Los Angeles

The Egyptian and American reunited after about one year in, of all places, the city of angels. The visit was too short but very much worth it. We went right from the airport to Farmers Market downtown and the sights and smells were as good as I remember. After that it was off to Venice Beach for some meandering and people watching. Then it was back to the airport to pick up another participant for the Universal Studios excursion the following day. Note: University of Southern California has a really nice campus!

Okay, below are pics from our day at Universal Studios. Enjoy!


Three Cups of Coffee

I have been struggling with what to post as of late. I’v met many interesting individuals here in the United States after a nearly three year hiatus overseas engaged in various activities. I have sampled many different beverages and have no regrets about that, but find myself coming back to the one that stole my heart, via it’s aroma at an early age: coffee. I figure I ought to get my idea for a book out on this site early before the idea gets stolen and used by another author and it is turned into a New York Times Best-Seller.

Three Cups of Coffee would be a replacement to Three Cups of Tea, and it would include some historical facts about coffee as well as how gathered around a table anywhere – at a bus station in Uzbekistan, chic cafe in Austria, or backyard patio at my parents house – the ideas that come about from the brain being stimulated from this beautiful bean induced beverage, are priceless. Imagining a morning without it becomes painstakingly dull and slow. It is what helps me put my fingers on this keyboard.

Unlike Three Cups of Coffee (and all due respect to Greg Mortenson and the Central Asian Institute), this would have nothing to do with sitting around tribal areas of Pakistan and discussing how the rich in the West can finance schools through grants (free money) in remote K2 mountain areas, but instead would include the different ideas from around the globe that have come about through the infusion of coffee into the bloodstream, instead of high fructose corn syrup laden soda. It would also highlight how many of those ideas have come to fruition based on the hard work of local individuals finding local solutions without major donor influence.

Whether it is coffee from the Caucasus in small cups, or large mugs of Americano’s filtered from a sophisticated machine in Italy or Colombia, or at a bustling coffee chain in downtown Portland, Oregon or San Francisco, California in the United States, the idea behind the book would be that when Three Cups of Coffee are ordered and a plan of action is written out, the local capacity is inspired and can achieve great things.

Tribute to Garbage Men/Women

Against the backdrop of YouTube videos, and the break I am taking from writing my thesis which caused me to stress out and snap, I am continuing to write whatever fun thoughts come into my head here at the request of friends around the globe and they know who they are. I am one who likes to ask questions, lots of them, because the responses to those questions can produce interesting responses. It also should be noted that it has been 3 weeks since my last cigarette (going through a real transformation here). I am also on my way to completing another book called The Tehran Initiative – kind of a scary, thriller, one of those on the edge of your seat types. (Thought it would be fun to choose it after an Iranian friend’s birthday) Anyway, so my reason for writing a tribute to garbage men, rather than a delayed post for veterans following Veteran’s Day, is that the whole country is celebrating them, and I like to do things different.

So why does the garbage man/woman position exist? And why are they necessary? Have we as humans not developed fully to the level where we can properly dispose of our waste in a such a sustainable manner that it requires a vehicle to drive by our homes and dump the waste into it and deposit it into a landfill somewhere? In Armenia, they just burn everything on the street usually. Is it not within our capacity to dispose of our garbage in our own backyards somewhere by some other means? Yes, I understand that it creates jobs and it is a public service and all that, and so we should be grateful, right? I guess that these noble creatures who take the time to weekly come out and visit our abodes and pick up our shit should be saluted.

What I have a hard time with is the amount of money they are paid in the U.S. compared to a public school teacher’s salary. I wonder if I had to do it all over again, would I be a garbage man rather than setting my sites so high on a Master’s degree in Public Policy? I mean there is real job security for garbage men and women. I don’t foresee anytime soon when we will be without need for these professionals/specialists. However, what career track does someone with a degree in Public Policy pursue? Politics!? What was I thinking, I mean I have absolutely no interest in politics whatsoever. It is history that I love and want to teach and be out paid by those waster management men and women. Again, it was at the advice of a woman that I applied to graduate school, a receptionist at the Envoy Hostel in Yerevan, Armenia.

