Sana’a is the capital of the Republic of Yemen and the historic capital of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR). Government ministries and other institutions as well as foreign diplomatic missions are based in the city. It is also an important cultural and economic center. The city is divided into 10 administrative districts.

Capital City of Sana’a governorate information

Districts of Capital City of Sana'a: Old City, Shu'aub, Az'zal, Assafi'yah, As Sabain, Al Wahdah, At Tahrir, Ma'ain, Ath'thaorah, Bani Al Harith.

Map of Capital City of Sana’a


The public sector is the largest employer in the city, with tens of thousands of jobs in the central and local administration. Industrial and commercial activities are also present. The city’s industrial production is dominated by light industry, especially textile, clothing, shoes, home products, and plastics. Heavy industry includes steel and other metal production. Handicraft production is also an important source of income. Jewellery, traditional daggers and belts, brassware, and agricultural tools continue to be produced in small workshops in the city. Sana’a is an important commercial center with large wholesale and retail sectors focused on a number of markets and malls. Real estate and construction are also an important sector in the city.1 Sana’a was once the center of the Yemeni tourism industry. The Old City of Sana’a is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tourism has virtually ceased during the war.

The capital governorate historically had the highest share of local revenue in its local authority budget, reflecting its importance as an industrial and commercial center in the national economy. Seventy-two percent of its 2014 budget was funded from central grants and subsidies, and 28% from local revenues.2Please see the appendix for further information on these different types of revenue. The main sources of local revenue came from citywide shared revenues and taxes, notably sales tax, zakat, income tax, and profit tax. The city also derived income from assets and sales of goods and services.3Republic of Yemen, Ministry of Finance, Budget Sector: estimated local authority budget for the 2014 fiscal year.Following the establishment of the General Zakat Authority by the de facto authorities, the city of Sana’a stands to lose zakat, previously an important source of income.

In 2014, the poverty rate in Sana’a city was 13.4%.4Household Budget Survey for 2014. More recent estimates suggest the rate has spiked to almost 80% as the suspension of government salaries has hit the public sector workforce in the capital, and rampant inflation and the general implosion of the economy have taken their toll.

Local governance

The local council of the city of Sana’a is composed of 20 councilors in addition to the appointed mayor of the city. There are seven vacant seats in the council, with four deceased councilors and three who are abroad, leaving 13. The local council does not convene regularly and its meetings are confined to the administrative board consisting of the mayor, the secretary general of the council, and heads of the three committees. As for the executive offices, they are functioning regularly despite the lack of salaries and the shortage of operational budgets.5Interview with a member of the local council in the capital city of Sana’a. March 2019.

Access to basic services

There are nearly 2.4 million people (approximately 80% of the population) in need of assistance in Sana’a city. Forty-three percent of them are in dire need.6OCHA, Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen 2018.

Health services are available in public hospitals and health facilities, which rely on support from donor organizations and fees charged for services. Even with donor support, services are at a bare minimum and do not meet the needs of the population. Large numbers of IDPs who have fled to Sana’a from other governorates have placed additional strain on health services and other infrastructure.7Interview with an administrator in one of the main hospitals in the capital city of Sana’a. March 2019.

Next to the governorate of Sa’adah, the capital has sustained the highest number of airstrikes and 227 schools have been damaged.8OCHA, An Overview of the Humanitarian Needs in Yemen 2018. The number of damaged schools is the third-highest after Taiz and Sa’adah. Teachers are not receiving regular monthly salaries in the city,9Economic and Social Developments Newsletter, Issue No. 30, December 2017, published by the Studies and Economic Forecast Sector of the Ministry of Planning. which has disrupted education. There are attempts to run some of the schools in the governorate on a fee basis, but parents have largely rejected these efforts.10Interview with an official in the Education Office of the capital city of Sana’a. March 2019. Teachers receive a small stipend from the de facto authorities.

As of 2017, 70% of households in Sana’a city had access to potable water.11OCHA: An overview of the humanitarian needs in Yemen 2018. Water services in the city have been damaged by airstrikes and have been only partially restored. The sewage system does not cover all districts.



District Size (km2) Population (Female) Population (Male) Population (Total)
 Old City 2 53,054 59,688 112,743
  Shu’aub 15 185,24 210,623 395,863
  Azal 15 102,218 115,147 217,365
 Assafi’yah 10 84,914 106,781 191,695
 As Sabain 31 258,999 308,975 567,974
 Al Wahdah 8 80,321 98,165 178,486
 At Tahrir 3 51,012 65,692 116,704
 Ma’een 11 221,92 272,592 494,512
 Al-Thowarah 22 142,618 169,755 312,372
 Bani Al Harith 269 170,596 190,162 360,758
 TOTAL 385 1,350,892 1,597,580 2,948,472

Figures are 2017 Yemen Central Statistical Organization projections based on the 2004 census.

Resources relevant to Capital City of Sana’a

Law 4/2000 Concerning the Local Authority

Law 4/2000 Concerning the Local Authority

The full text of the Local Authorities Law 4/2000 in English and Arabic.

Supporting Local Governance in Yemen: Steps to Improving Relationships between Citizens and Government, Manual for Local Councilors, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens

Supporting Local Governance in Yemen: Steps to Improving Relationships between Citizens and Government, Manual for Local Councilors, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens

This manual was designed for local councilors and civil society organisations in Yemen. It introduces the role of local councils within the local governance set-up of Yemen and introduces tools that councilors and civil society actors can use to monitor expenditure and improve relations with citizens. It introduces a six-step process for assessing public expenditure […]

Yemen’s Draft Constitution of 2015

Yemen’s Draft Constitution of 2015

This is an unofficial translation of Yemen’s draft constitution that was finalized on 15 January 2015 by the Constitutional Drafting Committee. This unofficial translation was carried out by the United Nations and reviewed by International IDEA ( The draft includes 446 articles along 10 chapters, prepared by the Constitution Drafting Committee. The committee which was […]

Defeating al-Qaeda’s Shadow Government in Yemen: The Need for Local Governance Reform

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Changing local governance in Yemen: District and governorate institutions in the areas under Ansar Allah’s control

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Report on the ways local governance is changing in the areas under Ansar Allah’s control. Focuses on Ansar Allah’s takeover of local institutions, renewed efforts to collect taxes and other revenue, increased centralisation, and a collapse of local budgets and salaries. War, the economic blockade of Yemen, Ansar Allah’s policies, and international aid have combined […]