Yemeni Arab in Saudi Arabia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula are the original Arabs. Tribes of nomads from the Arabian Desert developed Arab culture. From there, they expanded into what we now know as the Arab World, where Arabic is the key language.

Yemenis started migrating north during the pre-Islamic era. Many Arab families with common names (e.g., Haddad, Haddadeen, which means Smith or metalworker) that have long family trees in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan trace their ancestry to that early migration from Yemen. For example, the family name, Haddadeen, originated in Sana'a.

There are many Arabic dialects spoken in Yemen. Today, there is a sharp division between Yemeni from the northern tribes and the southern ones. Those from the north descended from Mesopotamians, who entered their land 1,000 years before Christ. They claim Ismail from the Book of Genesis, and their patriarch. Those from the south believe they descended from Qahtan, also known as Joktan, in the Bible.

The north and the south were separate nations in the 70s and 80s; one backed by communists and the other by the West. They merged for a couple of years, but now they are fighting once again. Iran backs one side using Shia Islam as their banner, while the other supports a Sunni Muslim head of state. Yemenis would love to have the fighting stop, but the situation is out of their control.

The war is driving people out of Yemen, and there is a large Yemeni diaspora. One of the largest Yemeni Arab diaspora populations is in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In Saudi Arabia Yemeni Arabs are likely to be common laborers, but there are also many who are professionals: Health workers, businessmen, teachers, etc. They can be deported at any time. Most of them are Sunni Muslim. Since Saudi Arabia is keenly involved with helping the Sunni Muslim faction in Yemen's civil war, they probably do not welcome Shia Muslims from that country into Saudi Arabia.

Despite Islamic teachings, the reality that there are four unequal classes among the Yemenis.

The top tier group of Yemeni Arabs gained their prestige from their family name, a history of coming from tribal chiefs. There is another group that gained their prestige from their educational background.

The second tier is the skilled artisan class. They are the stonemasons, carpenters and metal workers. This is more of an occupational class than a social caste.

Next comes the rank and file, which makes up about 80 percent of Yemen's population. Some advance and intermarry with the privileged castes.

The lowest group performs duties considered "unclean." They are butchers, barbers or street sweepers. The higher groups do not associate with them socially. They cannot improve their lot in Yemen, and those in the diaspora are likely to hide their background so they can avoid rejection from other Yemenis.

Yemeni Arab society is patrilineal, so they pass down inheritances through the males. Since they consider children a family's greatest asset, they value women for their ability to bear children.

Although Muslims can have up to four wives, most marriages among Yemeni Arabs are monogamous. In the past, the parents arranged all marriages; however, it is becoming more acceptable for young people to choose their own mates.

Though they vary in terms of tribal loyalty, one thing Yemeni Arabs all agree on is devotion to the Islamic religious system and therefore almost none of them have put their trust in Jesus Christ, no matter where they live.
What Are Their Beliefs?

The Yemeni Arabs have had a close association with Islam since it began in the 600s. Today, nearly all the Yemeni Arabs are Muslim, no matter where they live. Two-thirds of Yemenis adhere to some form of Sunni Islam, and about one-third are Shia Muslims. Most likely, the ones allowed to stay in Saudi Arabia are the Sunni Muslims.

What Are Their Needs?

Yemeni Arabs in diaspora need peace in their homeland. All of them have family members whose lives are in jeopardy because of the fighting. There will be no end to the fighting until there is humble repentance, and the acknowledgement that they must submit to the sin-free Savior. They need the intervention of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for a lasting and just peace in Yemen that will allow the Yemeni diaspora to return home.

Pray for an end to foreign military intervention and blockades in Yemen.

Pray for the Lord to use the instability in Yemen to help Muslim Yemenis to understand they need a Savior.

Pray for the small number of Yemeni believers to boldly proclaim the gospel to their families, friends and neighbors.

Pray for small, extended-family based home fellowships to multiply in Saudi Arabia.

Pray for more workers to enter the harvest via foreign assistance organizations.

Scripture Prayers for the Arab, Yemeni in Saudi Arabia.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Arab, Yemeni
People Name in Country Arab, Yemeni
Natural Name Yemeni Arab
Pronunciation YEH-meh-nee AE-rub
Alternate Names Djibouti Arab; Taizz Adeni; Tihama Yemeni Arab; Yemeni Arab
Population this Country 207,000
Population all Countries 8,798,000
Total Countries 16
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 4
People ID 15198
ROP3 Code 109729
ROP25 Code 300426
ROP25 Name Arab, Yemeni
Country Saudi Arabia
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 13  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Saudi Arabia
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 13  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.10 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.90 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni (207,000 speakers)
Language Code acq   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Ta'izzi
Dialect Code 3364   Global Recordings Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni (207,000 speakers)
Language Code acq   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Ta'izzi
Dialect Code 3364   Global Recordings Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni

Primary Language:  Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (2011)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Arabic Bible Online Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Arabic, Taizzi-Adeni Spoken Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Text / Printed Matter Tools for faith conversations Campus Crusade for Christ
Photo Source Rod Waddington - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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