Jabal Bura and Jabal Haraz, YEMEN
- Site: Jabal Bura and Jabal Haraz: The Mountanous Cultural Landscape of Yemen
- Keywords: Yemen, Cultural Landscape, Jabal Bura, Jabal Haraz, Kahil, Al-Yabal, Banu Mora, Al-Kadi, Al-Qanus, Bayt Shimran, Al-Hutayb, Manakha, Al-Hajjara, Sulaihid, terraced fields.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
This area was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on 2002, in the mixed (cultural and natural) category, as a site that has “outstanding universal value”: -“Jabal Bura”, with date of submission: 08/07/2002, category: mixed, and ref.: 1723, themes: cultural landscapes. -“Jabal Haraz”, with date of submission: 08/07/2002, category: mixed , and ref.: 1722, themes: cultural landscapes. In addition, Jabal Bura and Jabal Haraz were declared National Protected Areas: “Bura Community Protected Area” and “Haraz Protected Area”, respectively. Bura is also an UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, since 2011, called: “Bura’a”. Haraz
- Tentative List of UNESCO
- Biosphere Reserves
- Protection Figures
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
Jabal Haraz and Jabal Bura are in a picturesque mountain region of Yemen, between Sana’a and al-Hudayda. They are both in the Tentative List of UNESCO, in different files, but Med-O-Med has considered appropiate to define just one Cultural Landscape that includes both mountains, because they are very close geographically and they share similar characteristics. So, basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), Med-O-Med resolves that the site is definitively a good sample of interaction between human being and nature, composing a living continuing landscape illustrated by their especific agricultural and irrigation systems (in terraced fields), and the architectonical style of their villages: -Natural Heritage Components: Rising abruptly off the steamy Red Sea coastal plains, these mountains are famous because of the grandeur of their natural landscape, the beauty of their tapestry of terraced fields, and their fortified villages on the top of the higuest peaks, composing an unequalled cultural landscape. The mountain is divided into terraces of a few acres or more, separated by walls sometimes several meters high. On these remarkable terraced fields grow alfalfa for livestock, millet, lentils, large areas for coffee and qat. Also in these mountains lies a remarkable relict of a of a past age, one of the last vestiges of extensive subtropical forest in the Arabian peninsula that hosts a very rich ecosystem and a high biodiversity, that coexist with the traditional human landuse. Because of this enormous value, Bura was declared a National Protected Area and a UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve. -Cultural Heritage Components: Due to their strategic position, Haraz and Bura mountains have, for centuries, acted as a cultural fortress protecting the Yemeni heartland from interfering foreigners. In the 11th century the site was the stronghold of the Sulaihid dynasty, many of whose buildings survive, and a main point of Himyarit caravan route. Because of that history of protection, the territory has preserved intact ancient customs and particularities in the way of living or dressing.That historical task can be observed in the typical achitecture of the mountain’s villages: the houses are totally mixed with the rocky environment, and it is dificult to find out where the villages are starting and ending. They still preverve the splendour of their facades. Some of the most beatiful villages are Kahil, Al-Yabal, Banu Mora, Al-Kadi, Al-Qanus, Bayt Shimran, Al-Hutayb and Manakha. Manakhah is the heart of this prosperous mountain range, a large town whose market attracts villagers from the entire neighbourhood. Al Hajjara, to the west of Manakhah, is a beautiful walled village whose citadel was founded in the 12th century by the Sulaihids. From there, other villages are accessible, such as Bayt al-Qamus and Bayt Shimran. The village of Al-Hutayb is built on a platform of red sandstone, facing a magnificent view of terraced hills which host a score of villages. Here also is the mausoleum of the third Yemeni “dai” Hatim al-Hamdi. Bohras from India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Madagascar gather here.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Jabal Haraz, Jabal Bura.
- Current denomination Jabal Haraz, Jabal Bura.
- Original denomination Jabal Haraz, Jabal Bura.
- Popular denomination Jabal Haraz, Jabal Bura.
- Address: Jabal Haraz and Jabal Bura are in a mountain region of Yemen, between Sana'a and al-Hudayda.
