The Tihama coastal plain is situated between the Sirat mountain range in the east and the Red Sea in the west and extends from the border of Saudi Arabia in the north to the Gulf of Aden in the south.
Al-Hodeidah constitutes part of this plain from Luhayya in the north to Khawkha in the south. The population concentration mostly center at the foothill east of this plain or around the fishing villages on the Red Sea in the west or along the wadis crossing the plain like Wadi Mawr in the north, Wadi Sordud and Wadi Siham in the middle.
Wadi Zabid and Remaa in the south and the small towns stretching on the two sides of the pilgrimage and trade route.
The climate is semi-equatorial (humid and hot in the summer and moderate in the winter). The highest temperature is 40C in Summer and 24 in winter. The monsoon rains coming from the Indian Ocean moderate the heat of summer.
Most people of Tihama Plain work in agriculture, cattle breeding and fishing, with a few others working in trade. They are famous for growing cotton, tobacco, banana, palm trees, grains and vegetables as well as Arabian jasmine and Kadhi in certain areas.
It is one of the Yemeni ports famous for the export of coffee beans during 7th 18th and 19th centuries. It was mainly reputed as a port for the export of pearls extracted from the sea rocks. It has also a unique architectural design characteristics of the coastal towns of the Red Sea like Al-Luhayya, Jeddah and Aqaba.
The real boom for the city didnt begin until the construction of its modern port in the second half of 20th century.
Today it is the capital of Al Hodeidah Governorate. The Yemenis call it Bird of the Red Sea
Most important Tourist Sites: They include the old town and the spectacular fishing market. There are also a number of beautiful beaches like Al-Katheeb Irj nearby to Hodiedah.
It is 20km south of Al-Hodeidah city via an unpaved road crossing Al-Mimlah (salt pan) covered with swarms of sea birds. AL Duraihimi area is considered one of the deltas of Wadi Siham characterized by its high palm trees which amount to half a million palm trees. Some parts Duraihimi are covered with coconut trees. It is also one of the handicraft centers where colorful textile towels are produced. The scenic route via Al Duraihimi area towards Bayt Al Faqih is one of the most beautiful roads in the Governorate. Duraihimi is a recreational area for the people of Al- Hodeidah city especially in the season of the date harvest during the first week of June which is interspersed with parades of horse racing and camel racing and many other folklore and popular dances, which express the sufficiency of Dates harvest to the inhabitants.
It is the second most important town in the Governorate situated on the pilgrimage and trade route across Tihama plain. It is 50 km south of Al-Hodeidah city on the modern Al-Hodeidah Taiz road.
The town of Bayt Al-Faqih was named after the wise man Ahmed Ibn Al-Aujail who lived in the 7th AH (13th century AD). This town is the center of Al-Zaaraneeq tribes that attained fame in modern history. In the vicinity of Bayt Al-Faqih are beautiful places such as Al-Tayef, 20km to the west, an old port used for the export of salt, cereals and fish.
Most of the population of Bayt Al-faqeeh work in the weaving industry renowned for the manufacture of head-cloth, as well as silver and gold jewelry.
There are a number of fertile wadis around Bayt Al-faqeeh such as Wadi Al-Jah and Wadi Al-Lawiya. Palm trees, tobacco, cotton, Arabian Jasmine, cereals and sesame are grown in this area. Bayt Al-Faqeeh is characterized by its unique architectural design which uses red cooked bricks for building and its facades are decorated with geometrical and botanical forms of high aesthetically value.
Of its outstanding features is the fortress located amid the town market in which the Friday beautiful souq of Bayt Al-Faqih is held every week, it is important and one of the most beautiful Tihama Souqs in general in the area to the south of Hodeidah. I t was established in the early 18th century AD as a trading point for coffee which the caravans used to carry either to Hodeidah Seaport or Mokha. Also there were in the town the widest activity for the trade of the famed Yemeni Coffee Traders from Egypt, Syria, Constantinople, Morocco, Iran, India and Europe.
Zabid A Historical Glimpse
Zabid used to be called Al Haseeb in attribution to Al Haseeb Bin Abd Shams Bin Wayil Bin Al Ghawth, Bin Saba. The new name prevailed it due to its existence in Wadi Zabid . Zabid is located Tihamah Plain which made it a conjuncture point amongst the Tihamah cities on one hand and the other Yemeni cities on the other hand. It is between two Wadis from south Wadi Zabid and Wadi Remaa from the north. It is located on a medium hill of Wadi Zabid which made it moderate in air and less humid because of its being away from the foothills by 25km and the sea by the same distance.
