19 July 2013
Last updated at 21:04 ET
In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, the Fun City amusement park has opened its newest attraction - an ice rink - the first of its kind in the country.
On entering the rink, the temperature drops, and visitors are greeted by the wafting smell of popcorn. Though geared toward children and older youth, the adults with them appear to be equally intrigued.
Without examples to follow, creating the rink was full of problems. "The challenge of knowing how to build the ice rink was very difficult," said part-owner Ali Bathawab. "Nobody knows here!" The rink has hired staff from the Philippines and Sri Lanka as instructors and maintenance workers.
The ice rink has proven a hit, even during Ramadan when people tend to spend more time at home. Customer have already asked for the 350 sq metre (3,800 sq ft) surface be enlarged. "It's a new thing in Yemen. I think it's good but it's a little bit too small," said Sarah, a 22-year-old university student who came with her family.
Like this woman, the rink sees many first or second-time skaters. Some customers choose to skate in traditional or conservative clothing.
The current ticket price is 2,300 riyal ($11; £7) - affordable for some but not for a significant portion of the Yemeni population who live on less than $1 per day.
With its ice, bright lights and arcade, Fun City's latest addition consumes massive amounts of electricity. Three diesel-powered generators (a combined 1,000KW) stand ready to take over during the daily power cuts in Sanaa.
So far the ice rink has only been open to families. The manager, Khaled Abu Baker, is trying to figure out how to allow single men to use the facility within the confines of Yemen's relatively conservative society. He said that there will be separate rink times for men and families, at least "until we find another solution".
Despite the giant Ice Arena sign hanging outside, a large part of the building is actually filled with arcade games and rides. "They want to make money. Half [is] ice and the rest is games," complained one customer.
Khaled Abu Baker, the manager, says that, if business stays strong, the ice rink might be expanded into a section that currently houses more conventional carnival attractions. People are unlikely to miss rides such as the mostly empty "Kangaroo".
Yemen's first ice rink is a seemingly strange, and perhaps extravagant, attempt at development in the Arab world's poorest country, but, as manager Khaled Abu Baker points out, "people are supposed to have fun from time to time." Photographs by Juan Herrero. Text by Tik Root.