Honey production is one of the world’s biggest industries and the Middle East is a major consumer. If you are looking for a special kind of honey, one that is very different from your average table honey, then choose Yemeni honey. Originating from Yemen, Yemeni honey is one of the most prized varieties of honey and is big business (as pictured here in Dubai).
Yemeni honey has possessed a special allure since ancient times. For more than 3,000 years, Yemen (known at the time as “Sheba”) was a major city on the spice route between Europe and the Eastern world. History lovers will be keen to know that the story of the legendary Queen of Sheba and her visit to King Solomon appears both in the Holy Quran and the Bible.
The remote geography and the natural vegatation of the land ensures that Yemeni honey, such as Balqees honey, is both rich in nutritional value and steep in pricing. The Sidr and Elb trees in particular, are the most prominent sources of honey. The Sidr tree is believed to mark the end of the seventh heaven and is considered so sacred, that it is harvested only twice a year. As a result, authentic Yemeni honey is not only one of the finest in the world, but also a status symbol in the Arab world and is usually offered to high ranking and privileged guests.
Cave honey or Kahouf honey is an exceptionally rare form of Yemeni honey. In order to protect themselves from the unrelenting Arabian heat, bees have been forming their colonies in mountain caves of Yemen for centuries. Hidden in the dim light, these hives yield honey that is thicker, richer and amber in color. Cave honey extraction is extremely difficult, with beekeepers crawling their way through narrow fissures in the mountain rock to reach the hives.
When it comes to medicinal properties, Yemeni Royal Sidr honey is the gold standard for the Arab world. Sidr honey is referred to as the “Manuka of the Middle East” for its antibacterial, antiseptic as well as antioxidant qualities. Some common ailments that this form of Yemeni honey is used to treat:
— Digestive problems like stomach ulcers
— Liver conditions
— Face mask to treat chronic acne
— Respiratory infections such as cough, congestion and blocked sinuses
— Salve for wounds and burns
— Immunity booster
Previously, it would take only two days to transport honey from Yemen to Dubai. Owing to the growing conflict in the country, it takes over a month to transport Yemeni honey. As a result, prices have shot up to more than AED 200 or 300 per kilo.