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VOL. 4 · NO. 2, December 2016

Journal of Globerovers Productions · GR

Globerovers Special Edition

Yemen and Syria - prior to the current civil wars

Those of us who were fortunate to travel through Syria and Yemen before the current civil wars, will agree that both countries are among the most unique in the world. Rich in natural attractions, historical sights, cuisines, and most of all, home to some of the most hospitable people in the world. The Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011, has destroyed so many people’s lives and priceless historical architecture. Ditto for the Yemeni Civil War which started in 2015. We take a look at Syria and Yemen before the current wars started.

12 YEMEN

88 SYRIA

14 Shibam, Hadhramaut Valley

90 Damascus

24 Sayun, Hadhramaut Valley

100 Palmyra

32 Tarim, Hadhramaut Valley

110 Krak des Chevaliers

38 Sana’a

116 Hama

50 Al-Mahwit

124 Bosra

60 Thula

130 Aleppo

70 Kawkaban

144 Apamea

74 Shibam

152 Twalid Dabaghein & Sarouj

80 Wadi Dhar

164 Qasr Ibn Wardan

The oldest skyscraper city in the world and the “Manhattan of the desert”.

Syrian capital is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The ancient city of Palmyra is known as “Bride of the desert” on the Silk Road.

Home of the Sultan’s Palace where Dame Freya Madeline Stark spent much time.

This Crusader castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world.

Known for the many descendants of the prophet Muhammad and Al-Kaf Palace. The patterned buildings in Sana’a are among the oldest still inhabited on earth.

Along the Orontes River, 17 of the original “wheels of pots” norias still remain.

Situated around a mountain fortress, it used to be an isolated old village.

The Ancient Roman theatre (15,000 people) is constructed of black basalt.

Thula is known for its well preserved traditional houses and mosques.

One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities, it is famous for its souk & citadel.

Built upon a precipitous hilltop (2,931 m) it towers above Shibam town.

On the bank of the Orontes River is the Great Colonnade of the Roman Empire.

An interesting town not to be confused with Shibam in the Hadhramaut Valley.

These villages in the semi-desert are known for their beehive-shaped mud houses.

The village of Suq al-Wadi is home to Wadi Dhar, a famous “rock palace”.

This hamlet with a palace, church and barracks dates from the mid-6th century.

Bab al-Faraj Clock Tower Aleppo, Syria 1


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Editor‛s Message “Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

John Tolken (3 Jan 1892 – 2 Sep 1973), an English writer, poet, philologist, university professor, and author of ‘The Hobbit’, and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Dear Readers, ON THE COVER: Shibam, Hadhramaut Valley, Yemen

This eighth issue of Globerovers Magazine is a Special Edition in which we look back at Yemen and Syria before the outbreak of their current civil wars.

Globerovers Magazine

It is truly heartbreaking to witness the immense suffering of the Yemeni and Syrian people. If you were lucky enough to have travelled in this part of the world, you will most likely attest to the friendliness and beauty of the people.

is currently a biannual magazine, available in digital and printed formats. We focus on bringing to the intrepid traveller exciting destinations and inspiring photography from around the globe. Published in Hong Kong Printed in U.S.A. WHO WE ARE: Editor-in-Chief - Peter Steyn Editorial Consultant - Tsui Chi Ho Graphic Designer - Peter Steyn Photographer & Writer - Peter Steyn Proofreader - Janet-Lynn Vorster Advertising - Lizzy Chitlom FOLLOW US: www.globerovers-magazine.com www.globerovers.com facebook.com/GloberoversMag pinterest.com/globerovers twitter.com/globerovers instagram.com/globerovers CONTACT US: editor@globerovers.com

It is impossible to envision cities like Aleppo, in Syria, returning to their former glory during our lifetime. Parts of the ancient ruins of Syria’s Palmyra city, so well preserved for about 2,000 years, have been decimated over the past 2 years. In Yemen, a countless number of historical buildings, some dating back 3,000 years, have been reduced to rubble. In the old city of Sana’a, one of the oldest jewels of Islamic civilisation, significant damage has been reported. It will be difficult to ever restore these houses to their original state. We start this Special Edition in Yemen, from the central Hadhramaut Valley to the capital Sana’a, and the region to the north. In Syria we include the decimated cities of Aleppo and Palmyra, as well as other parts of Syria. Visit our Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, and www.globerovers-magazine.com. For easy access, scan the QR Codes on page 9. Emails to editor@globerovers.com. Globerovers travels so you can see the world!

