By Roman Stadnicki
Sketches by R. Stadnicki and F. Stadnicka
These field sketches, excerpts of a PhD that focuses on the urbanization of the Yemeni capital (Roman Stadnicki, 2009, New centralities and socio-spatial reconstructions in the Greater Sana’a (Yemen), University of Tours, 581 p.), show another face of Sana’a than the one of neighborhoods inflamed by repression and clashes. They illustrate the daily life in a tri-millionaire agglomeration that has grown considerably since the 1990s, especially after the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.
The neighborhoods presented here belong to the suburbs of Sana’a. They are not the result of a planned development by the authorities, barely involved in urban management, but spontaneous practices by people and businesses that draw here the contours of new urban centralities. Some of them have played an important role in the continuity of the protests. They will bear the resulting scars for a long time.
Sketch 1: Entrance of the Shumayla souk (on the right, on the picture), one of the busiest in Sana’a, located in the heart of the southern extensions of the city. Extremely versatile, the souk attracts people from throughout the Highlands area.
Sketch 2: Hasaba, one of the most important areas in density and population, located north of Sana’a. Current theater of clashes between the Republican Guards and the tribesmen of Sheikh al-Ahmar. In the background, the park al-Thawra (Park of the Revolution), which is aptly named!
Sketch 3: Hâyil, large neighborhood located west of downtown, relatively mixed socially and heterogeneous regarding the economic activity. It is also the neighborhood of Sana’a University, epicenter of the uprising of the urban youth.
Sketch 4: Dâr Salm, located on Taiz road, more than 15 kilometers from the Old City. In the middle of the roundabout, dozens of workers waiting for a day job, symptom of the importance of the undercapitalized urban economy and of the of gravity of the social crisis in Yemen.
Sketch 5: ‘Asir, last neighborhood before the mountain of the same name that blocks the expansion of urbanization to the west. Departure of collective taxis to al-Hudayda and the western provinces of Yemen.
Sketch 6: Intersection between Hadda Street and Sittîn Boulevard, southwest of the city, two roads that confine the most modern part of the Greater Sana’a. The signs of globalization (and the social inequalities it bears) are abundant: here, high-class franchised stores and luxurious villas clinging to the side of the jebel.
Sketch 7: Dâris, located complete north of the city, between the Hasaba district and the airport. Pedestrian bridge leading to the qat market, towards which flows to the population in the early afternoon (or in the evening during the month of Ramadan).
Roman Stadnicki is a geographer, a researcher at the CEDEJ (MAE/CNRS), Cairo, Head of the “City and Sustainable Development” department, and author of a thesis on the urbanization of Sana’a.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect La Voix du Yémen’s editorial policy.
Article first published on August 14, 2011.Français