Settled originally by immigrant fishermen, Al-Hudayda later became known for two things: the export of coffee (from the 17th century) and the export of pearls. But it wasn’t until the Ottomans were looking for a safe port in the southern Red Sea that Al-Hudayda was really developed. The city was largely destroyed during WWI and rebuilding didn’t commence with any passion until after the 1994 civil war. Since then the city has boomed and visitors will notice a decidedly more upbeat air to Al-Hudayda than to Aden. Today the town is the fourth largest in Yemen, but the centre has managed to retain a quiet small-town atmosphere.