Escape from boredom and idleness
Internet cafes, DJ parties and qat chewing sessions are some of the few repeated activities that these youth find themselves involved in. Lack of recreational facilities have lead youth to turn to less constructive methods of entertainment such as chewing qat, playing video games, watching TV and browsing the net.
"I have always wished for a part time job to keep me busy and which I could earn some pocket money from,” said Fawaz, an 18-year-old. "I have seen teenagers in American films working part time jobs which pay per hour and I think it’s great. I would like to do the same here but it’s difficult to get a part time job.”
Students wish they could have clubs at their universities and schools, and have national and international sports tournaments.
“I was an active member of the debate club in my previous school in America,” said Moadh Al-Sheikh, a student at the British International School. “Our school had a press club, science club, agriculture club and sports club, among others,” he said. "We used to have competitions which were taken very seriously, since the schools which won would be well recognized.”
“Activities in school keep the youth busy so they really don't have much time for other entertainment,” said Luqman Esmail, another student at the British International School. "I personally enjoy studying more and find that being part of school clubs and activities are not only educative, but entertaining.”
Yemeni families have opted for dining out as their only sort of entertainment and refreshment, lacking the availability of places like movie theatres, fun fairs, water parks and well-built and equipped picnic areas. Some beautiful picnic areas on the outskirts of Sana’a do not have well-maintained facilities to accommodate families going out for a refreshing day.
“I was so excited to go to Bani Matar when I first came to Yemen and heard there was a waterfall. I went only to come back disappointed. I think we went at the beginning of summer and it was so dry and hot! What made it worse was there were no toilets, restaurants or even chairs and tables to sit at! The government should make an effort to build them better,” said Christine Mitchell, a 16-year-old high school student.
Young teenage girls and women in Yemen have also made smoking shisha and chewing qat a source of entertainment for themselves and a trend for Yemen's upper crust. They claim lack of entertainment facilities and the rigid social norms in Yemen to be the force behind the adaption to these activities.
“People think that chewing qat and smoking shisha paints a bad image for girls and women, but I think it’s a way of gathering with family and friends and having a good time. Besides, what other things are there to do in this country?” said Layal, a 22-year-old Yemeni woman. "Everything here is shameful for girls to do; things like hiking or outside sports. The only places we can go to spend time with our friends are cafes and restaurants, and even those are looked down upon.”