Per the Yemeni Observer tourist visas are/will be free for travelers comming with a travel agency. Individual tourist visas will cost between 5,000 and 20,000 YR depending on the length of stay. You might want to book a short trip with a local agency as things tend to be fairly priced there.
So no you do not need a certifcate to gey your visa. You can also read the Yemeni Observer online if you do a quick Google search.
Enjoy your trip.
Almost everyone, except the Gulf states citizen, has to buy the tourist visa on arrival. To avoid delay, you should be sure that you are onte of the first passengers to take the first transfer bus from aircraft to arrival terminal hall. In the transfer bus, stay on teh left side of the door as the arrival hall is on the left side of the bus. Once you get out of the bus, enter the arrival hall and move quickly to the left side and note for the sign "VISA" (see the first pic).
There is a small window in the middle of reflection glass. Have $$, YR, USD or EUR are ok ready. It was about YR5,500 (May 2008) or about US$30 for single entry visa. If you pay more of foreign currency, you can get change in YR, but the rate may not be so good. But if you change $$ in the next counter first, then you will be behind a few visa applications, that means you have to queue for visa. So small $$ can buy for your time.
It takes about 3-4 mins to get the paper visa done (see 2nd pic for the paper sticker visa on passport. After visa is obtained, then proceed to queue for immigration counter, which may take another 30-45 mins, depends on the passenger flow and length of queue, and mostly, how fast the immigration offficer process.
Citizens from many countries, including (all or most? check beforehand if you're from one of the newer member states!) EU member states, can obtain a visa at Sana'a International Airport. (Not sure if your passport needs to be valid at least six months after intended departure from Yemen, but better to err on the side of caution.) The cost is USD 30 (or 25 euros or 5500 rials). For children with their own passport the amount is the same. If they are entered into their parent's passport the fee is much lower (I believe USD 10 only). It is possible to pay in Euros - you'll get your change back in Yemeni rials. No need to worry about being overcharged or shortchanged. It's a very straightforward process, be it a bit time-consuming if you're at the back of a queue. For that reason, make sure to proceed directly to the visa counter - don't get in line for Immigration first! (Tip to get there quickly: when descending from your airplane there is a bus waiting for you. Go stand close to the door on the left, that is the driver's side. That way you'll be the first to leave the bus and enter the Arrivals Hall. Inside the Hall turn left and you'll see a counter marked "Visa". There is also a money exchange there, but no need to go there first: the visa officials accept Euros and possibly other important regional currencies like Saudi riyal.)
If they ask where you'll be staying, name any hotel (e.g. Sheraton or Arabia Felix). If they ask who your travel agent is, name any one (e.g. ATG/Abu Taleb Group).
They sometimes ask for a copy of your passport's holder page (the - nowadays usually plastic - page with your personal data). If you can't produce one, they'll make one for you, but that takes some time. In any case it's never a bad idea to have that copy with you, wherever you go.
Aden is located on one of the finest natural harbors in the Middle East. The harbor is formed by the large crater of an extinct volcano. The ancient Kingdom of Aswan first used the harbor for trade sometime between the fifth and seventh centuries B.C. Over time, the small settlement of Aden was established, and slowly grew as an important trading center.
In 1838, Sultan Muhsin bin Fadl ceded 75 square miles (194 square kilometers) to the British, including the city and port of Aden. The British moved troops into the region to establish control, and to stop pirate activity in the area. The British controlled Aden until 1967, when they reliquished it to the Yemeni government.
During their rule, the British transformed Aden into one of the most important ports and shipping and trading centers in the Middle East. The success of this transformation was due mainly to the fact that Aden is strategically located about half-way between Europe and India, and was a refueling point for ships traveling between those regions. British Petroleum established a tanker port and refinery, which was nationalized by Yemen in 1977.
After the British relinquished control over Aden, it became the capital of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, or South Yemen, in 1970. It remained the capital until reunification with the Yemen Arab Republic, or North Yemen, in 1990, at which time the newly unified country became the Republic of Yemen.
Nowadays, Aden is the largest city on Yemen's Indian Ocean coast, with about 800,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area, and is the country's most important port.
