OP-ED

Tarim Historical Architecture Requires Government Attention ASAP

National Yemen

By Tamjid Alkohali

Tarim is a historical city and the Islamic culture capital for the year 2010 located in southern governorates of Yemen. It’s known by the huge historical palaces and the distinctive mud buildings. People over there are proud of the ancient heritage, they struggle to maintain such unique sites and history.

However, the city today is left for spoilers to damage one of its most important and beautiful palaces, Alriyad palace, was destroyed in October after being recently restored in 2010 by the Ministry of Culture, a project that cost the state millions riyals.

The palace was a historical and archaeological masterpiece, but was turned to dust with the advance knowledge of the Ministry of Culture, the Antiquities Authority, local authorities, and security services.

What happened? Who is responsible? What are the punishments for those who committed this crime?

The undersecretary of the Culture Ministry of Historical Cities, Monuments and Museums, Mujahid Alyateem, confirmed that whoever committed this crime against the history of Tarim city is supported by power and money and would be punished according to the law of maintaining historic cities No.16 of 2013 and according to international agreements signed by Yemen.

“This accident is considered a black mark in the history of Yemen, especially for UNESCO. It didn’t only affect Tarim or Yemen, but also human heritage in general. Therefore, the Ministry of Culture will do its best to punish whoever is responsible for destroying the palace. Very soon, It will turn to the public prosecutor who will take legal and punitive action,” added Alyateem.

From the point of view of Alyateem, the punishment against the offender must be implemented in order to prevent any one who might think of do such an act.

The Ministry of Culture holds a big portion of the responsibility of what happened to Alriyadh Palace. Alyateem stated that it’s very sad when the Ministry of Culture knows about the destruction after a delayed time, even though it has many branches and offices in Tarim.

The Deputy President of the General Organization for Maintaining Historic Cities, Nabeel Monster, said that a committee will be formed to investigate the details of the demolition and punish the perpetrator, even though the palace was owned by a private individual.

“Tarim is famous for its beautiful and huge palaces, and the authorities was working to register Tarim on the list of World Heritage sites. However, destroying Alriyad palace will make UNESCO refuse to register the city,” Monser claimed.

Monser confirmed that the authorities are very weak and don’t have the means to do their jobs. Therefore, he demanded that president Hadi relook at the situation and provide the necessary means.

In an interview with the General Manager of the branch of Maintaining Historic Cities in Shibam and Hadhramaut Valley, Hussein Aideed, he said that what happened in Tarim is considered a crime and tragedy.

“Alriyad Palace is an ancient historical palace with great architectural value. It was owned by one of Tarim’s citizens who tried for four years to obtain a permit to remove the palace. However, the authorities refused his request. In the same year, the Ministry restored the palace with millions of riyals, but it seems that the owner took advantage of the current situation of the country and destroyed it,” Aideed explained.

Aideed confirmed that the owner of the palace worked individually and without any permit. About two-thirds of the palace was destroyed and only a third remained because of the intervention of concerned authorities who stopped the demolition.

Aideed expressed his concerns of the continuing demolition of Tarim’s palaces, especially because there is another palace for sale and it may be destroyed, confirming that the authorities in Shibam and Hadhramaut Valley can’t prevent any one destroying property in the current situation of the country.

Tarim is a historic town situated in the Hadhramaut Valley of South Yemen, spanning approximately 34,708 square miles. The region is characterized by rocky plateaus that reach elevations of around 3000 feet (900m) and are separated by numerous valleys.

Tarim is widely acknowledged as the theological, juridical, and academic center of the Hadhramaut Valley.  It is estimated to contain 360 mosques. The city is distinguished for producing numerous Islamic scholars, including Imam al-Haddad. Additionally, Tarim is also home to Dar al-Mustafa, a well-known educational institute for the study of traditional Islamic Sciences.