So this is my pathetic attempt at a tribute to garbage men and women everywhere (those on active duty and retired) – we need them and are grateful for their service to our communities. It scares me to think with how lazy we have become, what would happen if they didn’t pick up our trash, what the streets, backyards and inside of homes would look like. So every time someone in a big truck drives by on a designated day of the week to remove your waste, give them a salute! 🙂

boy, interrupted

So there I was giving a presentation on international organizations and flying through my slides which I had prepared, and the room was hot, I could feel the heat coming into the room through the windows. The pressure was building, and then I was interrupted. It should be noted that I learned a new word during my training sessions for work, “defenestration” [the act of throwing a thing or especially a person out of a window]. I like that one, because at one point I felt like I could fly like an eagle and nothing would happen.

Back to the story, I was unzipping my black hooded sweatshirt I had purchased in London, UK when someone stepped in to rescue me from my sinking presentation. Had that professor seen the act once before one TV? A person unzipping his sweater? Where is the irony in that, a boy who grew up watching Sesame Street on 123 St. in Vancouver, WA gets interrupted as he unzips his sweater. It is important to get the details right. It’s all about the details. Mr. Rogers used to do that. Is it possible that Mr. Rogers was an undercover agent for the KGB? That is crazy enough it might just work. Just a thought, but what do I know? 😉

Anyway, I have a new wonderful job and absolutely loving this Nicorette stuff, and finally finished some long awaited books, such as Don Quixote by Cervantes, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, and a book by Anthony Bourdain called Medium Raw. Never stop reading and watching Disney cartoons, or drinking three cups of coffee a day. Caffeine is what makes the world go round.

Retirement Home Reflections

Economists pose great questions, some of the best I must humbly admit. I just finished, Don Quixote and that was one crazy author. I also just got off a Skype call recently with my host family in Vayk, Vayotz Dzor, Armenia of all places. Happy to hear they have internet in their home finally. So as I continue to read again, which has taken some time and finally quit smoking (over 10 days now) more ideas come to mind and I just can’t escape the need to write them down. Plus writing is a better close substitute for my hands then using a lighter to light those cancer sticks.

Againsts the backdrop of a plethora of YouTube videos, particularly this one since my cousin Brett had their baby and named it William (and will be referred to as Sir William), it just seems fitting, I thus pose the question: Why do retirement homes exist? Why is it that the older generation is forced out of their homes placed into care centers where they have to be fed and bathed and have their diapers changed daily? Why is it that the younger generation is unwilling to take care of the elderly in their own home?

This answer is difficult to answer as I am sure there are many reasons as children are off running around doing many different things like I had been doing for over three years. I was at a camp once having this same conversation with a beautiful Armenian girl who visited the USA and noticed too that this was a big difference between developed and undeveloped countries: the treatment of the elderly, or the lack of the younger generation to care for them. In Armenia, families are close and visited regularly to make sure they are healthy and well cared for. It has placed into my mind where I would like to retire and if and when I do have kids, will they take care for me like I saw happen with great frequency in Armenia?

Also, is it ironic that on the day of my grandpa Charlie’s 90th birthday that the crazy dictator of Libya eliminated and that country now free of a dictator? I doubt that. He’s a fighter too. Another video! 🙂 The force has been restored. What an Arab Spring, Summer and now Fall it has been! What will happen this winter? Is Syria next? I’ve been there too and while I didn’t dine with the President of that country, I did come in contact with a Syrian diaspora who invited me to his house, but I passed up on the offer, and had dinner in an Iraqi refugee camp with an Armenian family living in the surrounding area and the wife’s tatik (Armenian for grandma) lived near where I did for two years in Armenia. The Viking of Vayk as it was so eloquently put by the leader of the LCF’s (Language and Cultural Facilitators) for us.

An Egyptian’s Thesis

I think the world, or whoever reads this garbage up here should be allowed to read the words that were typed by Queen Rania, so here they are. I hope that her ideas are taken seriously and implemented in her lifetime by any new government of Egypt. And may her thesis adviser rest in peace. Cheers!

