Police set up a checkpoint at an access road leading to the embassy, asking some drivers for identification before letting them pass. Soldiers typically guard the area around the embassy, but on Sunday they were spread out in a wider radius. Cars were prevented from stopping outside the Sheraton, where two armored vehicles sat out front.
A Yemeni security official said the request for extra security came from Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Extra security also could be seen near U.S. embassies in Bahrain, Iraq and Jordan.
In the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, troops set up new blast barriers last week to block several streets leading into the city's already heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the sprawling U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices. Troops also intensified searches of those entering the Green Zone, opening car trunks and frisking male passengers.
In the Jordanian capital of Amman, a Jordanian security officer said bomb squads searched the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy while additional security vehicles were deployed in the area, including troop carriers with special forces trained in counterterrorism. Security also was tightened around the homes of U.S. diplomats in Amman, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The State Department, meanwhile, urged U.S. travelers to take extra precautions. Expats appeared to take the warnings in stride.
Rebecca Proctor, a magazine editor in Dubai, said she had heard of the threats, but wasn't going to change her routine. She said she spent the day in meetings around the city, despite warnings from a friend not to visit tourist areas or speak English in public.
"I'm not going to stay inside and huddled up," said Proctor, who is from New London, Connecticut.
In Amman, San Francisco native Wendy LeBlanc, an education consultant, also said she wasn't changing her routine.
"Right now, the biggest threat here is a stray bullet from celebratory gunfire," said LeBlanc, referring to the custom in parts of the Arab world to shoot in the air to mark important occasions.
The decision to close the U.S. diplomatic missions on Sunday -- a work day in most of the region -- came almost a year after an attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
Some argued that heightened security measures could give al-Qaida an inadvertent image boost.
"The closure of some U.S. embassies sends a wrong message to the world that al-Qaida is still strong," said Qais Mohammed, an engineer from Baghdad. "I think that adopting balanced and fair policies toward the Arab and Islamic world is the best way to safeguard U.S. embassies and interests in the region."