Frequently Asked Questions:
At YIAL, we strive to make your study experience in Yemen as successful and trouble-free as possible. We are always happy to assist you in whatever way we can, from simply helping you find your way around the city to more complicated requirements.
To make you life easier (and allow you to focus on your studies) we provide the following services for nominal fees:
• Airport pick-up and drop-off ($15).
• Visa renewal (at cost).
• Coordination of group trips and activities.
As you plan your travel to Yemen, you may find the following list of FAQ’s useful:
FAQ’s concerning Visas
Recently, student visas are not issued. Students can come to Sana'a as tourists. But, all visas are not issued at Sana'a airport. You need to apply for the tourist visa at the Yemen embassy in your country or at the nearest embassy.
The initial visa is valid for between one and three months, depending on the student’s home country and its bilateral agreements with Yemen: Visa valid for : 1 month Australia, United States Visa valid for: 3 months All EU countries,
Students holding a student visa who want to extend their stay for a month can get their visas renewed by (a) paying a US$20 renewal fee, (b) bringing 4 (4cm x 6 cm) photos with a white background, and (c) providing a copy of a recent blood test (generally taken in Sana’a). We assist students in all stages of the renewal process. Those wanting to renew their residence visas for more than three months must obtain the approval of their country embassies in Sana’a. Authorities will impose fines on students not renewing their residence visas on time.
Diplomatic relations between Israel and the Arab nations, including Yemen, are generally non-existent. Officially, you will be denied a Yemeni visa if there is an Israeli stamp in your passport. In this situation, a new passport or a second passport is generally required.
FAQ’s concerning Safety
In a word, yes. Although Yemen has a somewhat bad reputation for safety due to a very small number of high-profile incidents, Yemen on the whole, especially the capital, Sana’a, is very safe and chances are that you will be pleasantly surprised when you arrive in Yemen at how friendly and hospitable the Yemeni people are to foreigners. In fact, many of our students feel safer walking through the streets of Sana’a than they do in their hometowns; you will find that the Yemeni tradition of welcoming and caring for guests remains alive and strong to this day.
The safety of our students is of paramount concern to us and we keep this critical factor in mind at every stage of your stay in Yemen. The institute is well connected to both the Yemeni administrative infrastructure and the foreign diplomatic community. We make a point of advising students on how to travel safely in Yemen and provide organized chaperoned trips. In addition, we have taken the extra precaution of having a security guard on site at the institute at all times. All room doors can be locked and rooms are equipped with locking cabinets for your valuables.
Our staff is always available should you have any concerns or special needs. Should you require medical care, we will of course help you in locating the best medical care and communicating with your doctor in your home country if need be.
Miscellaneous FAQ’s about Traveling to Yemen
From America, Emirates Airlines, with non-stop flights to Dubai from both New York and Houston, generally offers the lowest airfare to Yemen. A long layover in Dubai is often required, but you will likely be provided with a complimentary hotel room – ask your travel agent for details. From Europe, both Yemenia and Qatar airways offer direct flights to Sana’a from various European cities.
The weather in Sana’a, located in the mountains at 2350 m (7700 ft) above sea-level, is temperate year-round: during the coldest winter months (December and January), the average high is 21 degrees Celsius (69 degrees Fahrenheit), while in the hottest summer months (June and July), the average high is 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit). There are two yearly rainy seasons in Sana’a: the first occurs in March and April, while the second and heavier rainy season occurs in late July and August; in both seasons, rain generally falls only in the afternoon.
We recommend loose clothing (so as not to see the shape of your body), as well as a head scarf. Dressing like this will not only show respect for the Islamic culture and the Yemeni people, but allow you to fit in better.
Men should also dress modestly: pants are much preferred over shorts, and shirts should always have sleeves.
Not too long ago, many Western items were unavailable in Yemen. Now, however, you can find almost anything you need in Yemen, be it Gillette blades and shaving cream or electronics of all kinds. The only thing you should be sure to bring with you is an adequate supply of any prescription medications as these may be either very hard or impossible to find.
The electrical output is 220 Watts. You will find a variety of electrical sockets in Yemen, and a wide variety of adaptors are readily available for around $1.
