Craffiti Egypt is Cairo's first international handicrafts exhibition. It lasted for eight days, from 11-18 October, at the Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Nasr City.
This exhibition aimed at opening new markets for Egyptian artisans, designers and craftsmen, introducing and promoting their products to export companies focusing on high quality goods.
Board member of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), deputy of the Egyptian Export Council for Handicrafts (EECH) and the Egyptian Handicrafts Industry Chamber (EHIC), Hisham El-Gazzar talked to Ahram Online about the importance of the event.
“We tried to solve marketing problems faced by many hidden talents in the field of craftsmanship," El-Gazzar said. He explained that EECH and EHIC received several business proposals from foreigners companies in Europe, America and Arab countries who want to export Egyptian handmade products.
Craffiti Egypt was organised by the EECH and EHIC, under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry Social Solidarity, the Union of Trade and Industry and the FEI.
Sculptor Adel Sayed wood craving
The exhibition is part of Alex Bank’s initiative "Ebda3 Men Masr" (innovations from Egypt).
El-Gazzar added that like at big international exhibitions, a new concept was added in this exhibition: "zoning" (the division of the exhibition area into sections). This helped potential export collaborations happen, making it easier to find and compare exhibitors.
The exhibition will be held annually at the same time of year. El-Gazzar commented: “First, it is an appropriate time for buying presents and gifts before Christmas. Second, when we invite foreign buyers or purchasers, they are not especially busy in October, and are able to attend. It is a convenient time on the international exhibitions calendar.”
Among the exhibitors were Yadaweya Foundation that showcased products of Bedouin handmade crafts, including hand-stitched and embroidered bags, purses, abayaa and jewelery.
Yadaweya beautiful handmade products
Sinai food products, such as pressed dates, virgin olive oil, spices and herbs, were also present in the showcased products.
President of the Sinai Woman Development Association of Bir Al-Abd, Fouada Hassan, explained: “These products are part of the Ministry of Social Solidarity project, ‘Training village woman on basic life skills’.”
“Exhibitions like this one are a chance to sell their products, as the main obstacle we face is always marketing the products,” Hassan added.
Yadaweya Foundation (an NGO) aims at reviving and preserving Egyptian heritage. It highlights craftspeople and hidden talent among local artisans in many Egyptian governorates, such as Sohag, Luxor, Aswan and Al-Arish.
Managing director at Yadaweya Foundation, Raweya Ali, said: “In this exhibition, we sell all their products on their behalf for free.”
Creative glassware, handmade accessories for tableware, hanging items, delicate glass sculpture and cozy lighting glass units designed by Egyptian glass artist Dr Walid Onsy were one of the highlights of the exhibition.
Onsy glass designs
Onsy uses Islamic ornamentation, Arabesque styled designs, calligraphy and references to Egyptian folklore. Onsy is one of the few in the Middle East specialised in this technique in glass.
Onsy said: “I used a glass fusing technique which has its roots in ancient Egyptian culture. Now, it is very popular as Murano art glass-making in Italy.”
Another exhibitor, Hanan Sawaby of Al-Khan Metal and Brass for Decorative Designs, affirmed: “All designs were handmade — both interior and exterior designs.”
Al-Khan metal and brass designs
Fashion designer Nihal Soliman used an old Egyptian handmade embroidery technique well known in Kerdasa district for home décor, including curtains, cushions, soft furniture, scarves and bags, while the talented Ghada Mustafa makes furniture designs from tree trunks.
Mustafa didn’t study the arts. She said: “I am a fond of art and I love trees.” The shape of the trunk is the hero in Mustafa's designs.
Sculptor Adel Sayed, from Teneda village in El-Dakhla Oasis, El-Wadi El Gadid governorate, turned his hobby of wood carving into way of living.
He uses date palm tree wood branches stripped of their leaves to carve beautiful designs and figures from Egyptian tradition that reflect the history of the oasis and his village and their beautiful Bedouin traditional costumes.
“It was a suitable, available material, and expressive of our tradition. It is also environment friendly,” he commented.
Another hardworking artist, Amal Mansour, from Al-Dakhlia Oasis, derives her art from Egypt's cultural heritage, using sandstone to bring beauty and inspire.