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Construction Industry, General Corruption, Land & Real Estate, Public Infrastructure, Scandals, State Assets

#Yemen: The story of the curse of corruption and the al-Saleh Mosque

 | 20 November 2011 |

Al-Saleh Mosque in Yemen,

SANA’A: Al-Saleh Mosque was inaugurated in 2008 after several years of construction and several dozens of millions of dollars was immediately called an historical landmark by the President’s loyalists, as they said that its architectural “prouèsses” were a tribute to the president’s greatness.

For others, the Mosque symbolized everything that was twisted, wrong and corrupt in the nation; a Mosque build on stolen lands, by stolen money for the glory of corrupt men.

The Mosque which the government alleged was built on the president’s money, omitted to specify that several prominent businessmen amongst whom Hayel Said, were coerced into funding the project under threats of reprisals and cancellations of licenses or other administrative subtleties.

Built on an area which surpassed 27300 sq meters, al-Saleh Mosque is the grandest building of Yemen, competing in beauty and craftsmanship with al Haram in Mecca.

With its 6 minarets towering the city from their 100 meters, al-Saleh Mosque has become the focus point of the capital, reminder for many of what they’d lost for the president to live his folly.

Beit Zhura

Beit Zuhra, an old family from Sana’a owned until a few years ago a large piece of land on the very spot where President Saleh wanted to build his Mosque.

The President sent his men to approach the family, offering to buy out the lot for a ridiculously low amount of money. Beit Zuhra evidently refused, arguing that their land was worth much more than what the president was offering, adding that since he was so bent on building his Mosque he should be willing to pay a fair price.

Subsequently Beit Zuhra’s eldest son was kidnapped by the government forces and returned to his family 3 months later, a shadow of his former self.

Upon the disappearance of their son, the family desperately went looking for clues, frantically questioning the neighbors and the authorities. A man then showed up on their door step warning them that if they wanted to see their son alive they’d better sign over the deeds of their land to the President.

Beit Zuhra gave up the fight, not willing to risk the life of their beloved son for the sake of a land, however worthy it might be.


As construction started in the site, strange occurrences started to take place, triggering much rumors and whispers of a curse on the mosque.

For each time that a minaret was raised on Beit Zuhra’s stolen land the tower collapsed on itself, burying workers under its rubbles.

The first time, the site manager was blamed as the team of architect accused him of carelessness and poor managing skills as they said he failed to carry out the required security checks.

The second time it happened, constructions workers were at a loss, not understanding why the building kept collapsing.

In Sana’a, people murmured that since the President had dared used Haram money and Haram land to build the “house of God” God himself had put a curse on the building.

After the third attempt failed, the architects decided to change their plans and use the land as a garden and an annex of the Islamic university, where they hoped it would be safe.

To this day, the family has received nor compensation, or apology; only contempt from the authorities as the President and his coterie shamelessly kneeled before God on stolen ground.


This incident was transmitted by the NGO HOOD to OHCHR on the 14th of March 2011 (P. 12)

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Exposing the corruption in Yemen


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