Shibam. The Chicago of the Desert

Shibam. The Chicago of the Desert

Shibam is a town in Yemen, often referred to as the ”Chicago of the Desert. It is also  known for its distinct architecture. The city was listed with the UNESCOO world heritage list.


The houses of Shibam are all made out of mud brick, and about 500 of them are tower blocks, which rise 5 to 11 stories hight, with each floor having one or two rooms. This architectural style was used in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks. While Shibam has been in existence for an estimated 1,700 years, most of the city’s houses originate from the 16th century. Many, though, have been rebuilt numerous times in the last few centuries.

Shibam is often called “the oldest Skyscraper city in the world. The city has some of the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 m (98 feet) high. The city is surrounded by a fortified wall, giving it the name “the walled city of Shibam”.

In 2015 UNESCO listed the city as ”cultural heritage at risk”.

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