SANAA, Dec. 15 (Saba) – Aden is a port city and , located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea, some 170 km east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000 people. Aden’s natural harbour lies in the crater of a dormant volcano.
Aden has its earliest recorded mention in the old Testament book of Ezekiel, where it is named alongside Canneh as one of the places with which Tyre had trading connections, Canneh and Aden were the two principal termini of the spice road of western Arabia, which was in use for about a millennium until the 3rd century AD, later, Aden continued to function as a trading centre under Yemeni, Ethiopian, or Arab control.
Aden soon became an important transit port and coaling station for trade between British India and the Far East, and Europe. The commercial and strategic importance of Aden increased considerably when the Suez Canal opened in 1869. From then and until the 1960s, the Port of Aden was to be one of the busiest ship-bunkering, duty-free shopping, and trading ports in the world.
The town of Aden was tied much more closely into the fabric of the British Empire and developed more rapidly than its surrounding hinterland.
Education was provided for all children, both boys and girls, until at least intermediate level. Higher education was available on a selective basis through scholarships to study abroad. Primary and Intermediate education was conducted in Arabic while Secondary and independent schools conducted their lessons in Arabic, English, Urdu, Hebrew and Gujarati. There were also Quranic schools for both boys and girls, but these were unrecognized.
In the 16th century the Turks established themselves as rulers there, British interest in Aden as a strategic base dates from Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt, a conquest that was regarded as a menace to Britain’s communications with India, about 1800 the British established a garrison at Aden, and in 1802 they signed a treaty with the harbour’s ruler, the sultan of Laḥij.
When steam navigation was introduced some years later, it became necessary to have a coaling station on the Red Sea route to India. Aden, which the British had captured in 1839 from the sultan, was chosen as the most suitable location and later became so heavily used as a coal-bunkering facility that it was nicknamed the “Coalhole of the East.” Certain mainland areas were purchased by the British between 1868 and 1888, and in 1937 Aden became a British crown colony.
In 1953 an oil refinery was built at Little Aden, on the western side of the bay.
In January 1963, in response to growing nationalist unrest in the region, the British persuaded the sheikhdoms of the Aden Protectorates to merge with the Colony of Aden and form the Federation of South Arabia (FSA). These surrounding territories had always been semi-independent, but the British were able to influence their external relations and establish local garrisons in return for military protection.
In 1964, continuing to reduce its imperial commitments, the British Government announced that independence would be granted to the newly formed FSA by 1968, however, some British forces would stay on in Aden.
After 1937, the economy of Aden continued to be largely dependent on the city’s role as an entrepôt for East-West trade, during the course of 1955, 5239 vessels called at Aden, making its harbour the second busiest in the world after New York. However, tourism declined over the last years of the Colony with the number of tourists landing dropping by 37% from 204,000 in 1952 to 128,420 in 1966.
At the end of British rule in 1967, the main revenues of the Colony were the Port Trust with an annual gross revenue of £1.75 million (2014 prices: £28.4 million) and the British Petroleum refinery which made direct payments to the Aden Government of £1.135 million (2014 prices: £18.4 million).
Trouble then developed in the mountainous Radfan region, where dissident local tribesmen raided the road connecting Aden with the town of Dhala near the Yemen border. In January 1964, three Federation Regular Army (FRA) battalions, with British air support, restored order, but when they withdrew, trouble flared up again, with the rebels receiving NLF support.
On 29 April the authorities mounted a second expedition, this time with British Army soldiers, together with two FRA battalions they advanced rapidly through difficult terrain, capturing the ridges and hills that dominated the tribal areas, by 26 May 1964 they had taken the main rebel stronghold in the Wadi Dhubsan and suppressed the tribal revolt.
In 1966 the British Government announced that all British forces would be withdrawn immediately on independence. Few locals in Aden believed that the existing FSA government would survive without British support and were therefore wary of being seen to support it.
As the NLF escalated their attacks, a second nationalist group, the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY), also began terrorist activities against the security forces.
The contemporary city of Aden consists of three sections: Crater, the old commercial quarter; Al-Tawāhī, the business section, the native harbour area, Its economy is based almost entirely on its functions as a commercial centre for nearby states and as a refueling stop for ships; the latter activity declined considerably during the closure of the Suez Canal (1967–75). The city has some small industries, including light manufacturing, evaporation of seawater to obtain marine salt, and boatbuilding, Aden was a free port, with no customs duties, until 1970, when duties were imposed. There is an international airport at Khawr Maksar, a former Royal Air Force (RAF) base just north of Aden, the University of Aden was opened in 1970.
Aden became partially self-governing in 1962 and was incorporated in the Federation of South Arabia (comprising the former Aden Protectorate territories) in 1963, when the federation was promised independence from Britain by 1968, however, Aden became the focus of a struggle between two rival nationalist organizations, the Egyptian-supported Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen and the Marxist-oriented National Liberation Front , for eventual control of the country, It was as a part of the NLF-ruled People’s Republic of Southern Yemen that Aden achieved its independence on Nov. 30, 1967, and became the national capital in 1968 of what was known as South Yemen, or Yemen (Aden).
In 1990 North Yemen and South Yemen merged into the single country of Yemen, and Sanaa became the national capital of unified Yemen.
Written by Mona Zaid
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