Historic Taif fortresses were built to last

In this photo is one of the fortresses of the village of Maysan in southern Taif, which is built atop a high mountain. (Wikimedia Commons/Fawaz Alsharif)
Updated 01 December 2017
0

Historic Taif fortresses were built to last

JEDDAH: Taif city is rich with antique fortresses and castles that have withstood the test of time over many historical periods. These fortresses and castles, considered very interesting touristic landmarks, have always attracted visitors.

The architecture of these castles and fortresses relied on designs that focused on providing protection from battles, and were also used as control towers, in addition to their strategic importance of being a residential building, making them one of Islamic culture’s best architectural systems.

Saad Al-Joudi, a modern history teacher, told Arab News: “The forts in the south of Taif are known to be the biggest buildings not only for residence. They were built by a group of skilled constructors to protect residents from any interior or exterior assault.”

Al-Joudi also indicated that “the people of Taif built their forts in a special architectural way, benefitting from the richness of the mountain belts in their regions, creating cone-shaped buildings of different scales.”

He added that strong men would push the heavy stones; then the constructors would build the forts using the stones (reaching sometimes 15 meters high). They would use the thick stones first and the less-thick later, as the height increased in order to create a strong and stable defensive base ready to face the enemy.

Mona Osairy, a history scholar, told Arab News that the forts have the capacity to handle the low temperatures in winter and the high heat of summer since the thickness of stones blocks wind, storms, cold temperatures and strong sun rays.

Osairy also said that during wars, forts were used as control towers, stressing that one of the most important architectural designs of the forts is a surveillance chamber on the upper floor, allowing the owner to monitor any possible assault.

She indicated that on the inside of these houses, there is wood paneling that reflects the cultural period, which is something that attracts many European visitors.

Osairy concluded: “What makes Taif stone houses very special is the colored decoration everywhere on the inside and outside of these houses. While men were responsible for the construction, women handled the decoration, and thus the pictures on the forts’ walls reflect the skills of women who expressed themselves by carving in wood.”


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Updated 20 June 2018
0

Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.