Tihama


Yemen is about to shrink administratively, but there is hope for a resolution of the ongoing insecurity in the wake of the Arab spring toppling of Ali Abdullah Salih, who ruled Yemen for more than three decades. One result of the National Dialogue Conference is a recommendation that Yemen become a federalist state with six regions to replace the former major regional units. As described in the official Saba News agency of the Yemeni government, the existing governorates would be assigned as follows:

• Hadramout will include al-Mahra, Hadramawt, Shabwa and Socotra, with al-Muklâ as its capital.

• Saba will include al-Jawf, Ma’rib and Al-Baydha, with Marib as its capital.

• Aden will comprise Aden, Abyan, Lahj and Dhala‘, with the capital in Aden.

• Janad will comprise Taiz and Ibb, with Taiz as a capital.

• Azal will consist of Sa‘da, San‘a, Amran and Dhamar with the capital to be determined within the former San‘a governorate, but not San‘a city.

• Tihama will include al-Hudayda, Rayma, al-Mahwit and Hajja with its capital in the city of al-Hudayda.

For those who prefer to see the divisions in Arabic, here they are:

الإقليم الأول: محافظات المهرة حضرموت شبوة سقطرى، ويسمى إقليم «حضرموت» وعاصمته المكلا.

الإقليم الثاني: محافظات الجوف مارب البيضاء، ويسمى إقليم «سبأ» وعاصمته «سبأ».

الإقليم الثالث: محافظات عدن ابين لحج الضالع، ويسمى إقليم «عدن» وعاصمته عدن.

الإقليم الرابع: محافظتا تعز إب ويسمى إقليم «الجند» وعاصمته تعز.

الإقليم الخامس: محافظات صعدة صنعاء عمران ذمار، ويسمى إقليم «آزال» وعاصمته صنعاء.

الإقليم السادس: محافظات الحديدة ريمة المحويت حجة، ويسمى إقليم «تهامة» وعاصمته الحديدة.

The plan also calls for the city of San‘a being an independent capital area, perhaps like the District of Columbia in the United States, to guarantee its impartiality. Its geographical extent will be increased by some 40 percent. Aden will also have special status as an economic zone and its geographical extent as a city enlarged. (more…)


Zabid mosque interior; Photograph by Eric Lafforgue

مدير مرگز المخطوطات في زبيلـ

هناك سبعة آلاف مخطوطة في زبيد!

الجمعة 25 يناير-كانون الثاني 2013 الساعة 01 صباحاً / الجمهورية نت – توفيق حسن أغا

لم يتبق لمدينة زبيد التاريخية إلا أربعة أشهر من المهلة التي منحت لها من قبل لجنة التراث العالمي التابعة لمنظمة الثقافة والعلوم (اليونسكو) إما أن تطمس أو تكون في قائمة التراث العالمي؛ ومنذ عام 2007 وزبيد بين مد وجزر وكلما تنفست الصعداء وجدت أحدا ينغصها ويباعدها عن بلوغ بوابة التراث العالمي، كلما اقتربت من البقاء في هذه القائمة التي كتبت فيها زبيد عبارة دون بقاء منذ عام 1993م ، ومن هذا التنفس وجدت هذه المدينة عام 2007 من مبنى دار الضيافة رفاً وجدته حينها هو المكان المناسب لحفظ ما تمتلكه من مخطوطات، ولكن عندما وجدت ضالتها في هذا المكان وجدت من يطمع بأخذ هذه الدار من يدها ليهدم ما بنته “ زبيد” في ساعة زمن

الجمهورية كانت في اليومين الماضيين في أروقة دار الضيافة سابقا ومركز المخطوطات حالياً، وبعد أن رأت العجب العجاب حول ما يدور حول هذا المبنى والذي إذا قدر الله وتحول إلى مكتب أوسكن أو لمصلحة أخرى عما هو عليه كمركز مخطوطات ستكون واقعة أخرى لن تتحملها مدينة زبيد التاريخية، ولمزيد من التفاصيل التقت (الجمهورية) الأستاذ عرفات الحضرمي ـ مدير مركز المخطوطات في مديرية زبيد وأجرت مع الحوار التالي..
من يكسب..؟!

بداية كيف تحدثنا عن هذه الخلفية التي تم فيها التزامن في اختيار دار الضيافة وتحويله كمركز للمخطوطات؟
(more…)



Slave Market in Yemen, 1237
Al-Maqamat, folio 105. Author: al-Qāsim ibn Alī al Harīrī al-Basrī. Illuminator: Yahya ben Mahmud al-Wasiti. Bibliothèque nationale de France. 021, an enslaved Ethiopian, Najah, seized power in the city of Zabid. This image represents the slave market at Zabid—at the time the capital of Yemen—in 1237. The illustration is part of “Al-Maqamat” (Assemblies), a genre of rhymed prose narrative. Both the author and the illuminator of this work were born in Iraq.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has posted online a very nice exhibition on the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean World with illustrations and scholarly text. (more…)


ذكرت مصادر محلية بمديرية زبيد بمحافظة الحديدة مساء يوم أمس الجمعة بأن حريقا” هائلا” تسبب في تشويه المنظر التاريخي لسقف المبنى الأثري الواقع في بوابة سهام بالجهة الشمالية لمدينة زبيد القديمة بمحافظة الحديدة ، بالإضافة إلى إتلاف كمية كبيرة من الأخشاب المزينة بالنقوش الإسلامية الأثرية جراء الحريق الذي لم تعرف أسبابه حتى اللحظة .

