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Republic of Yemen
الجمهورية اليمنية
Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Yamaniyyah
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Allah, al-Watan, at-Thawra, al-Wehda"
"God, Nation, Revolution, Unity"
AnthemUnited Republic
(and largest city)
15°21′N 44°12′E / 15.35°N 44.2°E / 15.35; 44.2
Official language(s) Arabic
Demonym Yemeni, Yemenite
Government Republic
 -  President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh (GPC)
 -  Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-HADI[1] (GPC)
 -  Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujur (GPC)
 -  Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdulkarim Ismail Al-Arhabi
 -  North Yemen independence from the Ottoman Empire November 1, 1918 
 -  South Yemen independence from the United Kingdom November 30, 1967 
 -  Unification May 22, 1990 
 -  Total 527,968 km2 (49th)
203,849 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2009 estimate 23,580,000[2] (51st)
 -  July 2007 census 22,230,531 
 -  Density 44.7/km2 (160th)
115.7/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $55.393 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $2,410[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $26.909 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $1,171[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.575[4] (medium) (140)
Currency Yemeni rial (YER)
Time zone (UTC+3)
Drives on the right[5]
Internet TLD .ye
Calling code 967

Yemen (Arabic: اليَمَن al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen (Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية al-Jumhuuriyya al-Yamaniyya) is a country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. It has an estimated population of more than 23 million people and is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to the south, and Oman to the east.

Yemen is just under 530,000 km2 in land area. Its territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 415 kilometres (259 miles) to the south of mainland Yemen, off the coast of Somalia. Yemen is the only state in the Arabian Peninsula to have a purely republican form of government. Its capital is Sana'a.



Map of Yemen
Map of Yemen

Yemen is in the Arab World, in the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea. It lies south of Saudi Arabia, and west of Oman.

Tihama on the Red Sea near Khaukha

A number of Red Sea islands, including the Hanish Islands, Kamaran and Perim, as well as Socotra in the Arabian Sea belong to Yemen. Many of the islands are volcanic; for example Jabal al-Tair had a volcanic eruption in 2007 and before that in 1883.

At 527,970 km² (203,837 sq mi), Yemen is the world's 49th-largest country (after France). It is comparable in size to Thailand, and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of California. Yemen is situated at 15°N 48°E / 15°N 48°E / 15; 48.

Until recently, Yemen's northern border was undefined; the Arabian Desert prevented any human habitation there.

The country can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the Rub al Khali in the east.

The Tihamah ("hot lands") form a very arid and flat coastal plain. Despite the aridity, the presence of many lagoons makes this region very marshy and a suitable breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes. There are extensive crescent-shaped sand dunes. The evaporation in the Tihama is so great that streams from the highlands never reach the sea, but they do contribute to extensive groundwater reserves. Today, these are heavily exploited for agricultural use. Near the village of Madar about 48 km North of Sanaa dinosaur footprints were found, indicating that the area was once a mud flat.

The town of Hajarin

The Tihamah ends abruptly at the escarpment of the western highlands. This area, now heavily terraced to meet the demand for food, receives the highest rainfall in Arabia, rapidly increasing from 100 mm (4 inches) per year to about 760 mm (30 inches) in Ta'izz and over 1,000 mm (40 inches) in Ibb.

Agriculture here is very diverse, with such crops as sorghum dominating. Cotton and many fruit trees are also grown, with mangoes being the most valuable. Temperatures are hot in the day but fall dramatically at night. There are perennial streams in the highlands but these never reach the sea because of high evaporation in the Tihama.

The central highlands are an extensive high plateau over 2,000 metres (6,560 feet) in elevation. This area is drier than the western highlands because of rain-shadow influences, but still receives sufficient rain in wet years for extensive cropping. Diurnal temperature ranges are among the highest in the world: ranges from 30 °C (86 °F) in the day to 0 °C (32 °F) at night are normal.[citation needed] Water storage allows for irrigation and the growing of wheat and barley. Sana'a is located in this region. The highest point in Yemen is Jabal an Nabi Shu'ayb, at 3,666 meters (12,028 ft).

The Rub al Khali in the east is much lower, generally below 1,000 metres, and receives almost no rain. It is populated only by Bedouin herders of camels.


Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle-East, with 40% unemployment as of 2007, dwindling natural resources, and rapid population growth.[6] Yemen has a weak economy compared to other Arab states, mainly due to Yemen having relatively little oil, having discovered it during the 1980's.

Yemen's economy depends heavily on the oil it does produce, and its government receives the vast majority of its revenue from oil taxes. But Yemen's oil reserves are expected to be depleted by 2017, with fears of a resulting economic collapse.[7] Yemen does have large proven reserves of natural gas.[8] Yemen's first liquified natural gas (LNG) plant began production in October 2009.

Rampant corruption is a prime obstacle to development in the country, limiting local reinvestments and driving away regional and international capital. The government has recently taken many measures to stamp out corruption, but efforts have been met with only partial success. Foreign investments remain largely concentrated around the nation's hydrocarbon industry.

Substantial Yemeni communities exist in many countries of the world, including Yemen's immediate neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States, especially in the area around Detroit, Michigan, and in Lackawanna, New York. Beginning in the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union and China provided large-scale assistance. For example, the Chinese are involved with the expansion of the International Airport in Sanaa.

In the south, pre-independence economic activity was overwhelmingly concentrated in the port city of Aden. The seaborne transit trade, which the port relied upon, collapsed with the closure of the Suez Canal and Britain's withdrawal from Aden in 1967.

Since unification, the government has worked to integrate two relatively disparate economic systems. However, severe shocks, including the return in 1990 of approximately 850,000 Yemenis from the Persian Gulf states, a subsequent major reduction of aid flows, and internal political disputes culminating in the 1994 civil war hampered economic growth. As the fastest growing democracy in the Middle East, Yemen is attempting to climb into the middle human development region through ongoing political and economic reform.

In the late 20th century Sanaa’s population grew exponentially, from roughly 55,000 in 1978 to more than 2 million in the early 21st century.[9] Sana'a may be the first capital city in the world to run out of water.[10]

Since the conclusion of the war, the government entered into agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement a structural adjustment program. Phase one of the IMF program included major financial and monetary reforms, including floating the currency, reducing the budget deficit, and cutting subsidies. Phase two will address structural issues such as civil service reform.

In early 1995, the government of Yemen launched an economic, financial and administrative reform program (EFARP) with the support of the World Bank and the IMF, as well international donors. The First Five-Year Plan (FFYP) for the years 1996 to 2000 was introduced in 1996. The World Bank has focused on public sector management, including civil service reform, budget reform and privatization. In addition, attracting diversified private investment, water management and poverty-oriented social sector improvements has been made a priority for the implementation of the programs in Yemen. These programs had a positive impact on Yemen’s economy and led to the reduction of the budget deficit to less than 3% of GDP during the period from 1995 to 1999 and the correction of macro-financial imbalances.[11]

In 1997, IMF and the Yemeni government began medium-term economic reform programs under the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) and Extended Fund Facility (EFF). This program was aimed at reducing dependence on the oil sector and establishing a market environment for real non-oil GDP growth and investment in the non-oil sector. Increasing the growth rate in the non-oil sector was one of the government's most important objectives. Programs also focused on reducing unemployment, strengthening the social safety net and increasing financial stability. To achieve these reforms, the government and IMF implemented containment of government wages, improvements in revenue collection with the introduction of reforms in tax administration, and a sharp reduction in subsidies bills through increased prices on subsidized goods. As a result, the fiscal cash deficit was reduced from 16% of GDP to 0.9% from 1994 to 1997. This was supported by aid from oil-exporting countries despite the wide-ranging fluctuations in world oil prices. The real growth rate in the non-oil sector rose by 5.6% from 1995 to 1997.[12]

Foreign relations and wars

A village on Hajjaz Mountains in Yemen.

