Friday, September 10, 2021

Money & Shopping in Yemen

AsiaYemenMoney & Shopping in Yemen

Currency

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.

Shopping

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.