38 Facts About Sanaa


Sanaa, spelled Sana'a or Sana, is the largest city in Yemen and the centre of Sanaa Governorate.

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Under the Yemeni constitution, Sanaa is the capital of the country, although the seat of the Yemeni government moved to Aden, the former capital of South Yemen in the aftermath of the Houthi occupation.

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Name Sanaa is probably derived from the Sabaic root sn?, meaning "well-fortified".

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Al-Hamdani wrote that Sanaa was walled by the Sabaeans under their ruler Sha'r Awtar, who arguably built the Ghumdan Palace in the city.

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Appropriately enough for a town whose name means "well-fortified", Sanaa appears to have been an important military center under the Sabaeans.

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The city of Sanaa regularly regained an important status, and all Yemenite States competed to control it.

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In 1062 Sanaa was taken over by the Sulayhid dynasty led by Ali al-Sulayhi and his wife, the popular Queen Asma.

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Sanaa made the city capital of his relatively small kingdom, which included the Haraz Mountains.

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Sanaa's withdrew from Sanaa, transferring the Sulayhid capital to Jibla, where she ruled much of Yemen from 1067 to 1138.

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However, Ayyubid control of Sanaa was never very consistent, and they only occasionally exercised direct authority over the city.

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In Sanaa, city planning was initiated for the first time, new roads were built, and schools and hospitals were established.

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That year, Sanaa was replaced with Ta'izz as capital following Ahmad's new residence there.

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Ahmad began a process of gradual economic and political liberalization, but by 1961 Sanaa was witnessing major demonstrations and riots demanding quicker reform and change.

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Instability in Sanaa continued due to continuing coups and political assassinations until the situation in the country stabilized in the late 1970s.

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Sanaa was chosen as the 2004 Arab Cultural Capital by the Arab League.

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On 21 May 2012, Sanaa was attacked by a suicide bomber, resulting in the deaths of 120 soldiers.

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In late 2017, another Battle of Sanaa broke out between the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Saleh, who was killed.

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Much of the Sanaa plain is drained by the Wadi al-Kharid, which flows northward, through the northeastern corner of the plain, towards al-Jawf, which is a broad wadi that drains the eastern part of the Yemeni highlands.

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Sanaa itself is located at the narrowest part of the plain, nestled between Jabal Nuqum to the east and the foothills of Jabal an-Nabi Shu'ayb, Yemen's tallest mountain, to the west.

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Parts of the Sanaa plain have signs of relatively recent volcanic activity, with volcanic cones and lava fields.

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Tower houses continue to be built in Sanaa, often using modern materials; often they are built from concrete block with decorative "veneers" of brick and stone.

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In recent decades, Sanaa has grown into a multipolar city, with various districts and suburbs serving as hubs of commercial, industrial, and social activity.

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An old Ottoman and Jewish quarter of Sanaa located to the west of the old city, Bi'r al-Azab was first mentioned in historical sources in 1627, in the Ghayat al-amanni of Yahya ibn al-Husayn.

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In 1983, as Sanaa experienced an explosion in population, the city was made into a governorate of its own, called Amanat al-Asimah, by Presidential Decree No 13.

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Sanaa has a rich musical tradition and is particularly renowned for the musical style called al-Ghina al-San'ani, or "the song of Sanaa", which dates back to the 14th century and was designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003.

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Sanaa has a higher concentration of hotels and restaurants than elsewhere in the country.

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In terms of jobs created, Sanaa is ahead of all other governorates in Yemen by a factor of three.

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The most recent crisis in Sanaa came in September 2019, leading to days-long lines at gas stations.

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Sanaa is relatively well educated among Yemeni cities, and much more than the country as a whole.

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Each of Sanaa's districts has its own educational district, with several government schools in each one.

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Sanaa University was established in 1970 with the goal of preparing Yemenis to work as teachers.

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In 2018, the total cost of damage to the health sector in Sanaa was estimated to be between 191 million and US$233 million.

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Sanaa has been hit hard by the ongoing cholera outbreak in Yemen since 2016, with Bani al-Harith District reporting the highest number of cases in January–August 2019.

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Transport in Sanaa is divided by gender, with a slight majority of male commuters using public transport and a similar majority of women travelling on foot.

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Public transport in Sanaa is primarily informal, with most vehicles being privately owned.

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Sanaa has an extensive road network, which is where most formal investment has taken place.

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Yemen is one of the world's most water-scarce countries, and Sanaa could be the first national capital in the world to completely exhaust its water supply.

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Household water in Sanaa was supplied by shallow wells, and the relative scarcity of water led to people using gray water for watering gardens.

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