Sunday, May 28, 2023
Yemen travel guide - Travel S helper


travel guide

Yemen, formally known as the Republic of Yemen, is an Arab nation in Western Asia that occupies the Arabian Peninsula’s southernmost tip, South Arabia. Yemen is the peninsula’s second-largest nation, with 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi). The shoreline extends for about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi).

It is bounded to the north by Saudi Arabia, to the west by the Red Sea, to the south by the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, and to the east and northeast by Oman. Although Sana’a is Yemen’s officially declared capital, the city has been under rebel control since February 2015. As a result, Yemen’s capital has been temporarily moved to Aden, a port city on the country’s southern coast. Yemen’s territory consists of around 200 islands, the biggest of which is Socotra.

Yemen was the home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba), a trade state that lasted over a thousand years and likely encompassed portions of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. The area was ruled by the later Jewish-influenced Himyarite Kingdom in 275 AD. Christianity came in the fourth century, when Judaism and local paganism had already established themselves. In the seventh century, Islam expanded rapidly, and Yemenite soldiers played an important role in the early Islamic conquests. Yemen’s administration has long been notoriously tough.

From the ninth through the sixteenth centuries, many dynasties arose, with the Rasulid dynasty being the most powerful and wealthy. In the early twentieth century, the nation was split between the Ottoman and British empires. Before the formation of the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962, the Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was founded in North Yemen after World War I. Until 1967, South Yemen was a British protectorate known as the Aden Protectorate. In 1990, the two Yemeni states merged to create the current country of Yemen.

Yemen is a developing nation and the Middle East’s poorest country. Yemen was characterized as a kleptocracy under President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s reign. Yemen rated 164 out of 182 nations questioned in Transparency International’s 2009 International Corruption Perception Index. In the absence of strong state institutions, Yemen’s elite politics formed a de facto type of collaborative governance, in which conflicting tribal, regional, religious, and political interests agreed to keep each other in check via tacit acceptance of the balance it generated. A power-sharing agreement between three men held the informal political settlement together: president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who controlled the state; Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who controlled the majority of the Republic of Yemen Armed Forces; and Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Ahmar, figurehead of the Islamist Islah party and Saudi Arabia’s chosen broker of transnational patronage payments. The Saudi funds were made to promote the tribes’ independence from the Yemeni government and to provide the Saudi government with a vehicle to weigh in on Yemen’s political decision-making.

Yemen has been in a political crisis since 2011, beginning with public demonstrations over poverty, unemployment, and corruption, as well as President Saleh’s intention to change Yemen’s constitution and remove the presidential term limit, thus making him president for life. President Saleh stepped down, and the office was passed to Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was officially elected president in a one-man election on 21 February 2012. Conflicts between the Houthis and al-Islah, as well as the al-Qaeda insurgency, hampered the transitional process.

The Houthis seized over Sana’a in September 2014, subsequently putting themselves in charge of the government in a coup. Since then, a Saudi-led intervention has taken place, but it has not been able to put an end to the civil conflict.

Flights & Hotels
search and compare

We compare room prices from 120 different hotel booking services (including, Agoda, and others), enabling you to pick the most affordable offers that are not even listed on each service separately.

100% Best Price

The price for one and the same room can differ depending on the website you are using. Price comparison enables finding the best offer. Also, sometimes the same room can have a different availability status in another system.

No charge & No Fees

We don’t charge any commissions or extra fees from our customers and we cooperate only with proven and reliable companies.

Ratings and Reviews

We use TrustYou™, the smart semantic analysis system, to gather reviews from many booking services (including, Agoda, and others), and calculate ratings based on all the reviews available online.

Discounts and Offers

We search for destinations through a large booking services database. This way we find the best discounts and offer them to you.

Yemen - Info Card




Yemeni rial (YER)

Time zone



555,000 km2 (214,000 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Yemen | Introduction

Yemen is a tough nation to navigate, but the rewards for those who persevere are an amazing experience with very warm and open hosts. Yemen, despite its proximity to Saudi Arabia and being on the same peninsula as the United Arab Emirates, is unmistakably distinct.

Yemen is also one of the Middle East’s least developed and poorest nations.


Narrow coastal plain flanked by flat-topped hills and rocky mountains; dissected highland desert plains in the Arabian Peninsula’s desert interior. Yemen’s interior is a hill divided by valleys. Yemen is split into five provinces:

Coastal Plain: The Tihamah coastal plain is a low-lying flat plain with sections of extremely rich soil from the streams that flow into it from the mountains. Tihamah has some of the hottest spots in the planet. The majority of its cities are on the coast, where the salty sea air helps to mitigate the effects of the heat.

Western Highlands: The coastal plain suddenly ends at the western highlands, where monsoon rains from Africa gather power over the Red Sea and clouds coming in get entangled by the jagged peaks of the Western mountains and precipitate all the clouds carry. Some parts of the western highlands, most notably Ibb and Ta’izz, get rainforest-like rainfall, resulting in rich terrain ideal for coffee, qat, wheat, and sorghum cultivation.