Action Plan for The Development of Handicrafts Sector in Egypt: Problems, Possibilities, and Recommendations

Rania Salah Seddik

Submitted to:
Central European University
Department of Public Policy

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Public Policy

Professor Dragan Klaic

Budapest, Hungary
Table of Content:

Action Plan for the Development of Handicrafts Sector in Egypt: Problems, Possibilities, and Recommendations


With the rise of modernization over the last two centuries, the situation of the traditional craftsmen all over the world became endangered. Besides the fact that many crafts disappeared because of the fierce competition from the emerging large factories and the foreign competition, modernization, because of its standardization of ideas and methods, represented a threat on the richness of human civilization. This thesis aims at providing an action plan towards the preservation and development of the handicrafts sector in Egypt. The action plan is motivated by the aim at preserving the world heritage in general, and by preserving the Egyptian identity in the aftermath of the 2011 Egyptian revolution in particular. It is also motivated by the efforts towards poverty alleviation and empowerment of craftsmen and women in the Egyptian local communities. The thesis starts with providing an overview of the handicrafts sector in Egypt: its history, its current state, and its main problems, which I explore through conducting interviews with a sample of Egyptians working in the field. Then the thesis draws upon the experiences of other countries, in order to examine the possibilities available in front of the policymaker towards developing the Egyptian crafts. Finally, the thesis provides a set of recommended policies that take into account both the peculiarity of the Egyptian crafts and the international experiences in the field.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
Albert Einstein
“The greatest danger in modern technology isn’t that machines will begin to think like people, but that people will begin to think like machines.”
The situation of the traditional handicrafts worldwide was endangered by the modernization and industrialization that the world witnessed over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The wave of modernization was indeed revolutionary and the products, which were for centuries being produced by elementary tools used by skilled artisans in their small workshops, have now become standardized and produced in large quantities by big factories using sophisticated machinery and unskilled workers. In other words, modernization substituted machines and unskilled workers for skilled artisans. It seems that the artisans were quite aware of the challenge that the machines represented to their skills to the extent that there are recorded incidents of artisans breaking machines in England and France during the Industrial Revolution. Objectivity requires us to state however that modernization raised the standards of living of the world population into unprecedented levels, yet the main cultural problem in my view is the standardization of the products, ideas, and methods of production. It might not be an exaggeration to claim that the whole world population was turned into machines that consume the same products and follow the same system and rules. The threat of this standardization is overwhelming since, in a sense, it contributes to losing our humanity and the loss of the very essence of our civilization, for the core of civilization rests upon diversity and creativity, as reflected in the different cultures of the world.
In this context, this thesis aims at establishing an action plan for the preservation and development of the handicrafts sector in a developing country, Egypt. At a general level, the action plan is a modest effort towards helping in saving threatened world crafts (the products that are still made manually depending on the skill and creativity of the craft practitioner). At a local level, the thesis represents my main life project towards the heritage conservation and identity building in my home country, Egypt. Helping in saving the traditional crafts of Egypt and helping in developing new crafts and later starting Egyptian fashion lines and furniture lines would help in keeping a distinct character of Egypt and would help build the lost Egyptian identity. Such efforts become particularly important in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, in which Egypt is finally freed of 30 years of repression. Under the rule of Mubarak, Egypt’s ousted dictator, Egypt became a mere consumer of world products and its contribution to world heritage and culture has become minimal. As Friedman (2011) correctly pointed out, the Egyptians, 50% of whom have been living under less $2 a day, became importers of cheap labor Chinese products which added to the threats facing the traditional craftsmen.
A third motivation, besides the preservation of the world heritage and the building of Egyptian identity in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, would be poverty alleviation and economic empowerment of craft practitioners and their communities as a step towards social and political empowerment. Working in development projects for some years now, I can clearly state that you cannot ask someone to send their kids to school if they cannot afford their kids basic needs so empowering people economically and exporting and marketing their unique products would give a good chance for development projects in all areas to have a real impact.
The thesis develops an action plan for the development of the handicrafts sector in Egypt. The methodology is designed in a way so as to take into consideration both the peculiarity of the Egyptian situation and the international experiences in this field. Hence, in Chapter 1, I start by stating the problems: I give an overview of the handicrafts sector in Egypt, and I explore the main problems facing the artisans through conducting interviews with a sample of Egyptians working in this field. In Chapter 2, I explore the possibilities of developing the Egyptian crafts by reviewing the main international experiences in this field. Finally, in Chapter 3, I develop the action plan, the recommendations to preserve and develop the crafts sector.

