I had a quick discussion with Rick about the possibility of me going to Yemen, he thought I was nuts. I shrugged it off, but here’s a link that should put things into perspective. A few highlights:
“However, violent crimes against foreigners are almost non-existent”
“There have been no major terrorist incidents against Americans in Yemen since the bombing of the USS Cole in October, 2000.”
“Travel is particularly dangerous in the tribal areas north and east of Sana’a, close to the border with Saudi Arabia.”
The site is designed to help American businesses determine what kind of risks their employees face when going to different countries. It turns out that the big problems in Yemen are the same as any other poor country, sketchy emergency response personal, lawlessness in rural areas, etc.
True, there are some areas that tourists shouldn’t go to, but that’s the same with any major city or country. To put things into perspective, one guy that I have been corresponding with said that in the time that he was in Yemen, there were 10 homicides in his hometown and none, zero in Sanna a’. Where is his hometown? Washington DC. Since 1995, there have been 6 killings (as opposed to accidental deaths, can’t find any data on that) of foreign nationals in Yemen. Two of them were Americans in a southern Baptist sponsored hospital. Some lunatic walked in and started shooting. There was some tension between the evangelizing hospital workers and the locals… The other four were European tourists and that happened in a well known trouble zone (around Aden). In contrast, the snipers around DC killed 10 people in 2002 alone and there were over 2 thousand murders in DC from 1994 to 2000. By any reasonable measure, DC is a much more dangerous place to be than Sanna a’. What would the State department’s travel advisory to DC look like?
How have I managed to avoid the amazing violence in DC, simple, I don’t do anything stupid. Everyone knows where the bad places are, and we all avoid them. The same is true in Yemen. Over 370,000 tourists visited Yemen last year. 6 were kidnapped (once again, from a place they shouldn’t have gone to) and there were zero deaths. How would that stack up against tourists visiting America?
Not to sound too defensive here, but the family members I have mentioned this to have been, I think, overly negative and quite frankly a bit on the hysterical side. When I talk with people that have actually gone there, they paint a much different picture. Yemen is not like Syria, Lebanon, or even Saudi Arabia. If you want to see what a “Do not go here” recommendation from the state department looks like, check out their page on Lebanon. Now go to the one on yemen. Notice the difference in figures and the difference in the danger described?
I have not made up my mind on where I will be going, but if I decide that I want to learn a Gulf dialect, I will go to Yemen. The other contenders are learning an Eastern dialect in Morocco or going to Egypt and learning the Egyptian dialect (which is generally thought to have the widest amount of understanding throughout the arab world). I’ll be doing some research into which dialect would give me the best employment opportunities after I get back. In the meantime, don’t worry or fret, I’ve never been one to do stupid things why would I start now?