Shibam is a city located in the desert of Central Yemen known for its high-rise multi-storey buildings formed of mud. Because of its architecture and city planning resembling some American cities, it has been called the “Manhattan of the Desert.”
Dating back to the 16th century, this skyscraper city was built on a hill after a huge flood destroyed the unprotected settlements. The sun-dried mud high-rises reaching up to 7 storeys high provided protection against the elements and was nifty for the city’s defense. Shibam’s location as the convergence point of Asia, Africa, and Europe made it an important stop for traders going through the frankincense and spice routes. Time after time, fresh layers of mud must be applied to the eroded walls to keep the edifices strong and stable.
Today, Shibam has 7,000 thriving residents excluding a vast population of goats that have taken over the dusty alleyways across the city. It has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.