Chapter 1: Overview of the Handicrafts Sector in Egypt: History, Current State and Problems
Handicrafts have a long history in Egypt that dates back to ancient times. Several handicrafts flourished in ancient Egypt and left us with impressive pieces of art that still decorate the museums of the world. Among these handicrafts were pottery, glass, porcelain, woodwork, metalwork, and jewelry (Perrot and Chipiez 1883). Handicrafts continued to be an important sector in the economic activity and a major source of Egyptian art throughout the middle ages, and up to the modern times. However, as Egypt started to modernize its economy, many handicrafts disappeared because of the competition from both the large modernized factories, and from abroad. A few handicrafts managed to survive in the face of this fierce competition. In this chapter, I will first provide a brief history of the handicrafts in Egypt. Next, I will examine the current state of handicrafts in Egypt, the main handicrafts that have survived, and their geographical distribution. Finally, I will discuss the major problems facing artisans nowadays in Egypt through conducting interviews with five Egyptians working in this field.
A brief history of handicrafts in Egypt:
Arts and crafts of Egypt show a high degree of continuity in the Egyptian civilization. Egyptian artisans and craftsmen nowadays are using methods that have been in use since ancient time. Ancient Egyptians excelled in several handicrafts. Perhaps pottery was the oldest of these crafts due to the abundant supply of its main raw material, the clay. There is evidence that Egyptians knew the potter’s wheel as shown in the paintings from Bani-Hassan (Perrot and Chipiez 1883). Many pieces of art such as vessels and earthenware have been found, but perhaps the Egyptian porcelain, known as the Egyptian faience, is the most known art (Perrot and Chipiez 1883; Developing Ethnic Egypt DEEP). This kind of ceramics is made from white sand and crushed quartz. Besides pottery, glass manufacturing was also a flourished craft in ancient Egypt. Paintings from Bani-Hassan have shown craftsmen of glass in work. They are shown blowing glass in the same methods used until today (Perrot and Chipiez 1883). Metalwork, jewelry, woodwork, and textiles were also important handicrafts in ancient Egypt. In particular, bronze and copper were known from the time of the Old Kingdom. Egyptians first made their metalwork art from pure copper, which they obtained from Sinai, but they soon learned that mixing copper with tin increases the durability of the artifacts. Besides copper and bronze, they made metalwork from iron. The metalwork was mainly weaponry besides tools for the daily use of the households such as mirror-handles and hairpins. Egyptian artisans also made jewelry, such as rings, necklaces, and earrings from gold and silver. Ivory, imported from Ethiopia, was used and manufactured. As for woodwork, pictures have been preserved for Egyptian joiners and carpenters (Perrot and Chipiez 1883). Furniture showed a high degree of industrial sophistication and artistic taste. Egyptian artisans also excelled in making products from leather. There are well-preserved articles made of leather dating back to 3,000 years ago (Developing Ethnic Egypt DEEP). Textiles were a major ancient Egyptian handicraft. Tapestry weaving and embroidery were very important crafts of the highest standards in ancient Egypt. Linen was woven in various colors (Hanna 2000).
It has to be mentioned that many of the crafts of ancient Egypt survived during the Greco-Roman period. Christian Egyptians between 3rd and 7th centuries AD developed many of these crafts, especially textiles spinning and weaving. Coptic Egypt produced innovative styles of embroidery with biblical themes, as well as the craft of batik, a special kind of painted textiles. In the middle ages, the Islamic character dominated the handicrafts and enriched their styles, by employing the so-called arabesque or the Islamic decorative style. Textiles manufacturing flourished in this period. Textiles embroidery developed and started to include silver, gold, and other precious metals in the embroidery due to the Ottoman influences (Hanna 2000). Tent-making (khayamiya), a handicraft that dates back to ancient Egypt, started to employ Islamic themes. The making of rugs, kelims, and garments all flourished in this period. But it is particularly woodwork that witnessed a renaissance in the Islamic period. Artisans in this period invented various kinds of woodwork such as wooden decorative windows mashrafeya. Of particular significance in this period is the art of calligraphy. Decorated copies of Holy Koran written with gold, dating back from the Mamluk period, are to be found in the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo. The art of bookbinding also flourished in Islamic Egypt. It is widely believed that many of the artisanal crafts deteriorated in the Ottoman period, perhaps because of the forced movement of many of Cairo’s artisans to Istanbul upon the Ottoman conquest in 1517 (Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Antiquities Museum).
In the modern period, whose beginning is usually marked by Napoleon’s expedition of Egypt in the period 1798-1801, several factors challenged the Egyptian traditional handicrafts. Perhaps, the utmost important factor was the manufacturing experiment undertaken by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Founder of Modern Egypt, under which many artisans especially in textiles were forced to work in the factories (Ghazaleh 1999). Nevertheless the fact that the experiment was short-lived and only affected textiles workers, most of the handicrafts sector remained intact. It was actually the gradual modernization and foreign competition over the 19th and 20th centuries that increased the challenges in front of the artisans, and led to the extinction of some crafts. In particular, the increasing emigration of Europeans into Egypt starting from mid- 19th centuries and the openness of Egyptian economy to the world market led to fierce competition of the Egyptian crafts that made many of them become extinct.
Current State of Handicrafts in Egypt:
There has been an effort recently to make a renaissance in the handicrafts sector in Egypt. These crafts are mostly traditional and show the continuity of the Egyptian character. Centers of handicrafts in Egypt span the entire country and show a high degree of diversity of tastes that reflect the local character of each community. These centers are thus widespread over the Nile Delta and Valley. They are also existent in Cairo and Alexandria. Sinai peninsula and the Western desert oases have also preserved specific crafts that are peculiar to these regions. Over the last two years, I have done fieldwork to explore the major centers of handicrafts in Egypt. Currently, the geographical distribution of handicrafts in Egypt is as follows :
1. Lower Egypt: Some of the major centers in the Nile Delta are:
