The surrounding mountains are home to the famous Mocha Arabica coffee bean and shipped throughout the world from the Tihamah port of Mokha. Caffea Arabica is a coffee bean plant that originated in the Ethiopian highlands and may be the original cultivated crop. It is not known when the coffee bean plant was introduced to Tihamah but the first historical record of a coffee beverage is from a Sufi religious ceremony in southern Yemen. Ships from India and Africa frequented the Tihamah port of Mocha and Yemenis from Tihamah could be found in cosmopolitan cities throughout India, Africa and Arabia. Marco Polo was said to have "discovered" coffee from a Yemenite vendor in Beirut.
Connections to the Horn of Africa are very evident in the Tihamah. Tukul style huts, identical to the thatched huts of the Ethiopian highlands, are still found here. A site survey of human occupation for this region was completed in 2008 by a coalition of Yemeni Governmental agencies. The survey documented a large number of sites dating to the early holocene containing a significant amount of obsidian tools especially geometric microliths. According to Michael Petraglia in The Evolution of Human Populations in Arabia "This microlith assembly can be traced to contemporaneous sites across the Red Sea on Horn of Africa coastal sites". It has not been entirely decided which side of the Red Sea (African or Asian) the Sabaean language originated. However, the Arabic dialect of Tihamah is thought to be the most closely related to the ancient high civilization of Saba.
Tihamah is a semitic word that was probably built from an African root. "The Chadic (a)m(a) or simply *am used as an affix means water. In many Semetic languages, it is also an indication of plurality." (Reseau Mega-Tchad). Perhaps the dual meaning of (a)m(a) is indicative of the understanding that water comes both from above and below. Budge translates the Egyptian word tehem as water. The Akkadian tiham(at) means ocean. Yam is the South Semetic word for sea and appears to include the Chadic *am for water. This word may also reflect the two boundaries of the Red Sea. Yom is the duration of daylight between the morning star and evening star and seems to incorporate the concept of plurality. The lowland plain of the Tihamah does indeed lie parallel to and adjoins the Red Sea. Perhaps this is the etymology of Tihamah.
Another geographical feature that runs parallel to the Tihamah is a fracture zone trough created by the spreading of seafloor plates. The flat plain of the Tihamah extends to the edge of this chasm but with a shallow reef border. This coral reef is interrupted by three sharms each corresponding to an upland wadi. A sharm is natural sand beach that extends seaward in an upside down "V" shape. In other words, the sandy bottom becomes more narrow closer to dry land. However, the sharm does not extend into the chasm.
The Tihamah trough is part of the most prominent topographic feature on the planet - the Mid Oceanic Ridge. Plate tectonics or continental drift occurs at mid ocean ridges where new oceanic crust is formed through volcanic activity and then moves away from the ridge. An immense submarine trough and mountain chain system winds it way around the globe like a seam on a baseball. Though mostly hidden beneath the waters of the world's oceans, the mid-oceanic ridge is deeper than the Grand Canyon. The Afar Triangle is the youngest fracture zone on the planet and the only one visible above water. It occurs at the junction of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Tihamah trough.
Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face
of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
In this verse the word used for deep is tehom. Biblical scholars and linguists unanimously agree that tehom and Tihamha are cognates. Both are derived from a common stem. It is plausible to conclude that the author of Genesis was aware of the Tihamah trough and was absolutely correct in his/her assessment. The earth is continuously being re-created from exactly this location! Another amazing topographical description is without form and void or tohu wabohu. Rabbi Akiva describes tohu as a green line that encompasses the earth. The Mid Oceanic Ridge does, indeed, encircle the earth.
Psalm 74:13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength; thou
brakest the heads of the tanniyn in the waters.
Many of the earth's largest sea creatures travel the deep trough of the Mid Oceanic Ridge. Although the Red Sea is very narrow, its deep trough is connected to the depths of the world's oceans. Many deep-sea creatures can be found in the Red Sea. Whale sharks are often encountered by scuba divers. Even snorklers confined to the shallow reef can peer over the edge of the chasm and watch in amazement as the leviathan appears from the bottomless deep. The water is crystal-clear which enables the brave to track a tiny undulating fish from the deep as it comes into sight. It swims up and up... looming larger as it comes closer. Bigger and bigger it grows until the realization dawns that it is ENORMOUS! Even though the throat of a whale shark is only seven inches wide, the mouth looks entirely capable of swallowing a wayward prophet whole if he should be thrown off a ship.