The birthplace of some of the world’s oldest cities and one of the first places on Earth to cultivate coffee, the country of Yemen enjoys a strategic position on the Arabian Peninsula that has allowed it to flourish for millennia. Its vast stretches of lush, green valleys ensured its ancient peoples developed prosperous cultures. Over 3,000 years ago, camel caravans carried precious spices and aromatic frankincense from the shores of Yemen to Egypt and Greece, and its mighty kingdoms built vast cities.
Yemen has a long and ancient history of rule by a series of kingdoms, the greatest of which was established by the Sabaeans in Ma’rib, often referred to as the Kingdom of Sheba. Its wealth, art and architectural feats endured for over 15 centuries of rule before succumbing to its successors, the Himyarites. After 600 C.E., caliphates arose under the influence of Islam, which was spreading throughout the peninsula. As the foremost civilization in the area at that time, Yemen’s influence extended north to Syria and west into Africa.
Yemen continued to act as a crossroads of trade during successive dynasties that left a legacy of stunningly beautiful mosques and palaces. Their wealth came from Yemen’s natural agricultural abundance and the conveying of spices and gold from India to Africa and Europe. In the 1600s, the Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer Yemen but never fully held it in their grip, fighting countless skirmishes for control. Southern Yemen came under the control of the British in the 1800s, as they coveted the port of Aden for its strategic location. The people of South Yemen began to push the British out in 1937, and the British government formally made a complete withdrawal in 1967.
You can now savor thousands of years of culinary history each time you visit Chicago. With the intricate use of flavorful spices, skillfully prepared meats and traditional flatbreads, Shibam Yemeni Kitchen brings the flavors of this fascinating country and culture alive in each lovingly prepared dish. From traditional, rich breakfast options to desserts sweetened with honey, you’ll sample the same delicious flavors and feel the warm welcome enjoyed by more than 30 centuries of travelers to the country of Yemen.