• Fuwwa: It is one of the major Islamic towns in the Nile Delta in Egypt. Fuwwa is the third largest city in Egypt with respect to Islamic monuments as it has over 365 mosques. It is well known for the tradition of making kelims, carpets, and rugs made of wool. These are the major handicrafts in that city.
• Abou Sha’ra: It is a village located in Al-Minufiya governorate. It is well known for the weaving of silk carpet.
• Damietta: Well known for the furniture industry.
2. Upper Egypt: Some of the major centers are:
• Higaza: A village located in Qena governorate well known for the wooden kitchen ware products.
• Naqada: It is a village located in Qena governorate in Upper Egypt. It is well known for the textiles industry, especially the scarves made from cotton. Naqada went through an impressive revival experiment of its handicrafts. Most of the artisans there were already too old, and the handicraft was on its way to extinction, before it was revived due to the efforts of the non-governmental organizations and the government.
• Akhmim and Shandaweel: These are towns in Sohag governorate in Upper Egypt. They are very well known for their textiles craft, especially in the making of rugs, scarves, and bed covers.
3. Sinai Peninsula and the Western Desert Oases: These are very well known for a wide variety of Bedouin crafts such as textiles, leather, pottery, and glassware. They all have a very distinctive character and artistic styles in their textiles, earth ware, and leather products.
4. Islamic Cairo: Cairo is by far the major center of handicrafts in Egypt due to its historical position as the capital of Egypt during the middle ages. Cairo has various centers of handicrafts such as tent making, jewelry, glassware, woodworks, metal works, calligraphy, bookbinding, and textiles.
5. Fayoum: It is a governorate located to the west of the Nile Valley, made up by a natural branch of the Nile that flows in the desert till its end point in Qarun lake. Fayoum is particularly very famous for its monuments and excavations that date back from prehistoric, ancient, and medieval times. Fayoum’s pottery and basketry are very distinct. Over the last two decades there has been revival of the pottery craft in a village in Fayoum called Tunis through the efforts of a particular non-governmental organization that opened up a school designed particularly for training children on these crafts. Many skilled artisans have graduated from this school.
Problems of the handicrafts sector in Egypt:
Developing a sound and meaningful action plan for the development of the handicrafts sector in Egypt requires understanding the problems that face this sector. To this end, interviews were conducted with five Egyptians working in the field of crafts. They were interviewed individually via Skype. The sample of the interviewees was chosen so as to reflect the viewpoints of the various players in the handicrafts industry. The questionnaire can be found in the appendix. The interviewees are (chronologically):
Engy Bahgat, former manager of the business development unit, COSPE , “a non-profit organization founded in Italy in 1983 operating in the field of international cooperation and solidarity and promoting intercultural dialogue, fair, sustainable development and human rights” (COSPE 2011). Engy is still involved with COSPE and doing consultancy for them plus starting her own business and NGO in the field of crafts. Engy is a representative of the civil society in this small sample.
Hisham El Gazzar, Co founder and Marketing and Export manager of Yadawee for Egyptian handicrafts. Hisham is a representative of the private sector working in the crafts field in Egypt in the sample.
Mahmoud El Sherif, Potter from Tunis village of Fayoum. A village that is now a quiet residence for many Egyptians and non Egyptian artists, writers and journalists, it was inhabited in the 70’s by a swiss potter who started a pottery training center for children and now there are many pottery workshops working with different modern techniques than their neighbor Nazla village that is home to very old pottery techniques dating back to ancient Egyptian times. (Ahram 2003)
Abdel Sattar: another potter from Tunis village in Fayoum and both him and Mahmoud are focusing on exports and attended international exhibitions. Both Abdel Sattar and Mahmoud are representatives of craft practitioners in the sample.
Mohammad Farag: Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Development Programme, Industrial Modernization Centre (IMC) . One objective of IMC is to integrate Egyptian Contemporary Traditional arts and crafts in the International supply chain and develop branded consumable products. (IMC 2011) Mohammad is the representative of the government in the sample.
In the following part, I’ll discuss the questions asked to the interviewees and will only include the valuable answers.
• When asked about the domestic barriers, Hisham said that “there are not enough specialized outlets and stores to sell crafts, in the big cities in Egypt and especially in Cairo where most of the demand is”, he also pointed out of the danger of the cheap Chinese products that flooded the market especially in the touristic places and big bazaars. He also said that “there are not enough people aware of the special value of crafts and how much time, effort and heritage it carries”. He also raised another problem of the payment, that most of the outlets and stores deal with the craft practitioners on the basis of consignment where the store owner takes the craft practitioners’ products and pays him/her only in case the product is sold or else returns it back which put the whole risk on the craft practitioner. While the craft practitioner is also putting a high price and isn’t trained for pricing and doesn’t consider the supply chain. Engy said that “one of the problems is the geographical proximity to Cairo where it is not easy for craft practitioners to move their products if they are located away from Cairo”. She also said that “monitoring quality is hard since most craft practitioners are outside Cairo” and she also said that “craft practitioners in many cases don’t meet the market needs and their products are unsuitable anymore” and such problem was also shared by Mohammad where he stressed on the problem of product development and said that “it is mainly a design issue”. On the other hand, the two craft practitioners I interviewed didn’t care about the Egyptian Market and said they mostly deal with international clients and even inside Egypt, most of their clients are also foreigners, they said that their work is expensive for the Egyptians and that Egyptians can’t afford such high quality products and that Egyptians don’t understand the value of handmade products and prefer to show off with imported products. But in my opinion those two craft practitioners don’t represent the majority of craft practitioners in Egypt, although they aren’t highly educated, they are connected to the international market and for me they showed some arrogance not caring about the domestic market which is not the case with most of the craft practitioners who wants to have access to the domestic market. Most of their products in my opinion are not of great quality.

