The voltage in Yemen is often 220v. They use British 3-square pin type plugs. In many 5 Star hotels they provide 220v or 110v. Outside of Sana'a you may run into 3 different types of plugs!
BEFORE YOU BLOW UP YOUR LAPTOP:
You want a Transformer rather than a Converter here. Converters are light-weight and are suitable for simple appliances like hair dryers. Transformers are heavier because they have iron rods and a lot of copper wiring. They may weigh more, but are suitable for sophisticated electronics like computers and battery chargers that need to be on for longer periods. Combination Converters may be the best solution.
Some wall sockets look like, and will take, U.S. style 2-flat pin plugs and promtly destroy your electonic item. Remember its 240 Volts, not 120.
If you are a drinker, you will be happy with this fact. Very happy. The Yemeni Customs Allowances are that non- Muslim visitors may import alcohol for their own use. The other astounding fact is – there is no limit to how much you can bring in! You are advised, of course, not to drink in public areas. Sounds like a good balance to me.
The first time I heard this being shouted at me I thought it was the Arabic word for Tourist. Not to hard to figure out who the visitor was around here. About the 3rd time this happened a small boy started shouting towards me and then he made the hand gesture of a camera taking a photograph. Mystery solved, somewhat. I took out my camera, a pose was taken and then I showed him the display in my digital camera. This suddenly produced a small joyous crowd. And then the request for more photos. Suddenly, I felt like I had just obtained a job as a photographer.
Later I went to Al-Tahrir Square and I saw something that made all this fun make sense. There were 2 photographers taking photos and they had props to make the pictures just a bit more interesting. Anything from birds to beads, they had it all. They take your picture, you pay them and then a few hours later you have your portrait.
Than I realised. For many families, photos were not a possibility. Women for social reasons and men for financial.
Suddenly, I didn’t mind taking more photos and entertaining the crowds. For free!
The first time I heard the noise early in the morning, it woke me from a dream. It sounded, logically at the time, like a deep sea diver tapping his hammer against the hull of a submarine trying to discover if there were survivors inside the hull. And then I woke fully to hear this metal upon metal rapping sound move outside my covered window slowly proceeding down the street. The next morning this moving metallic beating continued its slow procession down my street again unseen behind my curtains. It seemed to occur after I had fallen asleep following the loud daily 4am prayers and before full daylight. After 4 days I could stand it no more and quickly dressed to chase down my phantom noise maker. And then I found him – the gas cylinder man! Every morning he would roll through the narrow lanes of the old town advertising his replacements so families had cooking gas for their meals. Mystery solved. Somehow the next day the sound just didn’t have the same interest for me.
Is the large dagger you carry in your belt not as sharp as it used to be? Or does your curved Jambiya just need a check-up? Just go and see the Jambiya repairmen on Ali Abdul Mogni St opposite Al Tahrier Square. They are set up on the sidewalk in front of several shops. Armed with a blow torch, a couple of hammers and a few other items, they are busy all day sharpening and repairing Jambiyas. They also fix the buttons and other decorative parts of the scabbard which holds your precious dagger. They are also good sources of information for just about anything.
A lot of people living in the mountains have guns. Pistols, AK47’s, and larger. You name it – they have them. They keep large armoires for protection and prevention of theft. If they want to go into town (Sana’a) they have to leave their weapons at home. Makes the capital a bit safer for everyone. There is a nationwide campaign to keep guns out of larger cities. They even have an advertisement on water bottles!
Annual Fixed Holidays are:
May 1 (Labour Day)
May 22 (National Day of Unity in 1990)
September 26 (National Day of Yemeni Revolution in 1962)
October 14 (National day of Liberation of South Yemen from Britain
Weekends are on Thursdays and Fridays
Elegance... this is the first thoguht that came to my mind. Nearly every man you meet appears to be extremely elegant in his national dress: a white robe, a leather belt, and large curved dagger called jambiyas hanging prominently at the waist. Jambiyas have no purpose at all, basically like our ties, but have the added value of making the person who wears it more elegant.
To be honest I was tempted to write this tip in the sport travel cathegory as, chewing kat seems really the national sport in yemen.
Kat is a herb, a drug which has a kind of amphetaminic effect it's not strong it seems to help to stay awake, specially drivers as they are the first consumers in the city.
I tried it and I can say it's very bitter but it was just a green and I did not chew it much as I did not like the taste so I cannot really tell you about the effect.
they chew green by green untill they get to have a big ball of kat in the mouth and leave it in a cheek, so when you see these men with a huge cheek do not worry, they don't all have teethache.
Almost any man In Sanaa and I guess also in the rest of Yemen carries around his jambia.
It's a sort of knife in a belt over men trousers.
I guess it's more a part of the typical dressing as many even go around just with the belt and no knife inside.
In the suq there is an entire area full of jambias shops when you can get one for less than 10 dollars, I bought one and had no problem at all to take it home as long as I put it in the lagguage I was sending and not in the hand one.
Something that surprised me was the incredible number of kids playing in the street at any time of the day or night(after sunset).
That surprised me cause it was totally in contrast with the number of weapons that you could see on the street and made me wonder about the concept of safeness as I never consider a place with so many weapons around safe.
It made me reflect about even the smallest towns in my country where kids are not even let go to school and back alone because mums are afraid of drug sellers or pedophilics or whatever and here, where streets are full of men with guns and knifes kids are free to play all the day around safe and happy.
Just 2 days before our departure from Yemen, I was enjoying my tea outside Arabia Felix Hotel. A local man approached me and asked if I wanted to have a chat with him. We started chating and after 5 minutes there came the big surprise: he said that it would be a great honour for him and his family to invite us for lunch. I almost burst into tears... I had never experienced that in my life after so quick entounter with someone.
So we arrived at his place next day and oh my God everything was served for us there. We ate like beasts. All male relatives were also invited (we didn't have a single glimpse of a woman though). After that we were invited to have a tea (and of course chew qat) and we had a long discussion about Islam and Christianity, a sensitive subject I must confess considering that it was the time when Prophet Mohammad scetches had been published in Denmark...
Qat plagues Yemen, clear and simple. Is this tip a danger? general tip? It is hard to say. Books can and should be written about this stimulant. Life for most Yemeni men revolves around the stimulant qat, whose leaves come from a shrub cultivated in the highlands. Chewing qat is an important social activity, but also a serious economic, health and social problem. Most men in Yemen spent a third of their earnings on this stuff and the practice of relaxing with qat eats away the most productive times of the day. It is so profitable that qat is sometimes grown and or supplied by criminal gangs, and up to 65% of the land is used to grow it. Travellers are often asked to join in and the decision lies with you. Do you enjoy the social setting or contribute to the social problem that plagues Yemen? The Qat issue is one that the Yemenis will have to tackle in they want to move towards a more stable and beneficial future.
While I was enjoying my tea in a street vendor, a mass of schoolboys (...not girls among them) entered in, giving to the cashier some sort of note (prepaid by the state?) receiving snacks back.
It was funny trying to find my way out among a noisy mass of khaki dressed pupils, who were even enjoying their snack on the street.
the 1st day we wondered what SURA means?? as everywhere we went kids will be shouting - sura sura! then we figured out that they were asking to take photo of them :) and nothing else!