Blogs from Sana'a, Yemen, Middle East


Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a July 26th 2010

"Welcome to Yemen" Nous voila arrives au bout du premier vollet de ce voyage. Nos familles peuvent etre rassurees, nous sommes sains et saufs, et pour être honnnetes nous ne nous sommes jamais sentis en grand danger au Yemen... Pourtant, en venant d'Oman, nous avions a traverser une des zones reputees les plus dangereuses du pays, un immense desert qui serait le fief des hommes de Ben Laden. Ce que nous y avons decouvert ressemblait plus a un jardin d'eden qu'a un camps d'entrainement pour apprentis terroristes ! En depis de tous nous efforts pour passer inapercus (Pascal en djelaba !), les deux "fransawis" deviennent rapidement la principale curiosité du bus. "Welcome to Yemen", on nous donne a boire, a manger, a chiquer ... le douanier lui meme insiste pour nous offrir un cadeau de bienvenue ... read more
Petite halte spirituelle chez les soeurs de Mère Theresa
El Souk
Chewing Qat

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a June 25th 2010

How did I end up here? Sitting in a mosque in Sana’a during evening prayer, I am the only non-Muslim amongst the 500 men who are standing, kneeling and praying in ordered lines. From my squatted position in the centre of the mosque, the men clothed in traditional Yemeni garments tower over me, as their gentle reverential and sonorous iterations fall upon my ears. This experience commenced a few hours earlier whilst wandering though the souqs in Sana’a, that cacophony of hawking and haggling where I was often accosted by different people. There was the man who informed me that Yemeni women made great wives, and he spoke with some authority since he had three of them. Then there was an elderly man who walked beside me as we weaved through the shopping frenzy and the ... read more
My guide, Dr Manea Al-Hazmi (left) and friend - Sana'a
Village of Atefer - Haraz Mountains, Yemen
Village of Wadi Dahar - Haraz Mountains, Yemen

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a June 23rd 2010

Seeing the broken wreckage of a military helicopter near the runway of Sana’a International Airport as my flight landed confirmed most people’s impressions of Yemen - a dangerous and lawless land where there is an average of three guns for every man, woman and child the country. The other impression of a conservative and closeted country was apparent earlier on my flight, for if one turned their gaze from the landscape of burnt hills that arose from the pale desert, they would notice that every woman on the flight wore a niqab. Many people had warned me away from visiting here due to the security situation, but the lure of the Old City of Sana’a proved too strong. Yemen’s claim of being the poorest country on the Arabian peninsula became quickly apparent. Gone were the modern ... read more
Sunrise in the beautiful city of Sana'a, Yemen
Boy working in father's tailor store - Yemen, Sana'a
Market area within Sana'a, Yemen

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a June 16th 2010

I fell in love with Yemen the moment I stepped out of the airport. I was tired. I had to wait for the visa at the airport for two hours after landing. That too after a long sleepless night in Dubai. The good thing about the whole ordeal was the experience of going through it. Surprisingly, it was. Under normal circumstances one will be worried at the airport without a visa especially when your passport has also been taken away by the authorities, you don’t know anyone in the country you are visiting and your phone is not working. The guy at the immigration counter told me that the visa was not there and I would have to wait. I was offered water to drink while I waited for the visa to arrive. The guy kept ... read more
Yemen 02
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Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a May 7th 2010

From the previous post people will know I loved Yemen and had a great time in Sana'a and then in Aden. Travel was restricted by the government, mainly to protect foreigners from the attentions of the tribal folks who like to kidnap people to pressure the GOY to help them - and for money! So this was pretty frustrating, particularly when you are trying to work in the rural sector. Eventually we did get permission to go north from Sana'a City (the capital) to Amran City which lies a couple of hours drive north. Amran is rather unsafe because of its proximity to the area where the Houthi rebels are fighting the government and where there are large numbers of displaced person. But our trip was uneventful and fun. I went with a delightful colleague, Sara ... read more
Castle in Yemen
Displaced Persons

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a April 29th 2010

January to March 2010 Q's World was in Yemen, Sana'a City putting together a rural development project that will assist the poorest folk in the most remote areas. Check out for details. I travelled to Sana'a on Emirates via Dubai, just making a very tight connection - the security in Dubai can take some time if you are unlucky and I made the flight, but lost my luggage (came the next day). The scenery as you approach the landing is just spectacular and gets better and better. Sana'a is remarkable. It is one of the oldest cities in the world with first settlement in Biblical times (remember, Marib City in Yemen was where the Queen of Sheba had her capital and where the Marib Dam is the oldest known example of large-scale water engineering). The ... read more
Mountain Village

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a December 13th 2009

My Yemitco bus leaves 9am for Sana'a, on my last night I hang out with Seb a French dude that teaches French at a University in Aden, he is also a Couch Surfer host, I wish I contacted him earlier but too late now, he is good fun, in 2 hours of walking the streets in the crater souqs he reminisce about Kazakhstan where he lived for couple years and one of my favorite countries in Central Asia. He laughed when I told him how uneasy it makes me feel when locals stare at you on the streets here in Yemen, he said he is used to it by now. We had a good dinner of some bean dip thing i cant remember the name, right next to the hotel I am staying, he said it ... read more

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a December 1st 2009

Felix Airways flight back to Sana'a took 2:45 stopping in Mukhalla and Aden! The captain is quite cool he told us what we will see in the air so we can take our cameras out and take fotos. We saw Qalansiah beach from the top again, and some small islands in the Socotra archipelago, we only got served water all the way through Sana'a, no food, sucks! At Mukhalla airport there is a couple of crashed airplanes still in the grassy area near the tarmac, scary, they should put it away so we dont get scared! Same thing in Aden airport! Took heaps of fotos of sceneries from the plane, deserts in Mukhalla area and some towns and sea and beach and busy city in Aden and also saw an extinct volcano near the sea, cool!Behind ... read more

Middle East » Yemen » Sana'a November 19th 2009

Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt stops in Addis Ababa, i did not know that! it is not written in my itinerary so at the counter I double checked with the agent and I was told indeed a quick stop to refuel and drop off passengers, I did not mind it really but never thought I will be going back to Ethiopia again, this soon! More than half of the people got off and lots of empty seats for the one hour 20 minute flight. I was at most anxious moment when we landed in Sanaa, this is my 1st time in the Middle East, I did not really know what to expect, shuttle bus took us to the terminal and I immediately got off to be the 1st in line at the visa booth, I was stopped ... read more

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