06 April, 2010

Qasr Al Ma'een from the Inside

Inside, Al Qu'aity's Al Ma'een Mukalla Palace is simple but elegant. During its heydays it must have seemed stunningly opulent and imposing. The decorations and furniture inside are very much Indian inspired. The doors and windows are all intricately made of wood; and so is most of the furniture, though some chairs and stool are made of metal. The Qua'ity sultans ruled the largest part of Hadhramaut, from here; from inside these walls - for about seventy years. During that rule, the old part of Al Mukalla was surrounded by walls with gates; these walls and the surrounding mountains provided excellent protection and security for the city.

At the back of the Palace is this beautiful arched doorway which leads out into the balcony and courtyard. The sea used to be right at the wall of the palace, just a short distance away. But since the 1990s, there has been an ongoing reclaiming of the sea and now the sea has been pushed and a road has been constructed between the sea and the Palace.
The verandas and porches are narrow with wooden ceilings.
This is at the back of the Palace. The veranda and arched view provides a pleasant scenery of the sea. Should a five star hotel be created here, an overpass bridge can be constructed from the Palace to the sea, which guests and visitors can use. Boats can be at the sea; and other recreational facilities can be there too. 
This view must have been even more pleasant and spectacular during the olden days when the sea was just next to the Palace and Mukalla was much quieter.
At the porch, some of the protruding balconies can also be seen.
On the Eastern side of the Palace is this arcaded porch.
Plastered with gypsum and painted white.
The decorations on the walls and the large, rectangular columns are simple, Hadhramy and elegant.
From here, is a spectacular view of one of the oldest part of Mukalla.
And the sea and ships. During the olden days, dhows could be seen from here sailing from and to the old city's sea port, which was close to the old city.
From here too, a part of the old city, below the mountain - Qarat Al Mukalla or Al Balad, as they were then referred to - can be seen.
It is these mountains and the sea which almost, completely surround the city, that gave Mukalla its strategic location and made it rise and be strong.
Inside, there is a wooden stairway painted white and light bluish like the ceiling. The walls are white and all the wooden doors are dark brown. There are many doors which lead to several rooms housing the old Sultan's furniture, clothing and other items. In the rooms here and the lower floor, there is a collection of old and ancient artifacts and items from other parts of Hadhramout - displayed. Taking of photographs, of the artifacts or within the rooms, is not allowed. Below: in one of the rooms, one of the main arched gates at the front of the Palace can be seen.

The last Qu'aity dynasty is said to have been founded and strengthened by Sultan Omar Bin Awadh Al Qu'aity. It is said that he had served with the military in India and had strong links there and that - it is this that gave him the strength to establish his dynasty in Mukalla and most of Hadhramaut; winning recognition from the British of his paramount status in the region. The British later, in 1937, signed a treaty with the Qu'aity's appointing the British government as 'advisers' in Hadhramout. The Qu'aity's, like previous rulers of Mukalla, were from Yafa'e, in the far West of Yemen. In Harold Ingrams 'Arabia and the Isles' - he tells us of how Sultan Omar lived in Al'Qatn and how he bought Shibam from Sultan Mansour, the Al'Kathiri ruler. During most of the Al'Quaity's reign, it's from this Palace, the Al Ma'een Palace, that they carried out their duties and ruled.