Ruins of Old Ma’rib

Capital of the ancient kingdom of Saba which some scholars believe to be the ancient Sheba of biblical fame

Ma’rib, Yemen

Coordinates: 15.416667, 45.350000

Nearby Places

Ma’rib is the capital city of Ma’rib Governorate, Yemen. It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Saba which some scholars believe to be the ancient Sheba of biblical fame. It is located approximately 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of Yemen’s modern capital, Sana’a. It is in the region of the Sarawat Mountains. It has a current population of 16,794.


The Sabaean kingdom was based around Ma’rib, with territory in northern Yemen. The Sabaean kings made their capital at Ma’rib. They built great irrigation works such as the Ma’rib Dam, whose ruins are still visible. The Marib Dam supported a flourishing culture for more than a thousand years.

Great Architectural works

Along with Ma’rib Dam. They also built castles and temples in the area, notably Awwam and Barran, respectively. Saba was known for dealing in the lucrative frankincense and myrrh trade. They were a seafaring people and were known to have influence and a population in the Northeast African kingdom of Dʿmt, across the Red Sea in Eritrea and Abyssinia, the only other source of both frankincense and myrrh.

In 25 BC, Aelius Gallus of Rome led an expedition to Ma’rib, laying siege to the city. He suffered significant losses and was forced to retreat to Egypt.

20th century

The site of ancient Ma’rib was largely abandoned during the 20th century. Although a small village remains, the multi-story mud-brick buildings of the historic city are mostly in ruins. The modern city of Ma’rib is located about 3.5 kilometres north of the centre of the ancient city.

Yemeni Civil War

During the Yemeni Civil War (2015–present), Ma’rib and the surrounding Ma’rib Governorate came under attack by the Houthis movement rebelling against the government of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The tribes of Ma’rib repelled the Houthis with help from the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen.