YEMEN ... ARABIA FELIX

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2008-10-17 | Since 11 Year

Location and Area:

Yemen is an Islamic Arab country locates in the southwestern of Arabian Peninsula, in the southwestern of Asia. It sets at 12 and 20 latitude lines and at longitude 14 and 54 east. Its area is 550000 km2.

It is bordered by Saudi Arabia in the north and the Sultanate of Oman in the east, Arabian Sea in the south and the Red Sea in the west.

It has got many islands alongside the Red Sea and Arabian Sea the largest one of all is the islan
of Sumatra, around 150 km away from Yemeni coast .

Ancient geographers used to call it "Arabia Felix" in the Old Testimony it was mentioned as the south and it was said that Yemen’s name attributed to (Aiman Ben Ya’arob Ben Kahtan) and in the Arabic cultural heritage and as the Yemenis themselves its name derived from the Arabic word (Yuomn) which means the blessedness or welfare and this agrees with the name of the ancient cerographists Arabia Felix .

On the other hand, some of the Arab historians said it is called Yemen because it sets in the right direction of Al-Ka’aba, all in all its name at the present “ Republic of Yemen “

Geographical Features and Topography:

Yemen has got a very spectacular topography ranges from majestic mountains to mysterious desert dunes, from fertile flat plains, to more than 2000 km of breath-taking beaches on the Arabian Sea in the south and Red Sea in the West .

The geographical features divided into five divisions as the following :

The Coastal Region is more than 2500 km spanned alongside the Red Sea in the west, the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in the south and the Arabian Sea in the east .

This region includes the governorates of Aden, Hodeiddah, Lahj, Abyan, al-Maharah and parts of Hadramout .

The Mountainous Region. It begins in the north and continues southward till the area called Bab Al-Mandab, where it makes a turn eastwards alongside the Arab Sea , ending in Al-Mahara. The mountains high ranges from 1000 meter to 3600 meter above Sea level.

The mountainous region contains several valleys such as:

Valleys whish pour its waters in the Red Sea like Wadi Haradh , Wadi Mor , Wadi Sordod ,Wadi Siham ,Wadi Rasian Wadi Zabeed and Wadi Moza’a .

Valleys which pour its waters in the gulf of Aden and Arab Sea like Wadi Twopan , Wadi Bana , Wadi Ahwar and Wadi Hudramout .

Valleys which pour its waters in the desert like Wadi Khap, Wadi Algoof and Wadi Athnah in addition to Wadi Harreap and Wadi Grredan and others .

This region includes the governorates of Sana’a , Hajja, Al-Mahweat , Sa’ada , Dhammar, Al-Bidha , Al-Dhale and Taiz .

The Region of Eastern Plains:

It is consisted of sedimentary rocks and lies at the east and the northern of the mountainous region and it spans adjacent to it , then it reaches its maximum high at 1000 meter and waters drop to it from the mountainous region .

This region includes the governorates of Al-Mahara , Al-Jawf , Shabbwa , Hadhramout and parts of the governorate of Sa’ada .

The Region of Al-Rub’ Al-Khali (Empty Quarter).

It is the Yemeni desert region so it is devoid of plants and characterized by its moving dunes sands. In the past, the Al-Rub’ Al-Khali used to be called the largest Yemeni desert or Al-Ahqaf desert .

The Yemeni Islands:

There is a large number of the Yemeni islands spread alongside the Red Sea and the Arab Sea . Yemeni Islands characterized by unique topography and spectacular environment .

The Red Sea includes the largest portion of the islands which constitute an archipelago alongside the Yemeni beach .

The Island of Kamaran is the largest and the most important one in the Red Sea , it is inhabited by people and scarce spices of animals . There are also the islands of Baklan , Al-Tir , and Al-Fashet in the north of Kamaran and in the south of it there are the islands of Zuqar and the archipelago of Hunish which includes the Greater Hunish and the smaller Hunish , while the island of Meyoun controls the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab and it haves it . 

There are also several small islands, the important of them are the islands of Abdul-Kori, Al-Akhawin, Samhah and Derrssah .

