The Yemenis consider themselves the “original” Arabs from whom all the other Arabs are descended. Indeed according to ancient scriptures,Quran and some suggestive statements in the Talmud there is evidence of this.
In ancient Yemen, named by the ancient Romans “Arabia Felix” ;Happy Arabia, there were 6 principal kingdoms: the Sabaean, Awsanian, Minaean, Qatabanian, Hadhramawtian, Himyarite. Sabaean was the oldest and one of the most powerful. Saba in Hebrew is “Sheba”. Thus the fabled Queen of Sheba came from Sabaean kingdom. Queens in Arabia were common, and both the Bible and Quran refer to the Queen of Sheba whose real name was Bilquis!
Sana’a, the capital, is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Throughout in Yemen, Stone Age people left evidence of their occupation from 400,000BC (Discovered in Tahama on the Red sea of Yemen). Bronze Age people from 2000BC had developed many agricultural settlements throughout the area. Foremost of these was Marib where a huge dam was built to irrigate the terraced fields found here. The Marib Dam is considered the greatest technical structure of antiquity. You may see some of the ruins of this structure which collapsed around 600AD and which is nearby to a new dam serving the same purpose today.
Among Yemens natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites:
1.The Old Walled City of Shibam in Wadi Hadhramaut, inscribed by UNESCO in 1982, is nicknamed “Manhattan of the Desert”, because of its “skyscrapers”. Surrounded by a fortified wall, the city is one of the oldest and examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.
2.The ancient city of Sana’a.
Even the name itself, Sana’a has a great history. It was previously known as the city of Shem, named after Shem the son of Noah,father of all semites, who was the first to order to build the city. It has also carried the name Azal after one of the sons of Yaqtin ibn Aa’z as mentioned in the Old Testament.
While the historical accuracy of such stories might be questioned, what is certain is that history in Yemen dates from the very dawn of humankind.
Sana’a an altitude of more than 7,000 feet has been inhabited for over two and a half millennia. Sanaa has 103 mosques, 14 hammams (traditional bath houses) and more than 6,000 houses that survive all date.
3.Close to the Red Sea Coast, the Historic Town of Zabid, was Yemens capital from the 13th to 15th Century. It played an important role for many centuries, because of its UNIVERSITY , which was a centre of learning for the whole Arab world. Arabic numbers were used there first on the peninsule and Algebra is said to have been invented there in the early 8th century by the little known scholar al-Jaladi.
4.The latest addition to Yemens list of World Heritage Sites is the Socotra Archipelago. Socotra or “Eipheba Sakhotora” which used to mean “The island of Happiness”.Mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th Century, Socotra islands and two rocky islets near the Gulf of Aden has rich biodiversity. 37% of Socotras 825 plants, 90% of its reptiles and 95% of its snails are unique and DO NOT OCCUR anywhere else in the world. It is home to 192 bird species, 253 species of coral, 730 species of costal fish and 300 species of crab and lobster, as well as a range of Aloes and the Dragons Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari) or as it’s known in Yemen: The tree of Cain and Abel (The name of this tree has always been linked with the name of Socotra due to its fame and importance since ancient times.The island people make cracks on the trees trunk and then a viscous red fluid flows and is left till it is dried up. After that they collect it and pack it for export.It is further used as medicine and many legends have been woven around it. According to one legend the tree grew from the blood of Abel when the first human crime occurred. As the blood flowed, the tree sprang from it. )
Yemen today is still not well known by the west so there could be more of these peculiarities on this beautiful mysterious country.
(“If we would have to describe the country of Yemen with one word it would might be architecture”
The Quran states Yemen as the place where the wisdom takes place at. The messenger (PBUH) gestured with his hands towards Yemen and said: “Wisdom (hikma) is there….)
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