The geography and ruling Imams of North Yemen kept the country isolated from foreign influence before 1962. The country's relations with Saudi Arabia were defined by the Taif Agreement of 1934, which delineated the northernmost part of the border between the two kingdoms and set the framework for commercial and other intercourse. The Taif Agreement has been renewed periodically in 20-year increments, and its validity was reaffirmed in 1995. Relations with the British colonial authorities in Aden and the south were usually tense.

The Soviet and Chinese Aid Missions established in 1958 and 1959 were the first important non-Muslim presence in North Yemen. Following the September 1962 revolution, the Yemen Arab Republic became closely allied with and heavily dependent upon Egypt. Saudi Arabia aided the royalists in their attempt to defeat the Republicans and did not recognize the Yemen Arab Republic until 1970. At the same time, Saudi Arabia maintained direct contact with Yemeni tribes, which sometimes strained its official relations with the Yemeni Government. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis found employment in Saudi Arabia during the late 1970s and 1980s.

The old town of Aden, Yemen, situated in the crater of an extinct volcano.

In February 1989, North Yemen joined Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt in forming the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC), an organization created partly in response to the founding of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and intended to foster closer economic cooperation and integration among its members. After unification, the Republic of Yemen was accepted as a member of the ACC in place of its YAR predecessor. In the wake of the Persian Gulf crisis, the ACC has remained inactive. Yemen is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

British authorities left southern Yemen in November 1967 in the wake of an intense rebellion. The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, the successor to British rule, had diplomatic relations with many states, but its major links were with the Soviet Union and other communist countries. Relations between it and the conservative Arab states of the Arabian Peninsula were strained. There were military clashes with Saudi Arabia in 1969 and 1973, and the PDRY provided active support for the Dhofar rebellion against the Sultanate of Oman. The PDRY was the only Arab state to vote against admitting new Arab states from the Persian Gulf area to the United Nations and the Arab League. The PDRY provided sanctuary and material support to various insurgent groups around the Middle East.[citation needed]

Yemen is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and also participates in the nonaligned movement. The Republic of Yemen accepted responsibility for all treaties and debts of its predecessors, the YAR and the PDRY. Yemen has acceded to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The Persian Gulf crisis dramatically affected Yemen's foreign relations. As a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 1990 and 1991, Yemen abstained on a number of UNSC resolutions concerning Iraq and Kuwait and voted against the "use of force resolution." Western and Persian Gulf Arab states reacted by curtailing or canceling aid programs and diplomatic contacts. At least 850,000 Yemenis were expelled from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia has begun construction of a separation barrier between its territory and Yemen to prevent the unauthorized movement of people and goods into and out of the kingdom.

Subsequent to the liberation of Kuwait, Yemen continued to maintain high-level contacts with Iraq. This hampered its efforts to rejoin the Arab mainstream and to mend fences with its immediate neighbors. In 1993, Yemen launched an unsuccessful diplomatic offensive to restore relations with its Persian Gulf neighbors. Some of its aggrieved neighbors actively aided the south during the 1994 civil war. Since the end of that conflict, tangible progress has been made on the diplomatic front in restoring normal relations with Yemen's neighbors. The Omani-Yemeni border has been officially demarcated. In the summer of 2000, Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed an International Border Treaty settling a 50 year old dispute over the location of the border between the two countries. Yemen settled its dispute with Eritrea over the Hanish Islands in 1998.

After the departure from the Persian Gulf Arab states, as many as 15,000 Yemenis migrated to the U.S. Many Yemenis can be found in the south of Dearborn, Michigan. In the early 1990s, Yemenis went in search of manufacturing jobs. They continue to work in the U.S. and routinely send money back to their families.

Kidnapping of foreign tourists by tribes has been an ongoing problem throughout the modern period.[13] In many instances, the kidnappers attempted to use hostage taking to gain leverage in negotiations with the government. One victim of kidnapping was former German Secretary of State Jürgen Chrobog, a man who himself had conducted negotiations with kidnappers while in office.[14] In June 2009, a group of nine foreign tourists were kidnapped near the city of Saada. Seven were killed and two children survived.[13]

Yemen has historically enjoyed good relations with Somalia, its neighbour to the south and fellow Arab League member. Ethnic Somalis for the most part blend in well with Yemeni society, as they share centuries of close religious, commercial and social ties. Following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia, Yemen unconditionally opened its borders to Somali asylum seekers. The World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, estimates that 110,600 Somali refugees lived in Yemen in 2007,[15] which is a fraction of the estimated 700,000-strong Somali nationals already living and working in Yemen.[16] There are also many Somalis who have received Yemeni citizenship due to marriage with Yemenis as well as through service to the nation over the years. In addition, Yemen and Somalia have a long history of trade and inter-action, with many of Somalia's Sultans, such as Yusuf Ali Kenadid and Gerad Ali Dable, often being exiled to and recruiting troops from Yemen's Hadhramaut region. Somalia has also over the centuries seen successive waves of immigration from Yemen, with Hadhrami settlers being instrumental in helping to consolidate the Muslim community in the coastal Banaadir region in particular.[17] During the colonial period, disgruntled Yemenis from the Hadhrami wars additionally sought and received asylum in various Somali towns.[18]

Yemen also maintains good relations with Djibouti, its other predominantly Somali neighbour to the west across the Red Sea. With a rapidly expanding economy, a stable government, huge investments from fellow Persian Gulf Arab states, and a strategic maritime location in the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti stands as an important ally. While Djibouti is largely inhabited by Somalis, it is separate from the Somali Republic and holds its own seat in the United Nations, and the League of Arab States. On February 22, 2008, the BBC reported that a company owned by Tarek bin Laden was planning to build a bridge across the Bab el Mandeb, linking Yemen with Djibouti.[19][20]

Since 2004, a civil war is being fought in Northern Yemen between Yemeni forces and Shiite Houthi rebels. In 2009, it spilled over into the neighbouring border region of Saudi Arabia. This conflict is increasingly becoming a danger to regional stability according to news reports by CNN[21] and the BBC[22] as various countries are said to be involved, e.g. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.[23] The United Nations[24] and UNDP Yemen report about a growing problem of civilians fleeing from the region. Yemen is said to have more than 60 million guns.[25] The 2009 South Yemen insurgency has further destabilized the country.

Some news reports have suggested that, on orders from President Barack Obama, US warplanes fired cruise missiles at what officials in Washington claimed were Al Qaeda training camps in the provinces of Sana’a and Abyan on December 17, 2009. [26] Other reports suggest that the airstrikes were carried out by Yemeni Mig-29 aircraft, probably helped by US intelligence [27], or that cruise missiles were launched from warships offshore.[28] Officials in Yemen said that the attacks claimed the lives of more than 60 civilians, 28 of them children. Another airstrike was carried out on December 24.[29]

On January 3, 2010 the US and British embassies in Yemen closed for security reasons after the failed plot to bomb a plane in Detroit and after reports of eight individuals planning an attack on the embassy itself. One was arrested with a suicide vest, while three others were killed. Four remain at large as of January 4, 2010.[30]

Despite these tensions between the US and Yemen, as well as increasing worries about terrorism in Yemen, President Obama has stated that he has no plans to introduce US military forces into the country, a sentiment that was echoed by US General David Petraeus. Instead of military intervention, the US government intends to increase military aid to $140 million in 2010.[31]


The population of Yemen was about 28 million according to July 2005 estimates, with 46% of the population being under 15 years old and 2.7% above 65 years. In 1950, it was 4.3 million.[32][33] By 2050, the population is estimated to increase to about 60 million.[34]

Yemen has one of the world's highest birth rates; the average Yemeni woman bears six children. Although this is similar to the rate in Somalia to the south, it is roughly twice as high as that of Saudi Arabia and nearly three times as high as those in the more modernized Persian Gulf Arab states. Yemen's population is increasing by 700,000 every year.