The temperature over there might range between 30-33C in the Summer. Zabid in ancient times was settlements for some tribes, the most important of which is the Asher tribe. It began to rely on Grazing, then Agriculture. The existence of Wadi Zabid alongside the city and the affluence of water which are of the necessary factors for any population concentration made it persist.
The rainwater was not the sole supply for this town but there were many fountains and small brooks from which sweet water runs so as to meet the needs of the human being in addition to the wells spread everywhere.
There are spread about relics all over town amongst of which is the archaeological site at the northern direction of the city which is a hill with an area of 47sqkm known as the Kassar Site in which there are some black pottery fragments which date back to the Himyarite Era. The city needs an overall excavation so as to obtain results through which we can trace the lost rings of the history of this city which was of magnificent status during the Islamic Era.
At the onset of the Islamic Era Zabid was the main city of the Asher tribe to which the reverenced disciple Abu Mousa Al Asharri belongs who came to the prophet peace be upon him the eighth year Ah to announce his embrace of Islam. This was an opening for a new era for Zabid, in the round from the city at its center there rose the ASHER MOSQUE WHICH WAS BUILT BY Abu Mousa Al Ashaari during the 8th year Ah till this town was adopted by Mohammed Bin Zayad, the founder of the Zaiydite dynasty as his capital (819 AD-1018AD)
Zabid remained along the Islamic era and the succession of the Islamic State reign a center of Knowledge and civilizing enlightenment on the level of the Islamic World due to its savants and religiously versed savants from all of the Muslim World till it was dubbed as the abode of Savants, Jurisprudence, Good Doing, Fortune and Success The proof for its knowledgeable and religious importance during the Islamic Era is reflected by the 236 religious institution represented in mosques and schools .
The other domains were also made viable in civilization terms, architecture, industry, commerce, agriculture, forts, fortresses, citadels, and walls etc. Zabid combined the architectural splendors in many domains along the succession of its rule by the different dynasty each of which added some of its special affinities in the different domains.
The current Status quo of Zabid
Zabid is about 100km south of Al-Hodeidah on the highway to Taiz, it sits in between mountain and sea flanked by two great wadis, Wadi Zabid to the south and Wadi Rimaa to the north. It dates back to 204 AH (819 AD) the date of its foundation by Prince Mohammad Ibn Ziyad on the orders of the Abbaside Caliph Al-Mamoun.
The town is circular in shape but bigger in yore centered by the old souq. It was surrounded by a wall of four gates; some of them are still remaining. They are:
The town was divided into 4 sections, each is inhabited by traders, scholars, dignitaries and artisans.
The town has 29 mosques and 53 Koran schools, the most famous of which are Al-Ashair mosque built by Abu Musa Al-Ashaairi in the 8th year AH and Zabids Grand Mosque that dates back to the year 798 AH (16th century AD) during the rule of Sultan Amer Ibn Abdul Wahab Al Tahiri. The two mosques were rebuilt and expanded during successive periods of time.
The town of Zabid is one of the most famous religious and scientific centers not only of Yemen, but also all over the Islamic world. The first educators of Al-Azhar University of Egypt came from Zabid. The schools OF Zabid taught the interpretations of all Islamic sects; Shafie, Maliki, Hanfi, Hanbli and Ismaeli Some of these schools, bearing their original names, still stand. Another landmark of Zabid is the old souq which wad divided into sections on the basis of the type of craft or product sold the old souq is one of the most important sites of the town.
Zabid was a center for the weaving dyeing and tanning industries, The facades of houses tell a story of a glorious past. The dazzling richly ornamented walls alters, pedestals, pillars and wooden gates reveal the aesthetics aspects of architecture. The grandeur of construction can be seen in the surviving structures Al Nassir Palace, Nassir citadel and tower.
The private libraries of Zabid still contain many rare manuscripts and books in various sciences. Algebra was invented by a scholar from Zabid. There are a number of tombs of the followers of Ismaeli sect visited by many people especially from India.
Since Zabid was a capital of several successive Dynasties an important center from time to time: Several locations around it were connected to it, among them.
About 20 km to the west. It is a beautiful natural port which was a resort for the King of the Rasulide dynasty it lies in a fertile area between Wadi Zabid and Wadi Rima surrounded by high palm trees and clean beaches where sweet water fountains are also available.
About 15km west of Zabid to the south on Taiz road A weekly market is held there every Monday.
About 130km in the middle of Al-Hodeidah-Taiz road and its market day in Sunday. It is an important center of traditional industries and it is reputed for the manufacture of various pottery utensils utilizing certain techniques for the production kinds of pottery to the extent that coffee cups are called Haisi after the name of Hayys. Its architectural style is like that of Zabid in that they are built of cooked mud bricks as well as the external walls of houses are decorated and the houses are plastered with gypsum.