• When asked about external market barriers, plus all the obstacles for the domestic market , both craft practitioners stressed and emphasized on nothing but attending international fairs and how it is the only way for their production to be sold and how it is important for them to go to fairs and establish networks and meet potential clients who introduce them to other clients and how expensive it is to participate in such fairs and how hard it is to know about them and while Mahmoud stressed on the point that when they travel through IMC which are supposed to subsidize cost for them, they end paying so much and don’t consider this as subsidy, Abdel Sattar although agreeing about the fake subsidy but at the same time, he prefers traveling through an institution since they have been victims of acts of fraud when they went on their own. Both Hisham and Mohammad talked about the non export readiness for craft practitioners such as obstacles of language and lack of knowledge of export procedures and of branding, packaging, pricing, presentation and the difficultly of meeting deadlines by craft practitioners and for the lack of knowledge of international standards which was also highly focused by Mohammad mentioning for example that potters still use lead in the making of pottery which is not accepted internationally for culinary use and textile workers using non fixed dyes which don’t also meet international standards. Engy talked about their capacity of production since sometimes they might receive big orders and because of its size, they can’t meet it. She also emphasized on the problem that most of the craft practitioners aren’t registered and thus can’t go for export on their own and has to have mediators. Furthermore, about design issues that craft practitioners make products that have no market or that have a better competitor like baskets from Thailand or some countries of Africa which was also emphasized by Hisham as he said “Egyptian Craft Practitioners don’t understand that some of their products are made in other places with better quality and cheaper prices and that they have to develop it or abandon it and find some other products to make”.