Yemenis are mainly of Arab origin.[1] Arabic is the official language, although English is increasingly understood by citizens in major cities. In the Mahra area (the extreme east) and the island Soqotra, several ancient south-Arabic Semitic languages are spoken.[35][36] When the former states of north and south Yemen were established, most resident minority groups departed.[37] Yemen is still a largely tribal society.[38] In mountains of northern Yemen live some 400 Zaydi tribes.[39] The African-descended group known as Al-Akhdam form a kind of hereditary caste in Yemen.[40] Yemen officially abolished slavery in 1962.[41]

High-rise architecture at Shibam, Wadi Hadramawt

Yemenite Jews once formed a sizable Jewish minority in Yemen with a distinct culture.[42] They also occupied key industries including silversmiths, and their influence on Yemeni culture is still discussed within the souks. However, most of them emigrated to Israel in the mid 20th century, following the Jewish exodus from Arab lands and Operation Magic Carpet.[43] In the early 20th century, they had numbered about 50,000; they currently number only a few hundred individuals and reside largely in Sana'a. The original Jews' village is now left abandoned and is popularly known as "Bait-baws".

Arab traders have long operated in Southeast Asia, trading in spices, timber and textiles. Most of the prominent Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans of Arab descent have their origins in southern Yemen in the Hadramawt coastal region.[44] As many as 4 million Indonesians are of Hadrami descent and today there are almost 10,000 Hadramis in Singapore.[45] The Hadramis emigrated not only to Southeast Asia but also to East Africa and the Indian subcontinent.[46] Maqil were a collection of Arab Bedouin tribes of Yemeni origin who migrated westwards via Egypt. Several groups of Yemeni Arabs turned south to Mauritania and by the end of the 17th century century, they dominated the entire country.[47]

According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Yemen hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 124,600 in 2007. Refugees and asylum seekers living in Yemen were predominately from Somalia (110,600), Iraq (11,000) and Ethiopia (2,000).[15] There are also about 70,000 Iraqis presently living in Yemen.[48] UNHCR estimates that in 2008 more than 50,000 Somalis reached Yemen.[49] Yemen's civil war has forced at least 175,000 Yemenis to flee their homes.[50]

The Yemeni diaspora is largely concentrated in the United Kingdom, where between 70,000 and 80,000 Yemenis reside, also just over 15,000 - 20,000 Yemenis reside in the United States and 2,000 live in France.[51] Saudi Arabia expelled 800,000 Yemenis in 1990 and 1991 to punish Yemen for its opposition to the Gulf War against Iraq.[52]


A non-operational old church in Aden.

Religion in Yemen consists primarily of two principal Islamic religious groups. 53% of the Muslim population is Sunni[53] and 47% is Shi'a.[53][54] Sunnis are primarily Shafi'i, but also include significant groups of Malikis, and Hanbalis. Shi'is are primarily Zaidis, and also have significant minorities of Twelver Shias[55] and Musta'ali Western Isma'ili Shias (see Shia Population of the Middle East).

The Sunnis are predominantly in the south and southeast. The Zaidis are predominantly in the north and northwest whilst the Jafaris and Ismailis are in the main centers such as Sana'a and Ma'rib. There are mixed communities in the larger cities. Less than 1% of Yemenis are non-Muslim, adhering to Hinduism, Christianity ,Judaism and Atheism.[56]


Despite the significant progress Yemen has made to expand and improve its health care system over the past decade, the system remains severely underdeveloped. Total expenditures on health care in 2004 constituted 5 percent of gross domestic product. In that same year, the per capita expenditure for health care was very low compared with other Middle Eastern countries— US$34 according to the World Health Organization. According to the World Bank, the number of doctors in Yemen rose by an average of more than 7 percent between 1995 and 2000, but as of 2004 there were still only three doctors per 10,000 persons. In 2005 Yemen had only 6.1 hospital beds available per 10,000 persons. Health care services are particularly scarce in rural areas; only 25 percent of rural areas are covered by health services, compared with 80 percent of urban areas. Most childhood deaths are caused by illnesses for which vaccines exist or that are otherwise preventable.[57] According to 2009 estimates, life expectancy in Yemen is 63.27 years.[1]

Human rights

The government and its security forces, often considered to suffer from rampant corruption, have been responsible for torture, inhumane treatment and extrajudicial executions. There are arbitrary arrests of citizens, especially in the south, as well as arbitrary searches of homes. Prolonged pretrial detention is a serious problem, and judicial corruption, inefficiency, and executive interference undermine due process. Freedom of speech, the press and religion are all restricted.[58]

Human Rights Watch reported on discrimination and violence against women as well as on the abolition of the minimum marriage age of fifteen for women. The onset of puberty (interpreted by some to be as low as the age of nine) was set as a requirement for marriage instead.[59] Reports of other forms of hostile prejudice directed towards disabled people, and religious minorities were also reported. Censorship is actively practiced and in the mid-2000s legislation was passed requiring journalists to reveal their sources under certain circumstances, and the government has raised the start-up costs for newspapers and websites significantly. In violation of the Yemeni constitution, the security forces often monitor telephone, postal, and Internet communications. Journalists who tend to be critical of the government are often harassed and threatened by the police.[60]

Since the start of the Sa'dah insurgency many people accused of supporting Al-Houthi have been arrested and held without charge or trial. According to the US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2007, "Some Zaydis reported harassment and discrimination by the Government because they were suspected of sympathizing with the al-Houthis. However, it appears the Government's actions against the group were probably politically, not religiously, motivated".[61]

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported several violations of refugee and asylum seekers' rights in the organization's 2008 World Refugee Survey. Yemeni authorities reportedly deported numerous foreigners without giving them access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, despite the UN’s repeated requests. Refugees further reported violence directed against them by Yemeni authorities while living in refugee camps. Yemeni officials reportedly raped, beat and camp-based refugees with impunity in 2007.[15]


While the national language is Arabic (Yemeni Arabic is spoken in several regional dialects), Yemen is one of the main homelands of the South Semitic family of languages, which includes the non-Arabic language of the ancient Sabaean Kingdom. Its modern Yemeni descendants are closely related to the modern Semitic languages of Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, only a small remnant of those languages exists in modern Yemen, notably on the island of Socotra and in the back hills of the Hadhramaut coastal region. Modern South Arabian languages spoken in Yemen include Mehri, with 70,643 speakers, Soqotri, with an estimated 43,000 speakers in the Socotra archipelago (2004 census) and 67,000 worldwide, Bathari (with an estimated total of only 200 speakers), and Hobyót language.

Foreign language in public schools is taught from grade seven onwards, though the quality of public school instruction is low. Private schools using a British or American system teach English and produce proficient speakers, but Arabic is the dominant language of communication. The number of English speakers in Yemen is small compared to other Arab countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Private schools have also started to teach French alongside Arabic and English.

