Hadhramout is the largest territory in 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.
Hadhramout lies in the southeast of Yemen bordered by Mahara on the east and Shabwa on the east. It extends northwards deep into the Empty Quarter with its southern coasts overlooking the Arabian Sea and is 777km away from Sanaa, accessible by a paved road via Marib and Attaq to Mukalla.
The Climate in Hadhramout is hot and tropical in summer. Temperatures reach 40oC in the interior, where a dry tropical climate prevails. In coastal areas, the temperature is 36oC due the humid monsoon. In the winter it tends to be moderate, 20-24 oC in the coast and 17- 20oC in the interior.
Hadhramout (Historical Introduction)
Hadhramout in Heritage Books is Aad, ad Ahqaf in the Holy Koran, the place which god bestowed with prophets of whom are Hood and Saleh peace upon them. According to Genealogists it was name Hadhramout after it was a home for Amir Bin Qahtan, who was told that once he attended a war he multiplied slaughtering and thus used to say that if he attends then Death attends with him.
Hadhramout in the ancient history of Yemen is one of the ancient Yemenite states whose prosperity at the onset of the first millennium BC was on the Valley Banks between the chains of Mountain and the desert of the Empty Quarter the east of Yemen. Through the ancient Yemenite inscriptions discovered up to date it is possible to say that Hadhramout in its ancient times was a vassal state of the Sabean Dynasty which was the biggest and most powerful ancient State in Southern Arabia.
During a consequent period Hadhramout Dynasty became an ally of Sheba. Hadhramout was in possession of the land that used to grow Ollibanum in its eastern and easternmost parts like Dhofar (Currently in Oman) and dominated the north towards the Empty Quarter till Al Abr. In addition to its original location in Wadi Hadhramout it controlled the Hadramite Coasts overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Ollibanum at the time was an important of extreme importance and expensive sought after commodity and was much sought after at the capitals of the ancient world where it used to be used for many purpose like religious Rites, Funerals, Presents and the honorary occasions including medical purposes at times. The procedures of Ollibanum care was so much surround with strange legends and the ancient port of Qana on the coast of Southern Arabia one of the causes for the flourishing of Hadhramout.
Qana did not only receive Ships from Hadhramout merely but received ships from the Indian Ocean which carried to Qana various products of which are the gold, Silk and condiments. From the Capital Shabwa during the 4th Century BC he was announced as the King of spices as per the Greek annals-Independent Dynasty of Hadhramout.
Thus did the neighboring entities and that happened during a period of weakness underwent by Sheba. On the Bank of Wadi Armah at the western head of Hadhramout at the fringes of Sabean Sand dunes, Shabwa Was the Capital of Hadhramout and its biggest city receiving caravans of camels laden with the different products from the gate allocated for caravans and it is eastern gate so that the camels would pay one tenth of which they carry and this levy was allocated for the temple priests. A ratio of that tenth used to be spent on the guests of the capital during some seasons of the year. The temples of Goddess Sean , The Banquet Host(Dhul-iam). The temples amounted to 60 temples as recounted by Bilinius in Shabwa only for the temples moon Seen in a number of other Hadramite cities like Maifaah, Qana, Madhab near Huraidah in Wadi Doaan, Rayboon in he southern part of Doaan valley, Saboonah, Mashghah in Wadi Adam and other Hadramite townships.
The valleys of Hadramout were much attended to for from the studies conducted in the area of Rayboon the area is considered an example for what has been achieved in the history of ancient Hadramout of advance in the engineering of dams, irrigation and water distribution and drainage systems. From excavations in many historical locations, a lot of artifacts, statues and inscriptions were collected and the visitors of the Museum in Sayoun and Mukalla can witness them discern the extent of civilization reached by ancient Yemenites during the Hadramite Dynasty which was afflicted with what befell other ancient Yemenite states in Eastern Yemen after incense was forbidden in Christian churches and after the sailing vessel abandoned the Hadramite Port of Qana and began the new Maritime line between the Indian Ocean and the North of the Red Sea. Hadramout the ancient Yemenite Kingdom demised at the last quarter of the third century AD at the hands of the Himyarite king the epical personality Shammar Yahraash King of Sheba. Dhi Raidan, Hadramout and Yamanat.
