VISAS ENTRY TO YEMEN TIME ZONE MONEY AND CURRENCY ELECTRICITY HEALTH AND FIRST AID DIET AND EATING DRESS CODE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKING HOURS OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS MONTHS OF THE ISLAMIC CALENDAR MOVEABLE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS SHOPPING SAFETY AND TRAVEL PERMISSIONS
All foreign nationals except citizens of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Gulf countries are required to get entry visas. Normally, the visitor can get entry visa to the Republic of Yemen in of 2 possible ways.
from the Yemeni Embassy or Consulate in visitor’s or neighbouring country. Upon arrival, the visitor is given one month residence permit.
In some embassies, the clients are asked for the invitation letter before VISA is issued to them. For all our clients we provide the invitation letter after booking the tour with us.
A registered travel agency in Yemen can arrange VISA approval for you, which is a document that guarantees that you will receive visa at arrival to Sana’a or Soqotra airport.
As a tour operator we are allowed to issue VISAS for clients that book a tour with our agency for their entire stay in Yemen (from entering Yemen till exiting Yemen). Actually we prepare VISA APPROVAL, that is a document that guarantees that you will get VISA into your passport upon arrival to Sana’a or Socotra airport.
We prepare the visa approvals for our clients at the Ministry of Interior (Passport Authority) prior arrival of the clients to Yemen. For preparation of visa approval, the clients should send us colourful copy of his/her passport by Email. When visa approval is prepared, we will send a scan of it to the client – also by Email.
The client should print the visa approval prior going to the airport in his or neighbouring country. The airport authorities round the world will want to see visa approval prior allowing the clients to embark the plane.
Upon arrival to Sana’a airport, all visitors must complete an immigration card.
Then the client should proceed to VISA window, show his/her passport and the VISA APPROVAL and after checking these documents, the real visa sticker will be given into his/her passport.
IMPORTANT (1): In your passport there should not be Israeli visa or Israeli stamp In case you have it, we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed to enter Yemen.
IMPORTANT (2): Within 14 days after entering the country, every visitor has to register himself in a police station. They will put you a triangle stamp over your visa.
In case you will stay in Yemen more than 14 days and you will try to leave the country without such a stamp, you will be charged a fee of approximately 30 USD at the passport control when leaving the country.
LONGER STAYS In case the visitor wants to stay in Yemen for a longer period, he/she can apply (after staying in Yemen for a month) for a 3 month residence visa that allows him/her to stay in a country for additional 3 months.
In last years, tourists that entered the country on tourist visas, were not able to extend their visas. Basically this process depends on circumstances.
ENTRY TO YEMEN
Air access to Sana’a International Airport (SAH) (15 km from the city centre) with the following airlines:
- Yemenia from Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Aden, Amman, Asmara, Bahrain, Beirut, Cairo, Dar Es Salaam, Dhaka, Djibouti, Doha, Dubai, Hodeidah, Jakarta, Jeddah, Khartoum, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Mumbai, Ryad, Ryan (Mukalla), Seiyun, Socotra, and Taizz.
- Royal Jordanian from Amman
- Egypt Air from Cairo
- Gulf Air from Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Muscat
- Air Arabia from Sharjah (UAE)
- Turkish Airlines from Istanbul (Atatűrk)
- Qatar Airways from Doha
- Air Arabia from Sharjah
- Saudi Arabian Airlines from Jeddah
- Ethiopian airlines
- Djibouti airlines
Other international & domestic airports are in Taizz (Al-Ganad), Aden, Al-Mukalla (Al-Riyan), Hodeidah and Socotra.
Airport taxes are included in all rates (subject to change).
There are six entry posts to Yemen from its neighbouring countries of Saudi Arabia (Harad or Al Buqal) and Oman (Habarut or Masyouna).
There are 5 main ports on the Red Sea (Hodeidah, Al Makha) and Arabian Sea (Aden, Al Mukalla and Bir Ali).
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 3 hrs.
MONEY AND CURRENCY
The official currency is Yemeni Rial (YR). Bank notes of 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000 YR, and coins of 5, 10 and 20 YR are in circulation and have English and Arabic numbers.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, money changers and hotels. The rate of exchange varies slightly (the exchange rate of USD is more constant than the one of EUR) and is currently: 1USD = 214,5 YR; 1 EUR = 233 YR (January, 12th, 2016).
