Shibam is an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in central Yemen.
The city itself dates back to the second century AD, but it is most famous for its mud-built highrise structures built in the 16th C to protect the citizens from Bedouin raids.
Located at an important caravan halt on the spice and incense route across the Southern Arabian plateau, the dwellings developed on a fortified, rectangular grid plan of streets and squares.
The bizarre skyline created by the high rises have given the city the nickname, “Manhattan of the Desert.”
NOTE: The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Yemen because of the high security threat level posed by ongoing conflict and terrorist activities. The level of instability and ongoing threats, including the threat of kidnapping, in Yemen is severe. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition initiated an air campaign in support of the exiled Yemeni government. While a nationwide cessation of hostilities has largely held since April 10, pockets of violence persist and the country remains deeply insecure. Periodic armed conflict and shelling continues in certain areas across the country. There are reports of land mines being placed in areas vacated by withdrawing forces. The military conflict has also significantly damaged infrastructure, limiting the availability of electricity, clean water, and medical care, and causing travel by internal roads to be dangerous. This instability often hampers the ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver critically needed food, medicine, and water.