Hadramout remained part of the Himyarite State which ruled most of greater Yemen. Then it fell under the Abyssinian Occupation. Before Islam, the state of Kindah has adopted Damoon as its Capital in Tarim at Wadi Hadramout for sometime, before the Tribe of Kindah immigrated to the north. After the advent of Islam the Yemenite Hadramites were like other Yemeni brethren partisans of the new religion.
The Mikhlafs of Yemen then become subordinate of the Khilfate of which is Hadramout till the Yemenite vassal states became independent, Hadramout included. Thus many Hadramites began their immigrations of 700 years ago to many parts of Asia and Africa and at their hands Islam spread in many parts of the Indian Peninsula, Southern Asia and the East of Africa, the civilization contact did not suspend in Hadramout as is the case in the other Yemenite areas. Then Shihir replaced the ancient with the Medieval and Islamic ports.
The ancient dwellers of Shabawah left it and settled in Shibam Hadramout. As for Tarim it became the destination for religious learning like Zabid, Sadah, Sanaa and Jiblah..etc.
In Hadramout the civilization contact has been always in touch and thus kept the gist of ancient Yemen, its arts, skills and those acquired from other civilizations to form what we see today in the Minarets of Tarim and the Manhattan of the desert Shibam Hadramout.
We also see the handicraft ateliers in Mukalala and Shihir besides those ancient locations Hadramout contains many of the Historical Towns archaeological sites and Tourist areas whether in the coastal part of Hadramout or in the inner parts.
The capital of Hadramout and one of Yemens ports on the Arabian Sea. It was known as Khaisa or Bandar Yakoub and has been called Mukalla only recently.
Fishermen were the first to settle in Mukalla, having immigrated from adjacent regions, In this city, the first Princedom of Al-Kasad was established in the 18th 19th century AD, This prosperity gave this city the architectural style of Coastal cities which lie on the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea such as Aqaba, Jeddah, Hodeidah, Mokha, Luhayya, and Aden. All these cities lost their original style, which may now be seen only in the old downtown of Mukalla city. It is a style combining the features of Arabian and south-east Asian architecture.
Mukallas Prominent Features Maeen Palace, which was built by Sultan Omer Bin Awadah Quaiti. Mukalla Archaeological Museum now occupies a part of this palace.
Located about 35km to the east of Mukalla, it is a Fertile spring-fed agricultural area that grows tobacco, hence comes the term Ghaili Tobacco, which is considered the finest tobacco in Yemen, Palm trees, Henna, and Coconut.
The rest house of the Quaiti Sultan, now called Ghail Tourist Rest House, is open for visitors.
Located near Ghail Bawazeer, it is the source of water irrigated Ghail farms. This rocky pit, 12 meters deep and 30 meters across, is said to have been made by a meteorite.
Two canals are carved out of this pit, both of which are a few feet wide. One canal is 5km long the other is 2km long. The water level at Houma Subsided below the level of the shorter canal that flowed to Qara village. The carving of the two canals in this rocky land was a great effort similar to the construction of dams, ditches and water reservoirs in other areas of Yemen.
ShihirThis town, 62km east of Mukalla, was known by other names such as Samoun and Souq.
It is more likely that the name of Souq was associated with Shihir since it was one of the famous Pre-Islamic Arab markets such as Awkadh, Sanaa and Doumat Al Jandal, in your it used to be called Shihir Al-Mahrah. Shiher flourished as a port immediately after the decline of Qana ancient port. Incense was exported from this port, coming on camelback from the far east of Maharah to Shibam and then to Shiher. Shiher port used to have extensive trading relations with the ports of India, Arabian Gulf, East Africa, etc. I t became more important during the Abbaside period until it was invaded by the Portuguese in 1523 who were expelled by force.
