Children’s Magazines in the Yemen, Libraries in Egypt

I suppose “Children’s Magazines in the Yemen” doesn’t have the same appealing ring as Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, but — although Yemen doesn’t actually have a salmon-fishing industry — it really does have children’s magazines, although not as many as a few decades ago:

I don't know if Nat Geo Kids is available in Yemen, although it certainly is in Cairo.
I don’t know if Nat Geo Kids is available in Yemen, although it certainly is in Cairo.

According to a report in this week’s Yemen Timeseven locally produced Arabic children’s magazines — well, magazine, since there’s currently just one — are priced out of the range of most children.  The price Sana’a kiosk owner Ahmed Khaleel cites per magazine is 500 Yemeni rials ($2.33, 15.70 LE).

Small wonder he sells just 10 a week.

The Yemen Times reports that, in the early ’80s, Yemen had some 15 magazines targeted at children, particularly popular ones being Al-Hudhud, Al-Barem, and Wadhah. But most Yemeni magazines, particularly those aimed at children, collapsed on the heels of the 1994 war and have not yet recovered.

The YT said there is currently just one consistent Yemeni-produced children’s magazine, published once every two months as a newspaper supplement.

“Now and then, some Yemeni child-related magazines pop up,” Khaleel told the newspaper. “Usually they publish around three issues before they disappear.”

On the other hand, the YT reports that there are 87 public libraries with at least some area devoted to children in Yemen (although these libraries apparently don’t buy new children’s magazines). This presence is a pleasant surprise; 12 of these libraries reportedly specialize in children’s literature. That’s a far, far sight more than there are in Egypt, a country with more than four times the population.

I found a post on an IREX “global libraries” blog that sums up the problems of Egypt’s public libraries to date — a few giant, pretty institutions with a good pot of money (such as Biblioteca Alexandrina, the al-Ma3di library) but that are largely cold and inaccessible, rather than a larger number of community libraries.

In some cases, smaller non-governmental organizations have stepped forward to create neighborhood libraries. Last year, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) announced a major initiative: It was bent on establishing five public libraries in under-served neighborhoods.

The first ANHRI-run library was opened in May of last year in the Dar es-Salaam neighborhood (building no. 7 Abdul-Sam’a Mansour St., off El-Fath St., Gazeerat Dar-El-Salam) and two others have been opened in Zagazig (Abu-Baker El-Sadik st., of Kolyet El-Zerah, Zagazig) and El-Saf. Books and other useful items can be donated either to the library sites or to ANHRI’s headquarters (No. 5, building no. 10, Elwi St., off Qasr El-Nil St., behind the central bank, Downtown).

Why libraries? After all, isn’t ANHRI a human-rights organization? “…we decided that the public libraries are the best we could provide to people. Whenever you provide the citizen, regardless the ages, with a book, it will be beneficial to them.” (Read more.)