Yemen is located on the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea, and the country of Oman. The Middle East is growing in popularity as a place for adventurous travelers to visit, but as some areas are safer than others, it pays to do your research before jumping into a trip. This small but scenic country is an intriguing place to go, and travel to Yemen is best known for the opportunity to visit local UNESCO World Heritage sites, but other reasons include beautiful architecture, a number of islands in the Red Sea, and ancient history.
Similar to many countries in the Middle East, Yemen has a long history full of influences from a variety of cultures. In recent history, Yemen was part of the Ottoman Empire, and after World War I became a British colony. Britain withdrew in the 1960s, leaving Yemen to govern on its own. The economy of the country is very weak in comparison to other Middle Eastern countries such as Kuwait, which are thriving on money from oil fields. The government, however, sets an example for the region as Yemen is a presidential republic with an elected assembly of representatives.
There are a few facts you should know if you are planning travel to Yemen. The national language is Arabic, and unlike other former British colonies, English is not a common second language here. While visitors to Saudi Arabia or Lebanon can expect to encounter people who speak English, this might not be the case in Yemen. That being said, there are a number of English-speaking tour guides who can help you to appreciate the local historical sites. The first place in Yemen to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site was added to the list in 1982. The Old Walled City of Shibam is a sixteenth-century city that is a striking example of urban planning. It has earned the nickname Manhattan of the Desert because its architects built vertically.
In 1986, UNESCO added another ancient city in Yemen to their list. The ancient city of Sana’a is perched at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet and is home to mosques, bath houses, and homes that all date to the eleventh century. If you’re planning travel to Yemen, another site not to miss is the historic town of Zabid. This town was actually the capital of Yemen for a short time between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The university here was considered an important center of learning for the Arab world during this time.
There is one final site on the UNESCO World Heritage list in Yemen. The Socotra Archipelago is noted for its rich biodiversity including plants, birds, fish, and more. Nature lovers will want to make sure their trip to Yemen includes an eco tour of these two inlets and four islands near the Gulf of Aden. If you are the type of traveler that can look past certain difficulties and forego certain comforts, there are many incredible attractions, such as this archipelago, to be seen in unexpected corners of the globe. Travel to Yemen will continue to rise, as a result of these incredible attractions, and curious travelers who want to see them.