City Wall and Castles
The city wall and castles date back to the Rasulide Dynasty, while the last wall was built during the period of the Quaiti Sultante the wall at one time had two gates the eastern one was called Al-Khgour gate, while the northern one was called Aydarous Gate. The wall forts, castles, gates, and Bin Ayash fort are considered the most interesting features of Shihir city.
Shahir is also an important handicraft center producing kilts, silver and gold ornaments.
Hot and Sulfurous Springs
A long the coast of Shihir there are a number of hot sulfuric springs frequented by people seeking cures for different diseases such as skin diseases, rheumatism, digestive and internal ailments, diabetes and obesity, Among these springs are:
Tawbalah Springs: these are the heaviest and greatest in number, 10km, away from Shihir.
Hami: about 17 km from Shihir
Swayber: This is about 47km from Shihir and it is regarded as the most Important spring with cold sulfuric water.
Eastern Dees: This is about 50km from Shihir and is nearer to Swayber.
Sharma Beach: This is about 120km to the east of Mukalla, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Yemen. Turtles nest in this beach during their season of procreation.
A 320km paved road, starting from Mukalla and running the length of Wadi Hadhramout through its many towns and villages to Seiyun, the capital of the Wadi.
Hadhramout is the longest wadi in the Arabian Peninsula extending 165km as far as Thamood with its water running into Saihoot across Wadi Massila. Its width varies from 12km to 700m. Its fertile fields grow palm trees, cereals, tobacco, henna, coconut, banana, lemon, and pepper. More palm trees grow in this wadi than in any other area in Yemen.
The drainage designs of the Wadi are highly sophisticated. Run-off water is diverted and drained within a few hours, unlike other wadis in Yemen.
The major city in Hadhramout, 320 km away from Mukalla and the administrative capital of the wadi. It has flourished as the capital of the wadi since the 15th century AD. This city is mentioned in the old Musnad inscriptions. Classical historians state that it was a major city for the dynasties of Hadhramout, Hemyar, and Kendah. Seiyoun in an attractive city with houses built of straw reinforced clay bricks mostly consisting of 3-4 floors. It is surrounded by mountains and palm trees. Most prominent features of this city are the old mosques and the Sultans Palace.
Sultan Al Kathiri Palace
Originally it was a fort, then after many modifications it became the official
residence for Sultan Al Kathiri. The palace dates back in its present state
to the late 20s of this century. It consists of 16 buildings, is 34m high and
has 90 rooms. Part of it is now used as an archeological museum of traditions
and customs as well as a public Library.
It is one of the main features of Seiyoun at artisans display their wares in this traditional market.
Tomb of Ahmed Bin Eisa The Emigrant
This tomb represents a tourists feature that is distinguished for its architectural style. It is located on a high ground at the side of the mountain. The style of the mosque at the foot of the mountain and the path linking the Tom and the Mosque in their zigzag form, and the white coat, all add to the beauty of the Tomb and the mosque as well as the path in between. The tomb dates back to the 10th century AD and is 10km to the east Seiyoun.
Tareem City (Known as AL-Ghanaa)
Situated at the left bank of Hadhramout 35km to the northeast of Seiyoun with a paved road concerning the two cities. It was, in ancient times, a seat for Kindah Kings, then capital for Wadi Hadhramout before Seiyoun. It was also a brilliant Islamic intellectual center like Zabid, Dhamar, Jibla and Saada. It still possesses the famous school dubbed Raibat Tareem offering its knowledge and religious functions till this day. There is also Al Ahqaf Library in Tareem which is the second largest Library in Yemen, containing more than 5000 manuscripts. Many of the Hadhramout citizens immigrated to different parts of the world, particularly from Tareem, to many parts of the world like East Africa and the Indian subcontinent and south east Asia as of the early 13th century AD. Among them were scholars, missionaries, scientists and tradesmen, all of whom spread Islam to those parts. They were and are still attached to their homeland feeling nostalgia for the land of their ancestors.
