Yemeni youths exceed to pioneer [Archives:2007/1030/Culture]

March 5 2007

Nisreen Shadad
The Health and Culture Center held a celebration under the auspices of Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh, presidential advisor and director of the Yemen Center for Studies and Research, to honor the winners in the annual Souad Al-Sabah literature and science competition on Feb.25.

Hani Saleh received the first scientific award, which is approximately $3,000, and Fahd Al-Qasimi received the first cultural award, which is also $3,000.

Al-Maqaleh congratulated all innovative individuals and most importantly, Al-Sabah, an innovative Kuwaiti woman interested in creative Arab youths. “Today is a pleasing day for both Yemen and Kuwait. Yemen is honored because two of its sons received first prize in Al-Sabah's competition and Kuwait is honored as well because it is celebrating its national day,” he noted.

“Today is a day for both Yemen and Kuwait,” declared Miteeb Al-Usaimi of the Kuwait Council.

Al-Sabah owns one of the Arab world's pioneer publishing houses, which is dedicated to publishing scientific and historical works with the intention of distributing such information more widely in the Arab world. Moreover, it excels in publishing exclusive works on literature, history and social issues.

Since 1988, Al-Sabah Publishing House has granted eight culture awards annually to encourage creative Arabs. Four are called Souad Al-Sabah awards for intellectual and artistic creativity, while the other four are named Al-Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mubarak for scientific creativity.

“Although Yemen is absent to some extent from international cultural events, it has a lot of innovative youths who not only win, but they exceed to pioneer,” noted Nizar Ghanim, general trustee of the Health and Culture Center.

Saleh's scientific research, “The History of Pharmacy” and Al-Qasimi's novel, “Dislodged Horizon,” were presented with the works of many candidates from Arab nations to the arbitration committee composed of critics, professors and poets to choose the best. The works were given to them namelessly in order to have a more fair competition.

Al-Qasimi's novel is about a Yemeni youth struggling to improve himself. As Al-Qasimi says, the character represents hundreds of youths' issues in Yemen and the problems they face during the journey of their lives. It also discusses the controversy between cities and the village, as well as qat and education.

“I feel that being addicted to qat causes them to lose their ambitions, as well as their education. They usually are satisfied to finish high school. In my novel, I tried my best to be objective and represent the reality we actually face,” he explains.

Al-Qasimi took a year to write the novel, commenting, “I wrote this novel irregularly, so it took a long time.” However, he carried the ambitious seeds of his family, noting, “Although my parents aren't educated, they are so ambitious.”

He adds, “We're like raw material and using such materials means building the future. Youths also need to awaken the giant inside of them. I promise all Yemenis that creativity's wick flames and it'll never give up. I dream of obtaining the international award.”

Al-Qasimi is a teacher at the Ibb branch of the Science and Technology University. Having received a bachelor's degree in mathematics, he adds, “I'm now preparing for my master's in computer information systems.”

The author, who likes to write poetry and novels, says, “I believe that if each person uses every minute of his or her life and lives 70 years, they actually will have used only 10 percent of their intellectual potential, so we all need to awaken the giant inside of us.”

He continues, “While studying in school, I contributed to children's magazines and several of my poems and stories were published. The most recent award I received was a poetic award for a poem published in Saudi Arabia's Al-Masa'a magazine. Numerous stories also were published in newspapers. I came to Sana'a to complete my studies.”

With a diploma in programming, Saleh worked at Aden Refinery Company while studying and notes, “You may wonder about my research topic because it's a far cry from my specialty.”

Regarding why he chose this topic, he explains, “Research topics actually are limited to four topics, three of which require specializing in medicine, so I felt there was only one topic I had the chance to do and that was r the history of pharmacy.”

He continued, “I began my research, but since I have no background in research methodologies, I depended upon a book called, 'How to conduct research or make a study,' written by Ahmed Shalabi. It helped me a lot regarding the methods I had to follow.”

Despite the fact that it was his first research, Saleh received the Al-Sabah scientific award. “Previously, I conducted a simple study about stealing Yemeni songs. Although it was so simple, it helped me in how to organize my thoughts.”

The competition presented a challenge for Saleh regarding whether to participate or not. “After two years, I won't have the chance to participate in this competition because it's for those under age 30,” he noted.

“I concentrated on my research for five months. I didn't encounter any difficulty obtaining resources because I found a lot in Aden. I also traveled to Sana'a for more information and it really did help,” he explains.

However, one difficulty Saleh faced while conducting his research was contradicting sources. “Each book gave me different information; therefore, I tried my best to understand and comprehend the ideas in each. Consequently, I wrote about both of them and made one outweigh the other, according to the information I received.”

The real motive that pushed him to participate was the chance to prove himself. “Whenever I made something, I found a lot of people praising me, but I want to know the actual means that I own. I'd like to be sure and know if I am as good as people claim.” The need to be more independent and have a feeling of self-esteem also pushed him to take up the challenge.

Saleh adds, “Souad [Al-Sabah] is someone dear to me and she's like my mother because she embraced me. My mother died when I was 7 years old and my dad died when I was 15. I'm the eldest, so I worked to support my family. What prevents me from completing my studies is the spending university requires.”

Al-Sabah was born in 1942 in Kuwait as a member of the ruling family. She graduated from Cairo University's Faculty of Economics and Political Science in 1973 and obtained a doctorate in economics from the U.K.'s Sari Guilford University in 1981.

She later returned to Kuwait and established the Souad Al-Sabah Publishing and Distribution House. She has published several books of poetry and established a literary prize that carries her name. She also has written hundreds of economic and political essays, as well as popular articles in several Arabic local and international newspapers and magazines. Her poetry has been translated into many languages, including English.

Al-Sabah is director of the Kuwait Stock Exchange and a member of the Higher Council for Education, the executive committee of the World Muslim Women's Organization for Southeast Asia, and the Arab Intellect Forum's board of trustees and its executive committee.

She's also a founding member of the Arab Cultural Establishment, the Arab Human Rights Organization's executive committee and the Arab Council for Childhood and Development.

Al-Sabah's poetry has captured the attention of popular artists as well as university researchers in many countries. Her literary publications include Wamdatt Bakira (Early blinks) and Lahathat min Umri (Moments of my life, 1961). Her scientific works in English include Development Planning in an Oil Economy and the Role of the Woman (1983) and Kuwait: Anatomy of a Crisis Economy (1984).