Mukalla Hadramout Yemen


My photos of Mukalla Hadramout. Where it seemed the skies couldn’t get any bluer or the waters any clearer. Where the air smells of ozone and oysters and the heat of the sun loosens every knot in your body. Hadramout is one of the most interesting places in Yemen. As I see it, Yemen is a federation of tribes. The people of Hadramout are one of its proudest and most independent. A Hadrami will never object to being called a Yemeni, but they define themselves as Hadramis first and foremost. Of all parts of Yemen this is the part that is closest culturally to Saudi Arabia. Mukalla itself is but an ancestral point of origin to the very significant and influential business class of Saudi Arabia. If Yemen were to collapse tomorrow, the remittances and connections this town has with its offspring community in Saudi Arabia would see it through any instability. The Hathramis take care of their own very well. The most impressive hypermarket with the most amazing variety of products in all of Yemen I found here. The best paved roads. The cleanest of towns. The villas. The 4X4’s. None of this was provided by the government of Yemen. This is a community with very loving and well funded expats. Hathramis, or people from Hadramout, have always been a people of travel and business. It was this combination that led to very distinctive ties with the Far East. It was from Hadramout that Islam spread to Malaysia and Indonesia centuries ago. A good number of our relations not only look Malaysian, but they also speak it, and more than that they have kept their ties with their point of origins. It is not unusual to see Malays and Indonesians visiting Mukallah not only as students of theology, but to maintain contacts with family branches that have split for over a century. Many houses in Mukalla were build with timber shipped from Malaysia over 200 years ago. It is in Mukallah that one is shocked to find that the practice of chewing Qat is forbidden. If it happens, and it does, it is done very privately, like a dirty secret. Usually it is by Non Hadrami Yemenis. Trying to find a lighter in Mukalla is a near impossibility as even smoking cigarettes isn’t encouraged publicly. My Hadrami side of the family don’t know I smoke, wouldn’t dream of telling them. There is a strong sense of what is right and wrong here and Islam is at the centre of it without it being enforced. They are moral, believe in education, practical and useful development,understand the concept of taking care of the pennies, and know how to get a job done. I am a Yemeni and I love all of Yemen, but I do really believe that it is the Hadramis who have a lot to offer to Yemen at this precise moment in time and we could do far far worse than to take their advice and example. Not that they are interested in leading or being an example

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