Ta'iz, Yemen's largest city, is at an elevation of 4,593 feet (1,400 meters) and is located in a dramatic valley under the towering 9,862-foot (3,006-meter) Sabr Mountain. It is the main city in Yemen's highlands region. The picturesque Bab Mosa, or old town, contains historic buildings made of brown mud bricks which contrast with white mosques. Ta'iz is a beautiful city from a distance, but up close, it is dirty, polluted, and crowded.
Ta'iz was probably established in the twelfth century, and was originally called Hajira. The second Rasulid king, Almaddhafar, made Ta'iz the second capital of the Rasulid Dynasty, after the city of Zabid. The city came under the control of the Ottoman Turks in 1516, and remained so until 1918. During their reign, they built the impressive al-Qahera Castle which perches on a ridge high above the city.
The city was surrounded by medieval protective walls until 1948, when Imam Ahmad made it the administrative capital of Yemen. The walls were demolished to make way for expansion and development. Ta'iz remained the administrative capital of the country until 1962, when the state administrations were moved back to Sana'a.
Nowadays, Ta'iz is the largest industrial center in Yemen, and the population of its metropolitan area has swollen to 2,210,000 inhabitants.
Legend tells that Sana'a was founded by Shem, the son of Noah. In reality, the city was probably established sometime during the first century A.D., making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Sana'a, which means "fortified place" or "the protected," originated as a citadel on the important trade route between Aden and Mecca. For centuries, it has been the main economic, political, and religious center in the highlands region of Yemen.
Sana'a has always been an important city in terms of religion. There are over 50 mosques in the city, including the Great Mosque, which was ordered by the Prophet Mohammed in 630 A.D., and completed during his lifetime. The Yemeni government is currently constructing one of the largest and most impressive mosques in the Muslim world. (It can be seen in the distance by enlarging the picture).
Sana'a spreads across the Sana'a Basin, between Mount Nuqum to the east (visible in the picture) and the Ayban Mountains to the west. It sits at an elevation of 7,200 feet (2,200 meters). During my stay, it was difficult to breathe while doing such simple activities as climbing stairs, on account of the high elevation.
Although Sana'a has a modern section, it is most noted for its Old Town, with its distinctive mud-brick architecture, ancient mosques, and markets.
Nowadays, Sana'a is the capital of Yemen, as well as the Sana'a governorate. It is the third-largest city in the country, after Tai'z and Hodeidah, with about 1,600,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area.
Hodeidah is Yemen's main port on the Red Sea, and second most important port after Aden. It is the capital of the Tihama region, an arid, hot, and humid coastal plain between the sea and the mountains.
Hodeidah was established as a port in the early 1500s. The city was destroyed in 1809 by Islamic Wahabbi forces on their push to the south from the Jizzan area in Saudi Arabia. The city and region were later controlled by the Ottoman Turks, who heavily fortified Hodeidah in anticipation of an attack by the British, who were based in Aden farther to the south. The Ottoman Turks also developed and modernized the city's port. (Nowadays, there is a Turkish quarter in Hodeidah that contains many fine but dilapidated buildings in the Turkish style of architecture. There is some talk of restoring the quarter, but given Yemen's poor economy, that will not be done without outside help).
Recent history has not been kind to Hodeidah. It was substantially destroyed during the First World War, and again later during the Saudi-Yemen War. And in 1961, a fire all but destroyed the city. Because Hodeidah was rebuilt relatively recently, there are few interesting historic buildings, as in Sana'a.
Nowadays, Hodeidah is Yemen's second-largest city, after Ta'iz, and is the center of a metropolitan area with about 1,750,000 inhabitants.
Favorite thing: Yes, visas, for European Passport holders at least, is available at the airport on arrival. It will smooth the way if you have a contact travel agency address and tel. no. or the address and no. for an arabic learning school and accomodation details in Sana'a to present to the immigration officials. You must obtain and pay for your visa (on left just before the immigration queue) before immigration. I think it was about $25 or there abouts.
Arabic is pretty hard to learn; in Yemen, there is the additional problem that few people speak English and even those in the travel business do not always speak good English. A few words & phrases in Arabic can be helpful to get along:
"salaam" or "marhaba" = good day
"ma-as-salama" = good-bye
"keif halak?" = how are you ?