Mountains in this area are renowned for their long ascents; most mountains rise 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level to 2,135-3,050 m (7,000-10,000 ft) summits. Among the notable peaks are Jabal Sumarah, Jabal Ba’dan, Jabal Sabir, and Jabal Ad Dukayik, all of which are about 3,000 m (10,000 ft) high.

The Central Highlands are more of a plateau with rolling hills above it since the mountains are less craggy and get less precipitation because the majority of it is dumped into the Western Highlands. Some of the Arabian Peninsula’s tallest mountains may be found here, notably the famous Jabal a Nabi Shu’ayb in the capital Sana’a, which rises 3,660 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level.

Some parts of the central highlands, such as Dhamar, have very rich soil, and the temperature in the central highlands is also severe. Diurnal temperatures are the highest in the world, with daytime highs of about 80°F and nighttime lows of below freezing. Except for the mountains, the majority of the central highlands are over 2,000-2,440 m (7,000-8,000 ft) in elevation.

Central Plateau: A steady decline from the central highlands leads to a 915-1,525 m (3,000-5,000 ft) plateau divided by valleys and wadis, or streams. Although the terrain is not as hard as in the central or western highlands, vegetation is only feasible in valleys or near wadis because they supply a lot of irrigation water from precipitation that occurs only in isolated places.

Flash floods are very frequent. This stretches from Shabwah to Hadhramaut and Al Mahra in Oman, which is also regarded by many Yemenis as part of Greater Yemen, as well as Najran, Jizan, and Asir in Saudi Arabia.

Desert: Rub Al-Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter, is the world’s most dangerous desert, as well as the world’s biggest expanse of sand. It is located in northwestern Yemen, southeastern Saudi Arabia, and northwestern Oman. It gets little rain for years at a time and has little to no vegetation. Temperatures may soar above 61°C (142°F).


According to 2014 estimates, Yemen has a population of 24 million people, with 46 percent of the population under the age of 15 and 2.7 percent above the age of 65. It reached 4.3 million in 1950. The population is expected to grow to about 60 million by 2050. Yemen’s total fertility rate is high, with 4.45 children per woman. It is the world’s 30th highest point. Sana’a’s population has grown quickly, from about 55,000 in 1978 to over 2 million in the early twenty-first century.

Ethnic groups

Yemen’s ethnic groupings are mostly Arab, with Afro-Arabs, South Asians, and Europeans following. When the previous nations of North and South Yemen were formed, the majority of the local minority communities left. Yemen is mostly a tribal culture. There are 400 Zaidi tribes in the country’s northern, mountainous regions. In metropolitan places like as Al-Akhdam, there are also hereditary caste groupings. Yemenis of Persian ancestry are also present. According to Muqaddasi, in the 10th century, Persians made up the majority of Aden’s population.

Yemenite Jews were formerly a significant minority in Yemen, with a unique culture from the rest of the world’s Jewish communities. Following the Jewish exodus from Arab countries and Operation Magic Carpet in the mid-twentieth century, the majority immigrated to Israel. An estimated 100,000 Indians live in the southern portion of the nation, around Aden, Mukalla, Shihr, Lahaj, Mokha, and Hodeidah.

The majority of notable Arab Indonesians, Malaysians, and Singaporeans are Hadhrami people with roots in southern Yemen’s Hadramawt coastal area. In Singapore now, there are about 10,000 Hadramis. The Hadramis spread across Southeast Asia, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

The Maqil were a group of Arab Bedouin tribes from Yemen who moved west via Egypt. Several tribes of Yemeni Arabs migrated south to Mauritania, and by the end of the 17th century, they had taken control of the whole nation. They are also widespread across Morocco, Algeria, and other North African countries.

Yemen is the only country on the Arabian Peninsula that has signed two international treaties regulating refugee protection going back to 1951 and 1967. In 2007, Yemen had a population of about 124,600 refugees and asylum seekers. The majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Yemen were from Somalia (110,600), Iraq (11,000), Ethiopia (2,000), and Syria. Furthermore, more than 334,000 Yemenis have been internally displaced as a result of the war.

The Yemeni diaspora is mostly concentrated in neighboring Saudi Arabia, where between 800,000 and 1 million Yemenis live, and the United Kingdom, where 70,000 to 80,000 Yemenis live.


According to the International Religious Freedom Report, religion in Yemen is mainly divided into two major Islamic religious groups: 60–65 percent of the Muslim population is Sunni, and 35–40 percent is Shia. Sunnis are mostly Shafi’i, although there are also substantial Maliki and Hanbali communities. Shias are mainly Zaidiand have substantial Twelver and Ismaili Shia minority.