Peter Steyn

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly prohibited without the prior written approval of the publisher. The publisher does not take responsibility for any potential inaccurate information herein.

THE FRONT COVER Yemen’s 16th-century sun-dried mud brick city of Shibam is also referred to as the “Manhattan of the desert”. A UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1982) in the central Hadhramaut Valley, it has some of the tallest mud buildings in the world which were built between the 16th and 19th century. 3


globerovers The magazine for the intrepid traveller. ‘Standard Edition’ published in July. ‘Special Edition’ published in December.

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Volume 3, Issue 2 December 2015 212 pages

Volume 3, Issue 1 July 2015 196 pages

Volume 2, Issue 2 December 2014 232 pages

Volume 1, Issue 1 July 2013 176 pages

Volume 1, Issue 2 December 2013 240 pages

Volume 2, Issue 1 July 2014 168 pages

Globerovers · December 2016


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Here is a place

where you will

feel welcome and experience a home away from home. Photos: Hermanus Boutique Guest House

I know I did.”

South Africa’s favourite guest house in Hermanus along the Cape Whale Coast

For reservations, visit: hermanusguesthouse.co.za Tel local: 028 313 1433 Tel Intl: +27 28 313 1433

reservations@hermanusguesthouse.co.za

Follow us: @HermanusGH HermanusGuesthouse

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Globerovers · December 2016


Hermanus @ South Africa’s Cape Whale Coast

Follow Burgundy:

www.burgundyrestaurant.co.za

@BurgundyHer burgundyhermanusrestaurant

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The Globerovers‛ World Globerovers Magazine was created by Peter Steyn, an avid explorer who is constantly in search of the edge of the world. He will always hike the extra mile or ten to get as far off the beaten track as he can. It is his mission to discover and present the most exciting destinations for intrepid travellers. He has visited 116 countries (including territories: Greenland, Hong Kong, and Macau) and is poised to explore Africa in the coming months. Peter’s home base is wherever he lays down his cameras.

Afghanistan Albania Andorra Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahrain Bangladesh Belarus Belgium Belize Bolivia Bosnia-Herzegovina Brazil Brunei Bulgaria Cambodia Canada Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Czech Rep. Denmark Ecuador Egypt 8

Globerovers · December 2016

El Salvador Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Greece Greenland Guatemala Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macau

Malaysia Maldives Malta Mauritius Mexico Moldova Monaco Montenegro Morocco Myanmar / Burma Namibia Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Norway Oman Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Russia San Marino Serbia Singapore

Slovakia Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Sri Lanka Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Thailand Turkey Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican Vietnam Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe 116 and counting...


w o l l o F .. . . s u Don’t hesitate to follow us to some incredible destinations. You will never be sorry you did!

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N O I T E A N SU TI S IS

S E D

HI

T IN

Yemen

Syria

Yemen The Republic of YEMEN

Thula (p.60) Al Mahwit (p.50)

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Shibam (p.74) Kawkaban (p.70) Wadi Dahr (p.80) Sana‛a (p.38)

Globerovers · December 2016

Tarim (p.32) Sayun (p.24) Shibam, Hadhramaut Valley (p.14)


S yria The SYRIAN Arab Republic Aleppo (p.130) Apamea (p.144) Hama (p.116)

Qasr ibn Wardan (p.164) Villages of Sarouj & Twalid Dabaghein (p.152)

Krak des Chevaliers (p.110)

Palmyra (p.100)

Damascus (p.90)

Bosra (p.124)

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Yemen Y

emen, officially known as the Republic of Yemen, is located on the southwestern end of the Arabian Peninsula, south of Saudi Arabia and west of the Sultanate of Oman. It has a long coastline and claims ownership of more than 200 islands. While large parts of Yemen are desert or semi-desert, some mountain peaks rise up to 3,700 m (12,140 ft.).

are the loyal subjects of the former Vice President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who are based in the southern port city of Aden. The Saudi Arabian military has been involved in a brutal aerial campaign to restore the Hadi Government. Throw into this mix the forces of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and we have a complex civil war, only rivalled in complexity by that of the current Syrian Civil War. 

