The dry and arid lands of Yemen are interspersed with seasonal river valleys along which towns and villages were built. These river valleys are called “wadis” and many places are built along them for the water. Wadi Hadhramaut and Wadi Daw’an are two such river valleys located in the eastern and central parts of Yemen.
Shibam is also known as “Manhattan of the Desert” because of its tall buildings and the way they contrast with the surrounding plateau.
Wadi Dawan, a tributary of Wadi Hadhramaut, claims advanced architecture when compared to Wadi Hadhramaut.
There are several picturesque villages including Al-Mashad, Al-Hajarayn, Al-Khurayba and Khaylla.
Al-Mashad houses a 15-century tomb of Hasan Ibn Hasan and is a local pilgrimage site, though the village is almost deserted.
The architectural superiority over Hadhramaut is due to the introduction of cement in construction and hence it is far better preserved than the other.
All the buildings are built close to one another and are densely packed. The towns and villages lie at traditional watering stations along the river valleys. They are mostly built on plateaus and huge rocks. Whenever it rains or there are floods, the buildings weaken and require continuing maintenance.