In the Arabian Sea, Yemeni islands spread close to each other, the largest and the most famous one of all is the Island of Socotra.

Socotra is a 3625 km² island located in the Indian Ocean, some 450 km south of the Yemeni economic city of Aden but it is a part of Hadramout province of Yemen.

With estimated population 45,000, Socotra Island has three geographical terrains: the narrow coastal plains, a limestone plateau permeated with karstic caves, and the Haggier Mountains which rise to 5000 feet.

The climate is generally tropical desert, with rainfall being light, seasonal (winter) and more abundant at the higher ground in the interior than along the coastal lowlands.

The monsoon season brings strong winds and high seas causing inaccessible of the marine transportation from June to September.

However, in July 1999 a new airport opened Socotra to the outside year round.

The long geological isolation of Socotra and its fierce heat and drought have combined to create a unique and spectacular endemic flora.

Surveys have revealed that more than a third of the 800 or so plant species of Socotra are found nowhere else. Botanists rank the flora of Socotra among the ten most endangered island flora in the world.

One of the most striking of Socotra's plants is the dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari), which is a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree. Its red sap was the dragon's blood of the ancients, sought after as a medicine and a dye.

The island also has a fairly rich bird fauna, including a few types of endemic birds, such as the Socotra Starling Onychognathus frater, the Socotra Sunbird Chalcomitra balfouri, Socotra Sparrow Passer insularis and Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus socotranus.

Fourteen mammal and 175 bird species that live today on the island have been recorded as endemic species. Being virtually isolated from the rest of the world for a long period, Socotra remains one of the most fascinating places on earth.

Its unique character with greatest Biological diversity makes Socotra a potential candidate for designation as one of the new 7 wonders of nature.

Socotra Island has been recently nominated to become one of the new7wonders of natural monuments and sites to be announced on August 08, 2008. The competition is adopted by the Swiss foundation new7wonders.com to choose the most wonderful natural landscapes all over the world.

Tourism Minister Nabil al-Faqih stated that Socotra Island has been chosen to participate in the competition of the New 7 Wonders of nature run by the Swiss foundation "New7wonders" via the Internet.

Al-Faqih said that the ministry had finished necessary procedures to register Socotra on the nominations list of the Swiss foundation for rivaling on the list of new 7Wonders of nature.

Hadramout's governor Abdullah Hajir affirmed that the nomination of Socotra to become one of the new7wonders of nature would create more opportunities for tourist investment and development.

The nominations will go on for one year and then a panel of experts will create a list of 21 natural wonders from which voters worldwide will elect the new7wonders of nature.

The voters could nominate Socotra on the Swiss foundation's website www.natural7wonders.com from now until 08.08.08. 
Check in this website for more information about Socotra island.

Climate: 

Yemen is one of the countries of the largest cellular radiation due to the sun’s perpendicular upon it around the year but the diversity of its geographical features gave rise to diversification in its climate .

In the coastal regions the climate used to be hot and moist in the summer whereas in the winter it is often moderate .

In the inner and mountainous region the climate usually ranges from cool in the winter to moderate in the summer , the moderate climate also prevails in the slopes and plateaus regions where the average of temperature ranges from 10 to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer whereas it goes down to fall below zero in the winter.

The average of moistness may reach up to 80 % with an average of rainfalls ranges from 300 to more than 1000 mm per a year .The climate which prevails in the eastern region is widely different since it is characterized by draughty and the temperature there exceeds 40 degrees Celsius in the summer , while it goes down to 10-15 degrees Celsius in the winter .

The rainfalls rate doesn’t exceed the average of 50 –100 mm particularly at the bounds of Al-Rub’ Al-Khali ( empty quarter ) . Between the above two climate regions lies the interim region which spans from the north and the east of Sana’a to the bounds of Marib .

The entire area of Yemen’s territory has come under the influence of the torrential winds which are coming from the east , it is also influenced by the air’s downfalls in the west which used to be accompanied by rains in the season of the summer


The Population:

The Republic of Yemen has 22 million population (according to the latest census in 2004).

Language:

The Arabic is the official language of the countryæ with English being the most widely used second language.