Yemen has long existed at a crossroads of cultures with a history dating back to as early as 5,000 BC. The collection of ancient castles, fortresses and many other signs of early civilisations are all testament to the very rich but tumultuous history of this part of the world. Over the centuries, Yemen and its peoples have lived through several kingdoms, dynasties, the Zaydis and Ottomans, and even the British. The Ottoman Empire lost their grip on Yemen in 1918 and granted it independence, while the Brits left earlier than expected in 1967.

While Yemen is known for its many wars throughout the centuries, there were some peaceful periods at which time tourists were able to travel without too much fear. One of the earliest well-documented intrepid travellers to journey through the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen, was British explorer, photographer, and travel writer Dame Freya Madeline Stark (31 January 1893 – 9 May 1993). Being fluent in several languages, including Arabic, she made her first journey to Yemen’s central Hadhramaut Valley in 1935. She travelled extensively throughout Yemen and penned several books on her experiences, most notably “The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut” (1935), “Seen in the Hadhramaut” (1938), and “A Winter in Arabia” (1940). Read more about Dame Freya on pages 26-27.

Let’s fast forward through the turbulent years of conflict and wars to the 2011 so-called “Yemeni Revolution” (initially named the “Yemeni Uprising”) which was in response to the Arab Spring mass protests around the region. This uprising laid the foundations for the current “Yemeni Civil War” which started in 2015 between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni Government. On the one side are the Houthi forces which moved from the north and captured land towards the central south, including the capital, Sana’a. The Houthis have allied their forces with those of forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. On the other side

The photos presented in this issue of Globerovers Magazine were photographed during March 2007 by Peter Steyn, often under a fair amount of fear and uncertainty in a country where time seems to have stalled some 100 years ago. We first showcase the Hadhramaut Valley in central Yemen, then move to the capital city of Sana’a, and then to the rugged region north and northwest of Sana’a. Yemen

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, the 16th-century sun-dried mud brick city of Shibam (population: 7,000) is also referred to as the “Manhattan of the desert” and “Shibam Hadhramaut” and should not be confused with another town called Shibam directly north of Sana’a.

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Shibam

Hadhramaut Valley, Yemen

Shibam, Hadhramaut Valley

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Shibam Hadhramaut is justifiably described as “the oldest skyscraper city in the world” and “the Manhattan of the desert”. It is one of the oldest examples of city planning based on the principle of vertical construction. The city has some of the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 m (100 ft.) high. They vary from five to eleven storeys high. Shibam is nothing less than an incredible sight. The first known inscription about the city dates from the 3rd century AD, and the city itself has been in existence for about 1,700 years. Most of the approximately 500 buildings that still stand today were built between the 16th and 19th century. In 2008 the city suffered major damages from flooding, which resulted in the collapse of some buildings. An Al Qaeda terrorist attack in 2009 added to the misery when several tourists were killed in a blast. On November 21, 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a blast that caused the historical city serious harm when walls and mud houses were damaged. Walk around inside the old walled city to adore its architecture and meet the fascinating locals. Overlooking the walled city is a high mountain which can be climbed with some great effort, from where the views over the city are stunning.

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Shibam is located in the “Empty Quarter” of the Arabian Peninsula which is considered “empty” because so few humans live here. It contains about half the amount of sand of the Sahara Desert and extends over portions of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. When the wind picks up, it creates massive dust storms across the region.

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Sayun

Hadhramaut Valley, Yemen

Sayun, Hadhramaut Valley

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Dame Freya Stark made her first journey

A Journey in the Hadhramaut” (1935).

to Yemen’s central Hadhramaut Valley in 1934. Her main aim was to trace ancient

Her second visit to the Hadhramaut Val-

frankincense routes and to visit the pre-

ley was in 1937/8, which she described

Islamic ruins of Shabwa.

in her book “Seen in the Hadhramaut” (1938). She so skilfully tells stories about

Dame Freya Madeline Stark (31 January 1893 – 9 May 1993)

