10 comments on “A No Qat Club.

  1. Hey Mr Noti… Firstly I’d like to say what a good idea! Obviously to get sponsorship for this kind of thing will prove a little hard but if you have enough good people to target well known individuals it can be done. As you said it’s not just boredom that makes most young people chew it’s having that sense of belonging – the other #1 factor being: No Job. How about working with local businesses to get these children to acquire hands on skills? [Preferably in a trade – where work can be found] There’s lots of buildings maybe start small and rent an area of space in a building. How about we have fundraising events [not just in Yemen] but even in the UK, US…Anywhere else in the world there’s well know Yemenis who are willing to get this project off the ground. You’d need a plan, set a time frame; figure out who/how to propose this to local businesses at later stages. Make a FB page a twitter account set up a website…Get a few reliable people to really start raising awareness… What do u think? As for teaching computer skills/English classes how about getting local centres [there’s loads btw and some are hideous – but I know of some good ones] and see if teachers are willing to help even 1-2 times a week. Make it community based…I know I’ve ranted but hey I thought I’d say what comes to mind.

  2. Actually this might raise your temperature. Qat usage amongst young men isn’t that different from drinking amongst youth in Europe and the US. The young tend to binge on whatever poison they can get their hands on. They usually stop when they have to hold down jobs and feed families etc. The problem in Yemen is that there is a high unemployment so they’re stuck. It’s like those people who stay students well after everyone else has graduated and gotten jobs. Without opportunities I’m afraid Qat among the youth in Yemen is here to stay. If there was a reliable financial system I consider microfinancing to be the way forward. It would be a kind of sponsorship for people who have their act together as regards to a business plan and can demonstrate it. It’s highly unlikely that someone willing and able to do that would be overindulging in Qat. I believe Sam Waddah is an authority on microfinancing.

    • these are all great points.. read ulfats respond to my post.. you both are thinking along the same lines. I think there is consensus between us that this is a case of spare time and nothing to do. and Qat is socially accepted. which is why i think this club idea has a lot of merit and worth researching and discussing a lot more as we flesh it out a lot more..

  3. Salam bro,

    I think you have touched on a very critical point. Eliminating Qat from the Yemeni society needs a long term plan. If we were to target those 30 years old and above, I think by the time the plan reaches its objectives, people will be near their graves. However, the key as you brought it is the youth. To prevent the youth from getting hooked on Qat, they need to be targeted right before they start chewing. It is much easier to do that than to try and get them off it later once they start. Right now the main reasons for chewing are just what you listed. They need alternatives in a society where the majority chews. I like this club idea. I think it will bring the youth under one united goal. One thing I noticed last time I went to Yemen is that many youth visiting internet cafes were not chewing. Those youth are internet savvy, they know the harms of Qat, well educated, and find in internet a way to spend time without the need to chew. Having Qat-free internet cafes would provide lots of youth with an alternative that will make them divert away from Qat.
    It might be a wise idea to have a training center where some volunteers provide training to youth in entrepreneurship, management skills, marketing techniques, human resources, IT, etc to develop their skills. Many youth chew Qat because they are clueless as to what they can do and what they are capable of! So, it’ll be a good idea to instigate their creativity and thrust for entrepreneurship. I can help prepare the materials for such training and train the trainers as well. This initiative will open the youth’s eyes to entrepreneurship and business productive ideas that will take their focus away from Qat.

    These are just simple ideas that we all can brainstorm and pool them together to reach strategic plans at the end that will make a difference on the ground.

    • Yo yo yo bro,

      Salamz. Yes, why set yourself up to fail by creating a big big target. teenagers and early twenties is still a big target but its more defined and manageable. This whole thing can be made even more manageable be creating an even smaller goal. The creation of one small singular NoQatClub that really delivers. No point trying to aim bigger, it will be a miracle if even one gets set up. It’s interesting that you have noted that young Yemenis in internet cafes do not chew. Is that a consistency? Yemen is very fragmented demographically that there is no one size fits all solution. everything has to fit within its context. a NoQatClub in Sana’a will probably be different to one in a town like Mukalla for example.