There is a significant number of Russian speakers, originating from Yemeni-Russian cross-marriages occurring mainly in the 1970s and 1980s. A small Vietnamese-speaking community is found in the capital city of Sana'a, originating from Yemeni immigrants expatriated from Vietnam after the Vietnam War in the 1970s.


The National Museum in Sana'a

Yemen is a culturally rich country with influence from many civilizations, such as the early civilization of Sheba.


Qat, also known as Khat (Catha edulis) is a large, slow growing, evergreen shrub, reaching a height of between 1 and 6 meters; in equatorial regions it may reach a height of 10 meters.[62] This plant is widely cultivated in Yemen and is generally used for chewing. When Khat juice is swallowed, its leaf juice has an amphetamine-like effect.


The Yemeni film industry is in its early stages, only two Yemeni films have been released as of 2008. In 2005, A New Day in Old Sana'a deals with a young man struggling between whether to go ahead with a traditional marriage or go with the woman he loves.

Dance in Sa'dah, northwestern Yemen.

In August 2008, Yemen’s Interior Minister Mutahar al-Masri supported the launch of a new feature film to educate the public about the consequences of Islamist extremism. "The Losing Bet" was produced by Fadl al-Olfi. The plot follows two Yemeni jihadis, who return from years living abroad. They are sent home by an Al Qaeda mastermind to recruit new members and carry out deadly operations in Yemen.[63]


In the strategic vision for the next 25 years since 2000, the government has committed to bring significant changes in the education system, thereby reducing illiteracy to less than 10% by 2025.[64] Although Yemen’s government provides for universal, compulsory, free education for children ages six through 15, the U.S. Department of State reports that compulsory attendance is not enforced. The government has developed the National Basic Education Development Strategy in 2003 that aimed at providing education to 95% of Yemeni children between the ages of 6–14 years and also to decrease the gap between males and females in urban and rural areas.[65]

World Heritage sites

A footbridge in Shaharah, Yemen.

Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.

The Old Walled City of Shibam in Wadi Hadhramaut, inscribed by UNESCO in 1982, two years after Yemen joined the world heritage organisation, is nicknamed "Manhattan of the Desert", because of its "skyscrapers". Surrounded by a fortified wall, the 16th-century city is one of the oldest examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.

The ancient Old City of Sana’a at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet has been inhabited for over two and a half millennia and was inscribed in 1986. Sana’a became a major Islamic centre in the 7th Century and the 103 mosques, 14 hammams (traditional bath houses) and more than 6,000 houses that survive all date from before the 11th Century.

Close to the Red Sea Coast, the Historic Town of Zabid, inscribed in 1993, was Yemen’s capital from the 13th to the 15th century, and is an archaeological and historical site. It played an important role for many centuries, because of its university, which was a centre of learning for the whole Arab and Islamic world. Algebra is said to have been invented there in the early 9th century by the little-known scholar Al-Jaladi.

The latest addition to Yemen’s list of World Heritage Sites is the Socotra Archipelago. Mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th century, this remote and isolated archipelago consists of four islands and two rocky islets near the Gulf of Aden. The site has a rich biodiversity. Nowhere else in the world do 37% of Socotra’s 825 plants, 90% of its reptiles and 95% of its snails occur. It is home to 192 bird species, 253 species of coral, 730 species of costal fish and 300 species of crab and lobster, as well as a range of Aloes and the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari). The cultural heritage of Socotra includes the unique Soqotri language.

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace[66] Global Peace Index[67] 119 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 140 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 154 out of 180

See also


  1. ^ a b c "CIA World Factbook". CIA. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Yemen". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2009: Yemen". The United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  5. ^ "Yemen". International News Safety Institute. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  6. ^ "Somalis pin peace hopes on Yemen". BBC News. January 17, 2007.
  7. ^ Richard Fontaine and Andrew Exum (January 5, 2010). "Yemen's coming disaster; Its oil is expected to run out in 2017, but Yemen hasn't planned for its young, poverty-ridden population's post-oil future". Los Angeles Times.,0,5758223.story. 
  8. ^ "Yemen". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  9. ^ "Sana'a Rising". Saudi Aramco World.
  10. ^ "Yemen water crisis builds". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2009.
  11. ^ IMF
  12. ^ IMF
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "Die Ehre der Daha" Spiegel, 1/2006, p. 90
  15. ^ a b c "World Refugee Survey 2008". U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 2008-06-19. 
  16. ^ "Illegal migration from Africa to Yemen on the rise", USA Today, July 3, 2008, 
  17. ^ Cassanelli, Lee V. (1973), The Benaadir past: essays in southern Somali history, University of Wisconsin, pp. 24 .
  18. ^ Gavin, R. J. (1975), Aden under British rule, 1839-1967, London: Hurst, pp. 198, ISBN 0903983141 .
  19. ^ "Tarek Bin Laden's Red Sea bridge", BBC News, February 22, 2008, 
  20. ^ Sawyer, Tom (May 1, 2007), "Notice-to-Proceed Launches Ambitious Red Sea Crossing", Engineering News-Record, 
  21. ^ "U.N.: Yemen's civil war spreads to Saudi Arabia", CNN, November 14, 2009, 
  22. ^ "Civil war fears as Yemen celebrates unity", BBC News, May 21, 2009, 
  23. ^ Sallam, Mohammed Bin (November 23, 2009), "Jordanian Commandos support Saudi troops in fight against Houthis", Yemen Times, 
  24. ^ "As fighting worsens in Yemen, UN calls for safe corridors for aid and civilians", UN News Center, August 28, 2009, 
  25. ^ Brandon, James (January 24, 2006), "Yemen attempts to rein in outlaw tribes", The Christian Science Monitor, 
  26. ^ "Cruise Missiles Strike Yemen", ABC News, 
  27. ^ "Yemeni air attacks on al-Qaida fighters risk mobilising hostile tribes", The Observer, 
  28. ^ "U.S. Cruise Missiles Hit Al Qaeda In Yemen",, 
  29. ^ "In wake of airline incident: Drumbeat for US war in Yemen", The Intelligence Daiyly, 
  30. ^ "British embassy in Yemen closed", AOL News, January 3, 2010, 
  31. ^ "Obama Plays Down Military Role in Yemen". The New York Times. 10 January 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  32. ^ "The General Census of Population 2004.". Yemen News Agency.
  33. ^ "The population explosion on Europe’s doorstep". The Sunday Times. May 18, 2008.
  34. ^ "Yemen: Government planning to curb population growth". IRIN Middle East. July 14, 2008.
  35. ^ Roger D. Woodard, The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia, (Cambridge University Press: 2008), p. 228
  36. ^ Ethnologue entry for South Arabian languages
  37. ^ US Department of State
  38. ^ "The children of Yemen’s tribal war". Herald Scotland. December 5, 2009.
  39. ^ "Zaydi Islam".
  40. ^ Worth, R.F. 2008, 'In slums without hope, Yemen's untouchables', International Herald Tribune, 27 February. Retrieved on 29 April 2008.
  41. ^ "Slaves in Saudi". Naeem Mohaiemen. The Daily Star. July 27, 2004.
  42. ^ "Yemen". Jewish Virtual Library.
  43. ^ "The Jews of Yemen". Jewish Virtual Library.
  44. ^ "The world's successful diasporas".
  45. ^ Hadramis in Singapore, by Ameen Ali Talib
  46. ^ "African connections in Yemeni music". Musike. International Journal of Ethnomusicological Studies, 2006.
  47. ^ "Mauritania - Arab invasions". Library of Congress Country Studies.
  48. ^ "Yemen: Iraqi migrants, refugees await brighter future". IRIN Asia. July 1, 2007.
  49. ^ "Yemen's forgotten refugee crisis". October 11, 2009.
  50. ^ "Yemen's fight with rebels a regional concern". November 14, 2009.
  51. ^ Yemenis in the UK
  52. ^ "Yemen's point of no return". April 1, 2009.
  53. ^ a b UNHRC - Yemen: The conflict in Saada Governorate - analysis
  54. ^ - Yemen: The land with more guns than people
  55. ^ Yemen Times
  56. ^ European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation
  57. ^ This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  58. ^ Derechos: Human Rights in Yemen
  59. ^ Human Rights Watch: World Report 2001 on Yemen last accessed 11 August 2006
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^ Qat plant
  63. ^ Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, August 29, 2008
  64. ^ "Republic of Yemen, Ministry of Education Report 2008.” The Development of Education in the Republic of Yemen.”pp3". 2008. 
  65. ^ "Republic of Yemen, Ministry of Education Report 2008.” The Development of Education in the Republic of Yemen.”pp5". 2008. 
  66. ^
  67. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

