YEMEN 2024-2026

Recovery and Conservation of Islamic Monuments (RCIM) in the Old City of Ṣanʿāʾ, Yemen

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A Monumenta Orientalia (MO) and Social Fund for Development – Yemen (SFD) Project, funded by Aliph Foundation (International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas).

The Old City of Ṣanʿāʾ was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986 for being an ‘extraordinary masterpiece of traditional human settlement’, and for its major contributions to the history of Islam. Since 2011, however, Ṣanʿāʾ’s architectural heritage has been subject to neglect, torrential flooding, vandalism and civil unrest. In 2015, due to the war and armed conflict, it was moved onto the World Heritage in Danger list but is presently recognized as a secured zone.

With steadfast hope for a lasting truce between the main warring parties in Yemen, MO and the SFD are implementing a two-year project (2024–2026) for the recovery and conservation of seven key Islamic monuments distributed across the Old City neighbourhoods of Ṣanʿāʾ. RCIM is a progression of the earlier Aliph-funded project (2020-2022) People’s Identity at Risk: documentation and assessment of Islamic monuments at risk. The seven Old City monuments – 1. Al-Mahdī ‘Abbās Dome, 2. Al-Mahdī ‘Abbās Well Ramp, 3. Ṭalḥah Dome, 4. Ṭalḥah Well Ramp, 5. Al-Abhar Mosque, 6. Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Mosque, 7. Al-Sharīfah Dome – were selected from among sixty monuments documented by the previous project, and assessed as being in greatest need of urgent recovery and conservation efforts. (As the location of the monuments, see the plan of the Old City, where the numbers are those listed in the previous project).

Community participation activities, site training programmes, archaeological surveys, structural assessment exercises, recovery procedures and conservation works are being achieved with the collaboration of the Awqaf, the General Organisation for the Preservation of the Historic Cities of Yemen (GOPHCY) and the General Organisation of Antiquities and Museums (GOAM), as well as with personnel of the Local Council (representing the Local Authority of Ṣanʿāʾ). At the heart of the recovery and conservation efforts is the skilled know-how of Ṣanʿāʾ’s traditional craftspeople.

RCIM activities are making significant contributions to local capacity building, the revival of traditional artisanal practices, and promoting local and international awareness of Yemen’s unique architectural and cultural heritage. It is creating work opportunities for youth in and around the historic city.

Grounded in the learning and experience acquired over the course of the project in Ṣanʿāʾ, RCIM aims to set a benchmark for future initiatives to restore, conserve and safeguard cultural heritage, and more specifically architectural heritage, in conflict and post-conflict regions.

For detailed information on each monument indicated by mosque icons on the Old City map below, please refer to the descriptions for sites numbered 1, 2, 12, 13, 35, 42 and 53 listed on the 2020-2022 project webpage.

Monumenta Orientalia – MO
  • Trevor H J Marchand
  • RCIM Project’s Scientific Director

  • Cristina Muradore
  • Assistant of the RCIM Project’s Scientific Director

  • Sabina Antonini
  • MO’s Scientific Director for Yemen
  • RCIM Project’s Archaeological Consultant

  • Ester Lopardo
  • MO’s Executive Director
  • RCIM Project’s Administrator
Social Fund for Development – SFD
  • Abdulhakim Al-Sayaghy
  • SFD Cultural Heritage Unit’s Architect
  • Director of SFD-MO projects
  • RCIM Project’s Site Manager

  • Amin Hossin Hamud
  • SFD Cultural Heritage Unit’s Architect
  • RCIM Project’s Consultant

  • Ahmed Haidarah
  • SFD Cultural Heitage Unit’s Archaeologist
  • RCIM Project’s Officer

Funding Body