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Globerovers · December 2016

She then crossed the desert to the port

her travels through Yemen, her brush

town of Aden at the end of 1934. She gave

with death in the desert, and how she

a very detailed account of these travels in

travelled woman alone with a camel

her book “The Southern Gates of Arabia:

caravan through the desert filled with


Arab men. “A Winter in Arabia” (1940)

maut fashion, but with a touch of Indian

is a continuation of her Yemen and other

slender in their silks.”

travels through the Arabian Peninsula. 

when she was in her 80’s. She had a total fascination with Yemen,

In conjunction with the St. Anthony’s

which is well founded, and so easily rubs

Freya spent time at the Sultan’s Palace

College, Oxford, there was a lovely

off on the reader of her books.

at Seiyun (photo below), Hadhramaut

exhibition of Freya’s stories and her black

Valley, in 1935 about which she wrote

and white photographs inside the Sultan’s

Once you have read Freya’s accounts of

“I climbed many storeys of the palace to

Palace at Seiyun. Freya travelled through

life in Yemen, you will be hooked on

visit the harem, and found the women

Yemen for the last time in the 1940’s

going to see this amazing country for

friendly and gay, dressed in the Hadhra-

before she returned some 40 years later

yourself. Please wait for the war to end!

The Sultan’s Palace towers over the town of Sayun almost like a massive wedding cake! This 90-room palace was originally built as a 19th-century defensive fort, but was converted in the 1920’s into the residential palace for Sultan Al-Katheri. Folklore has it that the Sultan had the architect beheaded so he could not build the same building elsewhere. The palace now serves as a museum which has showcased an exhibition of Freya Stark’s diaries and her black-and-white photographs. Sayun, Hadhramaut Valley

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As you travel around the Hadhramaut Valley watch out for the women herding goats or working in the fields dressed in black abayas and traditional conical straw hats known as madhalla. Sayun, Hadhramaut Valley

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“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” FREYA STARK, 1938 (her comments about Seiyun town)

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Tarim has the highest concentration of descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad anywhere in the world, and is widely acknowledged as the theological, juridical, and academic centre of the Hadhramaut Valley. An interesting feature of Tarim is the flamboyant Al-Kaf Palace, built by Sayed Omar bin Sheikh al-Kaf. This is just one of about thirty mansions that were constructed by wealthy merchant families in Tarim between the 1870s and 1930s. The al-Kaf family, who made much of their fortune in Singapore, was considered the most influential. 32

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Ta r i m

Hadhramaut Valley, Yemen

Al-Kaf Palace

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The old city of Sana’a is ancient. In fact, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world (others being Jericho in Palestine, as well as Damascus and Aleppo in Syria and Arbil in Iraq’s Kurdistan region). Sana’a is believed to have been founded by Shem, the son of Noah and as a result the city has the unlikely nickname of “Sam City.” Bab al-Yaman is the gate leading into the old city which is surrounded by high walls.

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Sana’a

Capital of Yemen

Sana’a, Capital City

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Sana’a, Capital City

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Once you have passed through the 17th-century Bab al-Yaman (“Gate of the Yemeni”), built by the Turks, you are within the old fortified walls where you will come face-to-face with the splendid Yemeni architecture made of baked bricks decorated and waterproofed with lime plaster and treated with slaked lime, oils and fats (referred to as Qadad). Here you will find more than 100 mosques, about 10 hammams (bathhouses) and well over 6,000 houses. The very authentic markets such as the Suq al-Milh (Salt Market) sell anything from food to antiques, jewellery, copper, and frankincense (see photo above). Sana’a, Capital City

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All over Yemen are men stuffing their faces with khat, a slow-growing flowering shrub native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Chewing khat, which contains an amphetamine-like stimulant, has a history as a social custom dating back thousands of years. While it is a controlled substance in most of Europe and North America, it is legal and widely consumed in Yemen. Men like to congregate for hours on end, each with a small plastic bag filled with these green leafy plants, while constantly stuffing leaves into their mouths. 48

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Al Mahwit Western Yemen

Al-Mahwit is situated around a mountain fortress and is quite isolated. The town lies in the centre of some of the most fertile parts of Yemen and the road from Sana’a goes past numerous fruit, coffee, tobacco and khat fields cultivated on large terraces up and around the hills.

