Yemen: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Yemen

Business people are expected to dress smartly for meetings and formal social occasions. English is commonly used in business circles. Appointments are needed and visitors should be punctual. Business cards are often exchanged. Ideally avoid the month of Ramadan. Do not be surprised during a meeting if Yemeni businessmen chew qat.

Office Hours

Sat-Wed 0800-1500, during Ramadan 1000-1500.


Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, and among the principal motivations behind the unification of Yemen in 1990 was the prospect of economic transformation and expansion.

Under IMF auspices, the government has implemented a programme of structural reforms involving privatisation and an overhaul of the financial system. In exchange, the Yemenis received financial support and some relief of Yemen's US$5 billion foreign debt. Large-scale unemployment persists; an estimated 30% of the workforce is out of work.

Agriculture is concentrated in the fertile northern part of the country. The principal cash crops are cereals, cotton, coffee, fruit, vegetables and qat (a narcotic leaf). Livestock rearing, fishing and some manufacturing also contribute to the economy.

However, the most important industrial activity is oil and gas production. Yemeni reserves are modest by regional standards but since the opening of the refining complex at Aden in 1994 and new fields coming on stream, the sector accounts for the majority of export earnings.


US$30,02 billion (2010). [CIA]

Main exports

Crude petroleum, liquefied natural gas, refined oil products, fish and coffee.

Main imports

Foodstuffs, live animals, chemicals, machinery.

Main trading partners

China, France, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and USA.

Keeping in Touch in Yemen


Other than hotel land lines, Skype or another VOIP service may be the best way to call home.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone operators. GSM coverage is good in the west and in coastal areas of the east but 3G data coverage is currently non-existent.


Increasingly internet cafes are opening throughout Yemen and many hotels now have Wi-Fi facilities.


All broadcasting is controlled by the Ministry of Information through the Public Corporation for Radio and Television. Satellite television is widely available.

The main government-owned newspaper is Al Thawra ( and the ruling party’s print mouthpiece is Al Motamar ( Several independent English language newspapers exist including Yemen Times (, Yemen Observer (

UK newspapers are not generally available.


Airmail to Western Europe from Sana'a takes about four days; mail to and from other towns may take longer.

Post Office hours

Sat-Thurs 0800-1400 and 1600-2000.

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