Religion:
Islam is the official religion and is the religion of the majority of the population except for a Jewish small minority.

Traditional Industries and Handicrafts: 

There are many traditional industries and handicrafts in Yemen, which have been handed down throughout the generations. Such industries and handicrafts are characterized by their beauty and attractiveness, particularly those associated with architecture, ornaments and decoration, traditional weapons, clothes and garments, earthenware and stoneware, leather products, and tools and materials made of palm fiber and leaves, etc.

Handicrafts centers exist throughout the Republic and such products can be sampled in the traditional markets of many cities and at the weekly markets called (Souks).

Visas:
The visitor can get entry visa to the Republic of Yemen from the Yemeni Embassy or Consulate in his country and payment of a minimal Consular fee. Prospective visitors from countries with which Yemen has no diplomatic or consular representation, an extendible 96-hour transit visa from the port of entry can be obtained.

Upon arrival, the visitor is given one-month residence permit. There is no need to register at police stations or to apply for an exit visa during the scheduled one-month period.

Ports of Entry: 

Visitors can enter Yemen via its airports, i.e., Sana'a, Aden, Rayan in Hadhramaut and Taiz International Air- ports.
By Sea: through the seaports, i.e., Hudaidah port, Mokha port on the Red Sea, port of Aden on the Gulf of Aden, Mukalla and Nashton ports on the Arab Sea.

By land: Yemen has three land entry ports: two in the north: Haradh and Albuqa'a entry points from Saudi Arabia. The third inlet is Habrot on the eastern border with the Sultanate of Oman.

Currency:

The Yemen currency is the Yemen Rial consisting of l00 fils, issued in bank notes and coins. Bank notes are available in denominations of 1000, 500, 200, l00, 50, 20,10, and 5 Yemeni Rials.

Coins come in denominations of l0 and 5 Yemeni Rial. The exchange rate is now quite stable, 199 YR to 1 US dollar. The visitors can exchange most international currencies in exchange establishments or banks, which are available all over Yemeni towns.

Health Codes:

An International Vaccination Certificate is required from citizens of countries, which are listed in the World Health Organization (WHO), except children less than one year old.

Official Working Days and Hours:

Working hours in governmental offices are: Saturday to Wednesday 8.00 am –3.00pm. Thursday Friday is the weekly holiday. The private sector working hours are: Saturday to Wednesday 8.00 am–12.00 noon and 4.00 pm – 7.00pm. • Thursday: 8.00 am-1.00 pm. Friday is the weekly holiday. The market place is open almost all day long up to the early hours of night.


Official Holidays: 

- Eid Al-Fitr (Breakfasting feast), from 29th of Ramadhan until 3rd of Shawal.
- Eid Al-Adha (Haj Feast), from 9th – 13th Thu-al-Hajah.
- Hijra New Year (Anniversary of the Holy Prophet Emigration on the 1st of Muharram), one day.

- Labor Day (1st of May), one day.
- National Day (22nd of May), one day.
- 26th of September (Revolution Day), one day.
- 14th Oct. (Revolution Day), one day.
- Thursday and Fridays, weekend.

Banking Services:

Modern and reliable Banking services are available in most cities. Major cards are available, and honored in larger hotels, and banks.

Electricity:
220 Volts, 50-60 Hz.

Telecommunications:
A modern Telecommunications network that provides worldwide direct access telephone calls, facsimile service, and Internet service covers all the Yemeni land.

Health care:

Public, and private hospitals, and pharmacies are spread around the country. Most provide around –the –clock services.

Accommodations:

Tourist hotels are available in all major cities, and many secondary cities, with service levels ranging from one-star to five stars. Some hotels are local subsidiaries for international hotel chains.

Travel and tourist services:

There are many and tourist agencies operating under license from the local authorities. They organize tours around the country. They also provide tour guides speaking different languages, and rent out cars for those interested.

Airport procedures:

Immigration forms are given to you on the plane and have to be handed in at passport control. Customs officers check the luggage closely for alcohol, videotapes and magazines that contain sex pictures.

