When you were growing up, where did you hang out? For the majority of young people, from all nations, malls and streets tend to be where youth congregate. Here, given the heat, the streets aren’t really an option, so that just leaves the malls. Not anymore though as now there’s a new place on the block, the Youth Hub.
Youth Hub is a joint venture between The Youth Company (TYC) and Youth Enterprises. TYC is a non-profit, grass-rooted organisation, which operates as a social enterprise. It aims to empower and develop youth in Qatar and their vision is to raise healthy, active and socially responsible residents.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went along to meet the manager of Youth Hub, Abdulrahman Sajid, perhaps a room with uncomfortable chairs and a vending machine in the corner? What I found was such a stunning and appealing space that I didn’t want to leave.
Abdulrahman is young and infectiously enthusiastic. He explains the concept behind the Hub. ‘It’s all about entrepreneurship; there wasn’t a one-stop-shop in this country, a physical platform where people could go and do whatever they wanted.’ And so the Youth Hub was born, with a once weary three-story villa being radically developed into a trendy space with three themed floors: chill, create and collaborate.
‘Everything on this floor has to do with chilling,’ says Abdulrahman as we begin our tour. Music resounds around the space and he explains that it changes depending on the time of day, ‘It’s hyped up now and will become chilled later.’
There’s a comfortable majlis area, where young people are relaxing and chatting, and a couple of high-powered motorbikes sit alongside a large football table, which adds to the young, dynamic vibe. There’s even an area that’s been dedicated to merchandising, where you can buy or sell goods from. ‘It’s a great space,’ says Abdulrahman. ‘Young designers can sell from here.’
Next we enter a room named ‘play’, featuring PlayStations supplied by Virgin Megastore. ‘Every month they give us new games,’ says Abdulrahman. ‘There are chairs and cushions so people can sit or even lie down.’ It’s like an Aladdin’s cave for teenagers here; I want this to be my new hangout and ask about age limits. ‘It’s open to everyone, all nationalities, men and women, but focuses on 14 to 25 year olds,’ says Abdulrahman. Shame, maybe when I come back next time I can put my hair in bunches to shave a few years off?
Onto ‘munch’, an area that is still being developed, but plans are afoot for a cafeteria and there’s a large space for events, beside a manned window, entitled ‘serve’. ‘This is for community and customer services,’ Abdulrahman explains. ‘I can go there right now and ask him about available intern positions around the country and he has a database for that.’ Then he takes me past a security desk and Abdulrahman points out that safety is important in the Hub – they have CCTV cameras and a fire extinguisher system.
The next area is again still under construction but plans for ‘move’ sound impressive. ‘There will be showers and gym equipment – it’s a huge space and we want it to be hyped up with young people and loud music,’ he says.
I’m already in awe and can’t wait to move upstairs to ‘create’. ‘This is one of the most interesting floors we have,’ says Abdulrahman. ‘Create is all about entrepreneurship. There’s an office space called ‘smart’ that can be booked by entrepreneurs with a phone, printer, fax and computers.’ It’s an ideal space for young people starting up a business.
Next we visit ‘forge’, a black room with guitars and various pieces of equipment. It’s a fully sound proofed studio that’s equipped for photography and videography. This place really is a Pandora’s box of delights. ‘Only last night two rappers recorded a song here,’ Abdulrahman tells me.
Onto the last floor ‘collaborate’; a large office space that feels like a great place to work, with bright paintings and a really friendly team of motivated young people, all working in communications for TYC. I’m offered a huge plate of chocolates and I fall more in love with this place.
Youth Hub is still in the soft opening phase, with an official launch planned in January. There are also ambitious plans to open other hubs around the country in the future. ‘At the end of the day what we focus on is the empowerment and development of young people, it’s basically about giving them tools, equipment and mentorship,’ says Abdulrahman. That’s just what Youth Hub is all about and I really want to go back. Now.
Youth Hub Qatar is located in Al Idreesi Street, Madinat Khalifa South. For more information visit www.theyouthcompany.com or the Youth Hub Qatar Facebook page.
Run The World Festival by TYC will be held in Katara Cultural Village from December 19-21. It’s set to be an exciting three-day event where visitors can experience different cultures, zones and youth activities, all based around the themes of sports, culture, health and the environment.
Experience street life, play sports on Katara beach, visit the numerous vendors and be entertained by live acts on stage.
Katara Cultural Village, West Bay Lagoon; visit www.rtwfestival.com