Sunnis are mostly found in the south and southeast. The Zaidis are concentrated in the north and northwest, whereas the Ismailis are concentrated in major cities like as Sana’a and Ma’rib. In the bigger cities, there are mixed-race neighborhoods. Non-Muslim Yemenis make up around 1% of the population, and they practice Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or have no religious connection.

The number of Christians in Yemen is estimated to be between 25,000 and 41,000. According to a 2015 research, there are 400 Christians of Muslim origin in the nation.

In Yemen, there are around 50 Jews remaining. In recent years, the Jewish Agency welcomed around 200 Yemenite Jews to Israel.


The official language is Arabic. While many residents may try to converse in other languages with non-Arabic speakers, any tourist will almost definitely require at least some Arabic, especially if going outside of the capital. Even inside Sana’a, multilingual signs, which are ubiquitous across the Middle East, are often missing, with Arabic lettering and numerals predominating. Having said that, Yemenis are extremely receptive to communicating, and hand-waving, making sounds, and smiling may go you a long way, even if not necessarily where you want to go (usually to a qat-chewing session).

Yemenis have a wide range of accents as a result of the country’s historical inaccessibility. It is very uncommon for a tourist to be informed that his or her painstaking efforts at speaking Arabic are “Arabic” rather than “Yemeni” or “Yemeni enough.” The more talkative village youngsters will almost likely appreciate hearing a visitor’s efforts at their language and will express their appreciation by laughing or asking inquiries about the visitor’s country.


Yemen had a GDP (ppp) of US$61.63 billion in 2013, with a per capita income of $2,500. The biggest economic sector (61.4 percent of GDP) is services, followed by the industrial sector (30.9 percent) and agriculture (7.7 percent ). Petroleum production accounts for about 25% of GDP and 63 percent of government income.

Agriculture historically constituted 18–27 percent of GDP, but its allocation started to shift as a result of rural worker emigration and structural changes within the sector. Grain, vegetables, fruits, legumes, qat, coffee, cotton, dairy products, fish, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, camels), and poultry are the main agricultural commodities produced in the country.

The majority of Yemenis work in agriculture. The most prevalent crop is sorghum. Cotton and a variety of fruit plants, the most important of which are mangoes, are also cultivated. The growth of Khat, a mild narcotic plant that produces a stimulant when chewed, is a major issue in Yemen, accounting for up to 40% of the water taken from the Sana’a Basin each year, and this number is increasing. Some agricultural methods are drying out the Sana’a Basin and displacing important crops, resulting in higher food costs. Rising food costs, in turn, drove an extra 6% of the nation into poverty in 2008.] The government and the Dawoodi Bohra community in North Yemen are attempting to replace qat with coffee crops.

Yemen’s industrial sector is focused on crude oil production and refining, food processing, handicrafts, small-scale manufacturing of cotton textiles and leather items, aluminum products, commercial ship maintenance, cement production, and natural gas production. Yemen’s industrial output grew at a 4.8 percent annual pace in 2013. It also has significant proven natural gas reserves. In October 2009, Yemen’s first liquefied natural gas facility started operations.

In 2013, there were 7 million employees in the labor force. Services, industry, construction, and commerce account for less than a quarter of the work force. In 2003, the unemployment rate was at 35%.

Yemen’s exports were $6.694 billion in 2013. Crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, and liquefied natural gas are the major export goods. These goods were mostly sent to China (41%), Thailand (19.2%), India (11.4%), and South Korea (4.4 percent ). Imports totaled $10.97 billion in 2013. Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, animals, and chemicals are the most often imported goods. These goods were mostly imported from the EU (48.8%), the UAE (9.8%), Switzerland (8.8%), China (7.4%), and India (5.8 percent ).

The Yemeni government’s budget in 2013 was $7.769 billion in income and $12.31 billion in expenditures. Taxes and other revenues accounted for about 17.7 percent of GDP, with a budget deficit of 10.3 percent. The national debt was 47.1 percent of GDP. Yemen has about $5.538 billion in foreign currency and gold reserves in 2013. Its consumer price inflation rate was 11.8 percent over the same time. Yemen owed $7.806 billion in foreign debt.

The Soviet Union and China began to offer large-scale support in the mid-1950s. China and the United States, for example, are both participating in the development of Sana’a International Airport. Pre-independence economic activity in the south was largely centered on the port city of Aden. The port’s reliance on seaborne transit commerce deteriorated with the closing of the Suez Canal and Britain’s departure from Aden in 1967.

Since the war’s end, the government has worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to undertake a structural adjustment program. The program’s first phase includes significant financial and monetary changes such as floating the currency, decreasing the budget deficit, and eliminating subsidies. The second phase will focus on structural problems such as civil service reform.

