Yemen: Aden's Big Ben 'dwarfed' by chaotic building boom

Aden's "Big Ben" tower Aden's Big Ben dates from 1890

Residents in the Yemeni port city of Aden are alarmed at what they say is a threat to one of the city's much-loved landmarks - a British, colonial-era clock tower dubbed Big Ben apparently modelled on its London counterpart.

Locals in the neighbourhood of Tawahi are pleading with the city council, urging them to address uncontrolled development around the tower, the Yemeni channel Al-Sahat TV reports. They fear the landmark - on a hill overlooking the port - will be "buried by chaotic building" and tourists won't be able to find the "London Big Ben", as the presenter put it.

Only two years ago the clock was put back into use after a quarter of a century of silence. It was built by a British company in 1890, during the colonial era, and was christened the Arab Big Ben or Big Ben of the East.

But it fell into disuse after Aden joined newly independent Yemen in 1960, and again in 1983, before being restored in 2012 to locals' delight. "When the clock stopped working, people were at a loss," Tawahi resident Hussein Omar told the Al-Shorfa daily. Its return "symbolises a greeting to a new future for Aden, just as it greeted visiting ships to the historic port of Aden," he says.

Skyline of Aden How Aden looked during British colonial rule

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