It has become self-evident that the development of information technology and modern means of communication have contributed to facilitating, enhancing and accelerating communication, especially between expats, immigrants and their families in their country of origin.
However, Yemeni expatriates found it really challenging to connect with their relatives as they struggle on daily bases from annoying bad internet connection which prevent smooth communicating with their families in Yemen. This is due to a complex political, technical and economic problem.
It can be said that the three most key elements behind the problem: the fragile communications infrastructure in Yemen, the imposition of restrictions social media applications for political reasons on, in addition to the high costs of Internet service in the country.
A report issued by SAM organization, entitled “Restrictions Imposed on Internet Service in Yemen,” states examples of the government control on the Internet, including: the monopoly of the service by the sole official Internet provider, “Yemen Net,” leading to its control through blocking, filtering, and narrowing the scope of the service. In addition, the high prices of internet packages, imposed restrictions on the owners of “local commercial Wi-Fi networks,” and other limitations that have hindered a wide segment of Yemenis and deprived them to enjoy adequate Internet service.
All over the world, when expats need to communicate with the family at their country, all he has to do is to open any of the communication applications such as: WhatsApp, Imo, or Due, to launch an audio video connection with the family smoothly and clearly, except in Yemen. That's because many of these applications are banned by the Houthi authorities, while video communication is only possible via the Google Meet or Zoom applications. However, these means are not as easy and light as the banned applications, as they require high-speed internet and also are more expensive let alone the fact that the key problem is the poor and fragile Internet in Yemen.
Reports indicate that the Internet speed in Yemen is among the slowest in the world, as Yemen comes in 134th place out of 141 countries in terms of the global Internet speed ranking. Thus, Yemen comes at the bottom of the list in the penultimate place, followed by Syria in terms of the Internet speed ranking among Arab Countries.
In addition, the cost of Internet service in Yemen is very high compared to the poor quality of the service. According to the Cable.co.uk website, which is a leading price comparison site in monitoring Internet prices in the world, it identified the cost of mobile Internet in the year 2023 in Yemen, at a rate of 15.68%, as the most expensive internet among Arab countries in terms of the high costs. This monitoring was before 4G technology service was launched in Yemen. However, Yemen Mobile’s company data on its official website indicates that the price of 1 GB is less than one dollar within 4G Internet.
Abdullah, a Yemeni student studying in Turkey, whose family lives in the city of Taiz, told Khuyut that: “The poor Internet in Yemen causes me psychological problem, because I am eager to spend a long time talking with my family, but unfortunately I cannot. For this reason, most of the time I communicate with my family by texting or by recording a voice, due to the bad connection of the Internet and the high prices of packages that my family cannot afford.”
Annoying Connection problems
As soon as the expatriate begins his conversation with his family, the voice cuts out several times, so that he had to repeat each sentence more than three times, and if the matter is an emergency, he is forced to resort to direct international call, which costs him huge amount beyond his capacity. Additionally, if the Yemeni expatriate wants to share a video clip or a group of photos with his family, it may remain on hold for two days until they are able to upload it, and sometimes they tell him: “Do not send a video because it consumes internet credit quickly.”
For her part, Dua'a, a bachelor’s student studying in Turkey and whose family lives in Hadramout, told Khuyut that: “Most of the time I communicate with my family via WhatsApp messages, and I try to contact them via Zoom or Google Meet, but because of the poor internet, I sometimes have to use But because of the poor Internet, I sometimes have to use paid applications for calling, such as Skype, and I feel sad when I see my friends from other countries communicating with their families without any trouble, just unlike us.”
Further, according to Umm Aseel, a Yemeni immigrant in Belgium, she uses voice recording or text messages via WhatsApp to communicate with her family in Aden when they have the Internet, and she only rarely contacts them by audio or video due to its large size.
She added that: "In Yemen, unfortunately, people suffer from the lack of the basic requirements of life, so if the Internet is available, there is no electricity, and vice versa." The same suffering faces Naseem, a Yemeni expatriate in America. She told Khuyut: “I have been abroad for more than seven years, and if I want to communicate visually with my mother and family in Sanaa, it is necessary to make prior arrangements and choose a time when the internet speed is somewhat faster like early in the morning or when the power is available so that the connection does not turn off during the call.”
Developing communications infrastructure
Reports indicate that the Internet speed in Yemen is among the slowest in the world, as Yemen comes in 134th place out of 141 countries in terms of the global Internet speed ranking, and it also comes in the penultimate place, followed by Syria in terms of the Internet speed ranking in the Arab countries, according to Speedtest for Internet speed index around the world, issued by the American company "Ookla".
Therefore, expats face difficulty in launching voice or video calls or sending messages and photos quickly and with good quality, and this negatively affects their ability to communicate effectively with their families and share important moments in their lives.
Therefore, in order to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni expatriate in communicating with family, in light of the unsteady Internet in Yemen, the Yemeni government needs to improve and develop the communications infrastructure, enhance the carrying capacity of wireless networks, and provide Internet services at reasonable prices, ensures high speed, and stable connection all over the country.