Some lowland places in Yemen are in the Malarial Zone. If you visit such an area - PLEASE PREPARE! Malaria can sometimes be fatal and at best may make you regret that you survived. Medicines must be taken weeks BEFORE you come here. There are 4 different species of Malaria and humans can get them all from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Illness and death from malaria are largely preventable - if you plan ahead. Malaria tablets with Lariam (weekly dose), Malarone, or doxycycline are recommended for all areas except for Sana'a and areas at altitudes above 2000 m (6561 ft).
While you are here you need to use a repellent spray early in the morning and any periods of darkness, especially at night.
I would suggest you buy repellent with 100% DEET.
This was just report on July 2nd 2007 by Associated Press Writer
" SAN'A, Yemen — An al-Qaida suicide bomber drove into a convoy of Spanish tourists visiting an ancient Yemeni temple, officials said, killing seven Spaniards and two Yemenis less than two weeks after a U.S. terror warning about the area. Witnesses said the bomber drove a car through the gate of the temple compound, and the vehicle exploded near the structure, which was built about 3,000 years ago and dedicated to the Queen of Sheba. Spain's foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, said seven dead and five wounded — one seriously — were Spaniards when the bomber drove into the middle of the Spanish convoy.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack in the central Marib province, about 85 miles east of the capital San'a, but authorities linked the suicide bomber to al-Qaida. Police said they received information last month about a possible al-Qaida attack.
Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Embassy warned Americans to avoid the area. On June 23 in the neighboring Shabwa province, a Yemeni guard opened fire on a group of foreign oil workers shortly after they landed at a company airstrip, killing one and wounding five — including an American.
Yemen was a haven for Islamists from across the Arab world during the 1990s, but after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it declared support for the U.S. campaign against international terrorism.
Its crackdown on militants has suffered a number of setbacks, however, such as the February 2006 prison breakout of 23 convicts — some of whom had been jailed for al-Qaida-linked crimes.
Foreign interests in Yemen often face low-level threats and tourists are frequently kidnapped by tribes seeking to win concessions from the government, either better services or the release of jailed relatives. Most of the hostages have been released unharmed."
This was reported in the the Guardian." Please contact your Embassy before you travel outside of Sanaa
Yemen has been labeled a "dangerous" destination; travel warnings do exist. The main reason so far were kidnappings of tourists/expats on a regular basis with a peak in the mid-nineties. Unruly tribes tried to gain concessions from the central government with hostages as leverage. The number of kidnappings is on the decrease since then. In the last two years though, there were an increasing number of attacks against tourists or foreign embassies, with several victims killed or wounded. In consequence, ad hoc travel limitations were issued in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Each case is tragic - no doubt about that - yet statistically, given how many people travel to Yemen each year, these are still are exceptions and it boils down to a matter of bad luck and being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But it cannot be denied that in 2008 there has been a dramatic increase of incidents. Compared to the situation two years ago, after speaking with several expats my impression is that the overall security situation is now worse than before, so you have to weigh the risks against the benefits. For the moment, though I am sad to say it, I would monitor the news closely and postpone Yemen travel till the security situation stabilizes again.
If you should decide to go to Yemen, there are still a few a number of pro-reasons:
1. The government issued the death penalty for abductions and at the same time encouraged involvement of the local tribes in tourism (as guides, secuirty guards, drivers etc.).
2. Most tourists travel with organized tours, so the tour operator will avoid areas with a volatile security situation. That means, mainly Marib and Shabwa provinces + Saada area(occasional civil warfare & abductions) to the north.
3. The kidnappings took mainly place in the provinces of Marib and Shabwa which can be avoided altogether. If you want to visit the Hadramaut, take an inland flight from Sanaa instead of driving through the Marib.
4. Sanaa - as a major city - is quite safe. Expats who worked there for a long time confirmed that theft let alone robbery, violent crime etc. is completely uncommon, even if you walk the streets in the evening or get lost in the Old Town. I felt much safer than in many major cities in Europe.
5. Unlike other destinations, you will most certainly not be harrassed by hawkers or agressive youths. As a female traveller, you will likely be stared at even when you are modestly dressed, but it is highly unlikely that you will experience sexual harrassment, flirting or else.
The receptionist in my Sana’a hotel saw me taking photos of women walking by from well inside the lobby entrance. He said “They will kill you” in a mixture of resignation and friendly concern. I am not sure how accurate he may have been and I suggest you do not try and find out. Women are always in the veil here. If you want to take photos, then do so out of your hotel window or very discretely from your waist so it looks like you are not taking photos. Considering just about every man has a Jambiya, or huge dagger, on them you may be in fear of your life if caught.
