Lighthouses of Yemen
Yemen is located in the southwestern corner of the Arabian
Peninsula, commanding the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
To help secure this crucial passage, Britain colonized the port of Aden
in 1839 and gradually expanded its rule to include all of the southern
region of the country. The northern part became independent on the collapse
of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, while South Yemen achieved independence
from Britain in 1967. The two halves of Yemen were merged into a single
nation in 1990. Sadly, the country has been torn by civil war in recent years.
Special thanks to Jürgen Klinksiek, a retired merchant seaman who took
the series of photos below from ships passing through the narrow
waters of the southern Red Sea.
Aids to navigation in Yemen are maintained by the Yemen Ports Authority,
an expansion of the Port of Aden.
The Arabic word for a lighthouse is mnarh or manara (منارة). Ra's is the word for a cape or headland, jazīrat is an island, and minā is a harbor.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty
numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights &
Fog Signals (Red Sea lights were formerly in volume E, but they were moved to Volume D with new numbers in 2013). U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.
- General Sources
- World of Lighthouses - Yemen
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
- Lighthouses in Yemen
- Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
- Online List of Lights - Yemen
- Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Asiens auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Mayyūn (Perim) High Light,
Bab el Mendab, December 2012
Panoramio photo copyright Bashar Allswas; used by permission
- Mahrah Lighthouse
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every
9 s. 11 m (36 ft) round tower, painted white with a red horizontal
band. No photo available, but Google has a satellite
view. Nishtūn is a fishing port in Mahrah, the easternmost governate of Yemen, about 240
km (150 mi) from the Omani border. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7313;
Ḥaḍramawt (Hadhramaut) Lighthouses
- Note: Al Mukallā is the capital and principal
port of the Ḥaḍramawt (Hadhramaut) region, a former British protectorate in
- Al Mukallā (South Breakwater)
- Date unknown (at least by 2003). Active; focal plane about 17 m (56 ft); white flash every 5 s.
Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round barbell-shaped fiberglass tower, colored with green and white horizontal bands. A portion of Yuri Nikolayevich Grischuk's distant photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the main breakwater in Al Mukallā. Site status unknown. ARLHS YEM-006;
Admiralty D7312; NGA 30920.
- #Al Mukallā North Breakwater
- Date unknown. Removed in 2013. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) 1-story square concrete or masonry tower. This building is seen in an aerial view of the port (first photo on the page), and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse was apparently replaced by a post light (focal plane about 8 m (26 ft); one long red flash every 10 s). Google has a more recent satellite view. Located at the end of the north breakwater in Al Mukallā. Site status unknown.
Admiralty D7312.2; NGA 30921.
Šabwa (Shabwah) Lighthouse
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 90 m (295 ft); white flash every
5 s. Light mounted on a tall communications tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite
view. Balḩāf is a former fishing port, now the location of a large liquid natural gas processing and shipment facility. Located on a hilltop above the port. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7311.23;
South Breakwater Light, Al Mukallā, February 2010
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Yuri Nikolayevich Grischuk
'Adin (Aden) Lighthouses
Note: The magnificent harbor of 'Adin (Aden), on the south coast of Yemen,
was a major base for the British Royal Navy for many decades. The
University of Texas Library has a nautical
chart of the harbor.
Marshaq (Ra's Marshag)
- 1867. Active; focal plane 74 m (243 ft); white light, 3 s on, 2 s
off. 26 m (85 ft) stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white
with one black horizontal band. Zaid Alzomor's 2016 photo is at right, there is a distant view from
the sea, and Google has a satellite view. Ivor Davies has a historic 1966 photo,
Michel Forand has a 1960s aerial view, and Huelse has a historic postcard view. Ra's Marshaq is the southeastern point
of the peninsula enclosing the east side of Aden Harbour. Located at
the tip of the point, a very sharp promontory overlooking the Gulf
of Aden southwest of Aden. ARLHS YEM-005; Admiralty D7304; NGA 30936.
- Elephant's Back
- 1909. Active; focal plane 57 m (187 ft); flash every 2.5 s, white
or red depending on direction. 7.5 m (25 ft) round stone tower with
lantern and galley, painted white. No photo available, but Google
has a satellite view. The Elephant's Back is a dark ridge of volcanic rock on the east
side of Aden Harbour. The light is atop the ridge. Site status unknown.
ARLHS YEM-002; Admiralty D7308; NGA 30940.
- Ra's Marbut (Aden Peninsula) Breakwater
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 20 m (66 ft); green light, 2 s on, 3 s off. Approx. 16 m (52 ft) round hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower. Entire lighthouse is green. Dmitry Khodartsevich has a 2008 photo, a 2011 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of a breakwater on the south side of the entrance to Aden harbor. Site status unknown; may be accessible by walking the pier. Admiralty D7309; NGA 30944.
