Zabid is a town named after Wadi Zabid the wadi to its south, is one of the oldest towns in Yemen, it was the capital of Yemen from the 13th to the 15th century and a center of the Arab and Muslim world due in large part to its famed University of Zabid and being a center of Islamic education. Zabid has been declared a World Heritage Site by the...more
We had an English speaking guide organised for us. He was very friendly and knowledgeable and we had a tour of around 2 hours with him.It is useful to get an English speaking guide, if you speak English, as there is not much written information about Zabid and it is very easy to get lost in the winding streets in the heat. I don't think I would...more
We were taken to a traditional house to have tea, which was very welcome as Zabid is very hot and dusty.The house has been restored but not to a pristine level, so retains much of the original charm and character. I think the term in interior design is "shabby chic style"!Through the small courtyard we went up a small flight of steps and from the...more
We visited some of the traditional houses in Zabid. Two of them were occupied by families. The first one we just looked around the courtyard and went up the steps to the roof for the view. The second one we were allowed to go inside the living room. The men of the family were having a siesta so we only stayed a very short while for a quick...more
I was told Zabid still has 86 mosques left, out of the 236 in its heyday.We didn't see all of them as some are in the new part of town, which we didn't go to, and some are very small. The oldest mosque is Al Asha'ir founded in the 9th century and is in a good state of repair.You can see many others as you walk around the streets of the old town and...more
The women's workshop allows women to earn some money by producing handicrafts that are sold to tourists. It is all textile based crafts.They have a room full of weaving looms where they weave scarves and throws, a sewing room where they make purses and other sewn items using traditional old Singer treadle machines, and also do some hand embroidery....more
Fishing and farming are the main industries in the Tihama area with dates, fruit and coconuts grown. Bananas, Mangos and Papayas are still grown in the area. Our guide bought us the biggest papayas I have ever seen, from a lady at the roadside. And they were delicious!Coffee used to be grown here from the 17th century and the town of Mocha was...more
The architecture of the Tihama is different to that of the rest of Yemen. Most buildings are low and made from clay, reeds, mud or brick rather than the stone tower houses of the other areas. Where buildings are made of brick they are often white washed.Zabid has very unique and distinctive architecture with brick and white washed houses which are...more
The weekly markets are named after the day of the week on which they are held and local people come from all over the area to buy and sell food, animals, pottery, textiles and household goods. Larger ones have a specific site while the small ones set up at the roadside. They are a wonderful way to see rural life and people as they are normally very...more
Al Asha’ir Mosque or great mosque is the spiritual centre of the town and was built by the founder of Zabid in the 9th century. It is the oldest mosque in Zabid.The interior is simple but well maintained. We were not allowed to go inside but could take photographs through the door. Just outside the door some old men were resting on what looked like...more
Flat, hot, desert like Tihama's landscape is not something you'd dream of. Driving seemed endless...at least the road was straight forward so our driver could easily speed up!While travelling along the main coastal road (unfortunately you can't have view of sea) you'll notice the strong African influence in the cylindrical huts and the physical...more
Zabid is circular in shape but if you take a look at the map, you soon realise that it is almost impossible to find your way between the labyrinth like dusty streets under the sunheat of Tihama area. So more or less a guide is a necessity. Mohammad Ali Gafer was a student in Zabid University learning English. He had knowledge of Zabid history, he...more
Our guide took us inside an old mansion, whose decoration was simply astonishing. Painted ceilings (additional photo), curved doors (additional photo) and lots of atmosphere. We were told that Pier Paolo Pasolini shoot his film in this particular house!!We rested a bit from the heat, we were served tea, took our photos and by the end we were kindly...more
We didn't stay here, just had lunch which was OK - the usual bread, chicken and vegetables with water or soft drinks and tea afterwards.It is a pleaseant, large open room with local artefacts on the walls and a nice atmposphere. Lunch was fairly nice, nothing special but there were many cats crawling around and trying to get on top of the tables...more
Currently the only place offering accommodation and food in Zabid is the Zabid Tourism Resthouse. Usually it caters groups and drivers. We didn't have lunch there, instead we tasted freshly baked bread and herb pies from a street vendor in the old souq area of Zabid. The bread had a bit sour taste and it strongly reminded me Ethiopean cuisine, thus...more
Pottery from Hais is sold at the weekly markets. It is still widely used in the area for water storage vessels, tea cups and other household items.
This craft dates back to 5th century BC and due to the local clay used it is a warm red colour.
Zabid is very dusty. It is also a little windy and this combination is not good for the camera.
I loved this town, it was one of my favourite places in Yemen, but I found it left a fine layer of dust all over my camera which was very difficult to remove.
And you don't want to keep your camera in your bag as there are many great photos to take.
Plastic bags help a little and special camera covers.
Try not to walk around with your lense cap off - bad news for the camera!
Zabid is very hot and dusty and there are few places where there is shade.
On descending from the highlands it is quite a shock to encounter the heat and in order to see Zabid you do need to walk around for about 2 hours minimum.
Take a good sunhat and sunglasses.
Miscellaneous: Plenty of water is essential.
Lying in between Al-Hudayda and Zabid, dusty, crowded Beit Al-Faqih is known in Yemen for its famous market which lies 1.5 km off the main road (on a dusty road).
Full of people selling everything: fruit, all sorts of goods and mainly live animals. Everything was mixed in a blend of heat, sweat, dust, all sorts of...smells and noise.
You certainly need a guide to show you around as it is impossible to find your way among so many people...and animals. A boy found by our driver served as guide for a tip.
A must to visit?? Interesting if you have never seen anything similar. Not my piece of cake though!