Al Mahwit

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Al Mahwit

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Thula

Western Yemen

Dating back to the Himyarite period, which flourished 110 BC to 520 AD, the mountain village of Thula is well preserved and has many traditional houses and mosques.

Thula

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Yemeni weddings are considered to be distinctly social occasions, traditionally featuring singing, lavish banquets, emotional speeches, and firecrackers. Affluent and famous families may invite thousands of people and the ceremonies span several days. Due to rising costs and tough times in Yemen, weddings have been scaled down considerably. However, the street parties of which firecrackers are an integral part remain popular on the groom’s side of the festivities. 

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Kawkaban Western Yemen

About halfway between Al-Mahwit and Sana’a is the mountain village of Kawkaban. The Kawkaban fortified citadel is perched at the edge of Tabal Kawkaban (2,850 m) and served as a mountain fortress for the residents of Shibam located down in the valley. While it has managed to preserve its strength and beauty for 18 centuries, on February 14, 2015 (Yemeni Civil War) it was mostly destroyed by the shelling from missiles coming from the Saudi coalition aircraft. While the village itself is historic and photogenic, the best part of visiting the village is the stunning view over the valley down below, in particular the views over the small town of Shibam.

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Shibam

Western Yemen

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Wadi Dhar Western Yemen

Just about 20 km north of Sana’a, in the Wadi Dhahr Valley, is an iconic symbol of Yemen: the palace of Dar al-Hajar, also known as the Imam’s Rock Palace. What makes this little palace so incredible is that it is perched atop a rock pinnacle and is exemplary of Yemeni architecture. It just seems to grow out of the rocks on which it is constructed. Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din (or Imam Yahya) (18 June 1869 - 17 February 1948) became the Islamic spiritual leader, Imam, of the Zaydis in 1904 and then the Imam of Yemen in 1918. Yahya used the Rock Palace as his summer residence from the time it was built in the 1930s until his assassination with his grandson in 1948. The palace was later restored for visitors and turned into a museum.

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www.islamic-relief.org

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What is Shark Finning? Finning is the process of cutting off the fins of a shark and discarding the body at sea. This wasteful and often cruel practice contradicts all principles of sustainable shark fisheries management and conservation.

Why are Sharks Vulnerable to Exploitation? The life history of sharks is typical of top predators, and completely different to most commercial fish, which mature early and produce vast numbers of tiny eggs. In comparison, most sharks grow slowly, mature late and give birth to a few large pups after a long gestation period. Consequently, shark populations decline rapidly when targeted by fisheries and recover slowly, if at all. Shark populations may continue to decline, potentially to unviable levels with species becoming regionally extinct. There are now 126 species of chondrichthyan fish listed in a Threat category on the IUCN’s Red List, with a further 107 species listed as Near Threatened.

Why Oppose Shark Finning? •

Although some sharks are killed before finning (a live shark represents a danger on board), many are still alive when their fins are cut off, and are thrown back into the sea alive to die.

Finning is hugely wasteful - wet fins typically represent less than 5% of a shark’s body weight and discarded carcasses could provide a valuable protein source, particularly in developing countries.

The environmental impact of removing large numbers of sharks from ocean ecosystems is hugely complex and unpredictable. Most sharks are top predators and scientists believe sharks play a key role in marine ecosystems by keeping their prey populations in check. Removing this control is likely to have a damaging effect on marine ecosystems.

Today many shark populations are experiencing a downward spiral of reduced populations due to increasing fishing pressure and increasing prices. Over the last 15 years some Atlantic shark populations have declined by up to 90%. However due to the covert nature of the fin trade fins originating from illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fisheries means that we have likely underestimated the effect on global shark populations.

Finning Facts •

Hong Kong is the world’s shark fin trading centre, accounting for 50-80% of fins traded worldwide. Currently the EU supplies 27% of all fins imported into Hong Kong.

Sharks’ life history makes them vulnerable to exploitation – for example, Basking Sharks take 15-20 years to mature, have a 2-3 year gestation period and produce only 4–6 pups.

Wet fins typically represent < 5% of a shark’s body weight.

Some Atlantic shark populations have declined by up to 90% in the last 15 years.

Sets of fins can sell for more than US$700/kg, with Hammerhead Shark fins among the most valuable by weight.