With the assistance of the World Bank and the IMF, as well as foreign funders, Yemen’s government began an economic, financial, and administrative reform program (EFARP) in early 1995. These initiatives had a beneficial effect on Yemen’s economy, resulting in a decrease of the budget deficit to less than 3% of GDP from 1995 to 1999, as well as the repair of macro-financial imbalances. From 1995 to 1997, the non-oil sector’s actual growth rate increased by 5.6 percent.

Entry Requirements For Yemen

Visa & Passport for Yemen

Visa rules vary often, and it is best to contact an embassy to ensure that the necessary paperwork is acquired (it is also a good idea to consult one of the approved tour operators in Sana’a). Visas on arrival are no longer available as of January 2010, and residents of most countries (with the potential exception of Gulf Cooperation Council members) need prior visas. The majority of visas are valid for 30 days from the date of issuance (3 months for European Union, but sometimes it depends on the mood of the official dealing with you). Another option for obtaining a visa is via a licensed tour operator, as they are permitted to submit pre-visa papers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its customers. Such pre-visa document is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance, after which a genuine visa is granted at Sana’a International Airport. Yemeni authorities stopped all visa-on-arrival services at all Yemeni ports on January 21, 2010. This step was done in order to reduce the danger of terrorism in Yemen.

How To Travel To Yemen

Get In - By plane

Emirates Airlines operates daily flights from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Sana’a. Yemen is one hour behind UAE time, thus the trip takes little longer than two hours. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, budget carrier Air Arabia flies from Sharjah (near Dubai) to Sana’a. Yemenia, the national carrier, travels to Sana’a from several Middle Eastern and European cities, including a daily nonstop flight from Cairo. Lufthansa operates three weekly flights from Frankfurt, with a stop in Cairo. The flight time from Cairo to Sana’a is about 3 hours, plus a 1-hour time difference. Turkish Airlines operates four weekly flights from Istanbul to Sana’a. Qatar Air operates daily flights to and from Doha. Royal Jordanian also operates twice-weekly flights from Amman to Sana’a and Aden. Syrian airlines fly to Sana’a as well. Due to the terrorism danger in Yemen, flights to London have been stopped until further notice.

Get In - By car

It is feasible to drive over the Omani-Yemeni border, but the border checkpoints are often difficult to navigate. Crossing from Saudi Arabia with a vehicle is much more difficult, since the rules for bringing a car into Saudi are very complicated.

Get In - By bus

Some buses that go throughout the Arabian Peninsula link to Yemen. The buses are generally air-conditioned and pleasant, but the fleet sometimes includes older buses that may not be particularly comfortable to ride for many hours. It’s worth noting that traveling from Oman may be challenging, particularly if you’re attempting to go to Sana’a. There are buses from Salalah to Sayu’n in Wadi Hadramawt and Mukallah on the Indian Ocean, however visitors (particularly those from non-Arab nations) are not permitted to utilize public transportation on routes connecting Yemen’s east and west: Mukallah – Aden and Say’un – Sana’a. To get from the west to the east of the nation, the visitor must board an aircraft.

How To Travel Around Yemen

Yemen is difficult to navigate since foreign nationals need travel permits and independent travel is prohibited in certain areas. The eastern Mahra area lacks road infrastructure, while the rest of Yemen has hundreds of kilometers of freshly constructed highways. If you are an adventurous tourist, local transportation (taxis, buses, and planes) is ideal for getting about on the cheap. Yemen’s Ministry of Tourism has a website. Be warned that there are numerous unregistered tour operators in Yemen that provide poor quality services, provide irrelevant information, and often fail to provide all paid services. If you go with an unregistered tour operator or service provider, the Ministry of Tourism will be unable to assist you in the event of a problem.

Many visitors prefer a vehicle (ideally 4WD) for excursions outside of the city and may opt to hire a driver via a local travel agency. More daring visitors can definitely take advantage of the local intracity bus service, which is inexpensive, pleasant, and a fantastic way to explore the nation. The buses typically stop every hour or so, making it a slower(er) but far more fascinating way to travel for people looking for an adventure and some pleasant chat. Yemitco is Yemen’s largest corporation, with headquarters in major cities.

Furthermore, any travel outside of the city will require a travel permit (tasriih) from the tourist police, whose station is located 30 meters up the canal from the Arabian Felix Hotel. You’ll need your passport, a list of locations, and an idea of how long you’ll be staying outside of the capital. There are no pictures needed, however carry a photocopy of your visa and the picture page in your passport since the photocopier there often does not function. This takes about 15 minutes. The office is closed from 12 until (say) 14:00. The tasriih is then photocopied and handed over at military checkpoints along the route. This may seem cumbersome, but it is intended to prevent visitors from unintentionally entering regions of tribal strife – and vice versa. Some parts of the nation are off-limits to visit without military protection, while others are completely off-limits. While the idea of keeping educated about local circumstances in your planned locations is overused, it is critical in Yemen, where failing to do so may result in kidnappings or worse. If you travel to major cities in Yemen, such as Aden or Al-Hudaida, no tasriih is required.

