Sana'a International Airport
Located about six miles (ten kilometers) north of downtown Sana'a, Sana'a International Airport (SAH) is the main international gateway to Yemen. The airport handles flights to and from the Middle East, East Africa, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent.
Airlines serving Sana'a International Airport: Air Arabia, Egyptair, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Felix Airways, Gulf Air, Jazeera Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Nas Air, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Yemenia Yemen Airways.
Travelling around Yemen
If you haven't booked through an agency, alternative options traveling around are:
1. 4 wheel land cruiser (usually Toyota) with driver most people book through travel agencies
2. Shared taxis (though I haven't tried them to know conditions, cost and if permits are requested) In Wadi Hadramout it is easier to rent a taxi (contract) as in Between Shibam-Seiyun-Tarim there aren't any police check points
3. Buses. It is the only budget option. I noticed several bus companies, specially Yemitco and I can ensure you that their buses seemed rather comfortable. I was told that they can carry foreigners in long distance routes as to Wadi Hadramout, Aden or Al Moukalla, but in order to ensure that there won't be any trouble with the police it is always advisable to contact both the company AND the tourist police in advance.
4. Air: Yemenia flies to Taizz, Al Hodeidah, Aden, Al Mukalla (Ar-Riyan), Socotra, but in January 2006 the airport in Seiyun was under construction!
5. I think no travel permits are needed for flights but as soon as you land to your destination you need to get one for your scheduled trip. Definitely not a budget option, but think!: it saves up time and maximizes your safety as you don't need to cross risky areas!!
Because of the frequent police check points, it is almost impossible to travel anywhere outside Sana'a without travel permits.
If you book your trip through a travel agency then they'll arrange everything for you. In our case the Arabia Felix Hotel arranged it for us. In any other case you need to get them from a police station but I am not sure if this procedure is easy, depending on the language barrier or the occasional safety regulations for each area.
If traveling independent remember to make dozens of photocopies of your permission.
I was amazed to notice that for a 9 days trip we needed around 60 photocopies (!!) of our permission, which were given by our driver to the policemen at the check points. He was also stating our nationality.
I also noticed that in any case we reached our destinations no later than 5pm, so probably traveling at night is not possible
Fly with Emirates to Sana'a, Yemen !
I flew as usual with Emirates which is Middle East's Best and have also been awarded to have The Best Economy Class in the World (2004). I took the special offer of Emirates for 210 US$ (Included Taxes and Return Fare) for Dubai-Sana'a-Dubai. It was a very good price but this offer is only available for the passengers who are coming into Middle East from another region. This offer is called Arabian Pass. I bought this Arabian Pass in Pakistan. It was very convienient as i didn't have to purchase another ticket in Dubai in order to go to Sana'a.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Arriving in Sana'a
The Flight from Dubai to Sana'a was in the early morning. I arrived in Dubai from Karachi at night and then i had a lay over for around 8 hours. According to rules of Emirates, Passengers having more than 6 hours are provided free stay hotel OUTSIDE AIRPORT and their visas are also arranged for free. But i thought that it is too much because if i had opted for this then i had to go through Immigration and go to the hotel, sign in and then sleep. I prefered to sleep in the business lounge provided to the SILVER CARD Frequent Flyer (FF) members of Emirates's FF Program called Skywards. So, I easily slept there and also enjoyed the facilities such as 24 hrs buffet and Internet.
In the morning, i took my flight to Sana'a. It departed and arrived on time. It flew over Oman and Saudi Arabia and then entering Yemen from Northern border with Saudi Arabia.
Sana'a Airport is basically just an air strip with a building and nothing else ;-) I went through the Immigration with any hassle. But there was a surprise waiting for me at the baggage area.
When i went to take the Baggage trolley the person asked me for money. Obviously i had no Yemeni curreny with me. So, i didn't take the trolley. I was waiting for my luggage and suddenly i saw my little cousins pinging me and giving me 200 yemeni rials ! i was surprised and he told me that his mother has sent this money for the Trolley. I laughed and took the trolley.
So, guys ! Watch out ! If you want to take the trolley for taking your luggage outside the airport then u have to get your money changed right there and then on the airport.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Sana'a International Airport, Yemen
I think I've seen quite a few airports but never saw something as flat as this one. Ahhh may be Siem Reap Airport in Cambodia is like this one but that one is more clean and tidy than this one ! Sometimes it is good to fly from Easy Airports instead of Modern Airports which consume a lot of time of a traveller. Never forgot, Time is money and a budget budget traveller never wants to overspend any single penny ;-)
Sana'a airport has a big OOOOKKKKK. I have been told that there is a new airport planned to be constructed soon but no one knows when it'll gonna happen. The location has already been allocated somewhere further down the road from the current airport.
There is no website of this airport which i can recommend. I'll just say that if u are planning to do last minute shopping and other things which u often do at the airport, unfortunately u won't be able to do here. So, kindly plan accordingly.
This airport is also around 30 mins from the city so, the travelling time to Sana'a should also be estimated carefully.Related to:
- Family Travel
Yemenia - Yemen's National Airline
Yemenia is the Yemen's only and also the National Airline. Saba Airline should be launched but i think it would never be launched because people in Government of Yemen do not want any other airlines from the country to compete with Yemenia.
