06-Nov-2005 -- Wādiy Ḥaḍramawt consists of a highly fertile plain inside a great fissure in the earth that runs for 160 km east to west. Just 750 m at its narrowest, and expanding to 12 km at its broadest, the wādiy's geography has allowed it to remain apart from the rest of Yemen. Traditional dress, architectural style, and agriculture are distinct from that seen in other parts of the country. Ḥaḍramiyys have exported themselves around the globe - many to other states in the Arabian Peninsula, but also as far as South-East Asia. Remittances have made many Ḥaḍramiyys wealthy; latter-day discovery of oil in the broader region, and tourism, have also made their contribution to development here.
Most of the tourists who come to Ḥaḍramawt do so to see the classic mud-brick 'skyscraper' architecture of Šibām, Say'ūn and Tarīm. Chocolaty, wobbly, close-packed houses shoot into the sky in these towns' old madīnas: many consider them to be a prototype for the current Western skyscraper fetish. Indeed, Šibām is often called the 'Manhattan of the Desert', a phrase originally coined by the 20th century adventurer Freya Stark, who spent a great deal of time in Ḥaḍramawt, although this term is something of a misnomer as the wādiy is anything but a desert.
16N 49E lies between Say'ūn and Tarīm (closer to the latter), towards the eastern extremity of the wādiy. To reach it, one should follow the eastern road from Say'ūn, and turn left towards Tarīm at the T-junction by al-Ġuraf. This road will take you 1.2 km from the confluence point. Here, we went off road and headed towards the rocky protrusions on the west side of the wādiy. Keeping what appeared to be some kind of Ṣūfiyy shrine to our left, we were able to get the Landy to a position just 300 m from the point. The rest of the route is somewhat vertical, and involves a steep scramble/boulder up to the penultimate ridge of the rocky hill, upon which the Confluence lies.
Sitting at the point affords fine views across the wādiy. One can sit on the western 'ridge' of hills and look across the plain to the eastern ridge. It would probably be a superb position to watch a sunrise. It is possible to climb higher from this point, which would yield even better views. Alternatively, after enjoying an afternoon climb, visitors could dash back to gaze at the old city of Šibām in the beautiful pre-dusk light.
For some notes about us, see our visit at 15N 49E.