Yemen has the typical Middle Eastern shared taxi system. Every city and many villages have at least one shared taxi (bijou, from Peugeot) station from which vehicles go to various locations. Simply ask anybody where you want to go and they will guide you in the direction of a vehicle that will take you there. The driver will not leave until all seats are fully occupied, which means two persons in the passenger seat, four in the center, and three in the rear in a normal Peugeot, which is usually often used for this purpose. You may pay for two seats or the whole row if you wish to travel in luxury. If you’re a woman traveling alone, you may be given two front-row tickets for the price of one, but you’ll almost always be asked to pay for both.

Accommodation & Hotels in Yemen

Outside of the capital and the main cities (Sana’a, Aden, and al-Mukalla), lodging is often simple and of the mattress-on-the-floor type, with communal bathing facilities and WCs. Most bigger communities will have at least one funduq that offers this kind of lodging. The [Moniker of Village] Tourist Hotel is a common name for these establishments. Keep in mind that power supply may be inconsistent, thus hot water cannot always be relied on.

Funduq lodging is not graded on a star system as in other nations, but on a Yemeni “sheet” scale, with “no-sheet” being the most basic and “two-sheet” being the most luxurious. Other hotels, mainly in Sana’a, use a star rating system, most notably the Movenpick, Sheraton, and Hilton. This does not imply that in a “no-sheet” funduq, one will not get a sheet, but in certain cases, bringing one may be beneficial! Most funduqs will provide food, almost always local cuisine, and the better ones will do so in a diwan-style area where you may dine while lounging on cushions. In certain funduqs, supper is followed by a “party” with traditional music and jambiya dance performances, occasionally with audience involvement.

Things To See in Yemen

Babel Yemen (ancient city), Wadi Dhar, Sana’a (Dar al-Hadschar Palace – also known as the rock house). Sana’a is located at a height of approximately 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). The ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a mysterious and beautiful location. One of the world’s oldest cities, the streets are lively and buzzing around gingerbead-like homes many stories high.

Socotra: An beautiful island off the south coast of Yemen, unspoiled by modern civilization and home to numerous rare species and flora. The waters are turquoise blue, and the beaches are white and pristine. One of the most expensive islands in the world, and often characterized as the most alien-looking location on the planet. Its beaches are similar to those in the Caribbean, and its highlands and Yemeni mountains are covered with 300 species that are unique to Socotra. This is a must-see.

Kawkaban: A 3,000-meter-high fortress-city northwest of Sana’a, featuring beautiful ancient structures and artifacts from the 2,000-year-old Himyar civilisation. Himyaric inscriptions may be found, as well as ancient Stars of David from Himyar’s Jewish origins. A beautiful view of a plain studded with ancient mud-brick villages may be seen under the mountain.

Sa’dah: Yemen’s northernmost significant city, with an ancient city built completely of thick mud that maintains the interior temperature warm throughout the harsh winter. Its surrounds are well-known for its delectable grapes, raisins, date palms, and other delicacies.

Al Mahweet: Al Mahweet is a lovely and wonderful village atop a mountain where the lush landscape and excellent architectural examples of Yemen are at their finest. It is located northwest of Sana’a. It is located in the western highlands, where rain may be heavy and clouds can be seen below the mountains throughout the summer.

Bura’: A protected region in Yemen’s Al Hudaydah governorate, this location is a 2,200 m (7,200 foot) mountain covered in natural woods mimicking African rainforests. Bura’ has a diverse range of flora and animals found exclusively in Yemen and its ancient borders (Najran, Jizan, Asir, Dhofar, and ar Rub’ al Khali). It is one of Yemen’s most beautiful locations.

Manakhah: A big ancient town atop a 2,700 m (9,000 ft) high mountain renowned for its daring position and stunning views. This town exemplifies life in medieval Yemen.

Ma’rib: The Sabaean Kingdom’s capital, constructed about 3,000 years ago, with the renowned Ma’rib dam, one of the world’s engineering marvels. The beautiful dam was believed to have helped produce some of the world’s greenest regions thousands of years ago, a concept backed by ancient writings like as the Qur’an. The Queen of Sheba is said to have had her kingdom here, and relics and temples from her rule have been preserved and are currently on display.

Ibb: Yemen’s lush heartland, with an annual rainfall of approximately 1200 mm. It is surrounded by mountains that rise to a height of 10,000 feet or more. The city of Ibb, on the other hand, is located in a valley, yet waterfalls are known to be present and magnificent. Jiblah, a medieval town, is situated near Ibb. With the freshest climate on the whole peninsula, it’s no surprise that it’s known as Yemen’s Green Heart.

