According to Yemen Online, a report published by Yemen Icon, which tracks internet consumption, there were 8.2 million internet users, a little over a quarter of the population, in the country in 2021. This number is 1.7% higher than the previous year.
The report revealed that about 11% of Yemen’s total population of 30.8 million engages with social media. Facebook is Yemen’s most popular social network, with 3.6 million users. WhatsApp ranks as the most popular app, while TikTok is the fastest growing app in the country.
Tapping Social Media
to Effect Social Change
These figures suggest that social media could serve as a space to publish content about coexistence, said Nashwan Sadek, 33, a visual producer and art critic.
“It must be shaped in a way that motivates people to act,” he said. “This goes beyond the mere defence of coexistence as a value.”
Sadek is convinced that individuals and institutions invested in positive social change would be wise to create such content in a systematic, coordinated manner, with clear target groups.
Potential activities conveying this perspective abound, from promoting acceptance of cultural diversity and forging common ground to disseminating knowledge about lived experiences of coexistence across Yemen.
In this way, Sadek believes, social media can help establish a mindset of societal cohesion so it becomes commonplace.
In April 2021, the Arabia Felix Project launched an anti-bullying campaign through its local partner, the Ambition Foundation for Development and Humanitarian Response. Social media proved the most effective way to reach the Yemeni public.
With videos that explained the harmful impacts of bullying, the initiative raised awareness on the experiences of bullying victims and how they coped.
The Stop Bullying campaign was expanded to include six Yemeni governorates, reaching nearly 30 schools, where students are sensitised to communication skills in discussion and debate as they explore subjects related to bullying in school.
On the Arabia Felix Facebook page, a commenter whose username is Hajer Alsabri responded to one of the videos that portrayed the bullying of Yemenis in professions such as hairstyling.
“I don’t understand why barbers or butchers are considered mazayna [the pejorative name given to a section of Yemeni society marginalised by profession],” Hajer wrote. “We are all human; how can we live without barbers or butchers? These are professions like any other.”
A follower with the username Princess Moom shared her thoughts on the beauty of diversity: “It commands my attention and fills me with contentment at the same time. Diversity is interesting, just like food; it would be boring to eat the same thing every day.”
She also spoke out against bullying, saying it causes deep harm, unnecessary suffering and separation. Her case for coexistence is hard to refute.
“I love living with everyone in their different shapes, sizes and colours,” she wrote. “Diversity gives me a feeling of harmony and friendship with all people.”