Shibam, Yemen

Anyone stumbling unexpectedly on Shibam, glimmering in the sun, might think they were seeing a mirage. Set in the Valley of Hadhramaut this city of skyscrapers, known as the Manhattan of the Desert, has stood here for around 2,000 years, although most of the buildings date from the 16th century. The narrow streets are lined by six-story, mud-built houses embellished with finely engraved wooden doors and latticed windows. Although it is UNESCO-protected, this is not a museum but a living city, home to around 7,000 people, whose families have lived here for generations.

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