27 June, 2007

Sights Of Mukalla Old Town

Al Salaam. The Al Mukalla old sector. Narrow streets. Very narrow. Buildings close to each other. Most, painted white. Most, four floors or more. All with small windows. Many windows. Made of wood. And wooden doors. Exquisitely decorated windows and doors. Some of the buildings look medieval. Are they? Yes. Some are very old and close to that period. Inside the houses: cool. Al Salaam is normally cooler than other parts of Mukalla. I see children playing. Running around in the narrow streets. A sight I always cherish and look forward to. And there are goats. Many goats. And some dogs. Is this really Mukalla?

Though Mukalla is modernising fast, Al Salaam, still, in many ways, remains ancient. Even with satellite dishes on roof tops, on balconies and on the sides of walls. Even with the Internet connections and latest car models. Even with the many and the largest gold and jewellery shops in Mukalla and the many goldsmiths there. Al Salaam still feels old. Unique. And calm.
There are many mosques in Al Salaam. Some with tombs within. But not the one below: Mash'hoor mosque. Small, like many mosques in Al Salaam. And pretty. The most popular and largest mosques in Al Salaam are: Masjid Omar and Masjid Al'Rodha. My favorite is: Al Rodha.
Some streets are so narrow, that only motorcycles can go through. Or donkeys. They were meant for donkeys. Or camels. But there are now few donkeys left in Mukalla. Very few. And even fewer camels.
The residence of Al Salaam are the original dwellers of Mukalla. They believe that they are different from the rest of Mukallawees. They claim: they are more cultured. Are more polished. Have the best cuisines. And have the prettiest and most beautiful women. So they say. With the modernising earthquake that Mukalla is now undergoing, it won't be long before Al Salaam is radically changed. Whatever becomes of Al Salaam, it will always be one of my favorite places in Al Mukalla.