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March 27, 2002

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Shibam, desert Manhattan, the most celebrated Arab city built in a traditional style. Shibam jumps from the surrounding desert, a tight collection of mud skyscrapers surrounded by a tall, earthen wall. The Arabs claim they built the first skyscrapers, over 500 years old, 40 meters tall, eight stories of mud brick and wood superstructure. The builders shaped wet mud and straw into bricks using a wooden frame. Plaster made from earth or lime whitewash decorate the exteriors. The question remains: if you're standing on the roof of a mud skyscraper, what do you do if it rains?
Desert Manhattan - Shibam
Our guide says that mud homes stay much cooler than stone or wood homes. He also says bullets pass through mud walls without destroying them, an added advantage over stone or wood. These aren't real estate selling points that come to mind back home.
Mud bricks bake in the sun, getting ready for the next skyscraper construction.
Jill's ready to jump off the wall to get out of this black dress and veil.