Aden: The First Hundred Years, 1839 to 1939

Since the end of the Second World War, writes J. Garston, there has been an enormous increase in Aden’s importance, both commercial and strategic.

“‘The newcomer to Aden,’ says an official pamphlet, ‘this famous fortress and port presents rather a forbidding aspect.’ This is, I think, an understatement,” writes James Morris.1 “At first sight Aden strikes most newcomers as unmistakably the most repellent city they have ever set eyes on.”

It would unfortunately be difficult to refute this statement, since neither nature nor man has done much to beautify Aden; it is one of those places more familiar from the seaward than the landward side, and the only inducement to land there at all arises from the fact that it has always been a duty-free port.

The climate is unpleasant, dust storms are frequent, the sea is full of sharks and sting-rays, and the only object of interest used to be a so-called mermaid which turned out on closer inspection to be a badly-stuffed dugong of repulsive appearance.

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