Abyan province launched a youth summer cultural programme late last month that features activities designed to appeal to youth and fill their time usefully during the summer months.
The Youth and Sports Office in Abyan kicked off the programme on July 28th, which includes various cultural and educational activities, a science competition between youth clubs in Abyan province, as well as a photography exhibit.
"The cultural activities included a morning poetry reading and a photography exhibit that portrays all the activities of the various sports federations in Abyan and other provinces," said Abel Rahman al-Shairi, head of the cultural committee of the Abyan Youth Clubs.
The cultural competitions covered a variety of topics, including Islamic culture, literature, history, geography, sports and general culture, he told Al-Mashareq.
Such activities can play an instrumental role in building a generation that is "capable of dealing with and adapting to change and leading the community and the country to progress, stability and prosperity", Deputy Ministry of Youth and Sports Saleh al-Faqih said at the opening ceremony.
He pointed to the suffering Abyan province has endured because of "extremism and terrorism", and stressed the need to hold activities that enhance community awareness and rebuke extremist ideology.
On August 2nd, al-Qaeda gunmen attacked al-Mahfad army base in Abyan, killing 19 soldiers, a day after separate deadly assaults by Houthi militiamen and an extremist bomber left at least 49 dead and 48 wounded in neighbouring Aden.
Harnessing the energy of youth
The importance of the programme lies in that it "builds the capacities of youth and engages their attention with activities that are of benefit to them and their communities", Abyan deputy governor Abdul Aziz al-Hamza told Al-Mashareq.
Abyan province has "suffered greatly at the hands of terrorist groups who took advantage of the youth and their idle time to indoctrinate them with a false ideology that subverts and destroys principles, [...] societies and institutions", he said.
He called on the Ministry of Youth and Sports to harness the energy of the youth "because Abyan province suffered from wars with al-Qaeda but is now liberated".
Meanwhile, deputy governor and secretary general of Abyan's local council, Mahdi al-Hamed, called on the ministry to increase its sports and cultural activities and repair and rebuild sports facilities destroyed in past wars.
The day the programme was launched, al-Faqih visited the sports stadium, the Olympic swimming pool and the closed hall, said Ahmed al-Rai, director-general of the Youth and Sports Office in Abyan province.
These sports facilities are out of operation "because al-Qaeda destroyed them twice: the first time in 2011 when it seized control of Abyan and again in 2015 when it seized control of the province a second time", he told Al-Mashareq.
The aim of the visit was to "report on the situation to the ministry and the government so they can proceed with repairing and rebuilding the facilities that were destroyed", he added.
Raising awareness against extremism
These measures are part of the ministry's efforts to "raise awareness against extremism and terrorism", al-Rai said.
The Youth and Sports Office has begun preparing public awareness activities against extremism and terror groups that will be launched in the central districts of Abyan after Eid al-Adha, he said.
The central Abyan districts of Mudiyah, al-Mahfad, Lawdar and al-Wadea have 10 youth clubs between them, he said, noting that activities at these clubs will focus on "educating the youth and inoculating them against extremist ideas that are alien to Yemeni society and our Islamic religion".