EYES ON YEMEN

 

 

ECOTOURISM IN SOCOTRA?

Yemen is perhaps not the first place you may think of when it comes to the future of ecotourism. After all, the country is in dire circumstances. Yemen has become the staging ground of a regional and sectarian conflict, augmented by ongoing tribal warfare. None of this seems to ring positive for tourism potential.

However, the story of Yemen is far more complex than it may appear. Under Yemen’s control lies the remote island of Socotra— an ecological wonderland in the Indian Ocean. Located nearly four hundred kilometres off the coast of Arabia, Socotra has its own culture, language, history, and of course flora and fauna— of which one third is endemic to the archipelago. And while Socotra is removed from the conflict in Mainland Yemen, the war is not without its consequences to the island.

In 2015 Socotra lost its last air link to the Mainland, effectively cutting it off from the rest of the world. Tourism, which was once responsible for a considerable percentage of the island’s GDP, evaporated entirely, leaving many Socotris without jobs or income. This loss of opportunity is threatening the very thing that makes Socotra special— its otherworldly ecology.

This got us thinking: what can be done to help protect the island’s unique environment while also supporting local communities? We first ventured back to Socotra in early 2019 to investigate, just after Yemenia Airways was approved to fly a weekly flight to Cairo, restoring the island’s link to the outside world and bringing tourists cautiously back to the island.

That’s where we conjured up the idea behind Dragon’s Nest— a zero-footprint, no waste, eco-resort that can be constructed and taken down all within a few hours. It’s a place where visitors may sleep in comfort amongst the Dragon’s Blood Trees, white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons of Socotra while they explore this incredible destination. It creates jobs for locals, helps fund community projects to support neighbouring villages, and creates a space for people to connect with one another and be one with nature.

The first iteration of the Dragons Nest resort is scheduled to open in November 2019. To learn more, click here.