If you do bring cash, be aware that new, crisp, clean, undamaged 100 USD $ or EUR notes fetch the best rate. Dollar notes that are worn-out, or older than 2003 are often difficult to exchange.
Very few places take credit cards in Yemen, thus almost all transactions are done in cash. There are ATM machines at some banks in Sana’a, including Arab bank, Int. Bank of Yemen, Tadhamon Int. Islamic Bank, Saba Islamic bank and Yemen Gulf Bank which accept VISA and other ATM logos.
Major credit cards are accepted in international hotels, some travel agencies and in a limited number of retailers. Shopping requires cash (YR, USD or EURO).
The voltage in Yemen is 220 V, 50-60 Hz. Five star hotels provide both options i.e. 110 V or 220 V. The lines have different outlets, but adaptors are inexpensive and easy to find.
Most of the time you’ll need adapters:
However there is a trick how to connect your electronic devices without using an adapter (ask in the country).
HEALTH AND FIRST AID
No official vaccinations are required.
Visitors are advised not to drink tap water. Clean, bottled water is readily available in all areas of the country. In restaurants you’ll be offered water from plastic holders and you can drink it without concern.
Malaria is present in remote coastal areas, although very rare. If you travel to tropical coastal region of northern Tihama (north of Hudaydah) or Soqotra, it is recommended to be supplied with anti-malaria drugs which are to be untaken only in the case of getting the disease.
IMPORTANT (something from my personal experiences after hundred of tours round all Yemen)
Actually the biggest danger for a visitor is strong sun, especially if you come in winter months, when Europeans are not adjusted to such a strong sun. Remember, that many places of Yemen, including Sana’a, are on high elevation, so the effect of the sun is even stronger. Therefore it is strongly recommended to wear a hat or a scarf for a sun protection and to drink a lot of fluids. If you feel weak, this can be a strong sign of a rehydration, and we advise you to buy rehydration salts in any Yemeni pharmacy (mahlul in Arabic), or simply put a bit of sugar and salt in your water and you will feel better.
Signs of a mild sun attack are: vomiting during the night, weakness, mild diarrhoea. Don’t think that you’ve got a food infection. It is not ! In case of food infection you would have cramps, high fever, vomiting and diarrhoea at the same time and these would last 5 days minimum).
So, if you’ve got a mild sun attack, try to take a rest, drink rehydration fluids and eat some banana (if you will not eat at all, you will feel even worse). A good treatment is a mixture of Yemeni honey and black seeds.
Travel insurance for foreigners, including emergency evacuation, is advisable.
There are government and private hospitals available in major cities and medical clinics in large villages.
Major public hospital in Sana’a:
- Al Thawra Hospital: Al-Khoulan St., near Bab Al Yemen, Tel: 01 246 966 or 01 246 983
Major private hospitals in Sana’a:
- Al Jumhuria Hospital: Tel: 01 274 285
- Azal Specialised Hospital: 60-Meter Rd., near Mathbah vegetable market, Tel: 01 200 000
- Modern German Hospital: Taiz Rd, in front of Al-Tadamon Islamic Bank, Tel: 01 608 888
- Yemeni – German Hospital: Hadda Rd., near 60-Meter Rd, Tel: 01 418 000 or 418 690/1
- Military Hospital: Bab Shoub Area, Tel: 01 222 513/4
Major hospitals in Aden:
- Al-Jumhuriah Hospital: Khurmaksar (University Clinic), Tel. 02-233-033
- Al-Saber Hospital: al-Mansoura, Tel: 02-347-400
Major hospitals in Taizz:
- Al-Thawra Hospital: Tel: 04-224-332
- Taiz Republican Hospital
- Al-Saeed Hospital: Al-Akaba, Tel: 04 216 219 / 223 440
Major hospitals in Al Hudayda:
- Al-Thawra Hospital: Tel: 03-239-269
- Al-Salaam Hospital: Jamal St., Tel: 03-252-691
DIET AND EATING
Restaurants: There are numerous typical Yemeni restaurants available throughout the country. Although very simple, the food served is very good and safe because it is prepared only when you order it. In major cities like Sana’a, Taizz, Aden and Hudaydah there are also some good Western and Oriental standard restaurants.
