A number of basins are observed to extend inland from the coasts on both sides of the Gulf of Aden. The basins are orientated at approximately right angles to the spreading direction and intersect the coasts at the meeting of sheared and rifted continental margins. They appear to be grabens, one wall of which is continuous with the half graben of the neighbouring rifted margin. It is suggested that these were once parts of a number of discrete rifts arranged en-echelon along a zone of lithospheric weakness during the early opening of the Gulf of Aden, which became redundant when transform faults formed. The proposed development of rifts and transform faults is similar to that of a spreading centre, transform fault, spreading centre pattern developed in the freezing wax model of Oldenburg and Brune (1975). The Gulf of Suez at the northern end of the Red Sea is interpreted in a similar way since it has a number of features in common with the basins in the continents adjacent to the Gulf of Aden.