وأشارت مصادر أمنية بالمديرية بأن ألسنة اللهب اشتعلت في المبنى الأثري التاريخي لبوابة مدينة زبيد الأثرية المعروفة ببوابة سهام ما أدى إلى احتراق سقف البوابة بالكامل إلى جانب كمية كبيرة من الأخشاب القديمة المزينة بالزخارف والنقوش التي لا تقدر بثمن.

وأضافت المصادر بأن أبناء زبيد لم يتمكنوا من أخماد الحريق الذي تصاعد بشكل مخيف في المبنى الاثري ولا تزال التحقيقات جارية لمعرفة أسباب ودوافع الحريق.

هذا وكانت زبيد قد أدرجت في قائمة التراث الإنساني العالمي في العام 1993م , واعطت منظمة اليونسكو التابعة للأمم المتحدة اليمن مهلة للبدء في تنفيذ برنامج إنقاذي شامل لحماية ما تبقى من المعالم الأثرية في المدينة التاريخية والتي باتت مهددة بالاندثار قبل أن تباشر “اليونسكو” في إجراءات شطبها من قائمة التراث الإنساني بصورة نهائية.


The recent protests that have shaken the Middle East from North Africa to Yemen so dominate the news these past couple of months that it is almost as though we see nothing else. Whether pictures are worth a thousand and one words, or even more, here are some superb photographs of Yemen by Raiman al-Hamdani, taken with his permission from his Flickr account.


One of the important mosques in the coastal town of Zabid


19th century Cairo mosque illustration from Henry Van-Lennep’s Bible Customs.

Those of us who spend hours using Arabic lexicons would be at a loss without the massive Tâj al-‘Arûs min jawâhir al-qâmûs of Muhammad Murtadâ al-Zabîdî. Completed by this consummate Muslim scholar in 1188/1774 after fourteen years of diligent research, the recent Kuwait edition comprises 40 volumes. Ironically, what took al-Zabîdî fourteen years to write and dictate seems a rapid turn-around, given that the Kuwait edition began in 1960 and was not completed until 2002 [There is a copy available for only £2,463 from Abe Books…, but I suggest you go to Lebanon, where the 40 volume set is only $325 from Fadak Books I am not aware of any online version of Tâj, although Lisân al-‘Arab is available online in searchable format.] Those of us who could never afford to house the 40 volume edition have managed to get by with reprints of the 19th century Cairo edition, funky font presence that it sheds. I remember buying my copy of the thick black-cover volumes in 1981, filling a suitcase with the hefty weight, paying the porter a handsome bakshish for his back-breaking effort at Cairo airport, and then having the suitcase implode from the weight as I crossed the threshhold of my home back in New York. I like to think that my own account would have made its way into al-Zabîdî’s inquisitive notes. (more…)

The most important historical port on Yemen’s Red Sea coast is no doubt the old port of Mocha, which gained fame in the West for its association with the Yemen coffee trade. In a new book, The Merchant Houses of Mocha: Trade and Architecture in an Indian Ocean Port, Nancy Um provides a fascinating social history of the trade through this seaport during the Ottoman period. Here is how the book is described on the publisher’s website.

Gaining prominence as a seaport under the Ottomans in the mid-1500s, the city of Mocha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen pulsed with maritime commerce. Its very name became synonymous with Yemen’s most important revenue-producing crop – coffee. After the imams of the Qasimi dynasty ousted the Ottomans in 1635, Mocha’s trade turned eastward toward the Indian Ocean and coastal India. Merchants and shipowners from Asian, African, and European shores flocked to the city to trade in Arabian coffee and aromatics, Indian textiles, Asian spices, and silver from the New World. (more…)

[Joseph Osgood was a Black American sailor who visited the Yemeni port of Aden about a dozen years before the start of the American Civil War. He offers a rich, descriptive account, including information on the coffee cargo that may have brought his ship to this Red Sea port in the first place. The following is his rendition of a popular origin tale for the popular brew.]

Any communicative Arab will tell the following story about the early history of Mocha, with more or less modification.

A little over two centuries ago, there dwelt near the beach, enclosed by two sandspits forming the harbor, a worthy fisherman, whose learning, wisdom, and pious observance of all the tenets of the Moslem faith, had collected around his humble hut the dwellings of a band of devoted pupils to be instructed in the religion of their great Arabian legislator and prophet. One day a ship from India, and bound to Jiddah, was driven by adverse winds into the cove, and, while there detained, the crew visited the settlement near the beach, and were entertained by the holy Sheik, who regaled them with coffee, a beverage till then unknown to his guests. The Sheik, learning that the captain was ill on board his vessel, extolled the sanative virtues of coffee, and sent some as a present to the captain, by the returning crew. The prescribed medicine was taken, the captain recovered his health, visited the shore, made confidence with the people, bartered his cargo for coffee and sailed for home, where the worth of the rare and newly discovered product was quickly acknowledged, and successive voyages soon established a lucrative commerce, and thus founded and gave a world wide repute to the city of Mocha and many of the neighboring inland towns. (more…)