SHAFAQNA – Sana’a is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, although an exact date for its establishment is unknown. According to Yemeni legend, it was founded by Shem, one of the three sons of Prophet Noah (PBUH). It occupies the site of the ancient pre-Islamic stronghold of Ghumdān, which may date to the 1st and 2nd centurybce. Sanaa was an Arabian centre for Christians and Jews before it was converted to Islam by Imam Alī (AS) in 632 ce. The city’s history as a Muslim centre is one of sporadic rivalry between the heterodox Zaydī imams (leaders) and rival dynasties; the Zaydī imamate, whose original capital was at Ṣaʿdah in the north, lasted, with frequent interruptions, from the 9th century to 1962. There was a sharp decline in the city’s fortunes in the 12th–15th century, as successive conquerors of Yemen set up their capitals in other cities. During the reign of ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Ṭāhir of the Ṭāhirid dynasty in the early 16th century the city was embellished with many fine mosques and madrassas (Islamic theological schools).
Nominally under Ottoman sovereignty from the mid-16th century, Sanaa was effectively controlled by the imams from the early 17th century to 1872; only then did the Ottomans succeed in capturing and holding the city. Civil strife between the Ottomans and the imams continued until 1911, when a treaty gave the latter almost total autonomy. Sanaa became the national capital of independent Yemen after Ottoman defeat in World War I. Under the imam Aḥmad (reigned 1948–62), the capital was moved south to Taʿizz, but Sanaa again became the capital with the 1962 revolution and the proclamation of the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen).
A city of unparalleled beauty and history, Sana’a is more than just stones. Sana’a is the beating heart of Yemen and Arabia.
And yet Saudi Arabia is standing to destroy the city, and its people.
Determined to not quiet their voices before oppression, Yemen is fighting back – but not with the weapons of war but that of dignity.
Listen to Yemen voices