The secret of eternal life shouldn’t be something that’s easy to stumble across and by cleverly hiding it out on Socotra the gods have certainly taken that thought to heart. At 3650 sq km Socotra is easily the largest Yemeni island and traditionally one of the most inaccessible.
For much of the week Beit al-Faqih lies as dormant and quiet as a winter seed, but come past early on a Friday morning and you’ll think spring has sprung in the most outrageous manner possible. This is because each Friday every villager, trader and farmer from miles around turns up to be a part of the biggest, brightest and boldest weekly market in Yemen.
The most popular afternoon excursion from Sanaʻa is to the palace of Dar al-Hajar in the fertile Wadi Dhahr. Constructed as a summer residence for Imam Yahya in the 1920s, the palace has become something of a symbol of Yemen, and it’s not hard to see why – it erupts forth off its rock table like a giant red-and-white toadstool.