Some is fun, some is notYemenis and Internet chat [Archives:2004/792/Reportage]

November 22 2004

By Yemen Times Staff
Taiz Bureau

The Internet is full of electronic websites that offer the chat service or the dialogue between two or more via the Internet.
Famous and big websites offer the free email service in addition to the messenger or the chat such as Yahoo, Hotmail and Maktoob websites.
Many websites and clubs require only user name or a nickname and a password for joining the chat room. Then, it is the user's role to swim in the vast and bottomless swamp perturbed by waves.
Nowadays, the user can chat with others by sound and picture-having the facilities of a video and microphone. During our field survey at some cafes in the city of Taiz, we could get out with results showing that most Internet users are looking for chat and especially romantic chat.
Chat can be categorized into different types such as intellectual, cultural, relational, etc. Some chatters just want to pass time and find entertainment, others make friends marry, others travel or search for a job.
Hi an we get to know each other?
Halloooooo Who is thissss? Where are you from ow old r u?
This is how a chat conversation usually starts. Chat as we said, is a term meaning dialogue, speech between two persons or more in public and private chat rooms. The dialogue often occurs between a boy and a girl or young people irrespective of their sex or culture and religion.
Just introduce yourself and then feel free. Be very frank or half frank with those you chat with. There remains the aim of the chat, which is the most important thing, and the topic of inquiry.

Chat Yemeni style
Yemenis are among early risers for chat and talking. Everyday, as the sun rises, the Yemeni asks his neighbor or friend about where they will spend the afternoon qat session. “We want 2 chew qat sit and talk..i mean 2 chat,” he would say. In these money-wasting sessions, qat is consumed and chatting chewers plunge into an endless debate in the style of the electronic chat rooms, though there is a difference in means, ways, place, and time.

A stage for those without stage?
The electronic cells of this amazing network contain the database of more than 200 countries – the number of countries subscribing to the UN. Through this network, the Muslim talks with the Christian, the believer with the infidel and the Buddhist with the Hindu. Everyone tries to display his culture, doctrine, and thought the way they like for in the cyberspace there is no government's censorship, or intelligence agents.
Say what you like. Talk to whom you want and the way you want. Write. Read whatever you like. It is a stage for the marginalized men and women in the Arab World. It is a stage for those without a stage.
It is the supporter of the suppressors and the suppressed. On the Internet, the terrorists find an opportunity to disseminate their ideas, read their statements, and threats to those who go against them. There they declare their responsibility for criminal acts.

Bye Abu Yemen
In the Arab rooms of chat, the dwellers exchange insults, slang expressions, and profane talk. Most of the insults fall on the Arab leaders. Everyone directs charges towards this or that Arab leader, accusing him of being the Pandora Box and the cause of the series of setbacks of the Arab Nation. Examining the words used in these conversations, one can see that the Egyptian, for example, wants his words to fly him abroad, or get a job. The Gulf people takes chat as an opportunity to have sex, find pleasure, or marry. Female Moroccans just rummage for husbands, hoping they will find him on the Internet. There remain the Yemeni and the Sudanese. They respect each other and make a clear bosom to each other.
Generally the Arab visitor to the Yemeni chat room will find that he is facing the culture of qat which has been transferred by Yemenis to the Internet. The words used in chat by Yemenis are derived from the qat atmosphere such as “Where will you chew qat today, Sami? Why are you daydreaming today, Bashir, it seems you chewed sawti qat.” Another would say: “Is it possible, lads, that you chew at my home tomorrow?” therefore, it is no surprise that the Yemeni feels left out, receiving just the phrase: “Bye Abu Yemen, you qat chewer.”

