Money & Shopping
Yemeni rials (YER) circulate as banknotes of YER50, YER100, YER200, YER250, YER500 and YER1000 denomination and you are also likely to come across YER10 and YER20 coins.
The rial is freely convertible and subject to frequent fluctuations. In September 2014, €1 = YER276
Almost everywhere you look, you will have the chance to buy the curved dagger (jambiya) worn by local men. This purchase can be simply of the dagger and its accompanying sheath, however handmade belts and silver pouches are also for sale. When purchasing a jambiya, remember that it classed as a weapon for customs purposes. Traditionally, handles were made of animal horn or even ivory. While it is doubtful that the handles sold today as being made from either of these products are the real thing, a wooden or amber handle may be a better option. Cheaper options are pendants and brooches commonly available in the shape of the knife and its sheath.
Necklaces and jewellery are also common souvenirs, and many of these are made of the semi-precious stones the souvenir sellers claim. Nevertheless, a healthy grain of salt taken a necklace is made of lapis lazuli or other precious stone.
Bargaining, even with village children, is expected and worthwhile. If you are with local guides, a common approach is to have them ask for the "Yemeni price", however any bargaining on the part of the tourist will result in discounts.
In tourist sites, there will be souvenir-sellers everywhere you look. In some mountain villages, such as Kawkaban, their technique involves almost trapping the tourists with wheelbarrows full of souvenirs. There is an art form to firmly turning down the goods on offer, even when the seller is a young boy or girl in desperately poor circumstances.
Yemen's currency, the rial (riyal), is subject to high inflation. As a result, many prices, particularly those quoted to light-skinned visitors, will be given in Euros or US dollars. Any of these three currencies will be accepted by the seller, so ask for the cost in whichever currency you are carrying at the time. Discounts for paying in one currency or the other are not high enough to warrant only paying in local money, but you may be lucky.