There is a tradition in Yemen of spending the afternoons and evenings, at the end of a long, extremely hot desert workday, with family members and friends in a room at the top of the house, one with a lot of windows. During this time Yemenis talk about philosophy and art, play instruments, sing, and, controversially, many chew a leaf called QAT. The most prevalent music at these gatherings takes the form of Arabic lyrical poetry that originated in the 14th century.
After hours of philosophy, poetry and qat, the session usually ends at dusk with a quiet, contemplative hour of personal reflection, known as “the hour of Solomon.” Lights stay low and all are quiet. Those who are religiously observant say their evening prayers. Then, all qat-chewers, still deep in thought about the state of their lives, return to their own homes to sleep well, rise well, make it through another day, and return the next evening to meet their friends.
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