You will find numerous money exchange places around Sana’a, all charging very low commission. If you are bringing extra cash with you, it is best to have it in American or EU currency. The Yemeni Rial is quite steady against the dollar, currently at 200 Yemeni Rials per dollar.
There is an ever increasing number of ATMs in Sana’a that accept Western cards; before you travel, however, it may be best to check with your financial institution to ensure that they will not block your card’s usage in Yemen. Note that you may encounter great difficulty using traveler’s checks. To open an account at any bank in Yemen, you must have a residency visa. Opening an account at a Yemeni bank may be quite convenient for those studying for a longer period of time, as most Yemeni banks now provide you with a debit card that can be used at dozens of ATMs throughout Sana’a and the country. Note that most banks also require a $500-$1500 initial deposit to open an account.
Yemeni cuisine is markedly different from much of the rest of the Arab world and for many people is a highlight of their trip to Yemen. Yemenis eat out a lot and Sana’a abounds with both restaurants and small establishments selling locally made sweets and fresh juices, so you will most definitely get an opportunity to experience the local cuisine. Most dishes in Yemen are served in a common dish and eaten with fresh bread from one of countless local bakeries (often located next to main restaurants). For breakfast and dinner, both lighter meals, some of the standard dishes are eggs (often with vegetables), kabob, fasulia (a bean stew), and laham sukhar (tender meat sautéed with vegetables). Lunch, however, is the main meal of the day, and a chance to experience the essence of Yemeni food, especially if you are invited to someone’s house. The signature Yemeni lunch is “salta”. Salta is a stew consisting of meat and various vegetables, served boiling-hot in an iron dish and eaten with any of the many different types of Yemeni bread. This is a dish totally unique to Yemen, and no trip to Yemen is complete without a trip to a salta restaurant (open at lunch-time only and serving nothing but salta – who would want anything else?). There are an array of other specifically Yemeni lunch-time foods that are not as commonly available in restaurants but very often served in houses; among these are shafoot (Ethiopian-style injira bread soaked in a liquid sweet sauce and eaten with salad), and bint-as-sahen (a fine bread soaked in the famous Yemeni honey and often served as dessert). If you just love your Western food, don’t worry - you will find almost anything you are looking for at a number of higher end restaurants in Sana’a; in addition, simple western-style meals of burgers and French fries (chips) are becoming main-stream with many restaurants of this type opening (especially in the last few years). Western-style dishes are essentially unavailable outside the capital and the largest cities.
As an Islamic country, the consumption of alcohol is against the law in Yemen, except at a very small number of large Western hotels (Sheraton etc.). Consumption of alcohol on institute grounds at any time and for any reason is sufficient cause for expulsion.
Qat (or chat/mira as it is known in East Africa) are the leaves of a small tree that when chewed produce a sort of euphoric effect. Qat is generally considered a drug, but is in a class of its own with no general consensus as to its danger or legal status: in the United States, for example, qat is considered a dangerous narcotic and penalties for its distribution and use are similar to the penalties for hard drugs like cocaine or heroin; meanwhile in Britain, qat is completely legal, sold in many ethnic grocery stores and regularly chewed by those of Yemeni and east African descent. Qat is ubiquitous in Yemen with the vast majority of males (and a significant number of females) chewing virtually every day. The daily qat chew, which starts after lunch and lasts until the evening, is an established daily ritual for most Yemenis; it is a defining part of the day and is the time to socialize and visit friends (qat is sometimes referred to as the “talkative” drug).
Yes, you can. Whether you are interested in visiting historical sites, hiking in the mountains, or just taking a general tour, traveling outside Sana’a is a must. Outside the capital, you will see the traditional way of life in action, giving you greater insight into Yemeni and Arabic history and culture. Outside the capital as well, you will see any number of ancient historical sites and buildings - often stone villages built on mountain-tops with majestic views; seldom does anyone regret taking such a trip. Although we arrange some trips through the institute, many students choose to spend additional time traveling independently. Students wanting to travel independently can either use public transportation (but only to other main cities), or hire a tour guide with a vehicle (we can help you find good tour operators with reasonable rates). Note, that for security reasons, an official travel permit is required for travel to some locations, and other locations are periodically closed to tourists.