      The idea is not just to have a qat free internet shop although having internet in a club like this would be a definite plus. The idea is to get rid of the excuse that there is nothing to do in yemen other than to chew, or walk the same streets every afternoon, etc etc. It has to be a centre of activity. The activity has to have a purpose. activity for activity sake with the intention to destract from chewing is not really enough. you can have clubs like this and not even call it a no qat club or even have anything to do with discussing it as a topic, but I think Qat is a symbol of something as well as a problem. To have a club with a clear message of no supporting qat and with the intention of working on young yemenis who chew it is important. The problem is that you have to replace it with something else. something better. something that makes it worth it. What will make it worth it are the suggestions that you have made like the training centre. But what about the fun? the sports side of things? lets keep fleshing things out.. cool? im not saying we can get this off the ground but its still a nice process to visualise and put things out there. It might lead to something and if it doesnt then no harm is done. right?

  4. Salam,

    Got nothing much to add really to what others have said, But just agreeing with Sam and I’d like to highlight the importance of what Ulfat said which needs to be taken into account.

    What you got there Noti is excellent and definitely a good plan but not for everyone, I like the idea that it’s step by step to get people off Qat instead of completely banning it. Banning it won’t do any help in my opinion like Atiaf said banning it will lead to it being sold in black markets for a higher price and that’s something that won’t do good.

    I think your plan will work best to those young teens who are not so addicted and are still in study but I doubt it will work for many who are sitting around doing nothing, I mean this is something they would definitely want to be part of but when they are worrying on how to feed their family, how to get a job etc. they will turn to Qat for some way to help them forget their own problems maybe. I aint really sure. Anyhow your plan is great and I hope it gets put forward.

    • Salam Naj!

      Great to hear from you. I agree that banning it is an impossibility. It is acceptable culturally and it seems, Islamically. So is not haram. No one disputes the negative sides of Qat, even qat chewers themselves. It is about resources like water, and time, and lots of other issues besides. So I agree with you and Atiaf that an outright ban is wrong. A ban in the workplace, though, as Hind has been proposing IS acceptable. I agree that teens and early 20s is the right age group to target. If you have any further thoughts and ideas, just pass them on.

  5. Hi,
    long thinking process on my side about what to say. I know you have very good intentions, but I am very sceptical about how to realize it. I am afraid it will stay an online paper tiger. During the last 20 years I saw so many projects (small scale, large scale, Governmental, NGOs projects, private projects) come AND go. Even if you find someone who is willing to fund, how can you keep up the project if you are not at home? Do you anybody who could do it for you?

    I once planned a safe playing ground (there is not a single one yet) for kids inside the Old city of Sanaa (after my 2 yr old nephew playing in the street was killed by a neighbour’s car). We found a piece of land (used as a dump site for years, the owners not interested in), enough money (5000.- US $), the support of all honourable ppl in the neighbourhood……..and many parents that were interested to have a safe, clean playing ground for their kids. I sketched a plan, contacted with a local carpenter for the equipment, we were thinking of hiring a guard to keep the place tidy and prevent destruction of property…..it was nearly all perfect. UNLESS the owners of the aimed piece of land fell deeply in love with their devasteted property. Although we kept it secret that there was funding from abroad they got the idea that they had to multiplicate the price. Searching for alternative ground was useless, because the message spread across the OLE like a bush fire. Finally the project died cause we would have to pay that much, nothing would be left for equipment or maintenance.

    So I personally think that it will be very difficult to solve all the practical problems that will face your project. Even if you manage to find donators you would need a local “task force” to implement AND keep up your project. I even think the biggest problem is maintaining it. I think it might be possible to find a donator but you have to draw a very precise work plan and a description of the project. This needs hours of texting, description, contacting……. Who should do this?

    Second, I missed one aspect concerning the motives of young men (16 up) going to Qat sessions. Young men live in a cage of permanent social control and family duties. They have to obey and respect their parents and relatives and enjoy very little personal freedom. The time from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the only part of the day to escape from family mess and meet with friends and forget about all the pressure that is awaiting them at home. As Qat session is socially accepted, nobody at home would forbid it or ask where and with whom they meet. Qat time is a sacrificed time, so they are pretty safe from phone calls of the family asking them for a service. This is not theoretical, it is my experience with all the traditionally living family members and neighbours, friends, relatives.