Al Khawkhah: In one of the hottest locations on the planet, you need a beach, and Al Khawkhah boasts one of Yemen’s finest. The beach is extensive and backed by plam tree farms and a little charming village. The Red Sea is generally quiet and cold, which is ideal in an area where summer temperatures often exceed 48°C.

Ta’izz: Yemen’s cultural center, as well as the most liberal and friendliest city in the nation. It was Yemen’s capital during the reign of the final Imam and is a historic city. The 3,000 m (10,000 foot) Jabal Sabir, which towers above Ta’izz, is famous across Yemen for its breathtaking climb and view from the summit. This mountain is extremely fruitful, and it is home to tens of thousands of people who live on and around it.

Shibam: Known as the “Manhattan of the Desert,” this town in Wadi Hadhramaut boasts the world’s first skyscrapers. Hundreds of adobe houses varying in height from 5 to 11 storeys are packed into a magnificent walled area. The tops are covered with gypsum, a material prevalent in Yemen. Some of the structures date back more than 700 years.

Tarim and Say’un: These neighboring settlements are nearly completely constructed of adobe. Each town is well-organized and beautiful, with renowned palaces and mosques.

Al Mukalla: The gem of the Arabian Sea, Al Mukalla is maybe Yemen’s most developed metropolis. Beautiful beaches surround it, but the finest in Yemen are said to be at Bir Ali, a 100-kilometer journey that is well worth it.

Hauf National Park is the Arabian Peninsula’s sole natural forest since it is impacted by the periodic monsoon rains that also affect India. Mountains and hills are covered with a crown of green for miles, with wildlife like that of a rain forest; this forest also extends to the Omani side of the border, from Qishn, Yemen to Salalah, Oman.

Things to do in Yemen

It is a tourist destination where, although the accommodations may not be the finest, the country itself contains numerous gems that will appeal to any open-minded visitor. The views are breathtaking, the people are welcoming, their culture is distinct, and their cuisine is delectable. Take excursions into the mountains with a personal driver to witness natural splendor seen nowhere else on the world. See how Yemen played a historical role in surviving even throughout the days of the Sumerians and the Ancient Egyptians, and how no one was able to fully capture Yemen. And appreciate what the country has to offer, such as jewels strewn across the mountains, beautiful beaches, and historical relics from this multifaceted country.

Food & Drinks in Yemen

Food in Yemen

Yemeni cuisine is distinct from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, and it is a true highlight of any visit to the nation, especially when enjoyed with locals (which is an invitation most visitors will receive more often than they might expect).

Salta, a meat-based stew flavored with fenugreek and served towards the conclusion of the main course, is the trademark meal. The flavor may startle novices, but it is one well worth learning.

Yemeni honey is especially well-known across the area, and most sweets will use generous amounts of it. Bint al-sahn, a honey-drenched flat bread dish, is particularly noteworthy. Yemeni raisins are another delicious delicacy worth trying.

The qat leaf, although not technically a “food,” is something else to put in one’s mouth. This is the Yemeni social drug, and nearly everyone chews it after lunch until about dinnertime. The plant is grown all throughout Yemen, and most Yemenis are delighted to give tourists a branch or two. Chewing qat is an art, but the basic concept is to chew the tiny, soft leaves, soft branches (but not hard ones), and build up a big ball of the material in your cheek. The capacity to chew ever-increasing balls of qat is a source of pride among Yemenis, and the sight of men and boys strolling down the street in the afternoon with inflated cheeks is one the visitor will quickly get used to. The precise effects of qat are unknown, although it is thought to be a moderate stimulant. It also has an appetite suppression effect, which may explain why, despite the character of Yemeni food, there are relatively few overweight Yemenis. Another unintended consequence is insomnia.

Drinks in Yemen

Yemen is an officially dry nation; nevertheless, non-Muslims may carry up to two bottles of any alcoholic beverage into the country. These may only be used on private premises, and going outdoors while under the influence is not a good idea.

Many juices and soft drinks are easily accessible, but avoid more scruffy-looking juice stores since they may be utilizing tap water as a basis. With their meals, many Yemenis will drink tea (shay) or coffee (qahwa or bun). Yemeni coffee is much weaker than the robust Turkish coffee found elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula.

It is best to avoid using tap water. This is a very simple task since bottled water – both cold and at room temperature – is widely accessible.

Money & Shopping in Yemen


Yemeni rials (YER) are issued as banknotes in denominations of YER50, YER100, YER200, YER250, YER500, and YER1000, as well as YER10 and YER20 coins.

The rial is a freely convertible currency that fluctuates a lot. In September 2014, €1 equaled YER276.


Almost wherever you go, you can purchase the curved dagger (jambiya) that local men wear. This purchase may be limited to just the dagger and its sheath, but handcrafted belts and silver wallets are also available. When buying a jambiya, be in mind that it is classified as a weapon for customs reasons. Handles were traditionally fashioned of animal horn or even ivory. While it is unlikely that the handles offered today as being fashioned from any of these materials are genuine, a hardwood or amber handle may be a preferable choice. Pendants and brooches in the form of the knife and its sheath are less expensive alternatives.