In photo no. 3 here you can even see 2 men waving 2 women out of the way so I could take a photo of a school class visiting a museum. It can be frustrating when you want to take photos of the local culture, but it’s their rules here. With a bit of creativity you can probably get better photos than I did.
Hi Thanks for the post really interesting,
I am from the UK been living in dubai for 7 years although its a great place for trade and business its lost the magic of arabia become too modern and european. I am planning to take a long trip to yemen and see the old sites part of old arabia maybe have a chance to visit the empty quarter, my only concerns are the british goverment warning travels to yemen as its supposed to be a terror hotbed very dangerous and lots of tribal issues and kidnappings of foreigners is there any truth to this or is it safe to travel to yemen and any tips as to the easy way to have a great experience
Many of the very picturesque highland villages in Yemen, have wires and cables hanging down across the front of the old houses spoiling the "traditional hundreds of years old house" photograph. It's very irritating - just when you get a glimpse of the perfect shot of a village you have to take it from another angle to try and minimise the wires in the shot.
Yemen is not suitable for the Traveller who has trouble walking up steps.
Apart from the coastal towns of Aden, Mukalla and Zabid all towns, villages, palaces and most dwellings and museums have many steps to climb. Due to the age of the places most of the steps are worn and crumbling, as are the paths in and up to the villages. You have to be very careful where you put your feet as it is very easy to fall.
There is no point in staying at the bottom as you will miss the essence of most places. If you can’t do steps – you can’t see Yemen!
Travelling to Yemen? Hope you are not afraid of needles! You need some immunizations before you go. At the least I would recommend these for travel in Yemen:
Hepatitis B – for longer journeys
The full list is here of every possibility worldwide, but includes some immunizations you should have had as a child:
European tick borne Encephalitis (not Yemen)
Japanese Encephalitis (not Yemen)
Meningococcal meningitis (not Yemen)
Yellow Fever (not Yemen)
Yellow Fever is only if you are travelling into affected areas in yellow-fever-infected counties in Africa or the Americas
There is a high incidence of rabies from stray dog bites in Yemen, be careful.
BE SAFE: See your doctor before you go! I’m no medical expert, just a safe traveller.
If there are any rules of the road in Yemen, they are ignored by the vast majority of drivers, making the traffic and driving in the country some of the most chaotic I have ever seen. Drivers aggressively tailgate cars ahead of them, coming to within mere inches, and constantly sound their horns (or flash their headlights at night), in order to try to force the other cars out of the way. (I had problems sleeping during my first night in Sana'a, one of the reasons being the constant blaring of horns all night long).
In some of the major cities, there are traffic signals which no one seems to see. Drivers routinely drive right through red stop lights, and on-coming traffic, which should have the right-of-way, has to yield. Everyone who approaches an intersection seemingly has the right-of-way, and drivers are constantly pulling into the path of on-coming vehicles. Laughably, there are traffic police posted at some of the busiest intersections in the cities, and no one pays them any heed at all.
Marked lanes on the roads are completely meaningless as drivers pass each other and jockey for position. As an example, if there are two marked lanes on a road, there might be four or five lanes of traffic. Outside of the cities, drivers pass other vehicles, pulling out into the lane of on-coming traffic. Somehow the on-coming drivers move over enough to avoid a head-on collision.
In the cities, pedestrians walk right out into the traffic and seem to have no fear. I would not have the nerve to cross some of the busy streets in Yemen. Unbelievably, there seem to be few accidents involving pedestrians or between vehicles. And despite the apparent craziness of the driving, traffic flows, and I never experienced traffic jams such as are common in the West.
Off-road desert adventures are an activity that is becoming more popular among visitors to Yemen, especially in the sandy Empty Quarter. There are sand dunes, mountains, wadis, and pools and waterfalls to explore. Because of the dangers of desert travel, anyone wishing to participate in an off-road trip should go with an experienced guide. Otherwise, getting stranded in the desert can be fatal. It is easy to lose a sense of direction, especially because in the deep desert, all sand dunes look alike. It is very easy to become hopelessly bogged down in the sand and very difficult to get out. And the intense heat, especially in the summer, can impair the judgment of almost anyone.
For those who choose to go into the desert alone, there are certain precautions that should be taken to ensure a safe trip. First of all, a plentiful supply of water must be taken. In hot weather, a person needs about four pints (two liters) of water per day. Also, a medical kit is a must.
