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Bait Baws’ Fort History neglected by the present

Asma al-Mohattwari

Many buildings at Bait Baws have collapsed amid forecasts of more collapsesin the future. Its residents are leaving in search of a better life. This is unacceptable, given that Bait Baws is one of the most important heritage and cultural sites in Yemen.

Located 7 km south of Sana’a, it has one gate with a wall that surrounds about two hundred houses on top of a rocky mountain. There is also a Jewish quarter outside of the fort itself, next to a small dam.

Many residents who have left still visit the area. Mohammed Hussein, a citizen who left, says that he still goes back for qat chews.

“If not in the morning, then in the afternoon, to chew qat. It is my hometown.”

Some have refused to leave in order to maintain the fort and its heritage.

Bait Baws is well-known for Hymearate inscriptions on the rock walls, and many historians have written about its ancient King, Thee Baws bin Eirl bin Shorahbeel. It is in disrepair, though it is still a popular tourist destination, with the local council reporting about 19, 000 foreign and local visitors per month.

Local authorities call on the government in Sana’a to maintain the site, as well as provide services for its population. Ali al-Karshmi says that the states’ employees need to stop buying land there as well, because it affects the community negatively.

Tourist Sadeq says that he is sad to see Bait Baws in its current state.

“Local authorities have to maintain the buildings and provide facilities for people here.”