Yemen is one of the world's most ancient countries and played an important part in Middle Eastern trade, supplying the ancient world with such exotic items as frankincense, myrrh, spices, condiments and other luxury items. The southwestern coastal strait known as Bab El-Mandeb, which links the Indian Ocean with the Red Sea, was an important trade corridor for about 3,000 years.
Yemen is a strongly Arab country in both language and culture. There are many tribal and religious distinctions with regard to location. The people of the Tihamah coastal plain are of mixed Arab and African descent, while other groups are mainly of Arab origin. The Zaidi tribe are Shi'ite Muslims, who inhabit the northern mountain region and whose religious and political beliefs exerted a great influence on Northern Yemen from the 9th century onwards. Many Zaidis are embracing the Sunnite beliefs. Consequently, their number and effect in the social and political life have been reduced dramatically for the last 10 years.
The northern and southern lowland regions are dominated by the Shafii (one of the most four authentic Islamic school of thoughts (Hanbali, Shafii, Hanafi, and Maliki)) community of Sunnite Muslims, who are widely different in their culture and economic structure and have often been at variance with the Zaidi over social and political issues.
Yemen was closed to the outside world for hundreds of years, but now its doors are opened to deal commercially, educationally, and politically with other nations. The people of Yemen are very conservative and the Islamic law (Shariah) is still observed very strictly.
Much Yemeni business is conducted while chewing Qat, a leaf which is grown locally and much enjoyed by the Yemeni people as an aid to thought and decision-making. Westerners in business meetings are not expected to participate in the Qat-chewing ritual, unless they wish to do so.
For more details about Yemen please read the following articles:
| Tourism In Yemen |