For driving in the sand dunes, it is necessary to slightly deflate tires so they will have adequate traction in the sand. An air pump will be needed to re-inflate the tires after leaving the sands. And drivers should proceed at a slow, steady speed. Accelerating and then quickly braking can cause a vehicle to become stuck in sand. A shovel for digging out, and planks of wood or mats to be placed under the tires can be helpful in getting out of the sand
People say that the traffic caos is caused by the fact that there are no road rules. This in part is true, though I would like to point out that many Yemanis simply cant drive! Some really are completely useless! Watch someone try to park and dont be surprised if they just drive into a wall. At traffic junctions cars just shunt into each other. Having seen 4 such minor accidents in as many weeks I cant believe this is just coincidence. Besides - just look at the state of the cars on the road! Just pray Im not witness to anything more serious.
Take great care when crossing busy highways. Idealy cross when locals cross and stay close, putting them in between you and the oncoming traffic.
Never photograph women. NEVER photograph security checkpoints or soldiers. People have been beaten for it. The security checkpoints outside the cities can be intimidating - especially in the afternoon when the soldiers are 'on' Qat. Paperwork and bribes are the name-of-the-game. Leave it up to your driver to sort it out. You may have to take an armed soldier in the car tp 'protect' you, though I always felt it just made me a bigger target.
Taxis are cheap and dangerous (the doors/steering-wheel can fall off). There are no driving schools, (honest!), so the roads are the your-life-in-your-hands style of driving experience.
If you start reading these you are probably going to worry yourself for no reason such as I did.
The US State Department writes these thing to cover their ass in case something does happen. I'm 6' 3" blonde hair/blue eyes...I glow in the dark in most of the world and I felt perfectly safe here even walking around Sanaa at night. People will tell you to be cautious while traveling in Yemen. My advise use the same common sense that you use in your own home town unless you are from podunk France or Kansas and have never been in a big city.
Talk to a VT'er that is living here if you want good advise. I found Rudy aka Dutchwindmill and his dry humor to be the most helpful.
There is fighting going on in Sada up north but being in Sanaa you would never know it unless you read the papers or watch the local news. This has been going on since 04' unless you have a good guide the that can get you past the numerous checkpoints and blown up bridge along the road to the region you have nothing to worry about.
You'll hear about people getting snatched in Marib (even though this is becoming few and far between). This happens because the local Beduin have been *** on by just about everyone that passes through including the oil companies that roam around with their drilling rigs, hire them to do the grunt work then pack up when the well is dry and don't pay them. Guns are banned in most of the major cities so you will have to look for them outside of the army check points. I saw one guy with an AK47 on his back while eating at restaraunt in Shibam outside of Sanaa not the UNESCO cite. Even if you do see them, the locals carry them as a badge of honor much like the redneck Texans drive around Texas with their rifle racks in the back window of their pickups. When they do get used they are to settle tribal disputes and you will have time to get out of the way of these since they do not start over night. Outside of a civil war a la Iraq style (which is highly unlikey with Ali Saleh as President) you should be fine.
Ok so you want to be like the locals and crew gat? You pack a golf ball size wad in your cheek and wait an hour for it to hit you catch a buzz and great you are living like the locals..pretty cool huh? Wrong Answer!!!!!!!!
If you hate Yemen and want to contribute to the demise of this place than it's probably the way to go.
Here's the deal..... Most of the farmland is Yemen is dedicated to growing gat. It's also draining their alread limited fresh water supply which comes from underground wells scattered around the country. they do not have any desalinization plants built yet nor do they have the foreign funds set up to pay for it. The country more or less shuts down between noon and 4pm while they sit down for their daily chew so commerce for the most part stops.
This is a great time to drive back into the city from your days excursions unless you are one of the poor souls hanging onto the back of a puckup with 10-12 others while your driver navigates the hairpin turns at 40+ mph and he takes a turn too wide. If you are driving a car yourself you get to keep your eyes peeled since they guys will walk right into the middle of the highway in their gat induced stupor with total disregard for your 2,000 pound car that is about to flatten them.
Yemen is home to the village of Mocha..yes coffee is rumored to have orginated here. Encourage them to grow that rather something that is eating their country from the inside out.
If you do need something here talk to your embassy or check out the US Embassy's web site as they list some reputable local Drs. and pharmacies. They do sell conterfeit drugs here so you need to watch where you go.
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