- Geographical coordinates: -Jabal Bura: 14°55' N - 43°25' E -Jabal Haraz: 15°10' N - 43°45' E
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: These mountains are located between Sana'a and al-Hudayda. Jabal Bura is 50 km to Hodeida. Jabal Haraz, 90 km soth of Sana'a.
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Yemen's Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Ministry of Culture - General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities.
- Legal protection: Bura and Haraz were declared National Protected Areas ("Bura Community Protected Area" and "Haraz Protected Area", respectively). Bura is also an UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve ("Bura'a").
Because of its location between the Tihamah coastal plain and Sana’a, this mountainous area has always been strategically important. A caravan stopping point during the Himyarite Kingdom, the Haraz was later the stronghold of the Sulaihid State which was established in Yemen in 1037. Then and subsequently the population have been Ism’aili Muslims.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Rural
- Geography: High Mountain
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: The mountains are divided from Red Sea with plain-lan belt, approx. 40 kilometres long. However, its climate is quite unpleasant. Tropical climate of lower situated mountain slopes is changed with moderate one, predominating in higher altitudes of the mountains. So, within greater part of the year, pleasant temperatures are prevailing, circulating between 20° C and 30° C, nevertheless, winter temperatures drop below freezing point in the night on many places. Anyway, most of precipitations drop within two periods of rain: (the first one comes in March and April, whereas the second one, more stronger, is to be awaited within July and August. As far as the rain is concerned, short and very intensive heavy rains are typical for this area, however, hard erosive effects are as the consequence.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: With the distance from the sea, the precipitations are diminuishing. Green of terrrace fields of farmers is disappearing, pointed shields of green mountains are changed with table mountains and brown colour of dusty table-lands. The country is changing into semi-desert, coming consequently into Rug al Chali - Deserted Quarter.
Thousands of years lasting colonization changed totally the original character of this countryside.Within past tens of years, the pressure to nature became much more increased with immense population income (growth). From originally afforested regions, several small islands remainYemen only in Yemen, and dispersed lonely trees were let here, owing to a shade. Natural vegetace was replaced by small terrace fields and gardens. On west and south slopes, tropical vegetace, such as all the time green acacia, tamarisks or fig-trees are growing. Inside warm mountain environs, along dry river-beds, there are growing a lot of banana-plants or papaia-plants. The southwestern slopes of the mountains are clothed with acacia (A. asak) and myrrh trees, along some fifty species common in the narrow valleys of the lower escarpment, like Comberetum molle, Terminalia brownii, Trichilia emetica and Phoenix rectilinate ( a palm of the tropical lowlands). In the western valleys below, these give way to more revering forest species, among them Breonadia salicina (renowned for its timber), Pandanus odoratissimus (the screw pine, remarkable for its beautifully scented flowers) and, again, Terminalia brownie and Phoenix rectilinata. On the dry mountain slopes of the foothills and lower escarpment there is the flowering bottle tree (Adenium obesum), with its swollen trunk. This is a member of the dogbane family which has developed into a weird succulent form.
Local wild animals were drove out by local people far from communities. Despite Inhabitantsthis fact, there was announced here presence of leopards, hyens and steppe sort of lynx. Further, the fox, gazelles or baboons are living in mountains. Anyway, the experience of standard visitors, as far as wild nature is concerned, is finishing mostly, in case of lizards only The forest also contains a stunning fauna of migratory birds and butterflies, hyenas and large troops of baboons, leopards have been seen here quite recently. For fear of the wild beasts, the local people in these mountains insist that travelers may not bivouac outdoors at night and are generous with their hospitality. Reeds are festooned with the nests of the gregarious Ruppell’s weaverbird. Long-legged hammerkops (Scopus umbretta), with their odd-looking head-crests, are more common here than elsewhere in the country and wade in the slow-moving water of the wadis searching for small aquatic invertebrates, often kicking or shuffling their feet to stir up the bottom. These birds build remarkable half-ton communal roofed nests of mud and sticks, up to two meters high, in the forks of waterside trees.
