29 April, 2007

The Changing Character of Mukalla

Al Mukalla is losing its original character and I believe losing its 'soul' too. Since 1990, with more buildings and constructions rapidly coming up, the old striking, aesthetic beauty of Mukalla, is fast disappearing. Being replaced by structures that, most, I find hard to appreciate. Most painful, is to see or discover old structures that were beautifully built, torn down to be replaced with 'boxes'. 'Modern' box like structures of concrete and steel.

Mukalla Old Town, known as Al'Salaam, is where most of the most beautiful buildings are. Old, painstakingly and exquisitely built and with much Indian influence in their architecture - these buildings are now gradually being torn down. I am afraid, it will not be long before some of my most favorite buildings are no more. Below are some of these buildings in Al'Salaaam, still standing, but for how long?

Below, is the kind of buildings now springing up in all of the newly built areas of Mukalla; this one in on the road from Mukalla towards the Airport.
And below, is what central Mukalla is becoming. In the Arabian Peninsular, there seems to be an enormous fascination with Dubai. Be it Abu Dhabi, Doha, Manama, Muscat - all are in one way or the other copying or imitating some aspect or way of Dubai. Mukalla is no exception. Does Dubai have character? Let's say, like Cairo or Fez or Tunis or Damascus or Amman? With the all steel, concrete and slab that Dubai is, and it looking more and more like Disneyland - it will take long, for it to build one: a character. With the ripping off, of Mukalla's old character and beauty - how long will it take, for it to have a new one. A character with a 'soul' as pleasing and as refined as the old one? A new one as aesthetically beautiful as the one now being torn up?

Note: all the old buildings I have shown pictures of here, stand on some of the most expensive real estate in Mukalla. Each of theses buildings costs, about the equivalent of a million US Dollars and more. Most people here in Mukalla, are very enthusiastic about the new structures taking shape; very few of them, indeed, realise the priceless value of the old buildings.