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Yemen Travel Guide

Key Facts

527,968 sq km (203,850 sq miles).


26.1 million (2014).

Population density

49.3 per sq km.





Head of state

President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Khaled Bahah since 2014.


230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two flat pins, three round pins or three square pins are used.

Yemen is authentic Arabia, an antidote to Arabian Gulf bling, and the Peninsula’s most fascinating destination.

Recognised by UNESCO, Sana’a’s multi storey tower houses and ancient Souk Al Milh lend an overwhelming sense of otherness. Being woken pre-dawn by competing muezzins, from just some of the city’s 40-ish mosques, only adds to the effect.

Outside the capital, explore fortified cliff-top villages overseeing cultivated plains or hike the foothills of the Haraz Mountains. To the east, walk the shady streets of Shibam, Freya Stark’s ‘Manhattan of the Desert’, where nine-storey mud towers stand testament to Yemeni building skills. On the coast, visit the bustling fishing ports of Al Mukalla or Al Huydaydah. Most remote is Yemen’s ‘Arabian Galapagos’, the Socotra archipelago. Cast adrift at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, Socotra is two hours by air from Sana’a. Here 37% of plant species, 90% of reptiles and an estimated 90% of invertebrates are found no where else on earth.

Once characterised as Arabia Felix (Fortunate Arabia) by the Romans, these days an uncertain security profile deters all but the hardiest travellers.

Travel warning: Due to ongoing violent clashes in Yemen, the Foreign Office in the UK advises against all travel to the country. Any remaining British nationals in Yemen should leave as soon as they can.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 25 November 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit

Local travel

If you travel to Yemen against FCO advice, you should regularly reassess your security arrangements and carefully plan your movements. Avoid routine, vary your travel routes, and keep a low profile at all times. You should take security advice from the host government, local authorities and/or competent security experts before any travel within the country. Routes in and out of Sana’a and the other major cities may become blocked and airports closed or inaccessible at little or no notice. You should check your routes in advance of travelling. Don’t advertise your travel or other plans through social media.

There’s an ongoing threat against foreigners and you are strongly advised to avoid places frequented by foreign nationals and to avoid travelling in an insecure and visible way.

Given the current political and security situation, there’s limited government control over parts of the country with Houthi or Al-Qaeda dominance in some areas.

The political situation is uncertain and the threat of a further escalation of violence and disorder remains.

The instability throughout Yemen has led to those in the south who support secession to call for southern independence and to draw attention to southern grievances.


Weapons are readily available. Incidents may not be solely criminal in nature, and may be linked to terrorism or other insecurity. Tribal disputes over land are common, including in major cities, and may involve the use of weapons. The Houthis are running extra-judicial detention centres. Take care at all times.

Road travel

You can drive in Yemen using an International Driving Permit. Access routes in and out of major cities may be closed or blocked. Check that the road is open before starting your journey. Driving standards are poor and mountain roads hazardous. There is a severe shortage of fuel in Yemen. You should avoid all road travel outside the main cities at night. Take care to avoid minefields left over from civil wars and landmines used in the current conflict. Travelling off well-used tracks without an experienced guide could be extremely dangerous.

Due to increased risk, diplomatic staff have been withdrawn and the operations of the British Embassy in Sana’a temporarily suspended. If you need consular assistance, you can contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London at any time by calling +44 (0) 20 7008 1500.

Air travel

The situation remains very tense and changeable. Clashes and airstrikes have caused temporary suspension or closure of airports across the country. Check with your airline or travel company before travelling to any airport in the country.

Yemeni air space is currently controlled by Saudi-led coalition forces. Yemenia Airways is operating daily flights from Sana’a to Amman, however their schedule is subject to last minute alterations or cancellation. In order to travel, passengers must register with Yemenia in advance. The airline then has to get approval from the coalition, which can take between 10 and 14 days. Yemenia may charge a US$ 300 fee in addition to the ticket price for this service.

Aden airport is currently closed to commercial flights.

There are no direct cargo or passenger flights between Yemen and the EU. Previous aviation incidents have included a failed attempt to bomb an aircraft destined for the USA, and two explosive devices identified in air cargo originating from Yemen.

The FCO cannot offer advice on the safety of other airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Sea travel

As part of the coalition response to the Houthi aggression, maritime restrictions are currently in place resulting in variable port and vessel accessibility. Attacks of piracy against vessels in and around the Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Indian Ocean are continuing. Sailing and other low-speed vessels are at particular risk, as are shipping vessels which have not adopted agreed industry best practice, including on routing. Maritime terrorism cannot be ruled out.

Mariners should maintain a high state of awareness and be alert to tensions in Yemeni and regional waters. Consult the UK Maritime Trade Operation (UKMTO) during transit.

See our Piracy in the Indian Ocean page.

Political situation

President Hadi escaped Houthi-imposed house arrest on 20 February 2015 and has now established a government-in-exile in Riyadh. On 25 March 2015 a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, began air strikes in Yemen following the request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression. Airstrikes continue throughout the country and clashes continue across the country between competing forces. Reports of violence, reprisal killings, looting and human rights abuses continue across the country. Politically motivated demonstrations continue to take place across Yemen. There have been injuries and deaths at some demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tensions on Fridays. Efforts are underway to bring Yemeni parties to the conflict into UN-brokered peace talks. The political and security situation remains uncertain and volatile.