Necklaces and jewelry are also popular souvenirs, and many of them are made of the semi-precious stones that souvenir vendors claim to be made of. Nonetheless, a good grain of salt is taken while wearing a necklace made of lapis lazuli or another valuable stone.

Bargaining is expected and desirable, even with rural youngsters. If you are traveling with local guides, it is customary for them to ask for the “Yemeni pricing,” however any haggling on the side of the visitor will result in reductions.

Souvenir vendors will be everywhere you see in tourist areas. In certain mountain communities, such as Kawkaban, they use wheelbarrows loaded with trinkets to practically trap visitors. There is an art to politely declining the items on sale, even if the vendor is a little kid or girl in dire need.

Yemen’s rial (riyal) currency is susceptible to severe inflation. As a consequence, many costs, especially those offered to tourists with fair complexion, will be in Euros or US dollars. The vendor will take any of these three currencies, so ask for the price in the currency you are carrying at the moment. Discounts for paying in one currency or the other aren’t significant enough to justify exclusively paying in local currency, but you never know.

Traditions & Customs in Yemen

When exploring Yemen, the following guidelines should always be followed:

  1. This is a Muslim-majority nation. As a result, be cautious about where you aim your camera. There are many excellent picture possibilities around every turn (the question is generally what to leave out of each shot), but always ask first when shooting people. The Arabic phrase “mumkin akhud sura minak?” is very helpful. Never, ever attempt to photograph ladies, even if you are a woman yourself. This is a serious crime that may result in more than a few angry words. Also, do not attempt to photograph anything that seems to be of strategic significance (i.e. has at least one soldier or policeman guarding it). However, if you ask politely and the guards are in a good mood, you may be permitted to take a souvenir picture with a military guy carrying a machine gun!
  2. Despite its proximity to wealthier oil-producing nations, Yemen remains one of the poorest countries on the planet. Many residents have difficult living circumstances. Expect local businesses to charge you a greater price as a tourist. While visitors should be aware of Yemen’s poverty level, they should avoid empathetic impulses to pay the merchant’s initial price. Bargaining is a part of life for many people throughout the globe, and it is expected of all purchasers.
  3. If an area is off-limits, there is a solid reason for it. As appealing as it may seem to play the daring explorer, there is no need to raise your chances of getting abducted or worse unless absolutely necessary.

In addition, be prepared to be requested for pens (qalam, galam) and sweets for the local schools (bonbon). In the former scenario, if you have one to spare, you may want to think about it. In the latter case, resist the temptation to offer a handout since it will set a precedent for the next foreigner to come. It should go without saying that you should never give money to youngsters (“fulus!” “bizniz!”). Instead, make a donation to a local charity.

Culture Of Yemen

Yemen is a culturally diverse nation influenced by numerous civilizations, including the early civilisation of Sheba.


Yemeni radio transmission started in the 1940s, when the country was still split between South by the British and North by the Imami governing regime. Following Yemen’s unification in 1990, the Yemeni government reorganized its companies and established several new radio stations that may broadcast locally. However, it withdrew in 1994 because to the civil war’s destruction of infrastructure.

Television is Yemen’s most important media outlet. Given the country’s low literacy rate, television is Yemenis’ primary source of news. Yemen presently has six free-to-air channels, four of which are controlled by the government.

Yemen’s film industry is in its early beginnings, with just two Yemeni films released as of 2008.


Yemeni theater has a history that goes back at least a century, to the early 1900s. In the country’s main cities, both amateur and professional (government-sponsored) theater troupes perform. Many notable Yemeni poets and writers, such Ali Ahmed Ba Kathir, Muhammad al-Sharafi, and Wajdi al-Ahdal, have produced dramatic works; poetry, novels, and short stories by Yemeni authors such as Mohammad Abdul-Wali and Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh have also been adapted for the theater. Yemeni performances of plays by Arab writers such as Tawfiq al-Hakim and Saadallah Wannous, as well as Western authors such as Shakespeare, Pirandello, Brecht, and Tennessee Williams, have occurred. Historically, the southern port city of Aden is the birthplace of Yemeni theatre; but, in recent decades, the capital, Sana’a, has held a number of theatrical events, frequently in connection with World Theatre Day.


Football is Yemen’s most popular sport. Yemen Football Association is a FIFA and AFC member. Yemen’s national football team competes on a global scale. The nation also has a large number of football clubs. They participate in national and international leagues.

The mountains of Yemen provide many possibilities for outdoor activities such as riding, rock climbing, trekking, hiking, mountain jumping, and other more difficult sports such as mountain climbing. Seasonal mountain climbing and hiking trips to the Sarawat Mountains and the Jabal a Nabi Shu’ayb, including the region’s 3,000 m (9,800 ft) summits, are arranged by local and international alpine organizations.

