Yemenis’ Reading Habits [Archives:1998/41/Culture]

October 12 1998

“Reading is a way by which you feed your mind,” the saying goes and nobody argues that. Reading makes you know more and converse more confidently.
What you read is determined by your interests. But in poor societies like ours, what you read also depends on whether you can afford the prices of what you would want to read.
In Yemen, many people read, especially those who have good income. University students also read a lot, especially those who aspire for high studies.
One young person told she reads in order to forget about getting married. Another told me he reads to forget the overall frustration around him. A third reads because she wants to ‘grow’.
So there are different reasons why Yemenis read, and different reasons why they read what they do.
I discuyssed this matter of reading habits with people of different backgrounds and educational levels. Since they knew I was doing a story for the Yemen Times, their praise of the paper and how avidly they read it have all been omitted.
Here is what a few people said.
1. A 24-year-old single woman with a diploma in administration:
When I was a kid, I used to read children’s stories. Then I began to read journals and newspapers. I was interested in reading about actors and singers and about astrology.
Being an adult, I like to read religious books. Of course I don’t buy all the books I read. Sometimes, I borrow them from my friends. In addition, I read some newspapers like Al-Ahdath and Al-Ra’i. Recently I have been reading Al-Thawra newspaper as it is available free in my work place. I exchange some Arabic magazines with my friends like “Zahrat Al-Khalij”, “Sayidati”, and “Al-Arabi”.
2. Ms. Azizah Shakir, 40, married and has 4 children, and is employed in a ministry:
When I was single, I used to read two hours a day. I used to read literary journals like “Al-Hikma” and “Al-Kalima”. Later, I began to read daily newspapers (Al-Thawra, 14 October, etc). But I got bored of the repeated issues they discuss so I began to read Arabic newspapers and magazines like “Al-Ahdath” and “Al-Haiah” newspapers.
If I buy Yemeni newspapers, and I rarely do, I go through them quickly. Generally, I like to read social issues and I don’t care about the name of the writer as long as the topic is good. I believe that reading is the best way to fill your free time. My husband always pushes me to read. Sometimes we also discuss the things we read.
3. Mr. Yahya M. Abdullah, an employee with a secondary-school education, married and has 4 children:
Before I got married, I used to read some Arabic journals like “Al-Nahdha”. I liked reading political varieties. I used also to read Yemeni newspapers. Now, I almost don’t read anything. I’m very busy and I don’t have enough money to buy reading material. In fact, I can hardly pay for our living needs. My wife and I, though, realize how reading is important and always encourage our children to read.
4. Derhim S. Mohammed, 30, bachelor, has MA degree in economics:
I buy Yemeni and Arabic newspapers everyday. I spend nearly YR 320 a week on them. I like to read cultural, social, political and economic issues. After reading the newspapers, I keep those which include important issues and get rid of the others. I read 4 to 8 hours a day and nobody bothers me while reading.
5. Ms. Nora, 19, married, no children, a social worker:
I don’t read any newspapers. I like to read Egyptian and Arabic magazines. I like to read about fashion and agony columns. I don’t throw the journals after reading them. I keep them in boxes so that I can read them again after a while. I read 1 to 2 hour in a day. During holidays, I read in the morning and in the evening. And because I don’t have children, nobody bothers me while reading. Concerning books, I like to read about science, culture and psychology. Sometimes, I buy books and magazines, but I usually borrow books from the university library.
6. A 35-year-old man, accounting manager in the Ministry of Trade and Supply, married and has no children:
I’ve never liked reading any kind of newspapers, magazines or books. When I was at school, I would read only to pass the exams. But as I entered university, it became important to read. We had to do researches all the time. The research project required referring to many books in the library so I had no alternative. When I graduated, I stopped reading. At work the daily newspapers are given us to free. I just look at the main topics and then throw it away. Unlike me, my wife reads a lot on cookery and home economics.
7. Mr. Salah A. Isma’el, 37, an employee in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, married and has 5 children:
I read Yemeni newspapers and magazines. I prefer to read history books and novels. I also read the weekly and monthly Arabic magazines. I buy most of them. Sometimes I send money to publishing houses abroad to get books which are not available here. When I like the style of a writer, I try to buy all his new writings. I get rid of the magazines and newspapers I read, but I usually collect the important articles in a file.
8. Mr. Monir M. Al-Janahi, 42, electricity worker, married and has 3 children:
I buy all the Yemeni newspapers and some Arabic ones as well. I buy some books and borrow some from my friends. I’m lucky to have a good income that enables me to buy reading material. When I finish reading papers I give them to my friends and relatives. I only keep those issues I feel I’ll need in the future.
Usually, I read before I go to bed. Sometimes I read while chewing qat. My wife and children also read. Reading is very important for all members of the family.
By: Khairiya Al-Shibibi,
Yemen Times.