Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Earth, Saudi Arabia, Southwest Asia

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

A guide to transliteration of Arabic numerals follows below:

The front of our banknote shows a serial number in Arabic on the top left and the same serial number on the descending down the far right in English.  The year 1433 of the Islamic calendar appears in the lower left of the front of our banknote.  The corresponding year 2012 of the Gregorian calendar appears in the lower left of the back of our banknote.

Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Southwest Asia, Yemen

Yemen – The Oldest Skyscraper City in the World

 

Buildings in Shibam, 50 rials, back, Yemen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towering buildings, 500 years old, rise from the desert in this oldest example of vertical urban planning in the world.  Shibam lies deep in the desert of Yemen, and is famous for its mud brick high rise buildings, being frequently called the “Oldest Skyscraper City in the World.”

 

detail of Buildings in Shibam, 50 rials, back, Yemen. Some buildings are ten or eleven stories tall.

Bedouin nomads of old, traversed desert sands from oasis to oasis, carrying news and conducting trade.  The little settlement, Shibam, by the wadiis, was ripe for less than honorable Bedouin marauders.

The settlers did not wish to move, for this was home.  The life as nomads had lost its appeal.  Perhaps it was the 14th century when the idea was born; or perhaps it was the 15th or 16th century when the concept was planned; but we know by the 1600s great towers in the desert had begun to rise.

Using the materials at hand, driven by the necessity born of frequent attacks, and guided by some original ingenuity, they began to build.  Creating bricks, made from soil and hay and stone, baked in the desert sun, brick by brick they built they built their sturdy houses.

 

detail of Buildings in Shibam, 50 rials, back, Yemen. Some buildings are over 100 feet tall.

Story upon story they rose.  The bottom stories they made windowless and harbored their livestock and grain, safer from marauders than open corrals.  Five stories, six stories, seven stories they built with windowed living quarters above their live stock and provisions.   Eight stories, nine stories high, they built their towers providing shade from the desert sun on the narrow streets between them.  Ten stories and eleven stories tall, they built their towers, with bridges intersecting from one to another, providing easy escape when needed, and convenient corridors for socializing.

Shibam of Yemen is the earliest known example of vertical urban planning in the world.  A British explorer in the 1930s, happening upon Shibram, called it the “Manhattan of the Desert”.  The “Oldest Skyscraper City in the world”, it is frequently called today.

 

 

Sina’a, 100 rials banknote, back, Yemen

 

 

 

 

 

detail of buildings of Sina’a, 100 rials banknote, back, Yemen

 

 

Sana’a has been inhabited for more than two and a half centuries.  It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

 

 

 

 

detail of buildings of Sina’a, 100 rials banknote, back, Yemen

The beauty of the city is enhanced by the high density of buildings constructed from rammed earth and the frequent burnt brick towers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortress Qal’at, 5 rial banknote, back, Yemen

 

 

 

 

 

detail of Fortress Qal’at al Qahit, on hill in Ta’izz, 5 rial banknote, back, Yemen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bedouin nomads of old, traversed desert sands from oasis to oasis, carrying news and conducting trade.  The little settlement, Shibam, by the wadiis, was ripe for less than honorable Bedouin marauders.

The settlers did not wish to move, for this was home.  The life as nomads had lost its appeal.  Perhaps it was the 14th century when the idea was born; or perhaps it was the 15th or 16th century when the concept was planned; but we know by the 1600s great towers in the desert had begun to rise.  Using the materials at hand, driven by the necessity born of frequent attacks, and guided by some original ingenuity, they began to build.  Creating bricks, made from soil and hay and stone, baked in the desert sun, brick by brick they built they built their sturdy houses.  Story upon story they rose.  The bottom stories they made windowless and harbored their livestock and grain, safer from marauders than open corrals.  Five stories, six stories, seven stories they built with windowed living quarters above their live stock and provisions.   Eight stories, nine stories high, they built their towers providing shade from the desert sun on the narrow streets between them.  Ten stories and eleven stories tall, they built their towers, with bridges intersecting from one to another, providing easy escape when needed, and convenient corridors for socializing.

Shibam of Yemen is the earliest known example of vertical urban planning in the world.  A British explorer in the 1930s, happening upon Shibram, called it the “Manhattan of the Desert”.  The “Oldest Skyscraper City in the world”, it is frequently called today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Southwest Asia, Yemen

Yemen – The Great Dam of Ma’rib (10 rial banknote)

 

Yemen 10 rials banknote, back, featuring the great dam of Ma’rib

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Dam of Ma’rib was built almost three thousand years ago and is considered one of the great engineering projects of the ancient world.

Yemen 10 rials front (3)
The great Dam of Ma’rib. detail from back of 10 rial banknote. Yemen

The medieval Arab geographer Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī described the great dam of Ma’rib: “It is between three mountains, and the flood waters all flow to the one location, and because of that the water only discharges in one direction; and the ancients blocked that place with hard rocks and lead. The water from springs gathers there as well as floodwater, collecting behind the dam like a sea. Whenever they wanted to they could irrigate their crops from it, by just letting out however much water they needed from sluice gates; once they had used enough they would close the gates again as they pleased.” reference.

Ancient culvert and the Shaharah bridge. Detail from back of 100 rial banknote, Yemen

According to Arab tradition, the city Ma’rib was founded by Shem, son of Noah, a thousand years previous. With 1000 miles of coastline on the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, it flourished as a center of trade reaching from the Mediterranean to India. Agriculture flourished in large part due to its amazing irrigation systems consisting of water tunnels in mountains, and dams. Yemen’ spices, frankincense and myrrh, were traded throughout the world. Modern scholarship says the renowned Queen of Sheba came from the kingdom of Saba, centered around the oasis of Ma’rib.

 

 

Arabian Coffee berries on a branch, detail from back of 10 rial banknote, Yemen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yemen, 10 rial banknote, front. Qubbat Al-Bakiliyah Mosque (Al-Bakiriya, Al-Baqiliyah, al-Bakiriyya) in Sana’a.