External links

General information
Preceded by
North Yemen concurrent with South Yemen
Government of Yemen
1990 to date
Succeeded by


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Yemen, officially the Republic of Yemen is a Middle Eastern country located on the w:Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia.


  • The Yemen Republic is an exotic mix of mountains, deserts, frequently rebellious tribesmen and guns. Maybe 16 million of them are in circulation.

See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : Middle East : Yemen
Travel Warning

WARNING: Travel to Yemen at this time is not recommended because of the very high threat of terrorist attacks, kidnappings, tribal violence and general lawlessness. Terrorist groups actively target tourist groups, with targeted suicide bombings and armed ambushes occurring yearly since 2007. Travel in the Saada region of northern Yemen is strongly discouraged because of the risk of violent civil unrest.[1]

Quick Facts
Capital Sanaa
Government Republic
Currency Yemeni rial (YER)
Area 527,970 km2
Population 18,701,257 (July 2002 est.)
Language Arabic
Religion Muslim including Shaf'i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi'a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu
Electricity 220/50Hz (UK plug)
Calling Code +967
Internet TLD .ye
Time Zone UTC +3

Yemen [2] is located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, and sharing borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. Yemen has had a troubled recent history with civil wars and tribal conflicts predominating.


Yemen is a difficult country to get around, but the rewards for the perseverent tourist are an unforgettable experience, populated with very friendly and open hosts. Despite being adjacent to Saudi Arabia and on the same peninsula as the United Arab Emirates, Yemen is definitely a place apart.


North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border.


Mostly desert; hot and humid along west coast; temperate in western mountains affected by seasonal monsoon; extraordinarily hot, dry, harsh desert in east. The weather can be chilly in areas where the elevation is high. Sana'a for example is at an elevation of over 7,200 feet. During the winter months, the temperatures can fall to zero during the night.


Narrow coastal plain backed by flat-topped hills and rugged mountains; dissected upland desert plains in center slope into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula.

Yemeni Coastal Plains
The dry flat territory along the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.
Yemeni Mountains
The mountainous region rising steeply from the coastal plain.
Yemeni Highlands
The region descending slowly eastwards from the mountains of the west.
Empty Quarter
The desert, inhabited only by nomads.
Red Sea Islands
Over 100 small islands in the Red Sea.
A larger island farther out in the Arabian Sea.
  • Aden — seaside former capital of South Yemen.
  • Al Hudayda — a relatively large city on the Red Sea with beautiful beaches
  • Al Mukalla — East Yemen's biggest city and bustling port, the gateway to the historical Hadhramaut region
  • Dhamar
  • Ibb
  • Kawkaban
  • Mokha — birthplace of one of the greatest things known to man: mocha coffee.
  • Shibam/Seiyun/Tarim — the three famous historical towns of Hadhramaut, perhaps Yemen's most fascinating and exotic destination
  • Ta'izz

Other destinations

HodyDah Yafia' Juban Ibb Abyan Lahaj Al-Bayda Al-Mahweet

Get in

Visa regulations change quite regularly, and an embassy should be contacted to make certain that the relevant documentation is obtained. Currently, citizens of most countries (with the possible exception of Gulf Co-operation Council members) need visas. Most visas are valid for 30 days from the date of issue (3 months for European Union, but sometimes it depends on the mood of the official dealing with you)and should be kept with the passport at all times before being surrendered at departure. The visa can be purchased on entry by visiting the visa kiosk which is on the left side of the arrival hall, just before the immigration desks. The cost for this (2009) is around US$55.

The visa is stuck onto a blank passport page and will be cancelled upon departure.

Arriving visitors will need to complete an arrival form which must be submitted with the visitor's pasport to immigration. The place of stay must be specified as well as other personal details.

As of January 5th, 2008, an American citizen traveling alone could acquire a tourist visa for 5500 riyal at the Sana'a airport in a matter of minutes. The visa official will want to know your address in Yemen, so at least have a hotel's name and general location in mind.

By plane

Emirates Air flies from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Sana'a and back five times a week. The flight takes slightly more than 2 hours, and Yemen is one hour behind UAE time. Budget airline Air Arabia [3] also flies from Sharjah (near Dubai) to Sana'a on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The national carrier, Yemenia, flies to Sana'a from many mid-Eastern and several European capitals, including a daily non-stop from Cairo. Lufthansa flies from Frankfurt 3 times weekly with a stop in Cairo. Flight time to Sana'a from Cairo is about 3 hours, plus a 1-hour time change. Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul to Sana'a 4 times a week. Qatar Air flies between Doha and Sanaa three times a week as well. Royal Jordanian also flies twice weekly from Amman to Sana'a and to Aden. Syrian air lines also flies to Sana'a .

By train

There are no trains to or within Yemen.

By car

It is possible to cross the Omani-Yemeni border in a car, although the border posts are often difficult to negotiate. Crossing from Saudi Arabia in a car is substantially more difficult, as regulations for getting a car into Saudi are very intricate.

By bus

Some buses operating throughout the Arabian peninsula connect to Yemen. The buses are mostly air-conditioned and comfortable, although the fleet, sometimes contains old buses which may not be very comfortable to be on for several hour trips. Note that arriving from Oman can prove difficult, especially if you're trying to get to Sana'a. There are buses from Salalah to Sayu'n in Wadi Hadramawt and Mukallah on the Indian Ocean, but at the moment (August 2008) tourists (especially from non-Arab countries) are not allowed to use public transport on roads linking the East and the West of Yemen: Mukallah - Aden and Say'un - Ma'rib. You may be able to negotiate with the tourist police a permission to travel in a taxi if you agree to hire a soldier/policeman to travel with you ($20 - $30). Otherwise you might be forced to take a plane.

By boat

There are no regular boat services for tourists to Yemen. Hitching a ride on a cargo ship or a sambuq (large Arabian wooden cargo vessel) are the only, highly inconvenient, options.

Get around

Yemen is not an easy country to get around, due predominantly to the effects of civil war.

For trips outside the capital, many travelers prefer a car (preferably 4WD) and may choose to hire a driver through a local travel agency. More intrepid travelers should certainly take advantage of the local intracity bus service, which is cheap, comfortable, and a wonderful way to see the country. The buses usually take a pit stop every hour or so, making this a slow(er) but much more interesting way to travel for those who are up for an adventure and some friendly conversation. The biggest company in Yemen is Yemitco, their offices can be found in major cities.