The main Yemeni meal is lunch and it is served between 11.00 and 13.30. After this hour you’ll hardly find any restaurant open, except in Sana’a and Aden.
At most hotels in the 3-5 stars range a good standard of European meals or oriental food IS available also out of “Yemeni” lunch hours.
Food in Yemeni restaurants is always prepared fresh and is therefore very safe, although a sight on restaurants might awake some doubts in you.
Yemenis are used to eating with their right hand. One regards his hand as “the spoon that is used only by him”. Therefore spoons and forks are rarely found in most of the local restaurants, so if you mind eating with a hand, take a spoon with you!
The Yemeni diet is simple and slightly differs through the regions, but basic dishes are the same. It includes bread, rice, vegetables, beans, chicken, fish, beef and lamb.
Typical Yemeni breakfast consists of full (a stew with brown beans, tomato, onion and chili), fasuliya (fried beans), beyth (fried eggs with onion and tomatoes) or kebda (liver cooked with spices). Yemenis usually eat them with hobs, big, flat, pancake shape bread, from wheat flour, sometimes covered with black sesame seeds.
Lunch is the main Yemeni meal and it is served between 11.00 and 13.30. After this hour you’ll hardly find any restaurant open.
The national dish that is usually served for lunch is a thick, fiery, spicy green stew called salta that basically consists from lamb or chicken with lentils, beans, chickpeas, coriander, fenugreek and some other spices.
In some places you can find fatta, a dish made from dry bread soaked in honey, soup or milk. The one prepared with milk is a common meal that they eat before the sunrise prayer in the month of Ramadan.
In any place at a lunch time you can find arroz (rice), dejaj (chicken), mshakkle (fried vegetables), lahme (beef meet), marag lahme (soup from beef meat), zabadi (yoghurt).
A special Yemeni dish is bint as-sahn, an egg rich, puff pastry, usually covered with delicious Yemeni honey.
Refreshing in hot summer afternoons is shafuut, a dish made from pancake bread soaked into yoghurt with several herbs. This is also a common fast breaking meal in the month of Ramadan.
Usually is served after sunset prayer is usually modest. Usually they eat fasuliya, full or rice with vegetables.
The everyday drink in Yemen is shai (tea), drunk from small glasses at every occasion. Usually is prepared very sweet, but after some days one gets used to it. There are two kinds of tea; the one prepared with milk is called shai ma halib, if without milk they call it shai ahmar.
Less common drink in restaurants is coffee, as they usually drink it at home. They drink two kinds of coffee, one is prepared from coffee beans and it is called bohn. More common drink is kishr or khahva that is prepared from coffee bean shells, cinnamon and ginger.
Bottled mineral water, soft drinks and juices in tins are available everywhere in the country. Water from plastic jars served on a table is usually safe, but it is up to you if you drink it.
One of the best choices in Yemen is fresh juices (asir), prepared from fruits directly and they are generally very safe. Usually one can find mango, papaya, orange (portokal), lemon (lim) juices, if lucky, you get also pineapple (ananas), strawberry, raisins, ginger, apple or banana juice.
There are not plenty of choices for vegetarians in restaurants, but always could be found something: rice, yoghurt, full (bean stew), fasuliya (fried beans), mshakkle (fried vegetables), some kinds of salta prepared without meat or salad.
In the markets one can find all kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits and there are fresh juices kiosks, so nutrition should not be a big problem also for vegetarians.