Land uses and economical activities:Agriculture.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:Terraced fields modifies the environment.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
The site is as famous for the beauty of its landscapes as for its fortified villages clinging to nearly inaccessible rocky peaks. Their imposing architecture meets two needs, defending the villagers while leaving plenty of space for crops. Each town is built like a castle, the houses themselves form the wall, equipped with one or two easily defensible doors. Constructed from sandstone and basalt, the buildings are perfectly integrated into the landscape and it is difficult to tell where the rock and the village begins or ends. Some of the most beatiful villages are Kahil, Al-Yabal, Banu Mora, Al-Kadi, Al-Qanus, Bayt Shimran, Al-Hutayb and Manakha. Manakha is located in the heart of the Jabal Haraz and it is famous because of its ancient fortified cidadel, Al-Hajjara, built on black stone. Al-Hutayb is buillt on red sandstone and it has another 20 small villages in its surroundings.
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
Architectonical elements /Sculptures:
The way of construction of the villages of these mountains keep the traditional architectonical style. The houses are totally mixed with the rocky environment,a nd it is dificult to find out where the village is starting and ending. Some of the most beatiful villages are Kahil, Al-Yabal, Banu Mora, Al-Kadi, Al-Qanus, Bayt Shimran, Al-Hutayb and Manakha. Manakha is located in the heart of the Jabal Haraz. The old part of the village preserve architectonical elements dated on XII century. It also interesting its Market Square, but the main value its ancient fortified cidadel, Al-Hajjara, which was built on black stone and founded by Sulaihid dinasty in XII century. Al-Hajjara is one of the best examples of mountain architecture in Yemen. Al-Hutayb is built on red sandstone and it has another 20 small villages in its surroundings.
Art pieces, artesany, furniture and other elements:
The impresive facades of the houses.
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
Roads, paths, trails, walking/mechanical ways:
The local Ismailis have tarred the roads, and paved the streets for their believers, without damaging the landscape.
B) Related to ancient remains
- Historical routes:
A caravan stopping point during the Himyarite Kingdom, the Haraz was later the stronghold of the Sulaihid State which was established in Yemen in 1037. Then and subsequently the population have been Ism’aili Muslims.
- Traces in the environment of human activity: Terraced fields.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Population, ethnic groups: A caravan stopping point during the Himyarite Kingdom, the Haraz was later the stronghold of the Sulaihid State which was established in Yemen in 1037. Then and subsequently the population have been Ism'aili Muslims.
- Languages and dialects: Arabic
- Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Because of its history of protection, the territory has preserved intact ancient customs and particularities in the way of living or dressing.
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:Some roads are being built to improve the access to the region, but it could be a danger for the precious biodiversity of the site. The traditional way of living can be also a threat for the natural environment: woodcutting for cooking, etc...
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
-Jabal Haraz. -Jabal Bura. -The cultural Heritage of the villages: Kahil, Al-Yabal, Banu Mora, Al-Kadi, Al-Qanus, Bayt Shimran, Al-Hutayb and Manakha (Al-Hajjara).
Authenticity:There are remains of the 11 century. The particular style of construction of the villages, the splendour of its facades in composition with the natural elements of the site, compose an unique landscape where artificial forms are totally integrated in the environment.
Universality:According to UNESCO criteria for Cultural Landscape, Med-O-Med describes the universality of "Jabal Bura and Jabal Haraz: The Mountanous Cultural Landscape of Yemen" as follows: iv) The villages of these mountains are an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble of Sulaihid dynasty, that unhabited the site since the XI century. v) They are also an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and land-use. It is represented in the traditional way of farming (terraced field) and irrigation. vii) Jabal Haraz and Jabal Bura are of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. x) The mountains contains important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:The traditional way of farming and irrigation come from the islamic culture. Also, the villages of these mountains are an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble of Sulaihid dynasty, that unhabited the site since the XI century.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
Jabal Bura and Jabal Haraz: The Mountanous Cultural Landscape of Yemen is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Yemen which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1723/ http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1722/ http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://www.unesco.org/mab http://www.yementourism.com/tourism2009/interests/detail.php?IBLOCK_ID=104&SECTION_ID=289&ELEMENT_ID=2682 http://www.lonelyplanet.com/yemen/the-harazmountains http://www.protectedplanet.net/sites/30887 http://www.protectedplanet.net/sites/Buraa_Unescomab_Biosphere_Reserve http://www.protectedplanet.net/sites/Haraz_Protected_Area -UNESCO-MAB Secretariat (2011). Biosphere Reserves. World Network. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara, Italy.
Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.