Additionally, all travel outside the capital will require a travel permit (tasriih) from tourist police in ministery of tourism building. You need your passport, list of destinations and timerange how long you are going to stay outside the capital. No photos required, however bring a photocopy of your visa and the picture page in your passport, as the photocopier there often doesn't work. This takes about 15 minutes. Office is closed from noon to (let's say) 14hrs. Then you take many photocopies of tasriih which you handle over at military checkpoints along the way. This may seem inconvenient, however it is designed to prevent travellers unwittingly venturing into areas of tribal unrest - and vice versa. Some areas of the country are off-limits to travel without military escorts, and still other areas are totally off-limits to travel. While the concept of staying informed about local conditions in your intended destinations is an overused one, in Yemen it is essential, as failure to do so may result in kidnappings or worse. No tasriih is checked if you fly to main cities in Yemen, like Aden, Al-hudaida etc.

The usual Middle Eastern shared taxi system exists in Yemen. In every city and often in towns there is at least one shared taxi (bijou, from Peugeot) station, from where cars go to different destinations. Just ask anyone for your destination and they will point you to a car going there. The driver will not depart until all seats are completely full, which means 2 people in the passenger's seat, four in the middle and three in the back in a standard Peugeot almost invariably used for this purpose. If you want to travel in more comfort, you can pay for two seats or for the whole row. If you're a woman travelling alone you might be offered two seats in front for the price of one, but often you'll be asked to pay for both.


Arabic is the official language. While many locals will at least attempt to communicate with non-Arabic speakers in other languages, any visitor will almost certainly need at least some Arabic, particularly if traveling to locations outside the capital. Even within Sana'a, the bilingual signs common throughout most of the Middle East are commonly absent, with Arabic script and numbers predominating. This said, Yemenis are very open for communication, and hand-waving, making noises and smiling can get you very far, even if not always where you wanted to get (usually to a qat-chewing session).

Yemenis have a myriad of different accents, due to the historical inaccessibility of parts of the country. It is not unusual for a visitor to be told that his or her laborious attempts at speaking Arabic are in fact "Arabic" and not "Yemeni" or "Yemeni enough". The more vocal village children will almost certainly enjoy hearing a visitor's attempts at their language, and will show this appreciation either with peals of laughter or by asking questions about the visitor's homeland.


Sana'a: Babel Yemen (old city), Wadi Dhar (Dar al-Hadschar Palace - also known as the rock house). Note that Sana'a is over 7200 feet in elevation. Socotra: Off the south coast of Yemen - an idylic island untouched by modern man and home to many rare species and plants. The seas are turquoise blue and the sands white and unspoiled.


Almost everywhere you look, you will have the chance to buy the curved dagger (jambiya) worn by local men. This purchase can be simply of the dagger and its accompanying sheath, however handmade belts and silver pouches are also for sale, with many tourists opting to purchase each item separately. When purchasing a jambiya, remember first and foremost that it counts as a weapon for customs purposes, even though it is not used as one anymore. Secondly, bear in mind that the sheath is predominantly leather with either a base metal or (in more expensive models) silver working added. Traditionally, handles were made of animal horn or even ivory. While it is doubtful that the handles sold today as being made from either of these products are the real thing, a wooden or amber handle may be a better option. If a real jambiya seems too much, there are also pendants and brooches commonly available in the shape of the knife and its sheath.

Necklaces and jewellery are also common souvenirs, and many of these will in fact be made of the semi-precious stones the souvenir sellers claim. Nevertheless, a healthy grain of salt should be added to any belief that one is actually purchasing a necklace of lapis lazuli or anything like that.

Bargaining (even with village children) is expected and worthwhile. If you are with local guides, a common approach is to have them ask for the "Yemeni price", however any bargaining on the part of the tourist will result in discounts. Bear in mind, too, that what may seem an absurdly cheap price for an item in Western terms will still be a great return for many locals.

In tourist sites, there will be souvenir-sellers everywhere you look. In some mountain villages, such as Kawkaban, their technique involves almost trapping the tourists with wheelbarrows full of souvenirs. There is an art form to firmly turning down the goods on offer, even when the seller is a young boy or girl in desperately poor circumstances.

Yemen's currency, the rial (riyal), is subject to high inflation. As a result, many prices (particularly those quoted to light-skinned visitors) will be given in US dollars or even euros. Any of these three currencies will be accepted by the seller, so ask for the cost in whichever currency you are carrying at the time. Discounts for paying in one currency or the other are not high enough to warrant only paying in local money (for example), but luck may be on your side.


Yemeni cuisine differs markedly from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, and is a real highlight of any trip to the country - particularly if shared by locals (which is an invitation most visitors will receive more often than they might expect).

The signature dish is salta, a meat-based stew spiced with fenugreek and generally served at the end of the main course. The taste is quite unlike any Western dishes, which may take newcomers by surprise, but it is a taste well worth acquiring.

Yemeni honey is particularly famous throughout the region, and most desserts will feature a liberal serving of it. Of particular note is bint al-sahn, a sort of flat dough dish which is drenched in honey. Other sweet foods well worth the trying are Yemeni raisins.

While not a "food" per se, something else to put in one's mouth is the qat leaf. This is the Yemeni social drug and is chewed by almost all of the population from after lunch until roughly dinnertime. The plant is cultivated all over the country, and most Yemenis are more than happy to offer visitors a branch or two. Actually chewing qat is something of an art, but the general idea is to chew the small, soft leaves, the soft branches (but not hard ones) and to build up a large ball of the stuff in a cheek. The ability to chew ever-increasing balls of qat is something of a mark of pride among Yemenis, and the sight of men and boys walking down the street in the afternoon with bulging cheeks is one the visitor will soon get used to. The actual effects of qat are unclear, although it generally acts as a mild stimulant. It also has something of an appetite-suppressant function, which may explain why there are so few overweight Yemenis in spite of the nature of their cuisine. Insomnia is another side effect.


Yemen is officially a dry country, however non-Muslims are entitled to bring up to two bottles of any alcoholic beverage into the country. These may be drunk only on private property, and venturing outside while under the influence is not a wise decision.

Many juices and soft drinks are readily available, but you should avoid more scruffy-looking juice shops as they might be using tap water as base. Many Yemenis will drink tea (shay) or coffee (qahwa or bun) with their meals. Yemeni coffee is considerably weaker than the strong Turkish coffee found elsewhere in peninsular Arabia.

Tap water should be avoided. This is comparatively easy to do, as bottled water - both chilled and at room temperature - is readily available everywhere.


Outside of the capital and the major centres (Sana'a, Aden and al-Mukalla), accommodation tends to be rather basic and generally of the mattress-on-the-floor variety, generally with shared bathrooms. Most larger villages will have at least one funduq, which will provide this sort of accommodation. The places tend to be named the [Name of Village] Tourist Hotel. Be aware that electricity supplies tend to be a little erratic, so hot water cannot always be counted on.

Funduq accommodation is not rated on the star scale used in other countries, but rather on the Yemeni "sheet" scale, with "no-sheet" being the most basic and "two-sheet" the top of the line. This does not mean that in a "no-sheet" funduq one will not receive a sheet, although in some places it may be worthwhile to bring one! Most funduqs will offer some food, almost invariably local cuisine, and the better ones will serve it in a diwan-style room, where one can eat while reclining on cushions. In some funduqs, dinner will be followed by a "party", featuring performances of traditional music and jambiya dances - sometimes with audience participation.


Particularly in Sana'a, there are institutes offering instruction in Arabic. The advantages of learning the language in Yemen are that the dialect spoken is often quite close to Classical Arabic, and also that languages other than Arabic are much less commonly spoken than they are in nearby countries. However, the one important exception to this rule is the Old Sana'a dialect, which is difficult to understand even for Arabs from other countries, and becoming completely incomprehensible when combined with a big ball of qat in the speaker's cheek.