Some suggestions for a good Yemeni meal in Sana’a:
- Shaibani restaurant (different locations)
- Arabia Felix hotel, Old Sana’a, close to Saila, Tel: 01 287 330
- Al Hamra restaurant (Arabic and western dishes), Hadda street
- Al Fakher restaurant with a nice ambient they serve traditional Yemeni dishes that can not always be found in restaurants, but are traditionally prepared at home. Hadda street, Tel: 01 427 888 or 01 427 999
- Restaurants in Mővenpick and Taj Sheba hotels
Other popular restaurants (Arabic, Western style, Indian, Ethiopian, Chinese….):
- Pizzaiola, Hadda street (across from Zorbas, close to Hadda Complex and to the Jordanian Embassy)
- Italian and Indian restaurant Vila di Angelo, Hadda street, Tel: 01 412 581
- Zorbas restaurant, Hadda street, Tel: 711 874 041, 733 305 200, 01 428 856
- Al Hamra restaurant (Arabic and western dishes), Hadda street
- Reemas restaurant (Arabic and western dishes), near KFC – Kentucky fried chicken
- Indian restaurant Mumbai, Bagdad street
- Indian restaurant (new) Maharaja, Hadda street (the same building of Pizzaiola)
- Ethiopian restaurant (parallel to Zubairi street-behind Chinese embassy)
- Al Mankal (Arabic food and the first restaurant with organic food), Amman street
- Pizza Hut, Al Sabeen park, Tel: 01 263 750
- Kentucky Fried Chicken, Al Sabeen street, Tel: 01 509 876
- Al Hadra restaurant (Arabic and western dishes), Hadda street
- Lebanese night: (Arabic and western dishes), Hadda street, near Hadda post office
- La Pranzo (pizzeria): opposite of Libya trade center
- Coffe trader (all types of coffees, wireless internet), Hadda street, near Al Khaima restaurant
- Coffee Corner (Algier street, at the junction with Deiry street)
- Aroma caffee (Street 60, behind Raha taxi)
- Papparoti (Hadda, near Iran street)
- Mokha Bunn (all types of coffees, wireless internet), Iran street
- Merkez Libie (shopping mall, western cafeteria, wireless internet)
Yemen is an Islamic country and alcohol is prohibited. Tourists should avoid drinking alcohol in public places, or in the presence of Yemenis. Currently alcohol cannot be obtained at any place.
Non alcoholic bear (Becks) can be found in many places.
Yemen is an Islamic country and clothing should be modest. We recommend you to wear loose-fitting, light clothes from natural materials and to avoid sleeveless and transparent clothes. Woman should cover the upper arms and legs, but also man dressed in such a way would be respected more. It is advised to have some headwear protection against strong sunshine. Yemeni scarf is a very practical matter while it can be used also for visiting mosques as well as protection against the dust and wind. In winter months the nights and early mornings in the mountain areas are relatively cold; therefore a sweater or a jacket should not be missed in your baggage.
Beach wear is acceptable at beach clubs, hotels and public beaches outside the cities.
For a relaxed tour round Yemen we suggest our clients to bring the proper shoes, because of sightseeing and visits of villages, valleys… If you take a tour including hiking you need to wear proper sport shoes. Generally a pair of sport shoes and a pair of sport, open sandals is recommended.
Yemen is extremely picturesque, beautiful and interesting country, therefore we recommended you to bring enough memory cards or films (if you still use them – will be difficult to obtain). General rule: if you plan to use memory cards, bring DOUBLE OF amount that you plan to use.
Some types of memory cards could be bought in cities.
It is not polite and therefore recommended to take photos of women unbeknown to them. Avoid photographing in military areas unless they invite you to take a photo (suura), which happens quite often.
- Government offices, banks and some commercial companies are open from 8:00 to 15:00, five days a week, excluding Friday and Saturday, weekly holiday.
- The private sector works generally in two shifts, from 8:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 20:00.
- Commercial shops and stores are open everyday from 8.00 till 17.00 and some of them till 22.00 in the night.
Weekend: Fridays and Saturdays for official institution, whether for private sector Friday is a holiday and Saturday they work half a day.
- 1 January (New Year)
- 1 May (World Labour Day)
- 22 May (Unity Day)
- 26 September (The September revolution)
- 14 October (The October revolution)
- 30 November (Independence Day from the British occupation)
MONTHS OF THE ISLAMIC CALENDAR
The Islamic calendar is the classic lunar calendar consisting of 12 synodic (lunar) months, each of 29.5 days, giving a year of 354 days. It is 11.25 days shorter than the tropical year.
|1. Muharram||30||7. Rajab||30|
|2. Safar||29||8. Sha’ban||29|
|3. Rabi Al-Awwal||30||9. Ramadan||30|
|4. Rabi Al-Thani||29||10. Shawwal||29|
|5. Jumada Al-Ula||30||11. Zul Qida||30|
|6. Jumada Al-Thani||29||12. Zul Hijja||29*|
* Zul Hijja has 30 days in a leap year.
MOVEABLE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
New Hijra Year (Islamic New Year): October 03, 2016 (HY 1438).
