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Sana'a Residents

altJust like the architecture and the infrastructure have survived over the centuries in their somewhat original form, the society itself within Sana'a has witnessed a minimal change. People are as welcoming and hospitable to visitors as they used to be during the ages of caravan travel. You will be greeted with delight, and people try to help out with subtle gestures wherever you go. A basic knowledge of the Arabic language is a bonus, as it helps you to mingle with the locals in a variety of contexts.

Sana'a is a largely male-dominated society. You may see an occasional burqa-clad woman scurrying across a street with a couple of children at her heels. Markets, hotels, restaurants, are all serviced by men.

It is very much advisable to respect the local customs, especially when it comes to dressing. Shorts, skirts, and sleeveless dresses are not appreciated, and wearing such a dress would draw rude and unpleasant stares. Public displays of affection are also considered inappropriate. Drinking in public places is prohibited by law, although you can consume alcoholic beverages inside your hotel room. In restaurants, largely Halal food is served – no pig meat available. Asking for alcohol or bacon/ham at a local restaurant could be taken as an offensive gesture, so be mindful when ordering.

A nice way to spend an idle afternoon is to head to a local coffee shop and indulge in casual conversation with the locals over a qat (khat) session. Qat is a weak narcotic leaf, very popular in males of all ages. It may cause a loss of appetite and sleeplessness in some people, so consume only in small amounts. Sitting in a coffeehouse, conversing over qat, sipping cups of hot tea, and watching the locals as they go about their lives is one experience you should not miss out on when in Sana'a.

More General Information About Sanaa - Yemen

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