The annual Egyptian handicrafts festival Mein Fat Adimo Tah (He who Forsakes his Past is Lost) launched its seventh edition on Friday, bringing together artists and artisans from around the country for a weeklong exhibition in Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab district.
The event runs from 18 to 24 August in the historical Beit El-Sennary complex, featuring a wide range of hand-made objects, from metalware to textiles.
The event provides a platform for the celebration of Egypt's varied artistic and handicrafts heritage, including various workshops and performances.
Beit El-Sennary has long served as a venue for cultural and artistic events, under the joint supervision of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. It was here that the classic book Description de l'Égypte was first drafted in the nineteenth century, providing a detailed record of the nation's culture at that time.
Mosaad Omran, CEO of the Chamber of Handicrafts in Egypt, gave a speech at the festival's opening ceremony on Friday, explaining its importance.
"For the past 30 years, handicrafts have been totally marginalized, despite the fact that it’s the second biggest sector in Egypt – second to the agricultural sector," he said.
"I am a handicrafts worker myself; I work in textiles," he continued.
According to Omran, the chamber's main concern is to facilitate the legal relations between small workshops and the government, as well as resolving obstacles in order to empower those working in this valuable sector.
There are some 5 million artists and workers in the sector, but Egypt only exports between $20 million and $50 million worth of handicrafts annually.
Tunisia, meanwhile, exports $400 million, Morocco $600 million, and Turkey $2 billion annually.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was Ms. Zakia, head of the Moroccan Social Coalition in Egypt, and Mostafa El-Feqi, director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Morocco is this year's guest of honour, with the festival highlighting various aspects of the country's culture. From traditional foods and fabrics, from storytelling to handicrafts, the festival's seventh edition boats a fine display of Egyptian and Moroccan culture.
VENUE: Beit El-Sennary, Facing the Sayeda Zeinab Mosque, Sayeda Zeinab Square, Cairo
Sunday 20 August
4-6 pm – Seminar by the Moroccan writer Rabia Ahmani on the traditional handicrafts of Morocco
5-7 pm – Moroccan cuisine by chef Soaad
5-7 pm – Workshop on Arabic calligraphy
8-9 pm – Performance by El-Darawish troupe
Monday 21 August
5-7 pm – Workshop on wire-crafting
6-7:30 pm – Seminar on women in the Western Desert
8-9 pm – Concert by band Bianola
Tuesday 22 August
5-7 pm – Decoupage workshop
6-7:30 pm – Seminar on the art of building
8-9 pm – Story-telling by Moroccan story-teller Ali Al-Zaidy
Wednesday 23 August
5-7 pm – Workshop on copper jewellery and mosaics
6-8 pm – Seminar on Bedouin artworks
8-9 pm – Moroccan folk fashion show
9-10 pm – Play: Ahwal Shakhsia (Personal Matters)