A single Whale Shark pectoral fin can sell for up to US$15,000.

Global trade in shark fins is increasing, and the market for shark fin soup is estimated to be growing by 5% per year.

The EU’s fin to carcass ratio is among the weakest in the world.

A third of European sharks, and a total of 126 species of chondrichthyan fish are listed under a Threat category on the IUCN Red List, with a further 107 species Near Threatened.

Find out more at www.sharktrust.org/finning SOURCE: http://www.stopsharkfinning.net/docs/StopSharkFinningCampaignFactsheet.pdf 87


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S

Syria

yria has a rich history that goes back approximately 10,000 years to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. The country is dotted with remnants from the Middle Ages and the Ottoman eras. Syria is also known for its incredible landscapes, colourful traditions, and it’s friendly and beautiful people. 

The Old Testament in the Christian Bible refers to the city of Tadmor. Palmyra (the Greek name for the city) is a translation of its original Aramaic name, Tadmor. In the book of 1 Kings 9, the Bible refers to “Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land of Judah” as “a storage city” of King Solomon. In 2 Chronicles 8, Ezra wrote that King Solomon “also built Tadmor in the desert”.

Sadly, since the start of the Syrian Civil War in early 2011, the country and its people have been suffering immensely. Since the Salafi jihadi extremist militant group known as “The Islamic State” (also referred to as IS, ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh), entered the war, the lives of the Syrian people as well as their cultural treasures have been much destroyed.

In May 2015, Daesh, the Islamic Salafi jihadis (ISIS), removed or destroyed many artefacts of the Palmyra museum. Since then they have blown up several of the well-preserved ruins including the 2nd century AD Temple of Ba’alshamin, the 32 AD Temple of Bel, and some of the funerary towers in the Valley of the Tombs.

It is difficult to say where the highlight of Syria is. Some would say it is (or rather was), the historical city of Aleppo and the famous, large medieval fortified palace (the citadel) and the ancient Al-Madina Souq (Aleppo’s Great Bazaar). Others would say the highlight of Syria is the Al-Hamidiyah Souq of Damascus which has fortunately, to date, been spared from too much damage.

In southern Syria lies the ancient Roman theatre in the town of Bosra which was also damaged during the current Civil War. One of the best preserved architectural wonders, the medieval Crusader Castle of Krak des Chevaliers, has also been partially damaged.

Unquestionably a historical highlight is Palmyra, the ancient Greco-Roman city located in the desert to the northeast of Damascus. Once known as the “Bride of the desert”, the city was a vital stopover for caravans crossing the Syrian Desert. Palmyra was first mentioned in the 2nd millennium BC and has been exceptionally well preserved over the centuries. It was dedicated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, but in 2013 it was placed on UNESCO’s Endangered list.

On the right bank of the Orontes River, are the remnants of the ancient city of Apamea, built by the Seleucid kings who ruled between 312 BC to 63 BC. Also along this river lies the town of Hama, known for its wood-on-wood screeching norias or “wheels of pots” which were used for irrigation. For a delightful experience with traditional people living in “beehive houses”, visit the villages of Sarouj and Twalid Dabaghein. The photos in this section were captured during April and May of 2007 when travel in Syria was still quite safe. Lucky are those of us who experienced Syria before the war. Syria

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The Umayyad Mosque (also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus) is one of the largest, oldest, and most holy mosques in the world. Construction was completed early in the 8th century on a site that has been considered sacred for at least 3,000 years. Earlier, a Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist, occupied the site. In a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque is the tomb of the Ayyubid sultan, Saladin. A shrine in the mosque is believed to contain the head of John the Baptist, a prophet honoured by both Christians and Muslims. The mosque welcomes non-Muslim visitors and photography is allowed as long it is fairly discreet and respectful to the worshippers.

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Damascus

Capital City, Syria

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The Umayyad Mosque, Damascus

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The Umayyad Mosque, Damascus Damascus

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The Old City of Damascus

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Al-Hamidiyah Souq, Damascus

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Located in the desert to the northeast of Damascus, the ancient Greco-Roman city of Palmyra is one of the greatest treasures of Syria and one of the best-preserved examples of architecture from the period prior to the Middle Ages. The great sanctuary of the Palmyrene gods (generally known as the Temple of Bel), was consecrated in 32 AD to the Semitic god Bel and formed the centre of religious life in Palmyra. The temple was totally destroyed with explosives (except for the arched main entrance) by Daesh (ISIS) jihadis in August 2015.

