the UAE is reportedly training forces for operations against AQAP.[citation needed] AQAP is also redistributing property from northern landowners to local tribal leaders in an effort to shore up support, according to reports. The UAE, a core member of the Saudi-led coalition, recently[when?] led an operation to recapture AQAP-held al Hawta in Lahij governorate, amid reports the country is seeking U.S. assistance for an expanded counter-terrorism campaign in Yemen.[16]

Recapture from Al Qaeda edit

Mukalla was recaptured from Al Qaeda on 25 April 2016 after 2,000 Yemeni and Emirati troops advanced into the city, taking control of its port and airport and setting up checkpoints throughout the city.[17][18]

The UAE has established a primary base of operations against AQAP in the liberated city.[19] The special operations base has enabled the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to target AQAP's strongest cells in Yemen and allowed for an enhanced UAE-US cooperation against AQAP.[19]

On 15 May 2016, a suicide attack was carried out in the city by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[20] The attack targeted a police base, killing at least 25 police recruits and wounding at least 54 others.[21][22]

After the liberation of Mukalla, Major-General Faraj Al-Bahsani, the then-governor of the Hadhramaut governorate, said that they were now working on rebuilding health and education services, new homes and a local police force.

During a press visit by The independent in August 2018, the city seems to be secured. Multiple checkpoints are present outside the city and weapons are not allowed to be brought into the city.[23]

Economy edit

Mukalla port
Trading bread in the old town

The main market souq is one of the main commercial hubs of the city. Mukalla port is located to the east of the town. The port is available for vessels with length not more than 150 metres (490 feet), as per Pilot Book Pilot Directions (as of 2010). At the same time two vessels with the length 150 metres (490 feet) each and about 20 small fishing vessels can stay alongside in Mukalla port (fishing vessel moored alongside one to another). The port is fitted with oil pipe line for tankers. Oil tanks located close to the port. A cement factory of the "RAYSUT" Omani-Yemeni company (Oman-Yemen company) located in the port and is able to receive cement in bulk from cement carriers.[citation needed]

Sights edit

The old town is open for tourists. Sights include the royal palace of the sultan. Guard towers that were outposts surmount the vicinity of the old town.[citation needed] Nearby are Hadhramaut Mountains,[24] such as that of Husn Ghuraf.[2]

Events edit

In Al-Mukalla, several cultural and musical festivals, as well as international exhibitions, are held throughout the year:

Cultural Festivals:

  1. Mukalla Tourist Festival.
  2. Baad Al-Mukalla Festival.
  3. Hadramout Al-Badia Festival.
  4. Eid Nights Festival.
  5. Hadramout Music Nights Festival.

International Exhibitions:

  1. International Book Exhibition.
  2. Science and Inventions Exhibition at Hadramout University for Science and Technology.
  3. Hadramout Investment Exhibition.

Education edit

The HUCOM (College of Medicine) of the Hadhramout University is located in Mukalla.[25]

Climate edit

Climate data for Mukalla (Riyan Airport)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.6
(90.7)
33.3
(91.9)
36.1
(97.0)
38.0
(100.4)
40.0
(104.0)
43.9
(111.0)
38.2
(100.8)
37.2
(99.0)
37.0
(98.6)
38.9
(102.0)
38.2
(100.8)
32.9
(91.2)
43.9
(111.0)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 27.5
(81.5)
28.1
(82.6)
29.2
(84.6)
31.3
(88.3)
32.9
(91.2)
34.4
(93.9)
33.4
(92.1)
32.7
(90.9)
32.1
(89.8)
30.9
(87.6)
30.2
(86.4)
28.5
(83.3)
30.9
(87.6)
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.5
(76.1)
25.1
(77.2)
26.4
(79.5)
28.2
(82.8)
30.3
(86.5)
31.7
(89.1)
30.4
(86.7)
29.8
(85.6)
29.7
(85.5)
27.8
(82.0)
26.4
(79.5)
25.2
(77.4)
28.0
(82.4)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 21.0
(69.8)
21.5
(70.7)
23.1
(73.6)
24.7
(76.5)
27.7
(81.9)
28.5
(83.3)
26.9
(80.4)
26.4
(79.5)
26.8
(80.2)
24.2
(75.6)
22.1
(71.8)
21.4
(70.5)
24.5
(76.1)
Record low °C (°F) 13.9
(57.0)
15.2
(59.4)
14.4
(57.9)
17.2
(63.0)
20.6
(69.1)
22.2
(72.0)
20.0
(68.0)
19.4
(66.9)
21.7
(71.1)
17.3
(63.1)
16.1
(61.0)
15.1
(59.2)
13.9
(57.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 6.9
(0.27)
3.0
(0.12)
11.9
(0.47)
11.7
(0.46)
4.4
(0.17)
1.2
(0.05)
4.3
(0.17)
3.9
(0.15)
0.7
(0.03)
0.8
(0.03)
3.1
(0.12)
4.7
(0.19)
56.7
(2.23)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 1.2 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.6 0.2 0.3 1.1 1.0 7.7
Average relative humidity (%) 62 61 64 68 70 67 65 65 72 68 62 60 66
Average dew point °C (°F) 15
(59)
15
(59)
17
(63)
21
(70)
22
(72)
22
(72)
21
(70)
21
(70)
22
(72)
20
(68)
17
(63)
15
(59)
19
(66)
Mean daily sunshine hours 7.5 7.6 9.5 9.6 11.9 12.2 12.0 11.7 9.8 9.8 9.8 8.5 10.0
Source 1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[26]
Source 2: Time and Date (dewpoints, 2005-2015)[27]

