Personally, I have done a lot of research on Yemen. Although I have not been there, I’ve met people who are from there and some that have been there. InshaAllah I will try to provide whatever info I can regarding Yemen.
Alhamdulillah Yemen is one of those places that have not changed or Westernized a lot. If you speak with someone from there or view some pictures, you will see the beautiful buildings and houses having old design/style. Back in the day, the cities used to be walled and had gates, I know at least one of these gates is still in existence in Yemen. The people there are simple and friendly (maybe not all, but most). Yemen is not a very rich country nor may it have a lot of opportunities when it comes to jobs, mostly English teaching jobs are available there but they may be in a mixed classroom unless one can request or find male only or female only students. When it comes to business, one of the people I asked mentioned that almost all kinds of business exist there, which can mean that you will come across competition, unless you have some unique idea which may have demand and can establish a monopoly.
One of the things about Yemen is the issue of “Qat” or “Khat”. And what exactly is Qat?
QAT: According to drugfree.org:
A stimulant. For centuries, khat, the fresh young leaves of the Catha Edulis shrub, have been consumed where the plant is cultivated, primarily in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. There, chewing khat predates the use of coffee and is used in a similar social context. Khat has been brought into the United States and other countries for use by emigrants from the source countries. It contains a number of chemicals among which are two controlled substances, Cathinone and Cathine. As the leaves mature or dry, Cathinone is converted to Cathine, which significantly reduces its stimulatory properties.
It was Ramadan time when I first heard about “Qat” from a brother who works with some Yemeni brothers. What I was told initially is that it is something the brothers from Yemen consume which helps them stay awake at night. One of my first reaction was probably lets get hold of it and have it so we can stay up to, remember this was during Ramadan ( now when I think about it, it makes me laugh).
Later on as some brothers mentioned about it and as I started coming across info I found out that it is a big problem that faces Yemen.
I’m not going to get in much detail about it but it can searched for on Google, Yahoo, etc. as there are tons of pages giving info about Qat/Khat and how people socialize and sit among themselves consuming it.
Visa and Getting Around
One of the dilemmas that face the brothers and sisters who plan on making hijrah is Visa/immigration. This is one of the things that a lot of people bring up and also one of the things that may slow down the hijrah process. It may not be easy to actually settle in a Muslim place for good, but InshaAllah if Allah SWT wills, there are ways. We should always have trust in Allah SWT and we should always do the means. For Visa one can visit the Yemeni consulate web page and get some basic info, or call them for info on Visa. Info and requirements may vary by country, usually the entry is for 30 days which can be renewed by paying a fee or if one over stays then a daily fine of approximately 300 Yemeni Riyal may be imposed. This can be paid at the airport when leaving the country. One can also get the Visa at the airport on arrival, but it may be better to get a Visa in advance, either way, at the airport, the immigration officials will stamp the Visa for entry. You can also a Visa through employment, keep in mind that in certain categories on visa you may need a exit visa which requires permission from the sponsor. I have also heard that Visas are available to sisters if they enroll their kids in school, but I am not sure if the whole family can get a Visa that way. I’ve heard that people from certain nationalities may get more then a 30 day entry, but I am not sure. Other then that a person can get a entry visa as well as a residence visa through a language center in addition if you take admission in a university there you can also get a visa through them. It is also said that a lot of people get turned away at the airport, as most of us may be aware of the current world situation and the security around, we all may be searched or screened for various criteria. Its better to know someone in Yemen and use their address and have them come pick you up at the airport. Of course there are going to people who may not know anyone in Yemen, but InshaAllah all affairs are with Allah so just have faith.
Sanaa is the main city where people usually fly to as tickets are cheaper as compared to Aden, plus one will have to catch a several hour bus ride to go to Sanaa or ride a cab unless one needs to specifically goto Aden.
If one is intending to make hijrah it is recommended to at least know enough Arabic to get around on the streets as people there speak Arabic and many may not be able to communicate in English. Either way, we as Muslims who are not native Arabic speakers should strive hard to learn Arabic and understand our deen better and direct. One may miss out on the beauty and uniqueness of the language. This reminds me of a quote that a brother once mentioned ” If anyone wants to increase his IQ, then let them learn Arabic.”
Again there is abundant info on Yemen available online , depending on what your purpose of travel is, I will try to give info and may post more stuff InshaAllah.
Housing can be cheap when it comes to rentals in Yemen. For example, in Sanaa the prices may vary, also some places may not have Western style toilets which some people can’t do without it. This may jump up the price of places which have Western style toilets/bathrooms and American kitchens. The prices also vary based on the size of the house/apartment and the number of bedrooms. For short term rentals I suggest checking out www.sanaa-apartments.com
I contacted them a while ago and they were very prompt and detailed with the reply. As a matter of fact, they later on even got back with me offering special prices. I have old prices so you can contact them directly to get the updated ones. To check out more detailed information on housing in Yemen, visit TJYemen Blog by clicking here.
Learning Arabic and Arabic Language Institutes in Yemen
A lot of people have been to Yemen to learn Arabic. The good thing about Yemen is the fact that most people don’t speak English…because of that, one is emmersed in an area with no communication except Arabic. This forces people to constantly learn vocabulary whenever possible, as opposed to sitting in a classroom for a few hours a week with no real conversation to test their linguistic capabilities. This is the best way to learn, as most people already know. In Sanaa, which is the capital of Yemen, there are many language institutes and they all vary by prices. Some institutes attract foreigners and non Muslims while others market themselves for Muslims. In at least two institutes over there, they have separate classes for brothers and sisters. One institute called Mahad Medina has recieved good reviews from people who have studied there. If anyone would like information about people’s experience in Mahad Medina, do not hesitate to contact me as I personally know some people who have studied there.
Seeking knowledge in Yemen
Yemen InshaAllah is a good place for seekers of knowledge. Places like Dammaj in Yemen are well known to people of knowledge. Dammaj is highly recommended for those who can successfully manage to reach there and legally stay there. This is a slightly difficult task as lately foreigners are not allowed to travel to Dammaj due to strict rules and regualtions, people have been arrested etc. However, people who are there now, or have gone there in the past have benefitted tremendously in their knowledge of the deen. There are other places where one can go to seek knowledge like the Masjid Sharqain in Sanaa, which also houses the Mahad Medina Language Institute. Other than that, there are numerous scholars throughout Yemen, some of them are students of Sheikh Muqbil RahimahuAllah, but one must be careful in their search for knowledge as Sufism,Ikhwani’s and other deviant sects may also be present.
InshaAllah i’ll see if i can add more to this as i wanted to keep it brief yet informative so feel free to contact me.
May Allah swt make it easy for all the Muslim Brothers and Sisters to make Hijrah only for His swt sake and take the path of our righteous predecessors