Water activities such as surfing, bodyboarding, sailing, swimming, and scuba diving are also popular along Yemen’s coast and on Socotra Island. Socotra Island is home to some of the world’s finest surfing spots.

Camel leaping is a traditional activity that is gaining popularity among the Zaraniq tribe on Yemen’s west coast, on a desert plain near the Red Sea. Camels are lined up side by side, and the contestant who jumps over the most camels from a running start wins. The jumpers train for contests all year. Tribesmen (women are not permitted to participate) tuck their robes around their waists to allow them to move freely while racing and jumping.

Yemen’s greatest sporting event was the staging of the 2010 Gulf Cup of Nations in Aden and Abyan in the country’s south on November 22, 2010. Yemen was considered to be the tournament’s best contender, however they were beaten in the first three matches.

Naseem Hamed is the most well-known Yemeni boxer and athlete on a global scale.

World Heritage sites

Four World Heritage sites are among Yemen’s natural and cultural features.

The Old Walled City of Shibam in Wadi Hadhramaut was inscribed by UNESCO in 1982, two years after Yemen joined the World Heritage Committee, and is known as the “Manhattan of the Desert” because to its “skyscrapers.” The 16th-century city is one of the earliest instances of urban design based on the concept of vertical building, surrounded by a defensive wall constructed of mud and straw.

Sana’a’s historic Old City, at an elevation of approximately 2,100 meters (7,000 feet), has been inhabited for over two and a half millennia and was inscribed in 1986. Sana’a grew into a significant Islamic center in the 7th century, and the 103 mosques, 14 hammams (traditional bath houses), and almost 6,000 homes that now stand are from before the 11th century.

The Historic Town of Zabid, on the Red Sea Coast, was inscribed in 1993 as Yemen’s capital from the 13th to the 15th centuries and is an archaeological and historical site. It was significant for many centuries because of its university, which served as a center of study for the whole Arab and Islamic world. Algebra is believed to have been developed there by the little-known scholar Al-Jazari in the early 9th century.

The Socotra Archipelago has been added to Yemen’s list of World Heritage Sites. This lonely and isolated archipelago, mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th century, comprises of four islands and two rocky islets that mark the southern border of the Gulf of Aden. The area is rich in biodiversity. There are no other places on the planet where you can find 37% of Socotra’s 825 plants, 90% of its reptiles, and 95% of its snails. It is home to 192 bird species, 253 coral species, 730 coastal fish species, and 300 crab and lobster species, as well as a variety of Aloes and the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari). Socotra’s cultural legacy includes the distinctive Soqotri language.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Yemen

Stay Safe in Yemen

Yemen is presently at war and under international assault, and it has suffered significant damage. Terrorism and kidnappings of individuals, especially foreigners, have also been issues.

When it is possible to return to Yemen, the following will become relevant:

Under Islamic law, public use of alcohol is punishable in Yemen. Homosexual activities are likewise illegal and may result in death.

Driving is done on the right side of the road. While Yemeni drivers have a reputation for poor driving, the truth is a little more complex. Risks are taken, especially in Sana’a, that would not be taken in other locations, but the people anticipate this and prepare appropriately.

However, for journeys outside of Sana’a, a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is virtually required since most roads outside of major city routes are not paved. Travellers might also consider hiring a local driver/guide, since maps are not always as helpful as they may be in other countries. Because only cities are adequately secured by the military, a city boundaries border pass is needed. It is also worth mentioning that Yemen has one of the largest concentrations of armed people outside of Texas, so please be kind.

Stay Healthy in Yemen

It is best to avoid using tap water. To be safe, it is best to stick to the bottled variety.

Also, keep in mind that the country is very dusty. Travelers with respiratory issues (such as asthma) may have difficulty in more distant locations.

The dry air (particularly from September to April) may be irritating, producing cracked lips and sometimes nosebleeds. Always take a Vaseline stick, which is available at most pharmacies in Yemen, as well as a package of tissues with you.

Remember that most of the country is at altitude, especially while trekking. As a result, in addition to drinking lots of water and protecting yourself from the sun (which can be quite severe in Yemen), be mindful of any disorientation you may be feeling as a result of fast ascents. Many of the most popular hiking trails are coated with loose stones, so watch your step. Some peak ascents may be as steep as 70-80 degrees, making any fall disastrous. Bring bandages and/or anti-bacterial treatments in case you suffer a cut while trekking, which is common.

Yemen is rife with polio and malaria. Polio may be found in certain Red Sea coastal communities, while malaria can be found in low-lying regions along the Red Sea.



South America


North America

Read Next


Sana’a is Yemen’s capital, nestled in the Yemeni Mountains, and is usually the first stop for visitors to the country. According to the Yemeni constitution,...