    I am not sure if it will be the same, if they would leave to spend some hours in a NOQAT-CLUB. Most at home will not understand the idea or not respect and ring em up whenever they need a helping hand. I am afraid that they might see this club as immoral like many see internet cafes. So one important task would be to create a positive image or identity of your no-qat-club.

    I am glad to hear that you are not discussing a 100% Qat-ban. I think it would be enough to propagate a RETURN to the traditinal limits we already had in the past. I do not remember anyone daring to chew Qat before lunch or after evening prayer. It was social habit to stop chewing at about six p.m. to pray, have supper and then sit together with all family, chatting, guarding the homework of the kids OR returning to work until 10 to 11 p.m. Only exception was weddings and burials. I do not remember men sitting at a Qat chew until 8 or 9 p.m. like it is very common now. That would have been very unpolite in front of the host. It was also an absolute NOGO for kids or teenagers to chew before marriage. Why are these social limits no more respected? Will it be possible to revive them with campaigns?

    Another target should be to set pressure on the Government, to implement laws that control and ban harmful pestizides on Qat and vegetables and fruits. I know that the Yemeni farmers use a large amount of the dirty twelves, that are banned in Western countries. I think there is a huge misunderstanding about the effects of Qat on health. It is not the Qat itself but the chemicals that are used responsible for cancer, liver and kidney diseases. On my opinion this would be worth campaigning because it affects food as well.

    Finally it is a bit unfair and offending to treat all Qat chewers the same, as if all were lazy, criminal, backwarded drug addicts. This is way too black and white. You will not raise awareness or acceptance within the target group.

    Hope this was helpful.

    • Dear Alia,

      I don’t think I set out to portray all Qat chewers as the same, whether lazy, criminal, or backwards. I am not black and white about the issue. Nor what I am proposing has anything to do with banning Qat, raising awareness about the pesiticides, etc etc.. With the Qat issue, it is about the TOTALITY, the sum total of the issue. One can campaign for the issue of cleaner safer pesticide free qat, and it would be fantastic! No one would say no to that. One can argue quite correctly, that Qat should be taxed effectively and efficiently and no one would say no to that either. One can argue that Qat is the only crop that gives a lot of families in Yemen a stable continuous income and banning it too quickly or immediately would do more harm than good, I wouldn’t disagree with that either. What can not be argued is that water is at a premium. A scarcity in Yemen. There can be no justification for using the precious little Yemen has to indulge in a pleasant pastime no matter how ingrained it is culturally. It can’t be justified morally, it can’t be justified logically, or almost on any level at all. At times of scarcity one has to prioritise surely. Added to that is time. We live in a world that is moving faster and faster. Time is also a scarce resource. Does one use time in a way that is useful, productive, and fruitful? or not? and what if it is in the scale that it is in Yemen, a country that needs a lot of effort put in by all its citizens just to hold together let alone catch up with the rest of the world. Do we teach its young citizens to cram in as much of their time to self improvement or not. People are also a country’s resource.

      Something has to give. Yemen has the choice to continue to live on handouts and foreign support at a price, or to make the most of the resources and try to correct itself. Increasingly we are living in a world defined by scarcity. Unless a species of Qat can be developed that consumes a fraction of a fraction of the water it usually demands, and unless farmers have the knowledge and the DECENCY to not use harmful pesticides, which I am sure they know are harmful, it is hard to justify it. So Qat is not just a drug to me. It is a a lot of things.

      For me I am tossing around ideas aimed at catching Yemenis while they are young. that is the only thing that I am looking at with this NoQatClub. maybe you can say its a sort of BoyScout kind of a club which aimes at fostering a 0 tolerence attitude to Qat within its membership. I am not looking outside this. those are other campaigns for others to do if they want.

      I doubt that this is going to get further than paper tiger status because I am out here in London and I havent even thought of the end product. The whole point of twitter, for me, is deseminating ideas.. MAYBE somewhere along the line someone in yemen with the right capabilities likes and adopts it. Maybe not. who knows.. The only projects I will take ownership of are maybe my illustrations, short stories or other creative things i come up with. But projects like this are all about ideas. almost dreaming.. fantasising.. and if it captures the imagination of ppe in Yemen or abroad and it brings enough pple to make it happen then so be it..


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