Yemen Local Laws and Culture


Arabic is the official language of Yemen. Most people do not speak English. Some Yemenis may know other non-Arabic languages or even some basic English, but do not expect communication to be easy if you do not speak Arabic, especially when you are outside of the capital.

Yemenis speak a Yemen dialect of Arabic that is very different from other forms of Arabic.


Bargaining is a part of the culture when you are shopping in Yemen. If you are not a local, it will be very difficult to get the best price. If you are traveling with a guide, it may be possible to get the Yemeni price. Try to haggle, but, realistically, no matter what price you get will still probably see great returns for the seller.


Yemeni cuisine is very different from that of other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, which can be one of the most appealing things about Yemen. The Yemeni signature dish is a meat stew that is spiced with fenugreek, called salta. The taste is very different from Western dishes, and is an acquired taste, but still worth trying.

Yemen is also famous for its honey. In particular, there is a dish called bint al-sahn, which is a flat piece of dough that is soaked in honey.

Although it is not actually a food, the qat leaf is also worth trying. It is a Yemeni social drug that is chewed after lunch until dinner. It is a mark of pride for a Yemeni to be able to chew a very large ball of qat and hold it in their cheek, so it is not unusual to see men and boys in the streets with full cheeks. The effect is similar to a mild stimulant and an appetite-suppressant. Insomnia is also another side effect.


Yemen is a dry country. Non-Muslims can bring up to two bottles of alcohol into the country, which can be consumed only on private grounds. Do not venture outside after you are drunk.

There are many juice and soft drinks bars in Yemen, but you should avoid the ones that use tap water as a base.

Tap water and ice made from tap water should be avoided if possible. Drink bottled water, which is widely available.


Do not take pictures of people or buildings unless you have permission. This is especially important to remember especially for women. Taking a picture of a woman is considered a great offense.

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