Ramadan Ramadan is the 9th lunar month during which Muslims fast all along daylight hours and is a very special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control. Muslims regard it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives and a feeling for the society. The daily period of fasting starts at the breaking of dawn and ends at the setting of the sun. In between, during the daylight hours, Muslims (Submitters) totally abstain from food, drink, smoking, chewing qat and having sexual relations. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before dawn and a post-fast meal (iftar) after sunset. Office’s and shop’s working hours change during this month. Opening hours are prolonged in the evening. Ramadan nights’ celebrations are old traditional practice during this month of fasting. It is a tradition we inherited through a period of 1427 years from our first Muslim ancestors, generation after generation. Even the visitor will get the impression of the Arabian Nights because the nightlife in the urban places will go on until sunrise. Non-Muslims are asked to respect those fasting by refraining from eating, drinking, smoking and chewing qat in public places during the daylight hours. But the hotels, local restaurants and guest houses will provide all services unlimited for the traveller’s need.
Period of Ramadan and Aid Al Fitr (the holiday – last day of Ramadan) in the year 2016: 7th of June 2016 – 6th of July 2016; Aid al Fitr: 7th of July 2016
Aid al Adha
Is the biggest Islamic holiday, celebrated by Muslims and Druze worldwide as a commemoration of Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) willingness to sacrifice his son, as commanded by Allah. Eid al Adha occurs the day after the pilgrims conducting Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat. It happens to be approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan:
Date of Aid al Adha in 2016: September, 13th, 2016
In most of the Muslim countries, the festivities last for two to three days. In Yemen, however, the Aid al Fitr and Aid al Adha festivities last for 1 – 2 weeks (in 2016, expect that the offices will not work from September , 9th till September 18th (or even few days longer)). In that period it is impossible or very difficult to arrange anything at official institutions.
There are many traditional industries and handicrafts in Yemen which have been handed down from generation to generation. Such industries and handicrafts are characterized by their beauty and attractiveness, particularly those associated with architecture, ornaments and decoration, traditional weapons, clothes and garments, earthenware and stoneware, leather products, and tools and materials made of palm leafs, etc. One can buy these products in traditional markets of many cities and at the weekly markets called suqs.
Yemeni man often wears one of several types of skirts, called futa rather than pants and a head scarf while especially tribesmen wear the long dress, called thope. But the tribesmen are best known by the jambiya, curved dagger, carried in a scabbard on a wide belt at the front side of the body.
The clothing of Yemeni women includes black dress called palton, or colourful robes, shawls, and veils and varies greatly from region to region in style and pattern.
All these items could be nice souvenirs for visitors to buy, but there is still plenty of choices like jewellery, the pots for burning the incense, incense and myrrh (balsamic gums), items made from palm fibres and leaves, alabaster, oil lamps, amber beads, spices, coffee, wooden old tables etc.
SAFETY AND TRAVEL PERMISSIONS
Yemen is a very safe country while it has virtually crime free environment. Visitors can venture out around the city or villages at any time of the day or night, either by taxi or on foot. A tourist permit is required if the visitors wish to explore the country and move from city to city to discover the most important tourist sites. Actually for each move out from Sana’a, the tourist permit is required.
There are some regions in Yemen that can be visited only if organised by an agency, like Hajjah, Amran, Bir Ali, road between Mukalla and Bir Ali. About visiting Tarim and Wadi Doan in Hadramawt region, the rules change quickly; most of the time it is possible to visit them only by the rented car with a driver, but sometimes it is possible to visit them in your own way (taking taxi or bus).
Due to the changing security situation in the country, it can happen that the government closes a particular region for the visitors for a particular period of time. The regions that can often be closed are: Shahara, Amran, Marib, Al Jawf, Shabwa (desert), regions close to the desert: Al Bayda, Ataq, Habban, Azzan. Saada in the north is closed for the most part. Sometimes also the road connection between Mukalla and Aden is closed for tourists. Therefore the itinerary has to be adjusted to the situation.
In case of closed roads, part of itinerary has to be replaced by the flights: between Sana and Sayun or between Mukalla and Aden. Fortunately new airline company Felix airways has frequent flights on these destinations.
For the visitors who will discover the country in an organised way, the travel agency will provide the permit. The individual travellers that will use public buses or shared taxis for the transportation have to get the permission themselves from the Tourist police office, which is near Arabia Felix hotel-near the channel Saila.