Cosy cabins appear on Sanaa hotel roofs as war curtails tourism elsewhere

SANAA, Oct. 7 (Reuters) – Hotels in Sanaa are capitalizing on domestic tourism demand in war-torn Yemen by building small huts on their rooftops, known as tairamana, that offer relaxation and views of the old city.

About a dozen of these spaces are now on the flat roof of the Pearl of Hadda hotel in Sanaa. The rooms are decked out with wall-to-wall soft chairs, curtains and low tables for snacks.

At night they glow with neon lights.

Men like Abdul Muttalib Hashem, 27, hang together and put the world in order as they smoke tobacco pipes and chew khat, a green leaf that acts as a mild stimulant.

“Due to the difficulty of traveling to coastal towns like Aden and Hodeidah, we found the best place to hang out here in Sanaa, in the hotel’s tairamana,” he said.

Traditionally built as a single room, Tairamana offers escape atop the towering red-brick and mud-brick houses that characterize the UNESCO-listed ancient city of Sanaa.

Since Yemen’s long war has plunged most of the country into famine and shut down transportation routes, tairamana atop hotels are becoming popular social gathering places.

“They bring the social fabric together,” said Mohsen al-Humayqani, a client of the Boudel hotel. “It’s a public space for everyone, to exchange culture and opinions, to chat about all subjects of life.”

Single women don’t gather there like the men.

The rooms are used for graduation parties, for the elderly to resolve disputes and all kinds of meetings, said the owner of the Rose Holiday Inn hotel, Muhamad al-Dahifi.

Reporting by Khaled Abdullah, Adel al-Khadher and Abdulrahman al-Ansi; Written by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Giles Elgood

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