Can you drink in Socotra? The short answer is that yes you can, but you will need to bring it in yourself, a vestige of its Muslim nature, as well as its very unique status.
To read about Socotra being a haven from the Yemeni Civil War click here.
What is the story with Socotra?
A unique island group it had a very diverse hsitory until it became part of the British colonist Aden protectorate and the rest of South Yemen. The British did eventually leave a bunch of royal rulers under the Federation of South Arabia and the Protectorate of South Arabia.
Alas these states were not to last when the population decided communism would be much better and the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen was formed in 1968. Socotra being part of this state.
In 1990 the the communist south merged with the Nasserite north to form the Republic of Yeman, which was a success for about 4 years. Yemen has itself largely been in a state of civil war since and its “ownership” os somewhat questionable these days.
The culture of drinking on Socotra
Firstly the place was not always Muslim and then when it was it was a British colony followed by a communist Russian satellite state.During both of these periods drinking was tolerated if not widespread.
Of note there was a Russian naval base here and well vodka.
To read about the Peoples Demorcatic Republic of Yemen click here.
Since reunification and the civil war tides have constantly turned and in line with the mainland the production and sale of liquor is banned in Socotra, but you can still drink.
Drinking in Socotra – how much can you bring in?
Like other Muslim states you can bring in alcohol if you are a non-Muslim, with 2 bottles being your limit. Notice we said two “bottles “, so two wine, OR two bottles of vodka. You do the math for a week camping on the beach….
Bottles can be gotten cheaply from the duty free at Abu Dhabi Aiport from where you simply dring them into Socotra
If you have extra capacity nice whisky is even as a welcome gift by local hosts
Are there bars and clubs in Socotra?
In sohrt, no there are not and while you bring in alchohol and while there is local moonshine, drinking is still not the norm here. And as such proper respect should be shown.
Do not drink openly on the streets, and public displays of drunkenness are very much against the cultural norms.
Drink on Yemen – when is it appropriate
You will be guides by your YPT and local guide on when it os OK to drink in Yemen, but it is fairly self explanatory. We spend many nights camping in the wilderness and quite frankly there really is no better time to drink!
And with the camp fire going and local tunes blaring, maybe also a great time to interact and get to know your guides. Socotra is truly wonderful and there is obviously more to the place than drink, but a few brews at the end of the night certainly add to the occasion.
You can check out our next Socoyra Tour here.