The second most striking thing about Sana’a is the people. Many Yemenis still wear traditional clothing, often white robes with embroidered shawls either worn over the shoulders or as a head covering, and jackets given the cool climate in the central highlands. For men, the most vital accessory is the jambiya, a large curved dagger with an ornate scabbard worn on center of the belt for all to see. Women always wear traditional clothing, completely covering themselves either in pure black or the alternative, a colourful outer garment of blue and red with a pattern that looks almost like a Persian carpet. Most women keep their faces covered with only their eyes showing through a slit, although this does not seem obligatory.
The people of Sana’a themselves are very friendly towards foreign guests. You often hear “Welcome to Yemen” from well wishers passing by on the streets. Children will call out "Sadiq! Sura!" hoping that you will take their photograph. Many people speak at least some English, although it is not as widespread as in a place like Dubai. As Yemen does not yet have a large number of tourists, it does not seem that many people have developed financial dependence on exploiting tourists as is the case in places such as Egypt or Morocco where the constant harassment can get very tiring. The friendliness of the Yemeni people seems genuine and I hope that as Yemen is discovered by the outside world this positive trait does not change.
The souqs or markets of Sana’a are the best in Arabia and have to be seen to be believed. They comprise a vast labyrinthine network spreading north from the main gate Bab al-Yemen northwards into the heart of the Old Town. While called the Souq al-Milh, or salt market, the markets are actually organized into numerous smaller souqs, each specializing in a certain product. I found the most interesting to be the Souq al-Jambiya, where you can see Yemeni craftsmen manufacturing the traditional daggers worn by the men. Prices are often reasonable and the required negotiations less heated than in other countries I have visited.