• Marketing strategy that should be employed for crafts to expand awareness and demand, Hisham, Engy and Mohammad mainly talked about media campaigns in national and international TV’s, meeting the craft practitioners in their villages and towns and showing the audience how the craft is made and also emphasizing on the stories and the history behind it and showing the community where such crafts grew and the natural materials they use. Hisham emphasized on marketing the crafts by time spent to make it. Engy also mentioned having awareness campaigns at universities where the craft practitioners exhibit their crafts and show how they make them. Mahmoud again said that “nothing is more important more than the clients seeing the crafts with their own eyes” and emphasized again on the importance of international fairs and said, “Then, we can take brochures and catalogues”.

• Initiatives to solve such problems by all players, Engy, Mohammad and Hisham emphasized on the importance of design development by craft practitioners. All of the interviewees emphasized on the importance of capacity building and training the craft practitioners. Mohammad, suggested that the government has to encourage craft practitioners to get intellectual property rights through WIPO to protect their designs locally and internationally. Also, establishing design centers where designers, craft practitioners, art students and the craft community in general can meet to develop designs and products and to network. Some of the services Mohammad suggested are on the job training and design in those design centers. Bringing international designers and doing workshops with craft practitioners and exchange of knowledge and sending Egyptian craft practitioners for residencies abroad. Both Mohammad and Abdel Sattar focused on the importance of establishing an independent non governmental entity of the craft practitioners themselves to oversee their demands and rights and having unions regional and by craft. They both also emphasized on the importance of clustering and networking. Both Mohammad and Hisham emphasized on the importance of increasing the number of permanent outlets. Mohammad also tackled marketing online as well as stressing on quality standard implementation. He also highlighted on the important role of the private sector from the side of entrepreneurship and innovation and initiation. Engy highlighted the importance of connecting designers with craft practitioners and outsourcing some parts that don’t have to be handmade for better quality to factories. She also placed emphasis on the importance of including crafts in school curriculum and more specialized programs for students in technical schools as well as decentralization in the field of culture that would enhance innovation and bring out the indigenous culture of every region. She also came up with a very basic but important idea which is providing craft practitioners with health care since lots of them by time lose their sight or become on the verge of losing their sight and develop back pain and wrist pain due to long hours spent sitting and long hours spent concentrating since their work requires great deal of accuracy. Mahmoud focused on the importance of financial subsidy by the government to open production lines and employ and train more craft practitioners and suggested a loan system like microfinance for craft practitioners and also suggested that the government or the civil society has to do more studies and research about the crafts so they can know its needs while Abdel Sattar focused on the importance of facilitation travel visa for craft practitioners and that the government through its connections should facilitate acquiring visa and extending the duration so the craft practitioners can still stay in the foreign country for sometime after the exhibition is over to finalize the orders. Hisham suggested exempting exporters of crafts from export taxes and this would encourage more craft practitioners to become registered, he also suggested more subsidies by the government to attend international fairs as well as establishing a design bank where designs are collected and then bought by different craft practitioners or companies.

• The training needed was agreed by all interviewees to be in the design development, product finishing, export procedures, packaging, branding, shipping, networking, e- marketing, presentation and registration of designs and development of crafts will happen through opening to the rest of the world and learning and exchanging knowledge plus more educational programs and linking art academics and students with craft practitioners.

• All interviewees confirmed that government should put more fund in the crafts sector, they all agreed that more funds should be allocated to trainings and subsidies for international exhibitions while Engy, for example suggested that the government has to put more funds according to each craft need; such as craft practitioners of textiles who are in severe need of a organic dying factory. Abdel Sattar also suggested acquiring electrical pottery wheels instead of the manual ones they are using.

