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Old Walled City of Shibam*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv, vi
Reference 192
Region** Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1982  (6th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
File:Shibam Interior.jpg
Buildings inside the town of Shibam, with traditional windows and doors.

Shibam (Arabic: شبام‎) is a town in Hadramawt, with about 7,000 inhabitants. Shibam is thought to have existed by the 2nd century AD. It has been the capital of the Hadramawt Kingdom for several periods of time. To avoid confusion, the town of this article is therefore often referred to as Shibam Hadhramaut.)

Shibam owes its fame to its distinct architecture, which now is on UNESCOs program to safeguard the human cultural heritage. The houses of Shibam are all made out of mud bricks, but about 500 of them are tower houses, which rise 5 to 16 stories high,[1] with each floor having one or two apartments.[2] This technique of building was implemented in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks. While Shibam has existed for around 2,000 years, most of the city's houses come mainly from the 16th century. However, many have been rebuilt over and over again during the last few centuries.

Shibam is often called "the oldest skyscraper-city in the world" or "Manhattan of the desert", and is the earliest example of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.[3] The city has the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them being 40 meters[4] (130 feet) high, thus being the first high-rise (which need to be at least 75 feet or 23 meters) apartment buildings and tower blocks (except perhaps for the insulae of ancient Rome). The tallest building in the city is the mudbrick minaret which stands at about 53 meters (175 feet) tall.[2] In order to protect the buildings from rain and erosion, the façades are thickly coated and need to be maintained and frequently renovated by the inhabitants. The renovation can be completed by well-practiced workers within short time.

The city was heavily affected by the 2008 floods.[5]. It was also the target of an Al Qaeda attack in 2009.[6]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Helfritz, Hans (April 1937), "Land without shade", Journal of The Royal Central Asian Society 24 (2): 201-16 
  2. ^ a b Pamela Jerome, Giacomo Chiari, Caterina Borelli (1999), "The Architecture of Mud: Construction and Repair Technology in the Hadhramaut Region of", APT Bulletin 30 (2-3): 39-48 [44] 
  3. ^ Old Walled City of Shibam, UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  4. ^ Shipman, J. G. T. (June 1984), "The Hadhramaut", Asian Affairs 15 (2): 154-62 
  5. ^ "Death Toll Mounts In Tropical Storm". CBS 13. 2008-10-26. Retrieved on 2008-10-26. 
  6. ^ "Al Qaeda blamed for Yemen attack". CNN. 2009-03-16. Retrieved on 2009-03-16. 

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 15°55′N 48°37′E / 15.917°N 48.617°E / 15.917; 48.617

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