Hadhramaut, Hadhramout or Hadramawt ( _ar. حضرموت [Unicode|Ḥaḍramawt] ) is a historical region of the south Arabian Peninsula along the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, extending eastwards from Yemen (proper) to the Dhofar region of Oman. The name of the region is currently retained in the smaller Hadhramaut Governorate of the Republic of Yemen. The people of Hadhramaut are called "Hadhramis".


The origin of the name is not exactly known. There are various theories. One (Islamic) theory, is that the region is named after a nickname of Amar bin Qahtan (عامر بن قحطان), meaning "death has come" from /Unicode|ḥaḍara/ (Arabic for "has come") and /maut/ ("death"), the reason being that whenever he entered a battle, there are always many people who died.

Another theory is that it is related to Hazarmaveth in Genesis 10:26 and 1 Chronicles 1:20 in the Bible (meaning "court of death", according to various Bible dictionaries). There, Hazarmaveth is the name of a son of Joktan, one of the sons of Shem in the table of the Sons of Noah in Genesis 10 - i.e. the founders of nearby nations including Sheba, also a son of Joktan. As Southern Arabia was and is one of the homelands of the South Semitic language subfamily, a Semitic origin for the name is highly likely. If the name did reflect a biblical- or pre-biblical-era naming convention in the Near East, this would make it ancient indeed, pre-dating both Islam and Greco-Roman civilization.

A third theory is that the name derives from the Greek υδρευματα ("hydreumata"), or enclosed (and often fortified) 'watering stations' at wadis. A "hydreuma" (singular) is a manned and fortified watering hole or way station along a caravan route. Juris Zarins, rediscoverer of the city claimed to be ancient Incense Road trade capital Ubar in Oman, described that site in a "Nova" interview:


Narrowly, Hadhramaut refers to the historical Qu'aiti and Kathiri sultanates, which were British protectorates in the Aden Protectorate overseen by the British Resident at Aden until their abolition upon the independence of South Yemen in 1967. The current governorate of Hadhramaut roughly incorporates the former territory of the two sultanates. It consists of a narrow, arid coastal plain bounded by the steep escarpment of a broad plateau ("al-Jol", averaging 1,370 m [4,500 feet] ), with a very sparse network of deeply sunk wadis (seasonal watercourses). The undefined northern edge of Hadhramaut slopes down to the desert Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia.

In a wider sense, Hadhramaut includes the territory of Mahra to the east all the way to the contemporary border with Oman. This encompasses the current governorates of Hadramaut and Mahra in their entirety as well as parts of the Shabwah Governorate.

The Hadhramis live in densely-built towns centered on traditional watering stations along the wadis. Hadhramis harvest crops of wheat and millet, tend date palm and coconut groves, and grow some coffee. On the plateau, Bedouins tend sheep and goats. Society is still highly tribal, with the old Seyyid aristocracy, descended from Prophet Muhammad, traditionally educated and strict in their Islamic observance and highly respected in religious and secular affairs. Since the early 19th century, large scale Hadhramaut emigration has established sizable Hadhrami minorities in South and South East Asia, namely Hyderabad, Bhatkal, Malabar, Java, Sumatra, Malacca and Singapore. For example, several Indonesian ministers, including former Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas, and former Finance Minister Mari'e Muhammad are of Hadhrami descent, as is the former Prime Minister of East Timor Marí Alkatiri. Hadhramis have also settled along the East African coast, and two former ministers in Kenya, Shariff Nasser and Najib Balala, are of Hadhrami descent.

Modern history of the Wadi Hadhramaut

The Qu'aiti sultans ruled most of Hadramaut, under a loose British protectorate, the Aden Protectorate, from 1882 to 1967, when the Hadhramaut was annexed by South Yemen.

The Qu'aiti dynasty was founded by 'Umar bin Awadh al-Qu’aiti, a Yafa’i tribesman from Southern Arabia, whose wealth and influence as hereditary Jemadar of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s armed forces enabled him to establish the Qu’aiti dynasty in the latter half of the 19th century, winning British recognition of his paramount status in the region, in 1882. The British Government and the traditional and scholarly sultan Ali bin Salah signed a treaty in 1937 appointing the British government as "advisors" in Hadhramaut. The British exiled him to Aden in 1945, but the Protectorate lasted until 1967.

In 1967, the former British Colony of Aden and the former Aden Protectorate including Hadramaut became an independent Communist state, the People's Republic of South Yemen, later the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. South Yemen along with Hadramaut was united with North Yemen in 1990 as the Republic of Yemen. See Yemen for recent history.

The capital and largest city of Hadhramaut is the port Al Mukalla. The population of Yemen is crowding into its Hadramaut cities: Al Mukalla had a 1994 population of 122,400 and a 2003 population of 174,700, while the port city of Ash-Shahir has grown from 48,600 to 69,400 in the same time.

Notable people from Hadhramaut

*Bin Laden family

ee also

*Hadhramaut Governorate
*Hadhrami Arabic
*History of Yemen
*Tarim, Yemen
*Arab Singaporeans

External links

* [http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/yemen.pdf UN map of Yemen showing Hadhramaut (.pdf file)]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ubar/zarins/zarins2.html Nova special on Ubar illustating a "hydreuma".]
* [http://www.hdrmut.net/ Hadhramout Network (شبكة حضرموت).]
* [http://www.hadhramaut.info/ Hadhramaut Official Governorate website (موقع محافظة حضرموت ).]
* [http://www.al-bab.com/bys/books/qaddal.htm Book review of a biography of Qu'aiti sultan Alin din Salah.]
* [http://www.al-bab.com/bys/articles/freitag99.htm Hadhrami migration in the 19th and 20th centuries]
* [http://www.multilingual-matters.net/beb/009/beb0090075.htm The Linguistics of Loanwords in Hadrami Arabic]
* [http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10385.html The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean,] by Engseng Ho, a professor at Harvard. California World History series. A 500-year history of Hadramawt's diaspora, the most comprehensive account to date. Beautiful photos.
* [http://www.brill.nl/m_catalogue_sub6_id2860.htm Hadhrami Traders, Scholars and Statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s-1960s Edited by Ulrike Freitag and William G. Clarence-Smith ]

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