Work in Yemen is difficult to obtain as a foreigner. The collections of young men waiting in public areas and by the roadside looking for work does not reflect a lack of jobs. Rather, it reflects that many Yemenis do not have enough education to work in non-manual jobs. As a result, immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa are often seen in service industries (with a popular joke among expats being that "something typically Yemeni" is in fact an Ethiopian maid). Educated westerners do not, however, have it easy as there are many bureaucratic hurdles to working in Yemen. Most westerners who find jobs there tend to be working as expat staff for a western company with interests in the country.

The only exception is that if you're an English native speaker, a lot of places in big cities, ranging from schools through universities to governmental organisations and companies are desperate for English teachers, and usually don't require any qualifications. Sometimes it is even possible to get a teaching job if English is not your first language.

Also in Sana'a the local English-language magazines often need proofreaders.

Stay safe

Homosexuality is punishable by death.

While Yemen has often attracted negative media attention as a result of kidnappings of tourists and internal strife, this should not deter the careful traveller. Anyone entering the country is taking a small, but ever-present, risk and should try to keep up-to-date on the exact security situation of their intended destinations and be prepared to change plans if the situation mandates it.

However, in March 2009, two separate but linked terrorist attacks occurred. 5 South Korean tourists were killed and 3 were injured in a suicide bombing while visiting Old Walled City of Shibam on March 15th. On March 18th, another attack occurred, aimed at investigators and family relatives of the March 15th attack. However, no one was killed except the perpetrator. Similar to many attacks and incidents in the country recently, al-Qaeda called for these attacks to occur. As such, many embassies world wide are advising against travel to this country, especially since violence seems to be spreading to once-thought safer regions of the country.

In June 2009, 9 foreign aid workers - 7 Germans, 1 Briton and a Korean - were kidnapped in the Northern Saada region. 3 bodies were later recovered. The fate of the remaining hostages is currently unknown.[4]

Driving is on the right. While Yemeni drivers have something of a reputation for bad driving, the reality is slightly more nuanced. Risks are taken, particularly in Sana'a, which would not normally be taken in other places, but the locals expect this to happen and compensate accordingly.

For trips outside Sana'a, however, a 4-wheel-drive is almost mandatory as most roads away from the routes connecting main cities are not paved. Travelers should also give serious consideration to hiring a local driver/guide, as maps tend not to be as useful as they can be in other countries. A city limits border pass is required as these are well protected by the military.

Stay healthy

Tap water should be avoided. To stay safe, it is recommended to stick to the bottled variety.

Additionally, be aware that the country is exceptionally dusty. Travelers with breathing difficulties (such as asthma) may encounter problems in more remote destinations.

The dry air (especially from September till April) can be bothersome, causing cracking lips and sometimes nosebleeds. Always carry a vaseline stick with you, available in most pharmacies in Yemen, and a packet of tissues.

Particularly when hiking, remember that much of the country is at altitude. Therefore, as well as taking the usual steps of drinking plenty of water and protection from the sun (which can be very harsh in Yemen), be aware of any dizziness you may be experiencing due to rapid ascents. Many of the more popular hiking routes are covered in loose stones, so be careful of your footing.


Three rules should always be followed in exploring Yemen:

1. This is a Muslim country. As such, be sensitive about where you point your camera. There are many great photo opportunities around every corner (the question is usually what to leave out of each image), but when photographing people, always ask first. The Arabic phrase "mumkin akhud sura minak?" is very useful indeed. Don't ever, ever try to take pictures of women, even if you're a woman yourself. This is considered a great offense and can even result in more than a few harsh words. Also don't try to take pictures of anything that looks as if it could be of any strategic importance (i.e. has at least one soldier or policeman guarding it).

2. Despite being close to the richer oil-producing countries, Yemen is one of the poorest states on earth. Living conditions for many locals are very tough. As a tourist, expect local merchants to demand higher prices from you. While being mindful of the poverty level in Yemen, tourists should resist sympathetic urges to pay the merchant's first price. Bargaining is a way of life in much of the world and is expected of all buyers.

3. If an area is off-limits, it is that way for a very good reason. Tempting as it may be to play the intrepid explorer, there is no reason to increase your risk of being kidnapped or worse unless you absolutely have to.

In addition, be prepared to be asked for pens (qalam, galam) for the local schools, and also sweets (bonbon). In the former case, if you have one to spare you may wish to consider it. In the latter, resist the urge to give a handout as it will create an expectation for the next foreigner to arrive. It should go without saying that you shouldn't give money ("fulus!" "bizniz!") to children. Donate to local charities instead.

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1911 encyclopedia

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



Proper noun




  1. Country in the Middle East. Official name: Republic of Yemen.

Derived terms


See also


  • Anagrams of eemny
  • enemy


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Yemen m.

  1. Yemen

Derived terms

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Province comprising the southwestern part of Arabia. Various traditions trace the earliest settlement of Jews in this region back to the time of Solomon, and the Sanaite Jews have a legend to the effect that their forefathers settled there forty-two years before the destruction of the First Temple. Under the prophet Jeremiah 75,000 Jews, including priests and Levites, are said to have gone to Yemen; and when Ezra commanded the Jews to return to Jerusalem they disobeyed, whereupon he pronounced an everlasting ban upon them. Tradition states, however, that as a punishment for this hasty action Ezra was denied burial in Palestine. As a result of this tradition, which is devoid of historicity, no Jew of Yemen gives the name of Ezra to a child, although all other Biblical appellatives are found there.


First Settlements.

The actual immigration of Jews into Yemen appears to have taken place about the beginning of the second century C.E., although the province is mentioned neither by Josephus nor by the Mishnah or Talmud. According to Winckler, the Jews of Yemen enjoyed prosperity until the sixth century C.E., and the fourth sovereign before Dhu Nuwas was a convert to Judaism. The kingdoms of Sheba, Raidan, Ḥaḍramaut, and Yamanat (Yemen) were united under the hegemony of the Yemenite kings, who were as follows:

Until recently Dhu Nuwas was regarded as the first king who was zealous for Judaism, but a chronicle of saints in the British Museum gives the nameof the martyr Arḳir, who was condemned to death by Shuraḥbil Yakkuf at the instigation of his counselors, the rabbis. Although all these legends are extremely biased and are chiefly devoted to the portrayal of the persecution of Christians by the Jews, it is evident that Judaism had in the fourth century taken a firm hold upon the royal house. In this legend, as in others, the city of Najran is important. Two Jewish youths are said to have been killed there, whereupon Dhu Nuwas conquered the city and executed the king after offering him his choice between Judaism and death. The effect of these traditions was a bitter oppression of the Jews, first by the Christians and later by the Arabs.

Yemen and Maimonides.