Stories and miseries
There is a number of stories and miseries caused by chat, some of which are to be mentioned here.
Samra'a is an Egyptian girl aged 30. She is a widow living in the US with one child. She would frequently visit a chat room for entertainment. She got to know an Egyptian young man from Cairo. Day by day, their relationship grew into a love passion which made her agree to visit him in Cairo and meet him. In Cairo, the human wolf was waiting for her, showing his fangs, which were hidden for several months. He escorted her into his home, raped her and, when she decided to return to America, killed her.
Yasmin, 23, another Egyptian girl with delicate feelings and tender emotions, from Alexandria, came to know, as she said, a young man from Asyout province through chat. During five months, he was an example of the righteous man who poured on her a stream of advice and the Prophet's sayings. He talked to her on the issues of politics, literature, culture and history as though he were a university professor.
She was amazed at his knowledge though he was young as he said. He then proposed for her hand and she immediately agreed and so did her family. They thought he was a rich and highbrow young man, as she perceived in his chat. They both agreed to meet at a public place after both of them described their appearances to each other for recognition. She was accompanied by her brother to see him for the first time.
At the designated place, she was waiting and noted that a man was looking at her from a distance. She did not care, but she was shocked when he approached her calling her by name. She was then sure that the person who was chatting with her for months lavishing on her the words and phrase of praise and romance was actually a 60-year man. Since then, Yasmin said, she has decided never to come back to chat.

Yemenis at the gate
Salah Dhafer, 21, is a student. He says: “I surf the Internet on a daily basis for one to two hours. Chat has not become an addiction up until now. I like chat websites especially light-humored chat in which we play tricks on friends.
“Indeed, I have befriended people from many countries including the western part of the Arab World, and Sudan. They people of these countries welcome Yemenis in contrast to the snobbish Gulf people who look just for girls and entertainment. I chat with my fellow citizens, both males and females. Sometimes, the chat develops into meetings. I think chatting with females is better.”
Marwan Abdu Mansour, 20, is a computer student who says that he likes chat websites but not to the extent of addiction. “I rarely get into chat and I do not like to dive into it because they are many. Yet, chat websites have their own advantages and disadvantages. The clever man should use them to learn the language and other things such as travel opportunities. I have known some of my friends who chatted with foreigners who gave them visas. Doing chat for entertainment is useless.”
Abdulwahab Al-Majidi, 30, is a laborer who says that the Internet is a deep bottomless sea. “Chat has pros and cons. Personally, I use the chat facility to get in touch with my colleagues abroad because contact via the Internet is much cheaper. I spend one hour daily surfing the Internet in order to know more about the cultures of peoples around the world. I like most of the clubs such as Alshamilah and Yemen Youth Forum.”
Mujib Al-Rabou'y, 20, is a student who speaks out the usefulness of the Internet. “It is better than wasting time in the qat sessions. One can spend wonderful time roaming the world for just YR 100. Everyday, there is something new and exciting news. The Internet is like any other technological facility can be a double-edged sword. For me, I prefer the foreign chat websites like Pal Talk, Yahoo, and Hotmail. I use the chat to improve my English.”
Saif is a 26-year-old teacher who considers the Internet a friend and a pet technology. “I spend my day surfing this amazing net. Once on the net, I do not feel that there is a world outside the cyberspace. I use chat daily, and I come to discover new friends from everywhere. I have to pretend that I am an Egyptian, Tunisian, Moroccan, etc. because some Arabs do not want to come in touch with Yemenis for they have a bad image about us and the reason is qat.”
Then 22-year-old Samar tells us that she surfs the net every now and then. “I chat to get entertainment and make friends. I now have friends from Morocco and Algeria. I prefer to chat with males because girls do not like to converse with each other. But it is dangerous when chat reaches the point of addiction.”
Concerning society's view of female internet-goers, she says that the society sees them as normal people and she thinks that it is no problem.
Gihan Mohammed, 21, is an officer. She says that she gets attracted to child and family websites as well as news. “I like the website of Amro Khaled,” she says.
“I chat but not always. I have befriended people from Saudi Arabia, Morocco and others. What was unnatural is the Arab youth's disbelief that a Yemeni girl surfs the Internet and starts a dialogue. They have a misconception about the country in general. They think it is a country living in the Middle Ages in which women are oppressed and mistreated and that she is house-bound and does not leave home only when she marries or dies.”
Gihan says that they ask her whether her face is veiled or just has a scarf. “I tell them that I have only a scarf and they do not believe because they see Yemeni women on the TV are veiled.”
She narrates a story about a Saudi national of Yemeni origin who chatted with her over six months. “He was giving me his personal information, which later I happened to know that he was actually a real person. Once I was channel surfing the Saudi TV, I saw him. He is working as a consultant there. For me, that was a shock.”