Shibam Hadramawt (Arabic: شِبَام حَضْرَمَوْت, romanizedShibām Ḥaḍramawt)[2][3] is a town in Yemen. With about 7,000 inhabitants, it is the seat of the District of Shibam[1] in the Governorate of Hadhramaut. Known for its mudbrick-made high-rise buildings, it is referred to as the "Manhattan of the Desert" (مَانْهَاتَن ٱلصَّحْرَاء) or "Chicago of the Desert" (شِيْكَاغو ٱلصَّحْرَاء).[5][2][4]

Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
شِبَام حَضْرَمَوْت[2][3]
The city with the Hadhramaut Mountains in the background
The city with the Hadhramaut Mountains in the background
Manhattan of the Desert (مَانْهَاتَن ٱلصَّحْرَاء)
Chicago of the Desert (شِيْكَاغو ٱلصَّحْرَاء)[2][4]
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt is located in Yemen
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
Location in Yemen
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt is located in Middle East
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt (Middle East)
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt is located in West and Central Asia
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt
Shibām Ḥaḍramawt (West and Central Asia)
Coordinates: 15°55′37″N 48°37′36″E / 15.92694°N 48.62667°E / 15.92694; 48.62667
Country Yemen
 • Total7,000
Time zoneGMT+3
Official nameOld Walled City of Shibam
Criteriaiii, iv, vi
Designated1982; endangered as of 2015
Reference no.192
RegionArab States

History edit

The first known inscription about the city dates from the 3rd century CE.[6] It was the capital of the Hadramawt Kingdom.

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.[7]

The city was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List[8] in 1982.[9]

In 2008, a tropical cyclone flooded Shibam.[10]

During the Yemen Civil War, the city suffered some damage[11][12] after insurgents detonated a car bomb.[13] There was also coalition bombing in the area. In 2015, UNESCO listed the city as "cultural heritage at risk".[9]

Geography edit

The town is located in the central-western area of Hadhramaut Governorate, in the desert of Ramlat al-Sab'atayn. Its main road links Sana'a and other cities of western Yemen to the far eastern territories. The nearest towns are Seiyun, seat of an airport, and Tarim, both in the east. Another road, departing from the village of Alajlanya, in the west, links Shibam to Mukalla, the governorate's capital, located by the Indian Ocean.[citation needed]

Climate edit

Shibam has a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh). At an average temperature of 28.0 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit), June is the hottest month of the year. January is the coldest month, with temperatures averaging 18.6 °C (65.5 °F).

Climate data for Shibam
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 24.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 13.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 8

Architecture edit

Overview edit

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,[15] with each floor having one or two rooms.[16] This architectural style was used in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks.[17] 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".[6] It is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.[18] The city has some of the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 m (98 feet) high,[19] 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,[18] giving it the name "the walled city of Shibam".

Threats edit

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.[20] The foundations of many of the buildings in the city were compromised by the flood waters, eventually leading to their collapse.[21] It was also the target of an Al Qaeda attack in 2009.[22][23]

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.[24][25]

Influences edit

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.[26]

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Districts of Yemen". Statoids. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d مدينة شبام حضرموت "شيكاغو الصحراء". Al-Bayan (in Arabic). 30 July 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b بلدة شبام حضرموت. (in Arabic). 6 April 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b "The Ancient City of Shibam: The Manhattan of the Desert". 9 November 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  5. ^ "In Pictures: Yemen's 'Manhattan of the Desert' risks collapse". Aljazeera. 10 November 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b "Wadi Hadramowt and walled city of Shabam". Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  7. ^ McLaughlin, Daniel (2008). "10: Southeast Yemen". Yemen. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 191–198. ISBN 978-1-8416-2212-5.
  8. ^ Old Walled City of Shibam, UNESCO, World Heritage List
  9. ^ a b Bricks and mortar fire: Yemen’s cultural heritage is in the crosshairs.17 December 2015.
  10. ^ Gulnaz Khan, This Ancient Mud Skyscraper City is the 'Manhattan of the Desert'. National Geographic.
  11. ^ Yemen suffers cultural vandalism during its war.
  12. ^ This Ancient Mud Skyscraper City is the 'Manhattan of the Desert'. National Geographic.
  13. ^ Maggie Michael, Report details damage to ancient Yemeni archaeological sites 15 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Climate: Shibam". Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  15. ^ Helfritz, Hans (April 1937). "Land without shade". Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society. 24 (2): 201–16. doi:10.1080/03068373708730789.
  16. ^ Jerome, Pamela; Chiari, Giacomo; Borelli, Caterina (1999). "The Architecture of Mud: Construction and Repair Technology in the Hadhramaut Region of Yemen". APT Bulletin. 30 (2–3): 39–48 [44]. doi:10.2307/1504639. JSTOR 1504639.
  17. ^ Morrison, Alastair M.; Coca-Stefaniak, J. Andres (27 August 2020). Routledge Handbook of Tourism Cities. Routledge. ISBN 9780429534805 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ a b Old Walled City of Shibam, UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  19. ^ Shipman, J. G. T. (June 1984). "The Hadhramaut". Asian Affairs. 15 (2): 154–162. doi:10.1080/03068378408730145.
  20. ^ "Death Toll Mounts In Tropical Storm". 26 October 2008. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  21. ^ "Historic Town of Shibam Hadramout Escapes Flooding Largely Unscathed". ITN Source. 3 November 2008.
  22. ^ "Al Qaeda blamed for Yemen attack". CNN. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  23. ^ "Al-Qaeda in Yemen:Political, Social and Security Dimensions". Yemen Post. 12 April 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  24. ^ "List of World Heritage in Danger: The 54 properties which the World Heritage Committee has decided to include on the List of World Heritage in danger in accordance with Article 11 (4) of the Convention". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  25. ^ Bokova, Irina (12 May 2015). "UNESCO Director-General calls on all parties to protect Yemen's cultural heritage". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 30 April 2017. In addition to causing terrible human suffering, these attacks are destroying Yemen's unique cultural heritage, which is the repository of people's identity, history and memory and an exceptional testimony to the achievements of the Islamic Civilization.
  26. ^ O’Connor, Paul (16 January 2022). "Spectacular memory: Zombie pasts in the themed shopping malls of Dubai". Memory Studies. 16 (2): 212–226. doi:10.1177/17506980211066579. ISSN 1750-6980. S2CID 257805765.

External links edit