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The Forbidden Road to Yemen

The only safe route to enter Yemen is from Oman – Yemen Land border as this part of the country is peaceful and away from the war zone.

(Date of Visit – 13 June, 2019)

Yemen, the only country which is restricted for Indians to Visit. A No Objection Certificate (NOC) is required from Ministry of External Affairs for any Indian visiting Yemen. Without this NOC approval it’s a criminal offence for an Indian to visit Yemen.The only safe route to enter Yemen is from Oman – Yemen Land border as this part of the country is peaceful and away from the war zone.

Yemen Visa
I mailed Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for the NOC, explaining the reason to visit. The purpose of visit was to step foot in each 198 countries (193 UN Nation + Vatican City, Kosovo, Taiwan, Palestine and Antarctica). I mentioned the land route we will follow from Oman to enter and will exit Yemen same day. MEA granted the NOC and the I visited Yemen embassy for visa.It is mandatory to get an Invitation from Sana’a attested by Foreign Ministry to get visa. I requested for the waiver of this invitation letter, met the ambassador and finally got the visa.

The Road Trip from Salalah, Oman
We travelled Delhi – Muscat – Salalah by flight and then a Scenic drive along the ocean and mountains to Yemen border. Sourcing a good cab and driver was the most important part of the journey. I explored online and sourced a cab operator with good reviews. The price of Salalah – Yemen round trip started with 150 Oman Rial and finally negotiated to 50 Oman Rial. We planned to start early at 3.30 am in morning and I booked a flight reaching 3.00 am to Salalah. The flight got cancelled and was rescheduled for arrival at 10.15 am. Finally we started the trip at 10.30 am. drThe road from Salalah to Sarfayt border of Oman-Yemen is along the sea of salalah and then along the mountains. This road is not crowded and only few vehicles travelling the route. The initial part of the journey the car was moving at 100 KM/hr but later it was fog and clouds in the hills, low visibility and required to drive slowly. The journey fo approx 160 Km to the Sarfayt border took approx 3 hrs.

The route had 2-3 police check points, great views of mountains, few camels moving and slow rain. The natural beauty of the road makes it worth travelling only for a long drive. We came across a road side board mentioning Yemen 33 Km and we knew we are just 40 mins away from our 134th country.

Land Border Crossing and Yemen Entry
At Oman side of the border as I submitted the passports and the immigration officer asked for NOC. The message of Indian government was well communicated at borders that without NOC no Indian will be allowed to enter Yemen. I was informed that NOC is mandatory for other countries as well but not sure if this information was correct. I was questioned by 2 different officers at immigration for the reason to visit Yemen. My answer was passion to visit all 198 countries and finally Oman immigration allowed us to exit. I had multiple entry Oman visa which which is easily grated to Indians with USA visa and can be applied online. I informed the immigration that we will be back soon. Oman nations can enter Yemen without any restriction so our cab driver Mr Said Ahmed Suhail Jaabub also travelled with us taking he car to the no man’s land of 300 meter’s. Mr Said Ahmed have visited Yemen multiple times earlier so was aware of the process.

We finally entered Yemen. The immigration officer asked for NOC and then stamped our passport. This was a remote place and 8-10 Yemen people around giving a strange look as we were the only one at the immigration of the forbidden land. We requested for few pictures which they denied then allowed. We quickly took few pictures before the guard in a loud voice refused us to take pictures. A person whose picture was clicked, asked for money and we gave 1 USD. I requested Yemen immigration officer for 1 Bank Note of Yemen currency for my collection and exchanged it for USD 2.

As we returned back to Salalah airport we needed to book a new flight. Due to 7 hrs delay in arrival at Salalah (we were supposed to reach at 3 am and finally reached at 10.15 am) we missed our return flight Salalah to Muscat. At airport we booked for a flight to Muscat and then had memorable stay at Grand Hyatt Muscat.

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