GYEM founder Seaon Shin said the closure of their premises has left the centre’s members heartbroken.
The Global Youth Empowerment Movement Centre (GYEM) — one of the UAE\'s few youth centres — has been shut down after just over a year since its inauguration. The GYEM team was recently given notice to vacate
the donated space it occupied in a Dubai Festival Centre (DFC) portacabin due to a land expansion.
\"DFC has told us they are doing a redesign of their plots and they\'re getting rid of a lot of temporary structures and bringing down the centre this month,\" said Seaon Shin, 20, founder of GYEM.
DFC essentially supported the GYEM centre with free space and subsequent agreements gave extra support.
However, the planned land expansion that will see the destruction of the temporary structure has left the centre\'s members heartbroken.
\"I used to hang out at the centre every Thursday night with my entire social circle, it became our weekend hang out,\" said Hamza Arif, 16. \"Before the GYEM centre we sat at home playing online games because it\'s really hard to meet like-minded people in Dubai.\"
Bruce Von Kaufmann, Assistant General Manager of Dubai Festival Centre, confirmed the closure.
\"The essence of it is at the south end of the mall we are putting a plan together for redeveloping,\" he said. \"The GYEM centre sits in a temporary portacabin structure in that area but as part of redevelopment we need to get that moved to make room for what\'s coming in.\" Von Kaufmann did not disclose what the GYEM centre will be replaced with; but did add that DFC has offered the team an alternative location.
\"There have never been guarantees when it comes to the portacabins,\" he said. \"Although we have offered the team alternative space to relocate to another portacabin on the other side of the centre, which they\'ve declined.\"
Shin said: \"Recently they told us of another space with a shared parking and entrance with other offices, which was very inconveniently located with no direct access to the mall.\"
The closure of the physical space does not however mean the end of the road for GYEM as the team has decided to continue their activities online.
\"We\'ve decided not to pursue the idea of a centre because it\'s physically not possible if I\'m not here,\" said Shin, who now studies at a university in the US. \"However, if the community reached out to us or something opened up we\'d definitely look into it.\"
Korean-American Shin took a gap year in 2010 to set up the centre. The initiative came about when she noticed the wasted potential among her peers.
The centre was set up to host a series of self-reflective workshops for youths who would later be involved in community service projects.