- Aden Entrance (Little Aden Oil Harbor) Range Rear
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); green light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 26 m (85 ft) square skeletal tower, painted with black and white horizontal bands and carrying two diamond-shaped daymarks. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. The front light is on a much shorter tower. Located on the west side of Aden Harbour. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7302.1; NGA 30951.
Ra's Marshaq Light, Aden, October 2016
photo by Zaid Alzomor from Instagram: @yemenfans
- Jazīrat Salīl
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); two red flashes
every 15 s. 5 m (17 ft) round hourglass-shaped tower, painted white.
A photo is
available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on
a small island on the west side of the entrance to the harbor. Accessible
only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7301; NGA 30948.
Perim (Barim, Mayyūn) Island Lighthouses
- Note: Perim (now called Mayyūn or Barīm) is a small island in a very strategic location at the southern
entrance to the Bab el Mendab strait. Britain occupied the island in
1857 to protect its sea connections to India, and subsequently attached
the island to its Aden Protectorate. For many years the island was a
coaling station for ships bound to or from the Orient. The island is governed as part of the Laḥij Governorate.
- Mayyūn (Perim) High (2)
- 1912 (station established 1861). Active; focal plane 85 m (279 ft);
four white flashes every 15 s. 25 m (82 ft) round stone tower with
lantern and gallery. The tower is unpainted; lantern painted white.
A 2013 photo by Bashar Allswas is at the top of this page, and Google
has a good satellite view. The original lighthouse was a 12 m (39 ft) tower
on a keeper's house; Wikimedia has a distant view from the sea taken in 1883. Located on the highest point of the island. Accessible
only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS YEM-004; Admiralty D7300.95 (ex-E6150);
- Balfe Point
- 1888. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 4 s. 8 m
(26 ft) square cylindrical stone tower, unpainted. Klinksiek's photo appears at
right, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the western point of the island. Accessible only
by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS YEM-007; Admiralty D7300.9 (ex-E6152); NGA
- Al Mukhā (Mocha, Mokha) Range Rear
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower carrying a large rectangular daymark. No photo available, but Google has a satellite
view. The front light is on a shorter tower. Mocha, near the southern end of Yemen's Red Sea coast, was famous for centuries for its coffee. Located on the peninsula sheltering the port. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7300.861 (ex-E6149.1);
Balfe Point Light, February 2000
photo copyright Jürgen Klinksiek; used by permission
Red Sea Islands Lighthouses
- Note: These lighthouses are built on volcanic islands a little east
of the centerline of the southern Red Sea, between Yemen and Eritrea.
The original lighthouses were built by a French company under a concession
granted by the Ottoman Turkish Emperor. The islands were occupied by British forces in December 1914, early in World
War I. Following the war,
the European powers decided not to decide who should own the islands,
leaving sovereignty undetermined. Yemen claimed the islands after the end of the colonial period, as did Eritrea after it became independent
of Ethiopia in 1993. The two countries agreed to binding arbitration, and
in 1999 the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague awarded the
lighthouse islands to Yemen. They are governed as part of the Al Hudaydah Governorate.
- Jazīrat al Ḩanīsh al Kabīr
- 2005. Active; focal plane 200 m (656 ft); white flash every 5 s. 6
m (20 ft) round hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower, painted with red
and white horizontal bands. A photo is available (second photo on the page), and Google has an indistinct satellite view. The light failed shortly after installation, was relit in 2007, but was again out of service in late 2008. Located near the southwest
tip of Ḩanīsh al Kabīr, the largest of the Ḩanīsh
only by boat. Site and tower closed. Admiralty D7300.84 (ex-E6142.92).
- Abū 'Alī (Abu Ali, Quoin Island) (2)
- 1903. Active; focal plane 104 m (341 ft); two white flashes every
10 s. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery,
centered on the roof of a square 1-story keeper's house. It appears
that the light may have been moved to a mast atop the lantern. Lighthouse
painted white. A photo by Jerrye and Roy Klotz is at right,
Alain Guyomard and Robert Carceller have posted photos
by Alain Faron, a distant 2012 view is available, Lightphotos.net also has a distant view, and Google has a satellite
view. The original light was taller, with a focal plane of 117
m (384 ft); we do not know when the light tower was rebuilt to its
present height. This lighthouse marks the northern entrance to the
eastern passage between the Ḩanīsh Islands and the Yemeni coast.
Its history parallels that of the Jabal al-Tayr lighthouse: built
by a private French company, seized by the British in 1915, operated
under contract by the French company and then by two British companies
until, in 1990, the British ceded control of the lighthouses to Yemen.
Located on a steep island at the southern end of the Ḩanīsh Islands.
Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS YEM-001; Admiralty
D7300.8 (ex-E6142); NGA 30892.
Abu Ail Light, March 2007
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Jerrye and Roy Klotz
- Jazā'ir az Zubayr (Zubair Islands, Centre Peak) (2)
- 1987 (station established 1903). Station reactivated (inactive 1939-1987);
focal plane 154 m (505 ft); white flash every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) round
cylindrical concrete tower, rising from a 1-story concrete keeper's
house. Lighthouse painted with black and white horizontal bands. Klinksiek's photo
appears at right, and Google
has a satellite view. The original light, a 20 m (66 ft) cylindrical tower, was
built by a private French company like the Jabal al-Tayr and Abū 'Alī
Lights. The British deactivated it in 1932, but the Italians (then in
control of Eritrea) sent a crew and put it back in service the following
year. The British did not reactivate it after World War II. Yemen built
a new light here in 1987 as the start of its project to occupy and light
the Red Sea islands. Zubair is the southernmost peak of a string of volcanic islands about 80 km (50 mi) off
the Yemeni coast and 100 km (62 mi) west northwest of Al Hudaydan (Hodeida). Located on the crater rim of the island.
Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Admiralty D7300.61 (ex-E6141); NGA
- Jabal al Yaman (Jabal Yemen, Kamarān)
- Date unknown (around 1970?). Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); three white flashes
every 15 s. 18 m (59 ft) tripod tower with a small gallery. Alexey
Bobkov has a 2009 photo,
and Google has a satellite
view showing the
foundation pads of the three legs. A ruined fort is adjacent to the
lighthouse. Kamarān is
the largest island of Yemen's Red Sea coast. Occupied by British troops
in 1915, it was attached to Britain's Aden colony and was inherited
by South Yemen in 1967. North Yemen seized the island in 1972, but
the two countries merged in 1990. Located on Jabal (Mount) Yaman, a
hill near the south end of the island. Site status unknown. Admiralty
D7300.58 (ex-E6144); NGA 30800.
Zubair Islands (Centre Peak) Light, September 1997
photo copyright Jürgen Klinksiek; used by permission
- #Jazīrat Jabal aṭ-Ṭayr (Jabal at Tair) (2 )
- 1989 (station established 1903). Inactive since 2007 and presumably destroyed. 20 m (66 ft) round cylindrical tower
with lantern and gallery, centered on a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse
painted white. Klinksiek's photo appears at right, and Google has a satellite
view. This lighthouse is located on a high island of Jabal aṭ-Ṭayr in the eastern
half of the Red Sea off Yemen's northwestern coast. The original lighthouse,
a black and white checkered tower on a square keeper's house, was built
by a private French company. After World War I, the British negotiated
an operating agreement with the French company, which remained in control
until World War II. After that war, Britain hired the Savon and Ries
Company to operate the Jabal at Tair and Abu Ail lighthouses. In 1980,
the contract was terminated and the Red Sea Lights Company was organized
to manage the lighthouses. In 1990, the British formally ceded control
of the lighthouses to Yemen. Yemen issued a notice to mariners in late
1989 concerning construction of a new lighthouse. In October 2007 the island was rocked by a severe volcanic
eruption. It seems likely that the lighthouse was destroyed; Google's satellite view shows heavy lava flows in the area of the station. The light was deleted from the Admiralty list in early 2012. Located on the western flank of an island about 80 km (50 mi) west of
Al Luyhayyah. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS
YEM-003; ex-Admiralty E6140; ex-NGA 30792.
- 2006. Inactive since 2013. 12 m (39 ft) square
skeletal tower mounted on a concrete base. No photo available, and the tower is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located
on Kutāmah, an island about 32 km (20 mi) west of Luyhayyah on the
north coast of Yemen. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty E6144.5.
Jabal aṭ-Ṭayr Light,
Red Sea, September 1997
photo copyright Jürgen Klinksiek; used by permission
- Dawharāb (Daw Harab)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) skeletal tower mounted on a triangular platform supported by piles. The tower carries a green daymark. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite
view. Dawharāb is a small island near the southern end of the Farasan
Islands, a large group of islands and coral reefs. The light marks the beginning of the approach to the Saudi port of Jīzān from the south. Located just off the northern end of the island. Accessible
only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D7300 (ex-E6139.5); NGA 30784.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
- Mocha (1903-?). Huelse has a historic photo and a postcard view of this impressive lighthouse. It appears to have disappeared completely.
Point (1885-?), northeast point of Perim Island. The fate of this lighthouse is not known. No tower is seen in Bing's satellite view of the point. ARLHS YEM-008.
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: North: Western Saudi Arabia | East: Oman
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Posted February 16, 2006. Checked and revised June 11, 2017. Lighthouses: 19. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.