It was the custom of immigrants, after returning home, to build a mosque in gratitude to Allah for their return, and then a house showing the wealth they brought back. Therefore, lofty houses were built along with palaces and a new architectural style was developed combining the styles of East Asia and India with those of the local architecture. This can be seen on the facades of Tareems beautiful houses and palaces surrounded by palm trees.
The Most prominent forts and castles are:
A beautiful village 8km to the east of Tareem , dating back to the 16th century AD .Aynat display a unique style of architecture of domes and Tombs and they are the famous 7domes in Aynat. Also there are a number of houses of beautiful architectural style.
Tomb of Prophet Hood
Hadhramout is one of the centers of Monotheistic religious and is one of the sacred sites. Many prophets and messengers of god are buried there. Among the most important tombs are those of prophet of Saleh, Mash-had prophet Handlah Bin Soufan the Safwan the Prophet of the people of Raas as mentioned in the Holy Koran. The most important of which is the Tomb of prophet Hood. It is located on a small hill 90 km east to Tareem. The Dome housing the tomb was built in its current state in 1673 AD. This dome is called An-Naqa (the female camel) a windy cobblestone path, white washed as the dome, leads to the nearby village down the hill. Prophet Hoods tomb has been a pilgrims destination since the pre-Islamic era.
A market is held near the Shrine during the pilgrimage season which lasts for one week as of the sixth day of the Month of Shaaban of each year. Charitable people provided with an electric generator and water network free of charge to serve the visitors of the shrine during the pilgrimage season and in other times built the village under the hill.
A 300ft high cave located 10 km to the south of the Tomb of prophet Hood. Many narratives and myths have been related about this cave since the pre-Islamic period till this day.
Seasonal Religious Visits
There are tombs of many famous saints located in different areas of Hadhramout in many parts of Hadhramout. Such saints have a great spiritual place in the hearts of the people, expressed through their collective annual visits accompanied with prayers and religious songs. Seasonal markets are held and featured with aspects of joy, pleasure, and delight. The most well known of these visits are:
Visit of Alssit in the two villages of Shaab Al-Nour and Al-Wasit to the north of Al-Shiher , from the 12-19 of Muharram every Hegira year.
Al-Houl visit: This is held around the Tomb of Al-Hebsh Scholar on 17-20 of Rabie Al-Thani every AH year.
Visit to Mashhad: Mashhad is the Shrine of Ali Bin Hasan Al-Attas, and is visited on hen 12th Rabite Awal every AH year.
It is called Ad-Doumna or Safraa, and is located in the middle of wadi
Hadhramout at the narrowest point of it by a road bifurcate
On a hill 30m higher than the Wadi level. Shibam is 19km from Seiyoun on the paved road leading to Mukalla. Shibam was built on the ruins of an ancient city of Hadhramout. The natives of Old Shabwa settled in Shibam after the destruction of their city. There is similarity between the two names. The city had been the most important market in Hadhramout and a significant administrative center for many centuries up to the 16 century AD. It has been destroyed by floods several times, most recently in 1532.
Shibam looks, from a distance, like an imposing castle with its lofty houses, some of which are 8 floors high, forming close blocks separated by lanes and squares. There are about 500 houses built of straw reinforced mud bricks, the houses are almost equal in height. Some women of the city visit their neighbors across skywalks from one rooftop to another in order to save time and effort. Some houses dates back hundreds of years. The city has one gate, which was last maintained in 1909.
The city was visited by pioneering European travelers who called it the Manhattan of the desert. UNESCO placed Shibam on its Human Patrimony list and , in 1984, announced an international campaign for its protection. Shibam is the most beautiful Yemenite city after Old Sanaa.
The Most Important Features of Shibam Hadhramout:
The Great Mosque, built in the era of the Abbaside Caliph Haroun Al-Rasheed in the early 10th century AD.
