Holy Ethiopian City Harar Hopes to Become Tourist Hub

I’ve never heard of Harar, Ethiopia, but maybe I should have because it’s the fourth holiest city in Islam, behind Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. More importantly, it’s possibly the birthplace of coffee.

Last year, the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the regional government is hoping to attract hordes of tourists soon. But the town has some work to do; currently, Harar has only a few hotels and suffers chronically from water shortages. To encourage growth, 10-year tax breaks have been offered to anyone who wants to build a tourist facility.

The move into the future is an ambitious one, but it sounds as if there’s plenty to delight tourists. Besides a 13-foot wall surrounding serpentine alleys and ancient mosques, the Associated Press lists as an attraction an old man who hand-feeds 50 hyenas every night, (check it out!) “treating them like obedient kittens.”

All the more enjoyable with a cup of fine coffee in my hands, of course.

[via Msnbc]