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Aden: A City of Coexistence Exhausted by Wars

Aden: A City of Coexistence Exhausted by Wars

Wednesday, 8 January, 2020 - 11:00
Iskandar Abdulghaffour sits infront of his residence at Crater neighborhood, Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat
Aden - Abdul Hadi Habtoor

When touring Aden city in southern Yemen, the names of blocs and avenues are reminiscent of its cultural and racial diversity.

Names such as Pakistan Street and Al-Yezidyeen neighborhood, Al-Yahoud (Arabic for Jews) neighborhood reflect and confirm the coexistence that prevailed for more than two hundred years in this coastal city.

As for its history of conflict, Aden faced numerous crises throughout the 90s. Most recently it witnessed clashes between the government and the Southern Transitional Council in August 2018.

Iskandar Abdulghaffour, born in Aden in 1948, is a popular singer of Indian descent who lives in the upscale Crater neighborhood of the Indian Quarter in Aden.

He says he visited his country of origin, India, only once in his life, and describes life in Aden as “beautiful,” despite the difficult circumstances.

“I worked with the most famous British companies in the past… I was 11 when I started singing, and then I continued to sing in Hindi at parties and weddings,” Abdulghaffour told Asharq Al-Awsat, while sitting on a wood stool in front of his residence.

Another Crater resident, Dr. Ihab Abdulkader, speaks about the astonishing diversity found in Aden’s local community.

Aden, according to Abdulkader, is known as a cosmopolitan city that has embraced all races for more than two centuries.

Meccans, Yezidis, Egyptians, Muslim Indians, Lebanese, Persians, and Jews lived side by side in peace. The city is still home to a Persian temple as well.

“Aden was a peninsula with only fishermen living on the coast. In the old days, everyone was governed by laws, everyone was equal before the law, and they sought Aden to be a beacon to other regions,” Abdulkader said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.

Nevertheless, Abdulakder noted that the social fabric in Aden was greatly affected by the conflicts and wars that the city witnessed during the past years.

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