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Palmyra Syria

The Temple of Bel

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The Arab Fortress of Qalaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;At Ibn Maan (also known as Fakhr-al-Din al-Maâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ani Castle and Tadmur Castle) on the hill was built by the Mamluks -- the Muslim rulers of slave origin, during the 13th century.

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The Arch of Triumph (Monumental Arch) was blown up by Daesh (ISIS) in October 2015. Palmyra

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The Temple of Bel was blown up by Daesh (ISIS) during July to August 2015.

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The Temple of Baâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;alshamin was blown up by Daesh (ISIS) during July to August 2015.

The Tetrapylon was built in the 2nd century. Tetrapylons were monuments of cubic shape with a gate on each of the four sides. The Romans typically placed them at crossroads or intersections of main streets.

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The Valley of the Tombs contains a series of funerary towers of various sizes. In August 2015 Daesh (ISIS) blew up the Tower of Elahbel as well as two other funerary towers.

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Krak des Chevaliers Syria

The Knights Hospitallers rebuilt the medieval Crusader Castle of Krak des Chevaliers from an older ruin in the 1140â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and they finished their construction by 1170. It was extended in the 13th century and has since served many purposes, including as housing for a garrison of around 2,000 soldiers during its peak in the 13th century. The final residents, about 500 people, were moved out in 1933. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006 but has been partially damaged during the current Syrian Civil War.

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The interior of Krak des Chevaliers

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Hama is known for its norias or “wheels of pots” along the Orontes River which was part of an ancient irrigation system. They are no longer in use for irrigation, but they keep turning 24/7 emitting a lovely wood-on-wood screech.

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Hama

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One of the four Norias of Bechriyyat.

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The Al Kaylaniyya, As Sahuniyya, and Al Jabariyya Norias.

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One of the four Norias of Bechriyyat.

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The ancient Roman theatre in the town of Bosra was constructed around the second half of the 2nd century AD. Originally built outside the walls of the ancient city, it was later encircled by a fortress built during the AyyĹŤbid dynasty to protect it. The theatre seats about 15,000 people and is built of black basalt volcanic rock. Being one of the best preserved and largest theatres of the Ancient Roman civilisation, it was, quite visibly, partly restored between 1947 and 1970. The theatre was partially damaged during the current Syrian Civil War. 124

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Bosra Syria

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Bab al-Qandil (Gate of the Lantern) is a Roman triumphal arch near the Bosra Roman theatre.

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The Nymphaeum near the Bosra Roman theatre.

The Colonnaded Street (Cardo Maximus) near the Bosra Roman theatre. Bosra

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Aleppo Syria

The Citadel of Aleppo is a large medieval fortified palace built between the 3rd millennium BC and the 13th century AD. Much of the current structures date from the Ayyubid period (1171 to 1260). Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, the Citadel has received significant damage in the Syrian Civil War. During mid July 2015, a tunnel underneath the Citadel was blown up destroying a large part of the wall. 

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The St. Elias Maronite Cathedral is located in Aleppoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Christian quarter of Djeideh on al-Farhat square. It was built in 1873 and comprehensively renovated in 1914. It received minor damage during the events of the Battle of Aleppo during August 2012. It is still a very active church and in 2016 it held its first Christmas service in four years.

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Aleppoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clock tower of Bab al-Faraj Square was built between 1898 and 1899 under the supervision of an Austrian architect.

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The 45-meter high minaret of the Umayyad mosque was built in 1090 but on 24 April 2013 it was reduced to rubble during the Syrian Civil War.

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Aleppoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Great Bazar - the Al-Madina Souq, built in the 14th century and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, has received significant damage since September 2012. Several sections have been totally destroyed by explosions or fire.

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Apamea Syria

Located northwest of Hama, overlooking the Ghab Valley, Apamea was founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Greatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s generals, in about 300 BC. In 64 BC, the city became part of the Roman Empire at which time most of the current structures were built. Some of the current colonnades were built during the Byzantine period. Apamea

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The main street, known to the Romans as Cardo Maximus, is 185 m long and 87 m wide. The city had one of the largest theatres in the Roman world, but currently its best attraction is its monumental colonnade.