"mumkin" = Can I, May I ?
"mumkin ßura?" = Can I take a photo ?
"bikam hatha" = How much? (th like "they")
"aiwa" = yes
"la" = no
"chalass" = enough, stop it
"mafisch" = nothing, there is nothing
"fi" = there is .. or as a question: do you have?
"jalla" = let`s go
"schukran" = thank you
"min fadlak" = please
"tammam" = good
"mumtass" = excellent
"djamila" = beautiful
The general advice (including the FCO's) when I went was to take cash dollars. (In point of fact ATMs seemed to be reasonably common in the large towns). And dollars are generally acceptable for hotel bills, souvenirs and suchlike.
Try and get large- $50 or $100 - denomination bills. You will often find that you get a poorer exchange rate for smaller bills - when I visited YR 199/$ for large bills, maybe YR195 for smaller notes. Quite a difference.
As the presence of soil-pipes demonstrates, this method of waste-disposal is no longer used. Formerly the necessary offices on the upper floors were of the simple hole over a void pattern, the waste dropping within the open-sided shaft into a collection tank. Any liquids drain off and the remaining solids dry out in the heat. Periodically it is collected and burnt: a traditional source of heat for the hammams. The ashes are used as fertiliser.
Worked perfectly well for hundreds of years......
Although I have wanted to visit Yemen for a long time, I had decided to visit India this trip. I'd visited Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt in short order and part of me wanted a break from Arabic culture. So I schlepped off to the Indian High Comission in the Aldwych. Blow me down, it was the Buddha's birthday and the place was all shut up. Panic. It was wednesday and I wanted to book a flight by the weekend. Well, Yemen it had to be. I took myself off to the Yemeni embassy in Cromwell Road.
Fondest memory: You can in theory get a visa on arrival at Sana'a airport. But apparently there have been incidents of independant travellers being refused a visa: I didn't want to take the chance. And the Yemeni embassy says that one of the visa requirements is a letter from the tour company organising your trip: the other is a return air ticket.
I had neither, but this didn't worry the man behind the desk.
'When do you want to go?'
'As soon as possible'
'Yemenia flies to Sana'a from London on Wednesdays and Fridays. How are you paying?'
He produced a book of paying-in slips from a drawer and filled one in for me. I had to go to the bank and pay my £25 into their account. And return on Friday between 12 and 2 to pick up the visa.
The only other visa applicant was an orthdox jew, conducting his business in Arabic. Welcome to Yemen.
I've just published an English version of my Yemen diary, that I present to whoever should be interested in learning more about this fascinating country, as well as to those who are planning a trip there.
The diary is rather detailed, but if you should be short of time, I would advise reading just the little chapter on Jabal Milhan, an account of a lovely and unpredictable trekking weekend in the remote mountains of Yemen. I was really surprised at plenty of things up there!!
This is the link
Favorite thing: It cost me 30 USD for my visa upon arrival at Sanaa airport. They took USD even my old wrinkled $20's. They made some European tourists go to the exchange window to the right of the visa counter. When you get off the plane you will take a bus to the terminal. Try and be the first one off, enter the arrivals building and head to your left. They are not know for speed here. I came from Dubai on an Emirates flight and it took me aboyut an hour to get through the line. The visa will take a whole page in your passport. They may ask you where you are staying and if you do not have a room rreservations just say the Arabia Felix or the Sheraton and there will be no issues. Apparently the visa price may vary based on what other have said..maybe I was lucky?
Favorite thing: If you plan on backpacking Yemen and without the services of a local travel company then you must speak Arabic. I feel lucky that I can get by in Arabic and my studying paid off because not many folks speak English in Yemen. Yemen is a destination that really challenges you if you are alone and some phrases in Arabic go a looong way in this country. Taxis, hotels and shops require the language but dont be discouraged to travel independantly. You can travel alone if you have a guide book but remember that you cant show most Yemenis the Arabic script because a lot of locals cant read or write. It is possible to find some folks that speak broken English but dont rely on it completely. You will have to rely on your language skills making the experience a challenge but a challenge you wont soon forget :)
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