September 27, 2021

Jiblah is a City with a Powerful History

From 1064 to 1138 the region was ruled by the Sulayhids, a dynasty founded by ‘Ali as-Sulayhi. This dynasty controlled a large area of Yemen, and ruled some of the time from Sana’a and some of the time from Jiblah. They were Ishmailis from the Tayyibiya branch of the Fatimid Ishmailism (or ‘Sevener Shia’).

Jiblah has preserved traditional features of its skilful architecture. Tall, five-story stone houses are arranged in harmonious rows on the hill and seem to interconnect with each other. The numerous windows are large and are surrounded by friezes with motifs in white gypsum.

The history of the city really started in the 11th century, when queen Arwa ruled for 52 years. The Sulayhid Queen transformed this area into a rich and fertile land. She did this by spending much of the annual revenue on the improvement of communications, roads and agricultural land (the terraces around Jiblah).

This exceptionally intelligent woman also started the construction of a series of important religious buildings. She managed to make Jibla the capital of Yemen, and she introduced other ideas as well. Some of these concepts, like terraced agriculture, are still used today.

The town is relatively rich, has elaborate stone towers, views of the valley, and lots of children to run after you and accompany you. The main attractions are the mosques; notably the Queen Arwa mosque, and the Qubbat Bayt az-Zum mosque.

Jiblah lies on a large outcrop of basalt, and is the perfect example of a homogenous town.

It is built on a supporting wall and bordered by the ravines of two small wadis which join together just outside the town.

The lush vegetation along the edges of the wadis and the valley bottoms consist of acacias, eucalyptus, carob trees and cacti. This area has plenty of rain from June through September.