It lies between the two deltas of Wadi Surdoud in the north and Wadi Siham in the south about 35 k away. It is a beautiful beach covered with palm and coconut trees and a tourist resort for the people of Al-Hodeidah.
Situated 50 km north Al-Hodeidah on the asphalt road liking Hodeidah with Haradh. Az-Zaydiyah is considered largest town northern Hodeidah whose houses are built of mud bricks.
Az-Zaydiyan citadel is the most important site, dating back to the first Ottoman rule of Yemen. To the west lies Ibn Abbas beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Az-Zaydia from Ibn Abbas beach to Al-Khouba fishing port is one of the most beautiful scenic drives provided that such a drive should take place during the ebb.
Az-Zydiya is an important center for the manufacturing of silver and gold jewelry, pottery, swords and Jambiyah. A variety of palm trees (Dawm) are grown there. From palm tree leaves mats, baskets, hats and ropes. Cotton, Sesame and granaries are also grown here.
Al-Qanawis: Al-Qanawis 20km north of Az-Zaydiah, a small village built of mud bricks.
Twenty-five km away from Al-Qanawis a few kilometers past the watercourse of Wadi Mawr. An asphalt road to the left leads to Az-Zuhra.
The region boasts hundreds of round huts which are the finest examples you will find of Tihamite reed architecture. The huts. May look primitive from a distance, but if you walk inside the village and the houses you will be surprised of its interior beauty. The floors and walls are completely surfaced with mud all the way up to the domed ceiling. The walls are often painted with bright colors and lively motifs.
About 60 km west of Az-Zuhra. It is an old port which had its heydays from the 16th to the early 19th centuries as an export terminal of coffee and pearls.
The few remaining houses standing alongside the ruins of many others, remind the visitors of the citys past glory. A major attraction is the grand mosque built by Ottoman Turks in the 19th century, with its three big domes and 14 smaller ones in two neat rows.
The region leading to Al-Luhayya is among the most fertile in Yemen because it is the water shed of Wadi Mawr. It grows cotton, tobacco, palm trees and granary.
Known as Khamis Al Waazat located about 40 km to the north-east of Al-Luhayya and Az-Zuhra is mid-way there between and Wadi Al Khamis is considered an important trade market in the area as it lies between Tihamah and the mountains. Thus it is a market for Hajour, Ash-Sharafain and Hajjah and is held every Thursday morning and is known as Souq Al maaras.
In Al-Hodeidah Governorate, a number of hot springs are frequented by people in search of treatment for dermatitis, rheumatism, digestive ailments and others. The most important spa is Al-Sukhan. This small, modest spa at the foothill of Jabal Bura has a few hot springs and was used by the Imams as a winter retreat.
It is located east Of Al Mansouriyah which is 45 km away from Hodeidah to the south on Hodeidah Taiz Highway and As-Sukhna baths are linked with Al Mansouriyah by an unpaved road of 25km to the east. The attractions are not limited to what has been provided for only but there are many other tourist attractions and historical sites both on the coastline and on the foothills.
The main mountains in Al-Hodeidah are:
Raas Mountain: it is on the southeastern direction of Zabid and overlooks from its northern extremity on Wadi Zabid and from Its southernmost on Wadi Nakhlah and is 2000 m above sea level.
Rakib Mountains: Located east of Wasab and it belongs to Asher ( Zabid).
Boraa Mountain: it is located to the east of Hodeidah and is 2400 m above sea level. It is blessed mountain where coffee is grown and its trees are always crop bearing and is overlooking the mineral baths of ASukhna.
Al Dhamir Mountains (Chain of Mountains): Located to the east of Bajil and extend from north of Bora to eastern Bajil.
Damn Mountains: to the west of Dhamir chain of mountains and is centered by a big palm widely known a s Damn Plain extending from Siham to Bajil.
Dahnah Mountains: A chain of mountains extending from the east to the west north of Bajil town overlooking from the North on Surdoud and from the south, Bajil . It is divided between itself and Bajil by the plain known as Wadi Azzan
Jabal Al sharif Fortress: it possesses the fortress atop Sharif Mountain and is located to the southern direction of Bajil town.
Al Qimah Mountain: they are located east of Salif 25km away, they are plateaus known as Qimah mountains and are identical to Saleef Mountains where there are the Salt Quarries: They are amounted by Gypsum material whose material ids gypsum which widely used in Yemen.