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About 70 km northeast of Hama are the villages of Sarouj and Twalid Dabaghein - best known for their “beehive houses”. These mud brick houses were built to keep the inhabitants cool during the scorching summers, while keeping them well protected against the bitterly cold winters in this part of the world. Not many of these huts are still standing. New buildings are now typical square cement structures.

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Village of Twalid Dabaghein

Syria

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Village of Sarouj Syria

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Dating back to the 6th century, Qasr ibn Wardan is a collection of a palace, a church, and barracks located in the Syrian desert about 60 km northeast of Hama.

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Qasr ibn Wardan Syria

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Qasr ibn Wardan was originally built to be a military defence line against the Sassanid Persians who ruled the vast region from 224 AD to 651 AD. Not much remains today, except for the façade (with bands of basalt black and yellow brick) of the palace. It was recently vandalised and plundered!

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In a future issue... Morocco - off the beaten path

We leave the madness of the snake charmers and Gnawa musicians of the old city of Marrakech and head over the Atlas Mountains to the peace and quiet of the fortified city of Aït Benhaddou, then further south to the secluded Oasis of Fint. Heading east we will explore the massive cliffs of Todra Dadès then head north to the remote mountain scenery south of Aqoudal. We return in a southwest direction to the beautiful Dadès Gorges with its scary hairpin bends in the winding mountain roads. We will also visit some other exciting places such as Chefchaouen and Safi.

Georgia of the south Caucasus

Bordered by the Black Sea, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey, Georgia declared independence from the USSR in April 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tblisi, the capital, is vibrant now after years of recovering from Soviet abuse. Nearby is Mtskheta which is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. On the mountainous border with Russia lies the remote Tsminda Sameba Church in the village of Kazbegi.

Cool times in Lapland

We are in the mood for a winter wonderland so we will explore the arctic regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland - referred to as Lapland. Our six husky dogs will take us sledding up to just about 1,000 km from the North Pole on the secluded Svalbard Islands where about 3,000 polar bears are roaming. In Sweden we will visit the famous Ice Hotel, and then the Snow Castle in the snowy town of Kemi in northern Finland. We will also travel to Norway’s remote and picturesque Lofoten Islands.

Europe’s smallest countries

Europe’s smallest independent nations are most likely the least touristy destinations in Europe. Nevertheless, they certainly have no shortage of excitement for the intrepid traveller. We will visit the seven smallest European nations: Luxembourg, Andorra, Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, and the smallest of them all, The Vatican City. In a future issue of Globerovers Magazine we trust to round out the Top 10 by adding Montenegro, Kosovo, and Cyprus. Stay tuned!

Belarus

The Republic of Belarus is one of the few truly communist era dictatorships still in existence. President Aleksandr Lukashenko has been in office since 20 July 1994, and he is unlikely to relinquish power any time soon. Travelling around the country you may likely be followed by one of the few intelligence agencies that kept the Russian name “KGB” after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We will visit the capital Minsk, and other towns such as Grodno, Nesvizh and the Mirsky Castle in Mir.

Portugal’s Azores Islands

Officially called the Autonomous Region of the Azores, the Azores Islands is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km west of Lisbon on continental Portugal. We will rent a car and drive around the main island of São Miguel to exciting places such as the crystal clear lakes of Lagoa do Fogo and Lagoa das Furnas. Furnas Volcano is the area where you will locate the hot springs area with puffing yellow sulphur vents.

Monkey festival among the ancient temple ruins

Thailand’s town of Lopburi is about 150 km north of Bangkok and is known for its annual Monkey Festival among the ancient temple ruins which date back hundreds of years. Once a year, around November, the locals offer their special edible gifts to the resident troop of Macaque monkeys who have been living in the Phra Prang Sam Yod temple for generations. Large tables are set up with fruits, veggies, cakes, snacks, and even eggs and bottles of soda! A monkey feast not to be missed.

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e In th e u s s i t nex

MOROCCO

Off the beaten path

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Magazine

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Globerovers Magazine, Dec 2016