Italian tourists brave the headlines

4 Oct
Romualdi and his group pose for a photo during their 11-day visit to Yemen

Malak Shaher

Yemen Times

Published:04-10-2010

For 15 Italian tourists who left Yemen last Monday after an 11-day visit, Yemen is not a dangerous place that they should avoid. Rather it is a peaceful and beautiful place that deserves to be explored.

“When people in the airport knew that we were visiting Yemen, they said that we were crazy,” said Mario Romualdi, head of KEL 12 tour operators, and organizer of the trip.

This was the first time that anyone in the group traveled to Yemen, except for Romualdi who has been to Yemen 45 times since 1978. His previous experience in Yemen convinced the group that, as he told them, Yemen is not a dangerous place to visit.

“They saw that I was not harmed during the past 32 years and this is the reason behind their believing me like their prophet,” said Romualdi.

Hayd Al-Jazil, one of Romualdi favorite places in Yemen

He was very excited to tell the Yemen Times about his last visit with the 14 Italian tourists, as he was the tour operator who assured them that they would not be in danger. They made the most of their trip, visiting Taiz, Aden, Al-Mukalla, the Daw’an valley in Hadramout, Tarim, Shibam, Manakha, Kawkaban and Seyoun and many other places on the way.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Romualdi’s eyes sparkled with excitement. To best convey his feelings about Yemen, he spoke in Italian. Although he visited some beautiful places in Yemen many years ago, he said that this was the first time he had visited Hayd Al-Jazil in Hadramout, to the east of the country.

“I have been to many beautiful places in Yemen, but this was the first time I had visited Hayd Al-Jazil in the Daw’an valley. At the crack of dawn, the sun’s rays beamed down on the whole place. I could not believe my eyes. I thought I was dreaming. That place is not real, it is a part of Paradise.”

At Hayd Al-Jazil, 20 houses perch on top of a small plateau overlooking the valley below. The group found Yemen to be a peaceful country with beautiful nature and people.

“All that we had to do is avoid the areas in Yemen where there is fighting. In this way, no harm came our way, especially knowing that the Ministry of Interior did its work to protect us,” said Romualdi.

“For them, the nicest thing about the Yemeni people is that they do not wait for a tip. They are generous and welcomed us with their smiles.”

“Yemen is as sweet as its people’s smiles and as warm as its coffee. We were happy when we came here, but we are sad to leave it now.”

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