Weather Atlas (sun hours)[28]

References edit

  1. ^ "Al-Mukalla Population 2023".
  2. ^ a b c McLaughlin, Daniel (2008). "10: Southeast Yemen". Yemen. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 191–198. ISBN 978-1-8416-2212-5.
  3. ^ "Al-Mukalla Population 2023". worldpopulationreview.com. Retrieved 2023-08-14.
  4. ^ "المكلا.. لؤلؤة البحر العربي | خيُوط". www.khuyut.com. Retrieved 2024-02-17.
  5. ^ "المكلا بين تاريخين | خيُوط". www.khuyut.com. Retrieved 2024-02-17.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "المكلا ...تعددت الاسماء والحب واحد..." www.shabwaah-press.info. Retrieved 2024-02-17.
  7. ^ "Myos Hormos". Maritime Incense Route. Retrieved 7 Dec 2008.
  8. ^ Thomas Buxton (1839). The African Slave Trade. London: Jorn Murray.
  9. ^ Southern Arabia, Theodore and Mabel Bent, London, 1900, p.74.
  10. ^ Stark, Freya (1936), The Southern Gates of Arabia, London: John Murray (and reprinted in many modern editions)
  11. ^ "Cyclone Chapala batters war-torn Yemen". BBC. 3 November 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Al-Qaeda frees 300 prisoners in Yemen jail break". Telegraph.co.uk. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  13. ^ Ford, Dana (7 May 2015). "Senior AQAP leader Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi killed". CNN. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Al-Qaeda In Yemen Sends Children To Protest U.S. Drone Strikes". Vocativ. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Al Qaeda emerges stronger and richer from Yemen war". Al Arabiya English. April 8, 2016.
  16. ^ "حصري- القاعدة يبدأ تجهيز ميدان المعركة: إخلاء مطار المكلا وتفخيخ ميناء "الضبة"". وكالة خبر للأنباء. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  17. ^ "Arab coalition enters AQAP stronghold in port city of Mukalla, Yemen". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Yemen: Al-Qaeda fighters leave stronghold". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2023-08-26.
  19. ^ a b "Hunting AQAP in Yemen: Joint UAE-US Special Operations Base in Mukalla (IMINT)". T Intelligence. 9 September 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Yemen conflict: IS suicide attack kills 25 police recruits". BBC News. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  21. ^ "Deadly bombing targets police in Yemen's Mukalla". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  22. ^ "Islamic State Yemen suicide bomber kills 25 police recruits: medics". Reuters. 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  23. ^ "Mukalla was once an al-Qaeda stronghold - this is what it's like today". The Independent. August 17, 2018.
  24. ^ Scoville, Sheila A. (2006). Gazetteer of Arabia: a geographical and tribal history of the Arabian Peninsula. Vol. 2. Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt. pp. 117–122. ISBN 0-7614-7571-0.
  25. ^ "الرئيسية - جامعة حضرموت" [Hadramout University Homepage] (in Arabic). Hadramout University. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  26. ^ "Klimatafel von Riyan bei Mukalla / Jemen" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  27. ^ "Climate & Weather Averages in Al Mukalla, Yemen". Time and Date. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  28. ^ "Monthly weather forecast and climate in Al Mukalla, Yemen". Weather Atlas. Retrieved 10 January 2022.

External links edit

  Media related to Mukalla at Wikimedia Commons