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.

Special thanks to Jürgen Klinksiek, a retired merchant seaman who took the series of photos at right 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, and jazirat is an island.

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.
Jabal at Tair Lighthouse
Jabal al-Tayr Light, Red Sea, September 1997
photo copyright Jürgen Klinksiek; used by permission
Mahrah Lighthouse
Nishtun Port
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 may show the light. Nishtun 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; NGA 30904.

Hadhramaut Lighthouses
Note: Al Mukalla is the capital and principal port of the Hadhramaut region, a former British protectorate in eastern Yemen
Al Mukalla (South Breakwater)
Date unknown (around 2009). 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 distant view is available, and Bing has a satellite view. The light is not seen in Wikimedia's 2007 photo of the port entrance, but it is seen in a 2010 photo of the port. Located on the main breakwater in Al Mukalla. Site status unknown. ARLHS YEM-006; Admiralty D7312; NGA 30920.
Al Mukalla North Breakwater
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 10 m (33 ft); one long red flash every 10 s. 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. Located at the end of the north breakwater in Al Mukalla. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7312.2; NGA 30921.

Shabwah Lighthouse
Balhaf
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. Balhaf 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; NGA 30923.

Aden Lighthouses

Note: The magnificent harbor of 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.
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. No recent closeup photo available; there is a distant view from the sea, and Bing has a satellite view. Ken Davies has a historic 1966 photo, a 1965 photo is also available (2/3 the way down the page), and Michael Forand has a 1960s aerial view and a postcard view from around 1911. Ra's Marshag 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 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 Bing has a satellite view. The Elephant's Back is a dark volcanic ridge on the east side of Aden Harbour. The light is atop the ridge. Site status unknown. ARLHS YEM-002; Admiralty D7308; NGA 30940.
Ras Marbut 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, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the end of a breakwater on the south side of the entrance to Aden harbor. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7309; NGA 30944.
Aden Entrance 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.
Jazirat Salil
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, Mayyun) Island Lighthouses
Note: Perim (now called Mayyun) 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 Lahij governate.
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 30896.
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. Klinksiek's photo appears at right, and Google has a good satellite view. The University of Queensland has a rare 1883 photo of the island showing the original lighthouse, a 12 m (39 ft) tower on a keeper's house. Located on the highest point of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS YEM-004; Admiralty D7300.95 (ex-E6150); NGA 30900.

Ta'izz Lighthouse
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 range 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); NGA 30848.

Balfe Point Lighthouse
Balfe Point Light, February 2000
photo copyright Jürgen Klinksiek; used by permission

Perim High Lighthouse
Perim High Light, December 1998
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. In December 1914, early in World War I, the islands were occupied by British forces. Following the war, the European powers decided not to decide who should own the islands, leaving sovereignty undetermined. After the end of the colonial period, Yemen claimed the islands, as did Eritrea after it became independent of Ethiopia in 1993. The 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 Governate.
Hanish Al Kubra
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 Bing has an indistinct satellite view that probably shows the lighthouse. The light failed shortly after installation, was relit in 2007, but was again out oif service in late 2008. Located near the southwest tip of Hanish Al Kubra, the largest of the Hanish Islands. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Admiralty D7300.84 (ex-E6142.92).
Abu Ail (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 2008 view (misidentified as the Perim lighthouse) is available, Lightphotos.net also has a distant view, a view from the sea is available, 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 Hanish 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 Hanish Islands. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS YEM-001; Admiralty D7300.8 (ex-E6142); NGA 30892.
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, a distant view is available (lighthouse at the right end of the island), and Bing 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 Abu Ail 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 30829.
Jabal Yemen (Kamaran)
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. Kamaran 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) Yemen, a hill near the south end of the island. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7300.58 (ex-E6144); NGA 30800.

Abu Ail Light
Abu Ail Light, March 2007
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Jerrye and Roy Klotz

Zubair Islands Lighthouse
Zubair Islands (Centre Peak) Light, September 1997
photo copyright Jürgen Klinksiek; used by permission

Jabal al-Tayr (Jabal at Tair) (2 ) (?)
1989 (station established 1903). Inactive since 2007. 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 the top of this page, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is located on a high island 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 is not known to what extent the lighthouse was damaged, but the station is believed to have been in an area affected by lava flows. 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.
Kutamah
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 Kutamah, an island about 32 km (20 mi) west of Luyhayyah on the north coast of Yemen. Site status unknown. Admiralty E6144.5.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Western Saudi Arabia | East: Oman

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Posted February 16, 2006. Checked and revised May 14, 2014. Lighthouses: 18. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.