Travel & Tourism

Al-Mukha: the Port of Dreams and the City of Nightmares

By Tamjid Alkohali

Al-Mukha, only 94 kilometers from the west of Taiz city, and located on one of the eastern edges of the Red Sea as an historic port. Full of ruins everywhere, the naked eye may strongly suggest for first timers that the city has gone through a huge debacle or strong earthquake aiming to destroy its antiquity.

The Directorate of al- Mukha is related to the Taiz governorate administratively, while its port has relation with Hodeida financially. It is the last directorate of Taiz, as well as being near to the Tihamah Plain even with tradition and customs.

Yemeni Historian, eng. Dirar Abdaldaúm, spoke about the emergence of Al-Mukha stating that the history of this city is consisted of two parts; one being of an ancient history belonging to an area named, Makuan, secondly it is a mythological story related to the genie called “Jalgah” in which one of Al-Mukha’ mountains in the Massawa area is named after.

Abdaldaúm added that Al-Mukha city is mentioned in the inscriptions of king Dhu Nuwas, in which he mentioned his army and some of his events during that time, 525 AD.

“Al-Mukha city became known because of its place as a Historic coastal city. Its proximity to the Kingdom of Abyssinia or as some historians may call it “Aloksom Kingdom”, as well as the trade where Al-Mukha played a great role in trade and exporting the surpluses of agricultural productivity or the commodity produced locally which was coming from Tihamah Plain and from some parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Therefore, Al-Mukha was considered the first and the most important port among the eastern coast of the Red Sea during that time” Abdaldaúm explained.

According to historians, the main reason of the prosperity of Al-Mukha is because of the famous tale of when a sheikh called al-Sufi demanding a ship from a British gentleman to capture the goods which came in from Mumbai. After, al-Sufi called the people and tribes in Al-Mukha to watch and purchase whatever they wanted. From that time, the Western Traders were marketing their goods in Al-Mukha and buying coffee and coal instead.

“Al-Mukha was also known in producing coffee which many of the international companies for coffee were considering it a symbol of quality, “MOKA COFFE”, since Al-Mukha port sent the first shipment of Yemeni coffee to the world.” Said by Abdaldaúm

 

The booming trade in Al-Mukha city initiated a new beginning. Most of the traders with different nationalities decided to stay and make a life within the city, even some historians said that the city divided into many ethnic neighborhoods: American, Somali, Jewish, Afri, Indian, Persian, and Turkish. Within each neighborhood, there were more than ten foreign consulates and more than seven commercial centers.

Now and after this prosperity, there are only ruins, devastation and poverty in Al-Mukha city.  Abdul Karim is an elderly man working as a fisherman in Al-Mukha whom believes there are many stories that can explain the reasons for this destruction. For example, the disaster from the great flood which eroded more than a million and a half palm trees and most of the people in the city.

“The people of Al-Mukha called it the “Tuesday flood” since this tragedy occurred on a Tuesday.” He added

“In addition, the French conflict which targeted the important regions of the world in which Al-Mukha was of them.  This conflict aimed to destroy all the prosperity, culture and trade in the city by striking the city with English warships.” Karim stated.

The effect of the destruction is still until today, the people suffer of poverty despite of the strategic importance of the city and that may be caused by the prosperity of Al-Mukha which some use now as a gate for smuggling.

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