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, 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.

Mayyūn (Perim) High Light, Bab el Mendab, December 2012
Panoramio photo copyright Bashar Allswas; permission requested
Mahrah Lighthouse
Nishtūn
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 that may show the light. 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; NGA 30904.

Ḥaḍramawt (Hadhramaut) Lighthouses
Note: Al Mukallā is the capital and principal port of the Ḥaḍramawt (Hadhramaut) region, a former British protectorate in eastern Yemen
Al Mukallā (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 portion of Yuri Nikolayevich Grischuk's distant photo is at right, and Bing has a satellite view. The light is not seen in Wikimedia's 2007 photo of the port entrance. 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, although still listed by the Admiralty. 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. Google Earth images confirm the removal of the light. Located at the end of the north breakwater in Al Mukallā. Site status unknown. Admiralty D7312.2; NGA 30921.

Šabwa (Shabwah) Lighthouse
Balhāf
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. Balhāf 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.

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.
Ra's 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. 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 Michel Forand has a 1960s aerial 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 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.
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, 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 (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.
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.
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.
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 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
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); NGA 30848.

Balfe Point Lighthouse
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. 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 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 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 Ḩanīsh al Kabīr, the largest of the Ḩanīsh Islands. Accessible 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 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 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.
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, 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 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 30829.
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.
Jazīrat Jabal aṭ-Ṭayr (Jabal at Tair) (2 ) (?)
1989 (station established 1903). Inactive since 2007 and possibly 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 the top of this page, 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 is not known to what extent the lighthouse was damaged, but the station clearly is 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.
Kutāmah
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.

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 at Tair Lighthouse
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:

Notable faux lighthouses:

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

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Posted February 16, 2006. Checked and revised April 5. 2015. Lighthouses: 19. Site copyright 2015 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.