As a student of architecture, I’ve been interested in Yemen architecture for a long time. However, Yemen has never been a popular tourist destination; as a matter of fact, for years now many travel websites such as Lonely Planet or Wikitravel posted a travel warning when searching for Yemen. Even my Syrian colleague in the office also warned us against Yemen. As a matter of fact, most of my colleagues in the office, who have been expats for most of their careers questioned our decision to visit Yemen…. Yes,my husband had some reservations about visiting Yemen, he even tried to talk me out of it and to visit India instead. But what I did was to carry on talking to “Eternal Yemen“, a local tour agent, run by a Slovenian lady, who planned our short trip to Yemen.
“Why Yemen…?” Well my reply was simple, “why not Yemen???” And my other argument was that even though many government sites like USA and British issue travel warnings to Yemen, but hey, don’t many destinations have travel warnings? and if some say that you might get shot… well even in the US you could get shot.
Actually, Yemen has a popular and safe tourist destination, that is the island of Socotra, but I didn’t want to go there, as you can only see nature. It is the mainland that offers you not only nature but the culture and history of the country and the adventure as well. And that was our aim to see the people as well as the nature.
OK, now, what is so special about Yemen or Sana’a (Yemen’s capital) in particular that I wanted to see?. As I said before, it’s the architecture that interested me most. Shibam in Hadramawt, is known as the Manhattan of the Desert, they built the first sky-scraper city in the world. Yes, it’s not as tall as the real Manhattan, but for a city that was built in the 2nd century AD, and from mud technology, (instead of steel); that was an advance technology at that time. Unfortunately Hadramawt is off limits at the moment, so I had to be content with the Sana’a Governante – City of Sana’a and beyond. And I hoped that even this region would be equally interesting and historical.
In the next couple of posts, I will write more about my visit to Yemen, the architecture, the land and especially the friendly and enchanting people of Yemen.