By: Aref Al-Selmi and Jihan Anwar
On September 30th, FM Shabab radio station re-launched its broadcast with a ceremony at Al-Bustan Hotel.
The event, which was organized by the Platform Agency, was attended by Youth and Sport Minister Moammer Al-Eriyani, World Arts Access organization representatives Wael Al-Kibsi and Reem Jasim, as well as official authorities and NGO delegates.
In his speech, Al-Eriyani indicated that projects such as FM Shabab, a YYGU initiative, are vital for the youth to express their ideas and opinions with complete freedom. He urged international organizations to support the project.
Al-Eriyani further recalled how, when visiting foreign countries, the idea of a radio station made for and by youths first arose. With the support and management of Mohammed Al-Selwi, the concept of FM Shabab in Yemen started taking shape. Soon enough, the aim was to have an integrated, independent radio station broadcasting 24 hours a day through which the youth would be enabled to express themselves, and not merely to air news or political reports.
“Art can convey important humanitarian messages and the youth’s voice is essential so that we may know about their needs, ambitions, hopes, dreams and the problems they face on a day-to-day basis,” the Minister expounded.
At the re-opening celebration, Arab judo champion and Yemeni Ali Khousrof, a participant in the London Olympics, was presented with an award by FM Shabab.
During the event, a selection of plays was performed for the audience in attendance. One of the plays – “Tareeq Al-Najah” (‘The Way to Success’) – was a comedy-drama that opens a window onto the world of youths, unemployment, corruption and nepotism.
Recent high school graduate Hasan Al-Haidari has been working as a volunteer for the past year at the station, and said FM Shahab allowed him to help address social issues in unconventional yet effective ways.
“My family is putting pressure on me to leave the radio station since I’m not receiving a salary; they can’t understand that I really feel like a part of a family here, and you can’t simply leave your family,” said Hasan.
Actor Ibrahim Al-Nadari indicated that his reason for participating in the radio dramas was to prove that youths are indeed able to bring forth something positive for their country.
“I’m striving to convey human rights values through my acting and with the subjects which we tackle in our programs,” said Ibrahim.
When asked about his favorite program, Mohammed Al-Salehi said it was a hard question to answer.
“But I think that ‘Bil Maftooh’ is one of my favorite programs because it discusses some particularly critical issues present in our society. In fact, I’ll be participating in a show which attempts to discuss the problems of early marriage and child harassment.”
Towards the event’s conclusion, the audience was presented with live music performances by the rap artist Aj Hajaj and singer Fathee Al-Shawafi.
Samer Habib, Managing Partner for the Platform Agency, said he recognized how much such initiatives were needed, especially considering the high rate of unemployment among the youth.
“There are young people who are educated and talented, but they just don’t get the chance to use their skills. This initiative is bringing plenty of opportunities to many people and hopefully it will attract other young people in Yemen to undertake similar projects,” said Mr. Habib.
Basheer Al-Dhurai, Program Manager for FM Shabab, said the station had around 21 employees, in addition to a team of about 20 male and female actors.
Last year, FM Shabab trained around 60 people in the media field. The station is currently working with several radio and television channels.
Aemely Taha, a young attendee, had a personal message to deliver to the FM Shabab staff:
“You are our voice, so please reach each and every house – and do your best to spread the idea of human rights values in Yemen!”