Eco Tourism in the Middle East: Yemen

Buckle your (cyber) seatbelts and prep your imaginary passports, because this week we’re continuing our green journey. After eco touring other Middle Eastern countries – such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Israel – we’re off to pay a green visit to Yemen.

Yemen, like other countries in the region, has a variety of natural attractions ranging from Red Sea marine life to mountains (Yemen’s Jabal Al-Nabi Shouyab mountain at 3660 meters above sea level is one of the highest peaks in the Arabian Peninsula), to plains and valleys. Yemen’s Environmental Protection Agency is currently working on establishing conservation areas in Yemen that will be especially protected.

Socotra, an ecologically unique island near Yemen’s southern coast, already enjoys this protection. Socotra has unique biodiversity and is home to many rare endemic plants. Botanists even claim that the island is one of the top ten endangered islands in the world. Referred to sometimes as the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” there are 900 plant species (300 of which are endemic), 27 reptile species (24 of which are endemic) and 190 bird species (6 of which are endemic) on the island. To enjoy a sustainable visit to this unique natural habitat, look no further than the Socotra Eco-Tourism Society (SES), a non-governmental organization managed entirely by Socotri people.

Looking for something a little more low key in an urban setting? According to Batir Wardam at Arab Environment Watch, an organic restaurant in Yemen’s city of Sana’a is probably the first of its kind in the Arab world. Jamil Hindi, the owner of the Al Mankal restaurant on Amman Street in Sana’a, recently turned his restaurant completely organic and does not serve any preserved foods either. According to Hindi, “Being organic is giving food with love and care… I am 100 percent convinced that if you want to lead a peaceful life, you must go organic.”

Read more about the green Middle East:: Green Prophet Visit Amirim, A Vegetarian Paradise in the Galilee and Voices From the Green Egyptian Blogosphere

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