The old city of Sanaa, a World Heritage Site since 1986, could embody the uncertain future of Yemen. The mysterious enclave, packed towers and adobe bricks made in traditional ovens, has survived invasions, wars, uprisings and famines for centuries.
Its winding streets, over a hundred mosques, 14 'hammams' (bathrooms) and nearly 7,000 homes not only have always been the most emblematic of the country but the main attraction for tourists let themselves be seduced by the mystique of an environment Saudi anchored in the past.
But the old Sana'a is far from the town that was an example of Islamic architecture in the sixth and eighth centuries AD. Its decline has accelerated the pace of the country, fueled in recent months, the efforts of President Ali Saleh on staying in the same position held for 33 years.
October last half dozen dwellings were hit by shells and bullets that crossed the allied military forces of the rebels who wanted out of office Saleh and soldiers loyal to the head of state. You can still see the gaps left by large caliber bullets in the walls of clay.
Abdullah Zaid Ayssa, head of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (OGPCH) even believes that this outburst of violence that only affected the redoubt during a day is the most imminent danger to this historical monument.
The Yemeni speaks of neglect, corruption and lack of authority. "The government does not exist and the population no longer obey. We have cases of people leaving the houses to sink on purpose to build new or build without complying with any regulation," he says.
Zaid says at least 180 homes need urgent rehabilitation and requested 75 million rials (263,000 euros) for this project last year. But Yemen is practically bankrupt.
The Planning Ministry recently acknowledged that the country needs 15,000 million dollars in emergency aid to avert catastrophe amid widespread apathy of all economic sectors.Agriculture and fisheries, for example, had suffered a decline of 10% and 18.4%.
The General Investment Authority seconded him in his gloomy analysis and said that the projects financed from abroad had fallen by 41% over the previous year. "So we got 75 million in March (10,000 euros)," says Zaid sitting in his office, installed on the top floor of one of these suggestive mud houses.
The expert shrugs. The old Sana'a, like the country, threatening to collapse. Is not a metaphor in either cases. "Every year we fall between 4 and 5 houses," says Zaid.According to their estimates, has already lost 35% of the enclave since 1990 swallowed up by modern buildings.