Situated at the tip of Arabia, Yemen is a land of lore and legends. It is a place with a harsh climate, and even harsher fortunes. It is a relatively poor country, with its divided government struggling to put order after the Arab Spring left the rest of the Middle East in revolution frenzy.
Yemen has a colorful history, dating back to Biblical times. It was mentioned in the holy books, as well as in the epics of forgotten nations. The country has stood the test of time by staying unchanged and locked to foreigners for eons. However, now that it is joining the information age, its old ways are being challenged by new ideas.
Because of its past, Yemen is a land less traveled, featuring fortified mountain villages, old towns with ornately decorated red brick houses and narrow alleys that open to smoky souks and green courtyards. Still, it is worthy of exploring, especially by adventurous travelers.
When visiting Yemen, one may require the services of a translator as English is hardly spoken and Arabic is the primary language of most, if not all, locals.
Islam is the dominant religion. It should be worth noting that the country practices a more conservative brand of Islam. While non-Muslims are allowed to carry two bottles of alcohol, extra care must be considered when talking with local women.
Visitors should expect spartan accommodations, especially outside the capital. Drinking bottled water is highly recommended, and for those bringing in electronic gadgets, carrying an adapter is advised. Everything runs on 220 volts of electricity in Yemen.
You may now ask, why visit despite these conditions? The answer lies in Yemen’s uniqueness: it carries the winds of Afghanistan and features the sands of Arabia, while the sounds and tastes of Africa are just across the Red Sea. Beyond these impressions, the strength of Yemen also comes from its people. Perceived as hostile to outsiders and seemingly chaotic from within, those who have travelled there before will always say that the Yemenis are some of the friendliest people on earth.