The average Jewish population of Yemen for the first five centuries C.E. is said to have been about 3,000. The Jews were scattered throughout the country, but carried on an extensive commerce and thus succeeded in getting possession of many Jewish books. When Saladin became sultan in the last quarter of the twelfth century and the Shiites revolted against him, the trials of the Yemenite Jews began. There were few scholars among them at that time, and a false prophet arose, proclaiming the amalgamation of Judaism and Mohammedanism, and pretending to be able to prove the truth of his teachings from the Bible. In this hour of need the greatest Jewish scholar of Yemen, Jacob ben Nathanael al-Fayyumi, wrote for counsel to Maimonides, who replied in a consolatory epistle entitled "Iggeret Teman." This letter made such an impression on the Jews of Yemen that, according to Saphir, they included the name of Maimonides in the Ḳaddish prayer. The false prophet was condemned to death and died in his illusion. Although Benjamin of Tudela did not personally visit Yemen, he gives certain data concerning the Yemenite Jews. Their capital was Teima and they called themselves Rechabites, while at their head stood the nasi Ḥanan. They were in constant strife with their Ismaelitic neighbors, from whom they won many victories and took much booty.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the condition of the Jews of Yemen was miserable. They were under the jurisdiction of the Imam, and were forbidden to wear new or good clothes, nor might they ride an ass or a mule, being compelled tó make the longest journeys on foot when occasion required it. They were prohibited, moreover, from engaging in money transactions, and were all mechanics, being employed chiefly as carpenters, masons, and smiths. At the beginning of the nineteenth century they are said to have numbered 30,000, and to have lived principally in Aden (200), Sana (10,000), Sada (1,000), Dhamar (1,000), and the desert of Beda (2,000). In recent times there have been no Jews in the Tahama (the low coast-land) nor in Hodeida, but they now reside in the interior of the plateau. Settlements of considerable size are found in the vicinity of Sana, and are divided between Manakhah, with 3,000 Jews, and Sana, which has a separate quarter containing about 8,000. The Jews have also special sections of the city in Kaukaban, Weilan, and Dhamar. Special mention should likewise be made of the Jewish village of Al-Gharaba, two kilometers from Reda'. The chief industry of the Jews of Yemen is the making of pottery, which is found in all their settlements and which has rendered them famous throughout the East. They engage very little in commerce. An important personage among the Yemenite Jews in the last quarter of the nineteenth century was Aaron Chehip, known as the "Coffee King." He came to a violent end, however, being murderously assaulted and robbed by the natives.


According to the most recent investigations, there is no longer any doubt that the Jews of Yemen, whatever the date of their settlement, brought with them the Bible and a large part of the traditional Haggadah, which also had an influence on the Koran. The Talmud, or at least a part of it, was likewise known in Yemen, and the fact that it was less widely distributed there than in Europe was due solely to the poverty of the people, which made it impossible to buy more copies. The Jews of Yemen must have been in close touch with Babylonia, since they reckoned time according to the Seleucidan era, and this chronology is found on tombstones as early as the ninth century. All the Hebrew manuscripts of Yemen, moreover, show the superlinear, or Babylonian, system of punctuation. It is clear from the "Iggeret Teman" that though the Yemenite Jews were not Talmudists, they acted according to the decisions of Rab Ashi in traditional law, at least after they had come under the influence of Maimonides. The "Yad," which they called "Ḥibbur," and the Shulḥan 'Aruk of Joseph Caro were regarded by them as the highest authorities in Jewish law.


The oldest Yemenite manuscripts are those of the Bible, which the Yemenite Jews call "Taj" (= "crown"). They date from the ninth century, and each of them has a short Masoretic introduction, while many contain Arabic commentaries. The Masorah was highly valued by the Jews of Yemen, and a special compilation, made by Yaḥya Saliḥ, was called by Ginsburg the "Masorah of Teman." They were acquainted with Saadia, Rashi, Ḳimḥi, Naḥmanides, and Isaac Arama, besides producing a number of exegetes from among themselves. In the fourteenth century Nathanael b. Isaiah wrote an Arabic commentary on the Bible, full of haggadot and almost wholly destitute of any real Biblical hermeneutics, while in the second half of the fifteenth century Saadia b. David al-'Adani was the author of a commentary on Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and Abraham b. Solomon wrote on the Prophets (British Museum). Of the Talmud the following treatises are now known to exist in manuscript: Beẓah, Pesaḥim, Mo'ed Ḳaṭan, Megillah, and Zebaḥim. The Yemenite Abner b. Ker ha-Shoshani wrote a double commentary in Hebrew on the "'En Ya'aḳob" of Jacob Ḥabib, and between 1478 and 1483 Saadia b. David al-'Adani composed a gloss on the "Yad" of Maimonides. Among the midrashim compiled in Yemen mention should be made of the "Midrash ha-Gadol" of David bar Amram al-'Adani (vol. i., ed. Schechter, 1902). Between 1413 and 1430 the physician Yaḥya Zechariah b. Solomon wrote a compilationentitled "Midrash ha-Ḥefeẓ," which included the Pentateuch, Lamentations, Esther, and the hafṭarot, while between 1484 and 1493 David al-Lawani composed his "Midrash al-Wajiz al-Mughni." In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries supercommentaries on the "Yad" were written by Saliḥ Musa al-Ḥadhari, Isaac b. Abraham, and David b. Solomon.

The Cabala was and is very popular among the Yemenite Jews, who are familiar with the Zohar and with the work of all the European cabalists. One of them, Solomon b. Dawid ha-Kohen, has written a cabalistic treatise in thirteen chapters, entitled "Leḥem Shelomoh."

Among the Yemenite poets who wrote Hebrew and Arabic hymns modeled after the Spanish school, mention may be made of Yaḥya al-Dhahri and the members of the Al-Shabbezi family. A single non-religious work, inspired by Ḥariri, was written in 1573 by Zechariah b. Saadia (identical with the Yaḥya al-Dhahri mentioned above), under the title "Sefer ha-Musar." The philosophical writers include: Saadia b. Jabeẓ and Saadia b. Mas'ud, both at the beginning of the fourteenth century; Ibn al-Ḥawas, the author of a treatise in the form of a dialogue written in rimed prose, and termed by its author the "Flower of Yemen"; Ḥasan al-Dhamari; and Joseph ha-Levi b. Jefes, who wrote the philosophical treatises "Ner Yisrael" (1420) and "Kitab al-Masaḥah."

Manuscripts of the Yemen Siddur are in the British Museum. The prayers agree in part with the Sephardic and in part with the Ashkenazic liturgy, and their language is partly Hebrew and partly Aramaic and Arabic, while the daily so-called "Ma'amadot" prayers are written in Aramaic. The Yemenite Siddur appeared in Jerusalem 1892 (2d ed. 1898), and in Vienna 1896.

Bibliography: Benjamin of Tudela, ed. Asher, p. 70, London, 1840; Burchard, in Ost und West, ii. 337-341; Deinard, Or Meïr, pp. 20-28, New York, 1896; Greenburg, The Hagadah According to the Rite of Yemen, i.-iv., London, 1896; Grätz, Gesch. iv.-vi. (Index); Harkavy, Studien und Mittheilungen, pp. 202, 217, Berlin, 1887; Neubauer, in J. Q. R. iii. 22; idem, in R. E. J. xxiii. 122 et seq.; idem, in Monatsschrift, iii. 42-44; Saphir, Eben Safir, i. 99-116; Steinschneider, Verzeichniss der Hebräischen Handschriften der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, ii. 71 et seq.; idem, in Israelitische Monatsschrift, 1891, No. 2; idem, in Monatsschrift, 1894, pp. 79 et seq.; Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, iv. 329-337; W. Bacher, Der Süd-Arabische Siddur, in J. Q. R. xiv. 581-621; idem, Ein Hebräisch-Arabisches Liederbuch aus Jemen, in Berliner-Festschrift, 1903, pp. 10-32; S. Poznanski, Zum Schrifthum der Süd-Arabischen Juden, in J. Q. R. xiv. 752-757; P. Heinrich, Fragment eines Gebetsbuches aus Jemen, Vienna, 1902; idem, in J. Q. R. xv. 330-333.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

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