Where is Yemen? It is a state in Western Asia. Yemen occupies the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The country has a long maritime frontage to the south (Gulf of Aden) and west (Red Sea). Saudi Arabia borders it to the north and Oman to the east. It has more than 24 million population. The official capital of the country is Sanaa.
How to travel to Yemen? Airlines, cars, or ferry can reach and bring tourists to the country. However, nearly a decade ago, the terrible Yemen war started, and still, now it is ongoing. If you have heard any Yemen news, you are probably familiar with this civil war; if not, read this article till the end, I have written about it, too.
Is it safe to travel to Yemen? According to the famous Forbes Journal, Yemen is considered the fourth most dangerous country in the world. Most countries announced strict travel advice to Yemen, calling its citizens not to travel to this country. According to the US’s travel advice to Yemen, it is too unsafe to travel to Yemen due to the high number of terror attacks, civil disturbance, health dangers, crime, civil war, and landmines.
Many people have questions like: "Where is Yemen? Is the Yemen war ongoing? Is it safe to travel to Yemen? How to travel to Yemen during these times? Are Yemen news channels reliable to get the right information about travel to Yemen?” To answer all these questions, I have researched a lot and wrote this article for you. You can find ten reasons why you should and should not travel to Yemen right now. Firstly, you will read about why you should visit, then why you should not.
1. Dragon’s blood trees on Socotra Island
Socotra is a unique and fascinating island located in the Arabian Sea, 352 kilometres from the coast of Yemen. Detached from the supercontinent Gondwana about 6 million years ago, it is home to animal and plant species that are not found anywhere else on Earth. Its arid, almost lunar plains and plateaus are dotted with trees of quirky shapes and lizards of various colours. The island of Socotra is also populated by some 43,000 people of Somali, Yemeni and Comorian descent who make their living from farming, fishing, and trading in aloe and incense. Subjected to its harsh climate and isolated for several million years, the fauna and flora of Socotra have developed to be unlike any other on the globe. More than a third of plant species and 90% of the island's reptiles are endemic. WWF considers Socotra to be a terrestrial ecoregion of paramount importance for understanding and preserving biodiversity on the planet. It is listed as a World Heritage Site as a nature reserve. Socotra's iconic tree is the dragon tree, which produces the resin called dragon's blood. Its parasol shape with bare branches below and foliage on the top is particularly suited to the semi-arid climate of the island.
2. Castles and mountains of Taizz
Taizz is a city in Yemen located in the southwest of the country, in the heart of the mountains. The city was built at an altitude of approximately 1,400 meters. With more than 600 thousand population, it is the third-largest city in the country. The city has many beautiful old quarters, with typical dwellings, built-in brown bricks, and usually white mosques. The most famous mosques are the Al-Ashraf Mosque, located near Mount Cairote and built around 1200. Other memorable buildings are the ancient citadels, and the Governor's Palace erected on top of a 450-meter hill overlooking the city centre. Ta'izz is also considered the capital of Yemeni culture and art.
Cairo Castle in Taiz, Yemen.
It is located on the northern slope of Jabal Sabr, where it is based on a rocky hill overlooking the city, and it is said that this area where the castle is located was originally the old Taiz and was later called Cairo. The first part is called "Adina," and it includes hanging gardens in the form of terraces constructed on the mountain slope, a water dam, basins sculpted and constructed in one of the mountain's façades, as well as the palaces that are scattered around it surrounded by towers and parks. The house of the emirate and the last one was for the king to the guest palace, and it is for receiving guests, not to mention the tunnels that connect the palaces to the outside with tunnels and secret corridors. In the second part of the castle, "the Maghrib area," there is a number of palaces, guard towers, granaries, and water tanks. As for the castle wall, it is considered one of the essential historical evidence on the history of the city of Taiz, as it was built in the past to contain all the neighbourhoods of the old city. Unfortunately, most parts of the city, including this castle, were destroyed as a result of the war.
3. Beaches and volcanos of Aden
Aden is the fourth biggest city in Yemen. The city was one of the most useful seaports of the region under the British Empire. Because of that, the influence of British rule is still noticeable. For instance, in The Crescent Hotel, artefacts and other things are exhibited as a reminder of the Queen's visit to the city in 1954. Now, at the presence of the civil war, the city functions as a temporary capital of the state. Water tanks of Alsahareej, Sira Fortress, Shamsan Mountain, and Little Ben are the best examples of Aden's touristic destinations. The old Zoroastrian Temple is another worth-to-visit place of Aden. Also, the city is famous for its warm beaches and dead volcanos. Elephant Beach and Gold Beach are the most attractive beaches of Aden.
4. Palaces and Islamic art in Sanaa
Sanaa is the capital and largest city of the country. It is worth travelling to the city due to its beautiful Islamic architecture and old palaces. The old part of the city was acknowledged as a world heritage. Ghumdan Palace, Great Mosque, and Samsara are considered as the main attractions of the city. The history of the Great Mosque dates back to the times of the Islamic prophet. In the charming Salt Market of Sanaa, tourists can buy salt, goods, and other local products.
5. Nature and architecture in Hutayb
Hutayb is a town in western Yemen. The town is famous for its beautiful nature and mountains, which are decorated by antique castles and mosques at the top of the mountains. This tranquil town of the country is mostly preferred by simplicity and architecture lovers. Regrettably, like other parts of the country, Hutayb's tranquillity is disturbed, and the town suffers very much as a result of the Yemen war.
6. Civil war
Yemen has been torn by civil war since July 2014. The context of the "Arab Spring" of 2011 favoured the outbreak of the civil war on July 9, 2014. The forces of the National Transitional Government are led by President Hadi, recognized by the international community, and militarily supported by a foreign military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. They oppose the revolutionary coalition formed, until December 2017, by Zaydi Houthi militias and forces loyal to former President Saleh, supported by Hezbollah and Iran. These clashes are taking place in one of the poorest countries in the world, devoid of infrastructure, and which must import 100% of its resources in rice, tea, and sugar, as well as 90% of its wheat. The population of Yemen, 70% made up of young people under the age of twenty-five, is in a dire humanitarian situation.
7. Crime and kidnapping
Due to ongoing civil war, crimes, as well as disappearances and kidnappings, are getting common in Yemen. That is why most countries have a piece of negative travel advice to Yemen. This also impacts the tourism industry of this poor country.
The bombing of public and private places, attacks on airplanes are very frequently happening in Yemen. Is it safe to travel to Yemen under these circumstances? Of course, not. When you think about where is Yemen and how to travel to Yemen, you should think of this issue, as well.
9. Health risks
Because Yemen is one of the poorest countries on the planet, its health system is not well-developed. Unfortunately, the Yemen war negatively impacts this vulnerable sector, too. As a result of these factors, the citizens are not able to get proper healthcare, which causes the outbreak of worse diseases such as cholera, coronavirus in Yemen.
According to Yemen news agencies, every year, at least a hundred civilians are killed by landmines. Further, these results in the blockage of humanitarian aids to the country. It is very dangerous to travel to Yemen, even for humanitarian workers. So, tourists can not be the topic of the question to visit the country. I hope when the war ends, and everything comes back into a routine, we can travel and enjoy the beauty of Yemen.