As a foreigner and a tourist you will be treated in special way everywhere in Yemen.From the airport there are taxis but no regular bus service to town. Normally, tourist offices organize transportation for their tourists, but if you take a taxi it will not cost more than US$ 10 from the airport to any area in Sana’a or Aden.

Inside the city there are three options:

1- Taxis that will cost you US$1 for short distances of less than 15 minutes, there are no meters in the taxis.
2- Small buses (Dabab) Dababs run in fixed routes around the city, picking up and dropping off passengers in demand. You will need to speak Arabic, or use sign language. Fares are approx US$0.10.

3- Hiring a car there are some car rental offices where you can hire a car. An international driving license is required. Prices start from US$ 40 per day.

Trasportations:

Air transportation is available to most big cities on a local level. International flights are available to Sana'a, Aden, Hodeidah, Mokalla and other airports. Yemenia maintains direct international serves to major cities in Europe, India, and the Middle East.
Most Yemen visitors arrive at Sana'a International Airport and then proceed with Yemenia to other cities.Ground transportations between smaller cities are cheapest by collective taxi but more comfortable by having a private taxi.

Small groups tend to travel in four-wheel drive vehicles with driver provided by many different companies. A private transport and an experienced driver give the visitor more freedom to explore remote places and manage the time as preferred. In addition, the cost of a reliable transportation and the driver is worthwhile.

Inside the cities, usually there will be a buses or minibuses that is very cheap. But it serves from and to certain places. Another option for transportation is taxis, which are available everywhere down the street. Some tourists prefer to rent a car, which is not a bad idea. You would need an international driving license and a make sure to maintain all the important papers for the car that shows that ownership of the car and an authorization for driving it from the cars rental agency.

Some agencies offers an experienced driver who will take care of everything about the car and may help you get to know important places to see. Some of them work as tour guides. "As one travels through the regions of Yemen, from the hot coastal plain of the Tihama to the cool mountain villages of the central highlands and to the remote valleys of the Hadramout there is such a diversity of landscape, architecture, and vegetation that it is like moving from one country to another. Yet the impression of Yemen as a land of contrasts is deceptive.

There are common strands of identity running through the fabric. The fiercely individualistic character of each place and its people reveals itself gradually not as a discordant factor in essence but as the way of the country as a whole.

The common identity of Yemen does not exist necessarily in a sense of uniformity or consensus of opinion but rather in the vigorous defense of the small unit, be it family or tribe or village. A unified cultural heritage the diversity of expression."

Traveling in the country:

To appreciate Yemen’s considerable natural beauty, one has to leave the city and explore the countryside. While the main roads are well surfaced and traveling them is a comfortable experience, taking to the rugged mountain tracks in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is an adventure well worth the effort.

The serpentine mountain roads offer breathtaking views into Wadis lined by countless man-made terraces. Visit the barren eastern mountains with their fascinating rock formations and be awed by the encroaching desert’s sand dunes. Dive into the clear waters of the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean or explore the tropical flora and fauna of the lower wadis with their clear monsoon streams and unique settlements and culture.

And if you like the off beat, do not miss the experience of crossing the desert "Ramlat Assaba’atyin" on the southern corner of the Rub’a-alkhali, between Marib and Shabwa, the shortest way to the famous Wadi Hadramout. You can follow the ancient Gold and Incense Road along the edge of the desert.

In Marib you can visit the old great Marib dam, The Queen of Sheba temple and the remains of ancient civilizations. To enjoy the varied scenery, explore mysterious historical sites, marvel at the architecture, and most of all meet the people, many of whom maintain their original ways of life, is an unforgettable experience.

Wherever you go, children will appear curious, boisterous, and sometimes annoying, you do not need to give them any thing, just small smile and show some good humor and they will love you.

Photography:

Men and children (male & female) are willing to have their pictures taken, but are more cautious with women. Photographing women, even if veiled, is considered very rude and risky. Also be careful not to photograph military sites, airports or harbors, which are restricted security areas.

Despite the restrictions Yemen is a photographer’s paradise. Some of your shots of traditional activities, like plough with the help of a donkey or grinding sesame with a camel, have potential historic value, because the old ways, now still widely observed, are destined to become things of the past.



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