Perhaps our biggest hindrance – the largest obstacle to our potential students in deciding whether or not to come to yemen over other destinations in the Middle East for linguistic training in Arabic – is that of safety. We wholly believe what we stated above, however, we asked one of our students as to what reasoning overcame his doubts over the safety, or security status, of Yemen:

It’s perhaps scary in the beginning, to look at governmental travel advice regarding yemen – bombings and kidnappings against foreign personnel here – it makes for some gory reading, and usually means that people instantly dismiss the prospect of coming to Yemen. However, if we linger on the issue for a little while longer, we’ll probably change our minds.

Additional risks and threats permeate all forms of travel – epidemic flues, road traffic accidents, food poisoning, petty crime etc. The truth of the matter is, that there has only been a few bombings against foreigners, most of those few have been against official structures (embassies, ships). There seems to be a series of regular kidnappings in the past, most of these ‘hostages’ are released unharmed after a short period, and most of those few hostages were aid workers working in remote, hazardous locations.

I adamantly do not wish to play down that threats exist, and that the severity of the tragedies suffered in the past, rather, I want for us to look at the threats of terrorism and kidnapping in relation to other threats we’re exposed to whilst we travel. Statistically we’re much, much, much more likely to be in a car accident, in almost any country in the world (not just Yemen!), than we are in an incident from the either of the aforementioned threats. Moreover, as said above, there are barely any threats of petty crime in Yemeni society – theft, mugging, assault – we’re far more likely to suffer these in our own countries. Thus, if we take reasonable safety and security cautions, in many ways, we’ll actually be safer here than we will be in our countries.

Whilst I don’t think anyone would advocate ignoring travel advice to countries, for we should take heed of it, we should also understand that embassies and foreign ministries have an interest in being OVER-protective of their nationals abroad, and this is reflected in their travel advice. You should also, for your interest, compare the threat of terrorism between the Middle East and other countries we might have thought safe – perhaps even our own countries. Take the Kingdom of Spain, for example, it has (deemed by several reliable sources) a high threat of terrorism, despite millions of European holidaymakers visiting it every year.

Thus, whilst this is a personal argument and hence isn’t academically authoritative, and offers no statistical calculations of risk, I hope you can follow the simple logic of what I’ve said, my perspective, in taking the security status of yemen in context. You should judge for yourselves objectively, and not be overly incapacitated by the recent buzzword of terrorism, or rather the risk of terrorism – it may just prevent you from having a unique and incredible experience in Yemen.

And anyway, if you already contemplated coming to Yemen, which is probably the case if you’re reading this FAQ, then there was an inkling of adventure in you, to go a little off ‘the beaten track’ – and if that was the case, then, life’s about taking a few risks here and there.

Will Carter

No< really – How safe is Yemen? yemen