WHY TO VISIT YEMEN
Although it is little visited, Yemen is a surprisingly exotic destination: Wonderful landscapes, beautiful architecture, friendly people, ancient history, all those resources will surely surprise you.
Sanaa, an ancient city, has houses dating back over four centuries, a perfectly preserved Medina, a huge souk, and above all superb architecture, of which a beautiful example is the Al-Jami 'al-Kabir mosque, built in the year 630.
Marib is the most famous archaeological site in the country: Former capital of the kingdom of Saba, you can admire the ruins of the ancient dike and those of the temples, built in the 8th century BC
Shihara is especially notable for its situation at over 2,500 meters of altitude, making it very difficult to access, especially since the city is divided in two by a gorge which is crossed by a centuries old stone bridge.
You should also visit Rada to see its magnificent mosque, at the centre of the old town, with its very distinctive domes.
WHAT TO SEE IN YEMEN
Top destinations in Yemen are:
- Socotra island
- Gulf of Aden
WHEN TO GO TO YEMEN
The best times to visit Yemen are during April/May and September/October, thus avoiding the hot weather in summer and the cold nights of December.
The climate varies according to the region: Hot weather and high humidity on the shores of the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, it is scorching hot in July/August in these areas. On the high and medium altitude plateaus there reigns a more temperate climate, rather humid in summer and dry in winter, with large temperature differences between day and night.
In the north and eastern areas you will find a desert climate, very hot and dry.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Yemen.
- National Unity Day: This is the day that North Yemen and South Yemen united and became one nation. It is celebrated each year in May through parties, public entertainment, and carnivals. It is also a day of family for locals and many citizens travel throughout the country to be together.
- Sana’a Summer Festival: This month-long festival kicks off a series of events in the capital city each year during July. This colorful festival starts off with a huge carnival at Bab al-Yemen, the main gate to the Old City. Numerous people participate in the carnival and perform the traditional folkloric dance and take part in a fashion show to show off the traditional clothing of the country. Different events take place throughout the month-long event in parks, theatres, at historical attractions, and on the streets of Sana’a. The main focus of the festival is the handicrafts and industrial items of the country, with the crafts made by women of particular interest.
- Al-Baldah Tourist Festival: Each year on August 10, Mukalla City holds this well-known and popular event. The festival is named after a star that is seen each year on this date. It is said that when the star appears, the sea becomes exceptionally cold. The focus of the festival is to promote tourism to the Yemen coast by way of recreational activities. It also shows off the city’s natural beauty and therapeutic agents. This is one of the most important festivals in the region and as well as holding a number of activities, it sees exhibits of the beautiful jewelry and handicrafts of the region.
- Eid al-Adha: This is an important Muslim holiday, whose name translates to ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’. It is celebrated in honor of the Prophet Abraham who sacrificed his first-born son to God, who then gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead. This four-day holiday starts on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which is anywhere between September and November. This is the last month of the Islamic calendar and starts the day after the Hajj pilgrimage. The rituals in the mosques themselves are closed off to visitors though visitors can participate in the feast that follows.
- Mouloud: This day celebrates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. It takes place each year on the 12th day of the month of Rabi’ al-awwal, which falls in the winter of the Georgian calendar. A large street carnival takes place in cities and towns all over the country, as well as a large street procession. Houses and mosques are decorated, and food is distributed to everyone. Stories about the life of Mohammed are told and children recite famous Arabic poetry. Unlike other festivals in Yemen, Mouloud is a national holiday so all banks and businesses are closed.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH YEMEN
by plane, main airports are:
- Al Ghayda
GENERAL INFORMATION ON YEMEN
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice. Vaccine against typhoid, hepatitis A and B are recommended.
local currency: Yemeni Rial
local time zone: GMT+3
electricity: type A, D and G (230 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN YEMEN
typical food in Yemen
- Saltah: a mostly vegetable stew topped with foamed fenugreek, served piping hot in an earthenware bowl
- Fahsah: like Saltah but with more meat
- Fassolia: white beans lightly spiced
- Bint as Sahn: "girl of the plate", a honeyed bread dessert cooked in the oven
- Qishr: a light, spicy coffee drink made with the husks of coffee beans
- Maraq: lamb broth served at the beginning of the meal. It comes with a slice of lemon to squeeze into the soup
- Ogda: stew made from tying and mixing all the ingredients together
- Matfaiya: stew made with large chunks of kingfish in a thick, tomato based sauce with other vegetables
- Mandi: dish made from meat (lamb or chicken), basmati rice, and a mixture of spices
- Zerbian: dish of lamb, rice, saffron and spices cooked together in a pot
- Hanid: lamb or chicken in a tanoor (a clay filled with hot coals)
- Sambusa: deep-fried pastries stuffed with meat or cheese
- Madfoun: meat (chicken, lamb, or goat) buried and cooked under the coal
- Quamir: fried dough treat that can be either sweet or savory
- Fatta: bread soup made with pieces of the Yemeni bread bits mixed with meat broth and cooked vegetables
- Malawah: flatbread layered and folded with butter or ghee inside which makes it very tasty
- Khobz: flatbread traditionally baked in a tanoor oven
- Shakshouka: dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, potatoes, often spiced with cumin
- Masoob: dessert made from a base of over-ripe bananas and ground flatbread with cream, cheese, dates, and honey
- Fasolia: red or white kidney bean dish with tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables and spices
- Sabayah: dessert made of layers of pastry with butter in between each layer and Yemeni honey and black sesame seeds on top
- Mahalabiya: dessert made of milk and sugar, and thickened with cornstarch then laced with rose water or orange blossom water
- Karak: milk tea made with black tea, evaporated milk, and spices, such as cardamon
- Red tea: made with ground up cardamon
souvenirs from Yemen
- polished amber
- Jambiyya (characteristic curved daggers)
- Futa, trditional men's "skirt"
- traditional clothing
Hello: مرحبا (marhba)
Goodbye: وداعا (wadaeaan)
How are you?: كيف حالك؟ (kayf halk?)
Thank you: شكرا (shukraan)
What is your name?: ما اسمك؟ (ma asmak)
How much is it?: كم سعره؟ (kam saerha?)
Sorry: معذرة (maedhira)