The historical Fort of Shibam, which was built by Bin Mahdi during the early 13th century. AD. And the city wall dating back to the 17th century AD.
The second biggest city in Hadhramout after Seiuoun. It was the starting point for Quaiti Sultan in his fights against Al Kathiri Sultanate during the struggle between the two powers for control over the wadi. The struggle went on until the end of the first half on this century. Al-Qatn is a beautiful city with houses built of straw mixed mud bricks that are prevalent in the towns and villages of Hadhramout. Its most prominent feature is the Quaiti fort. The city holds a seasonal trading market that coincides with Al-Hadder Tomb pilgrimage starting on 15th Jumada Al- Thani for one week every Hegira Year.
This is an important archaeological site in Wadi Hadhramout located at the north entrance of Wadi Dawan, 94 km from Seiyoun. Rayboun dates back to the beginning of the first millennium BC. Archaeological explorations conducted in this site unearthed relics of old temples, ruins of the ancient city and an old irrigation system considered to be a good example of flood drainage system in Hadhramout. Some important artifacts were discovered and are on display in Seiyoun Archaeological Museum.
There are several branch wadis in Hadhramout such as Wadi Dawan. Al Ayn and Amad etc.. Dawan is considered to be the most important and famous of all as there are many attractive villages along both banks of the Wadi, which are considered as excellent examples means city in old Yemenite language. It is one of the most beautiful Yemeni villages and the most beautiful village in Hadhramout. It is situated at the corner of one of the bends of the valley and is divided into two adjacent parts on both sides of the bend. It is the oldest village in Wadi Hadhramout over-looking groves of palm trees.
Located at the entrance of Wadi Amad., 100km to the west of Seiyoun. It was built on the ruins of Madhab, a city in ancient Hadhramout kingdom. It is now the center of Dawan district. On the west side of this city, there are ruins of the temple of Goddess Seen (The Moon) the main Goddess of Ancient Hadhramout Kingdom.
On both banks of Dawan there are many beautiful villages such as:
Qaidoun: A pilgrimage is made to the tomb of Sheikh Saeed Bin Eisa Al-Amoudi here in the last week of Rajab every Hegira year. This village is 126km to the west of Seiyoun.
Saiff: This village hosts pilgrimage to the tomb of Shaikhan Bin Ahmed on 8-12th of Rabie Al- Thani every year and is 127 km away from Seiyoun.
Budha: the village hosts a pilgrimage to the tomb of Marouf Bajamal on the 18th to 22nd of Thu Al-Hija every year and is 142km to the west of Seiyoun.
Hodoun: At this village, the pilgrimage is usually made to the tomb of Hadoun son of Prophet Hood on 15th to 16th Shaaban every year. The village is located 142 to the west of Seiyoun.
Rihab: At this village the pilgrimage is usually made to the tomb of Banajah on the 14th to 16th of Rajab every Hegira year. The village is located 152 to the west of Seiyoun.
Al-Khoraybah: This village was a main center for the old Yemeni caravans between the coast and the valley and is 157 to the west of Seiyoun.
Rasheed: This is 153 to the west of Seiyoun.
Al-Ribat: This is Rabit Baishin and is located at the right northern end of Dawan valley.
Folklore and other Innovative Arts
In hadhramout there are many sorts and styles of folklore, most interesting of which is called Al-Dan Al-Hadrami.
One of the branch routes of incense-laden caravans which started from Seiyoun through Al Abr, Kanais, Jidran as far as Kharbat Saud, which was the last Sabean way station. From there, travel was resumed across cities and way stations towards Gaza port on the Mediterranean. There used to be another path for incense camel caravans starting from Seiyoun across the Qatabanite cities and way stations and Sabean Stations and then to Maeen.
Nowadays, there are regular tourist trips starting from Wadi Hadhramout through Al-Abr area to Marib and other trips starting from the same Wadi through old Shabwa, Ramlat Al-Sabatain to Marib, which is a most interesting tourist route.