21 October, 2006

The Splendor Of Hadhramout

Mountain landscapes, pure blue skies and seas, golden beaches, exotic nights, pristine deserts, the nobility of an unspoiled nature and the prodigious splendor of amazing architecture - unique to anywhere else on Earth! That's Hadhramaut! The seat of the ancient Arab Civilization.

Hadhramout is the Governorate with the largest territory in The Republic of Yemen with diverse relief divided into coastal plains comprising of many enchanting beaches on the Arabian Sea, Mountains and hills reaching 2000m above sea level and extensive areas of the Empty Quarter. There are also many wadis, the biggest of which is Wadi Hadhramout and its many tributaries. Wadi Hadhramout runs nearly 165 km into Saihout in Mahara Governorate.

What captured my imagination most of all, when arriving first in Hadhramout way back in the Eighties - was the trully amazing architecture that I saw around! Grandiose mosques and palaces, high storied buildings, exquisitely decorated buildings - some on steep slopes of mountains, and yet - incredibly, all built of only: clay, straw and mud! "Most unique is the city of Shibam, the Arab "Manhattan," where the first "sky-scrapers" in the world were built. Wadi Hadramout is more than 200km long and looks just like the famous Grand Canyon of America. Enclosed by steep and very high mountains and canyons, this fertile valley stretches before you like a green carpet."

The interiors of these buildings, are as painstakingly and exquisitely decorated as the outside; and due to the mud walls, even during the hottest seasons - are always cool. Sadly, very sadly - this old, splendid architecture style - is now being replaced all over Hadhramout by ugly, concrete and steel buildings!