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The Muslim holy month is a time to purify the soul and concentrate on spiritual matters, a time to refocus the soul and practice self-sacrifice by...

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A three-day festival that celebrates the end of Ramadam and the conclusion of the fast. After Eid prayers communal celebrations involving family...

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Yemen landscape

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Yemen Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

536,869 sq km (207,217 sq miles).

Population

25.3 million (2013).

Population density

47.2 per sq km.

Capital

Sana'a.

Government

Republic since 1990.

Head of state

President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa since 2011.

Electricity

220/230 volts AC, 50Hz. Flat two-pin, round three-pin and square three-pin plugs 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: 26 March 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 www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


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 and/or competent security experts before any travel within the country. Close security protection and/or a military escort are extremely important. In the event of a further deterioration of the security situation, 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.

In the last 4 months of 2014 at least 5 foreign nationals were killed and 4 seriously injured in separate incidents in Sana’a.

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

There have been an increasing number of attacks against Yemeni security forces throughout Yemen, including assassinations of security officials.

There have been tensions between local Hadrawmi tribes and parts of the Yemeni Government since late 2013. Since May 2014, there has been an increase in terrorist activity in Hadramawt. On 25 May 2014, AQAP attacked Sayun city police and army bases, public buildings, the main post office and 2 banks. Dozens were killed or injured. On 26 June 2014, AQAP attacked Sayun Airport, including bombing its air traffic control tower. On 6 August 2014, 14 off-duty troops travelling from Hadramawt to Sana’a were captured and killed by AQAP.

On 21 September 2014, the Government of Yemen and the Houthi-led Ansar Allah party signed a Peace and National Partnership Agreement to end Houthi aggression towards the capital. Since then the Houthis have occupied key positions, including government ministries in Sana’a and established their presence in governorates to the south, east and west of Sana’a including Hodeida, Dhamar, al Bayda, Marib and Taiz. This has led to significant armed clashes between Houthi forces and other armed groups, including AQAP and tribes. Houthis continue to man checkpoints in Sana’a and other parts of the country, several of which are manned by armed children. AQAP continue to target Houthi checkpoints, and Houthis in general. Since October 2014, there have been a number of large-scale attacks on Houthis.

Between 19-20 January 2015 there were heavy clashes began between the Houthis and Yemeni Security Forces in Sana’a. These are focussed on the Presidential Palace and President Hadi’s house, with fighting in other parts of the city as well. The Yemeni President and Prime Minister resigned on 22 January. On 6 February, the Houthis announced the immediate dissolution of Parliament.

President Hadi escaped Houthi-imposed house arrest on 20 February and fled to Aden. On 19 March, fighting broke out at the airport in Aden and surrounding military bases. In a separate incident airstrikes were launched against the presidential palace. On 20 March, 3 bomb attacks, 2 in Sana’a and 1 in Saada killed at least 130 people and seriously injured many others. On 23 March, the Houthis advanced to the city of Taiz and took control of the airport. Sporadic clashes continue to take place across the country between competing forces. On 25 March, Saudi Arabia led air strikes in Yemen following the request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression.

UN-brokered negotiations are ongoing. The political situation is uncertain and the threat of a further escalation of violence and disorder remains.

The instability in the north of the country has led to those in the south who support secession to call for southern independence and to draw attention to southern grievances. On 29 October 2014, 2 people were killed and 6 wounded when protestors attempted to gain access to a military camp in Aden’s Khor Maksar district.

Crime

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

Road travel

Houthi forces continue to control a number of routes in and out of the capital Sana’a. In the event of a breakdown of law and order access routes in and out of major cities may be closed or blocked. Check that the road is open before starting your journey.

If you wish to drive outside Sana’a you will need prior permission from the Yemen Tourist Police. Travel permits may take at least 24 hours to issue and are best obtained through a travel agent. If you travel without permission you may be detained and/or deported. 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.

You can drive in Yemen using an International Driving Permit. Driving standards are poor and mountain roads hazardous. You should avoid all road travel outside the main cities at night. Take care to avoid minefields left over from civil wars. Travelling off well-used tracks without an experienced guide could be dangerous, particularly in parts of the south and the central highlands.

Air travel

Given the current crisis, the situation at Aden and Sana’a Airports is very changeable and clashes have caused temporary suspension or closure of airports. Check with your airline or travel company before travelling to any airport in the country.

Flights may be cancelled with little or no notice.

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

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

On 22 January, the President, Prime Minister, and Cabinet resigned. On 6 February, the Houthis announced the immediate dissolution of Parliament.

President Hadi escaped Houthi-imposed house arrest on 20 February and fled to Aden. On 19 March, fighting broke out at the airport in Aden and surrounding military bases, and in a separate incident airstrikes were launched against the presidential palace. On 23 March, the Houthis advanced to the city of Taiz and took control of the airport. Sporadic clashes continue to take place across the country between competing forces.

UN-brokered peace negotiations are ongoing. The political and security situation remains uncertain and volatile.

Politically motivated demonstrations take place across Yemen and are likely to continue. There have been injuries and deaths at some demonstrations. Western diplomatic missions have been the focus for some protests. There is the potential for increased tensions on Fridays. On 20 March, 3 bomb attacks, 2 in Sana’a and 1 in Saada killed at least 130 people and seriously injured many others. You should avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. On 25 March, Saudi Arabia led air strikes in Yemen following the request for support from President Hadi to deter continued Houthi aggression.

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