Yemenia, offers between Sana'a and several European and a few American destinations such as London, Paris, Rome, Milan and New York.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Flight from Sanaa to Jeddah
This was my life's most horrible flight ! I knew that the plane will crash. I saw it happening several times in the movies and i felt that it is my turn to be one of those who die in plane crash. Do I sound insane ? No ! let me tell u why i felt that !
As you can see in the picture that i am wearing Ahram (The dress to be woren before going to Makkah for visit) so i was prepared for this religious journey. I had my Saudi Arabian Airline's flight from Sana'a to Jeddah. I was told that it is confirmed and on-time. I said good-bye to my uncle and auntie. Checked-In even with extra luggage but the staff of Saudi Arabian Airlines was nice and helpful and they didn't over charged me. Immigration officer was not on his seat but he came back immediately after seeing me standing there for 3-4 minutes. Now the last thing was to board the plane and fly ! I waited for 60 minutes and there was nothing ! no electronic board, no English speaking employee, absolutely no one to tell me whats going on and why we have to wait when everything is ok ! Suddenly a Saudi Arabian Airlines staff member appeared and told us that the aircraft has got some technical problems and they have asked for the new aircraft to come to pick us up from here. so, the new aircraft will fly from Jeddah after an hour and it will come here in 2 hours and then we'll gonna fly after 3 hrs from now ! Oh Allah ! i already waited for more than one hour and now i had to wait for another 3 hours at dinner time without any food at all. I couldn't concentrate even properly being so hungry. but then staff members gave us all a packet of juice and biscuits. Ahh something is better than nothing !Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Family Travel
Entry formalities at the airport
Upon arrival you need to change some money into local currency in order to pay the visa which is the counter just next to it.
In January 2006 all EU countries could get visa upon arrival (costing 10500YR). I was told that officials ask the agency you have made your travel arrangements (generally independent travelling is not encouraged). I think they were busy enough not to ask me so. A piece of advice: HURRY up and line up quickly. Especially flights from Dubai tend to be full of foreigners and it can be a time consuming process to get your visa (it took me 1 hour). Your visa is then stamped and then you get your luggage (if not left behind like mine!!)
Outside the airport there is taxi stand (ride to Sana'a centre around 2000YR) in old fashioned taxi cars !! Surprisingly though the airport road is wide and depending on traffic it takes about half an hour to get downtown.
Overland Journeys in Yemen
In general, even in the most remote places that we visited, Yemeni roads were in perfect condition and with very few traffic. Considering that, in addition, the scenery never ceases to amaze the passengers, it sounds like a paradise for the driving lovers.
However, self-driving is not a very good idea. Notwithstanding the security concerns, signalisation is not always optimal and cars are usually old and with plenty of mechanical problems that only the expert locals are able to fix.
That is why we hired a driver. His knowledge of foreign languages was limited but we managed to communicate and he drove us to everywhere we wished while we indulged into the contemplation of the landscape (while we listened once and again to Arab music tapes in the cars old -to say the least- casette-player).
Some areas of Yemen are still risky for tourists, authorities claim. In particular, the region of Ma'arib and the areas near the undemarcated border to Saudi Arabia. There, local bedouin tribes do kidnap from time to time groups of tourists that are kept as hostages (well treated apparently) that they then trade with the government for improvements for the community.
While we intended to cross this region, we were told that the risk of kidnapping was elevated as, apparently, some presumed terrorists from the area had been arrested weeks before and a group of tourist prisoners looked like the perfect asset to buy their freedom.
For this reason, we were forced to travel in a scorted convoy with the rest of the tourists that also decided to take the infimous risk.
Everything turned out to be eventually mere speculation.
Aden International Airport
Located on the coast just to the northeast of Aden, Aden International Airport (ADE) serves Yemen's main port city. Most of the flights into and out of the airport are domestic, but there are some international flights to destinations in nearby Africa and the Middle East.
Airlines serving Aden International Airport: African Express Airways, Djibouti Airlines, Egyptair, Felix Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Yemenia Yemen Airways.
The Departure Tax which is often included in the price of the ticket is 13 US$ for all international passengers flying from Sana'a Airport. So, if someone try's to cheat u then u can show them the ticket on which somewhere this money much be mentioned.Related to:
- Family Travel
The Land Cruiser is King
In the largely urban and always small scale UK, these things ara plague, the Axles of Evil. But in this country vehicles like Toyota Land Cruiser actually make sense, and it is astonishing how many people and goats will fit into the crew-cab pickup.
You can hire a 4X4 with driver for around $50 a day all found (including the drivers expenses when away overnigt): it's a good way to see a lot of the highlands in a short time.
Sana'a airport is small so it is advisable not to spend too much time there (specially when departing). Generally it is an aging structure in desperate need of renovation.
I'd read that security & army personnel looks rather sulky, grim and aggressive, nevertheless I found them just fine and I was even welcomed to Yemen (much better than in my own country)
When departing don't expect anything interesting as the Duty Free is very limited and the departure gates are not well preserved (toilets very smelly and some chairs in the sitting area damaged). Beware before check in!! After your luggage is monitored through the x-rays some porters pick them up in order to carry them just a few meters in front of the check in counters?.for a tip of course!!
Also remember to confirm your return ticket at least 1-2 days prior to departure!!
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