SANAA – Hotels in Sanaa are cashing in on demand for domestic tourism in war-torn Yemen by building small cabin rooms, known as tairamana, on their roofs offering relaxation and views of the ancient city.
Around a dozen of these spaces now perch on the flat roof of the Pearl of Hadda hotel in Sanaa. The rooms are decked out with wall-to-wall soft seating, drapes and low tables for snacks.
At night, they glow with neon lights.
Men like Abdul Muttalib Hashem, 27, hang out together and put the world to rights while smoking tobacco pipes and chewing qat, a green leaf which acts as a mild stimulant.
“Because of the difficulty of travelling to coastal spots like Aden and Hodeidah, we have found the best place to hang out is here in Sanaa, in the hotel’s tairamana,” he said.
Tairamana traditionally have been built as a single room, offering escape on top of the towering red brick and mud houses that characterise the UNESCO-listed Old City of Sanaa.
Since Yemen’s long war has plunged most of the country into hunger and cut transport routes, tairamana on top of hotels are becoming popular social gathering spaces.
“They bring the social fabric together,” said Mohsen al-Humayqani, a customer at the Boudel hotel. “It is a public space for all, to exchange culture, views, to chat on all life’s topics.”
Single women do not gather there like the men.
The rooms are used for graduation parties, for elders to resolve disputes and all sorts of meetings, said the owner of the Rose Holiday Inn hotel, Muhamad al-Dahifi.