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.