Due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the Yemeni people have to endure a lot of restrictions. Social media platforms have become the only means that have not been affected by these restrictions. Yemenis use social media, such as Facebook, to access news or to share the situation in Yemen in light of the conflict, air strikes, suffering, daily life and struggle. Facebook is the most commonly used platform among internet users in Yemen, as the number of Facebook users has reached more than 2.2 million users, followed by Twitter with more than 998,500 users and Instagram with more than 400,000 users. Additionally, Facebook has become very popular even among illiterate people, who often share photos and emoticons. The overall literacy rate in Yemen is 70% for adults aged 15 and above.
Under the brand “Arabia Felix Online Promotion Campaign” this project aims at improving the capacities for non-violent conflict resolution in Yemen by engaging Yemeni youth in exchanges and conversation on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Madiba is, with its Yemeni partner dotnotion, and on behalf of the „Peace Process Support for Yemen (PPSY)” project, responsible for the design and implementation of the public relations/social media campaign, in close collaboration with local experts in Yemen.
The project is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU).
Specific objectives of the project include:
(1) Conceptualisation, development, implementation and evaluation of the Arabia Felix social media campaign
(2) The development, design and maintenance of the Arabia Felix website
(3) Search engine optimization (SEO) and app store optimization (ASO)
(4) Capacity building activities related to social media, YouTube, web design, SEO and graphic design
Yemen once boasted a vibrant cinematic culture, having gone through many phases since the early 1900s. In 1910, moviegoers flocked to mobile cinema shows in Aden. Later, Bollywood, as well as Arab and Western films were widely shown in more than 40 theatres across the city. By the 1950s, there were almost 50 cinemas in the region and going to the movies was a widely enjoyed family pastime. Cinemas were thriving, thanks in part to a state-led effort to promote the arts in the 1960’s. But since the 1990s, Yemen gradually lost its theatres and cinemas to negligence, poverty and war. The state promotion of the arts ended to allocate the budget elsewhere. By the mid 1990’s, most of the country’s 49 cinemas had closed their doors or converted their space for other uses such as theatrical productions and weddings. Though there is a clear historical appreciation of film in Yemen, there is a distinct lack of filmmaking in the country. However, Yemen’s film industry has been experiencing a revival. Still, there are currently only a handful of well-known Yemeni films and filmmakers – some having ties to the UK or France, for instance, or living in the diaspora. The Yemeni community is full of creative talents who have big visions, dreams, and a great love for art. However, cultural activities have been decreasing throughout the past few decades, leaving the Yemeni youth today with extremely limited choices to pursue an artistic or cinematographic career.
Therefore, the project operating under the brand name “Arabia Felix Short Film Competition” intends to change this and aims at giving young Yemeni filmmakers a creative outlet to contribute to the peace process and, hence, improve the capacities for non-violent conflict resolution in Yemen. Madiba and their local partner Youth of the World Together (YWT) are responsible for the design, conceptualization and implementation of a short film competition. Aspiring filmmakers can apply with a short film and by means of an (online) award ceremony, winners are determined by an independent jury and receive financial and technical support to turn their films into a full movie. These movies will be shown at the film premiere as a celebratory final event.