Buying a SIM card for your phone in Yemen entails giving a copy of the picture page and visa stamp of your passport to the store-owner which he presumably passes along to the appropriate authorities, and filling out an application form which must be stamped with your left thumbprint. A phone call is then made to some mysterious entity and only then do you get your cellphone number. One assumes in these disturbing times, that the Yemeni government wants to keep tabs on who’s who. (It is interesting to note which countries keep close tabs on such things. In Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria you pay cash and trundle off with the new SIM and phone number, nary a piece of paperwork in sight. In Tunisia, Libya and Yemen your passport is required and recorded. I cannot quite find the common thread there.....) The good news is that the SIM card and a charge card costs the grand total of $12. Email is also very cheap here at 50 cents an hour (100 Yemeni Riyals) for relatively fast connection, with internet cafes everywhere in the major cities.
A view of Old Sana'a from the rooftop of one of the city's many samsarahs.