• About getting government support, Hisham mentioned that he tried getting an export subsidy that are already established and functioning but because crafts don’t have their own affiliation, he had to go and register as an industrial entity and after so much trials, it didn’t work for technical and legal details and bureaucracy. Both Abdel Sattar and Mahmoud complained a lot from IMC since they participated in a fair and IMC was supposingly subsidizing 80% of the fair cost and yet they ended up paying so much that they don’t trust the IMC anymore. They said when they went to the fair, they found that the IMC funded belly dancing shows and they didn’t view this is the way their money should be spent on.

• Disappearing crafts should be given an extra priority while also not neglecting the remaining ones, that is what Hisham has recommended. Hisham, Engy and Mohammad mentioned the silver from Siwa as a craft that has already disappeared very recently due to neglect from all actors and that the last person who knew the craft has died very recently although there are trials to revive it by other craft practitioners but everyone knows, they will never be able to get it back. Mohammad also mentioned that there are specific crafts which are part of the copper craft that have also disappeared. Both Hisham and Mohammad talked about a special upper Egyptian type of embroidery that was recently saved and now, there are more than 800 women working at it.

• All interviewees didn’t have any cultural dilemma to my surprise and didn’t agree with me that abiding by the international market rules of meeting exact deadlines or following exact rules might change the lifestyle of craft practitioners or their natural environment. All interviewees so much supported the idea that it teaches craft practitioners discipline and responsibility when they have to meet deadlines and abide by it. Abdel Sattar actually said that “meeting with international clients broadens the horizon and gives more experience in dealing with different kinds of people”.

Chapter 2: International Experiences in the Development of the Crafts Sector
Developing a meaningful action plan for the development of the crafts sector in Egypt will greatly benefit from understanding the international experiences in the field of handicrafts. In this chapter I will focus on the experiences of Australia, Canada, France and United Kingdom. Experiences of other countries will enable Egyptians to learn from other efforts while at the same time, trying to customize the lessons learned to the Egyptian culture and finding an Egyptian equation of both preserving the traditional culture and Egyptian unique life style of craft practitioners while at the same time modernizing it and make it meet today’s needs and abide by the rules of the international market.
Best practices from other countries
In Australia, there are two main actors promoting and supporting crafts. The first is the governmental organization called the Australia Council, which maintains Visual Arts and Crafts Board (VACB) and the second is a nongovernmental called Craft Australia. The Australia Council funds activities to develop an audience nationally and internationally including participation in international fairs as well as the promotion of Australia based events. (Peartree Solutions Inc 2003)
Since 1991, Craft Australia has developed and managed export activities for craft practitioners. They have an accreditation program called craftmark where the craft practitioners and retail outlets who got accreditation can have access to the organization’s services of exhibiting at its showrooms and on its website, as well as gaining more trust from the public. Craft Australia also works with national and international agencies to commission a range of exhibitions to present the best of Australian crafts. They also work with international agencies to plan and organize residencies for Australian crafts practitioners abroad. Craft Australia also offers assistance for craft practitioners for the market development especially in the United States. (Peartree Solutions Inc 2003)
Graduates from tertiary arts and design colleges can join craft Australia for free, tertiary art and design graduates can receive through the organization mailing list, national or worldwide information related to the craft sector.
Public Funding for Craft in Australia: Australia council provides the fund for the exporting through the visual Art/Craft Fund and the CIMD (Craft international Market development). Promoting and selling Australian contemporary crafts around the world is the aim of CIMD, it assures high quality crafts at crafts exhibitions.
Impact of Programs and Initiatives: The report of the visual Arts and Craft Inquiry discovered that there are lots of institutions and organizations which have an important role in the practice of the art and craft development in Australia, they offered rejuvenation of the artists’ work and they provide help for the new artist and craft practitioner. These organizations also make promotional and educational activities and galleries for the artists to exchange ideas and to present their work.
A problem has been found by the inquiry, it’s concerning funding, they found that art organizations can’t meet expectations of artists and that they are lacking fund to implement their programs providing leadership in their sector and providing marketing development opportunities for the crafts practitioners. Storage areas is another main problem, art organizations don’t find large capacity to document the art which was created during their exhibitions or workshops, so there is limitations in long-term creative development of crafts in Australia. The inquiry also found the important role that was played by the universities, the national craft centers or the museums in supporting and improving the art and crafts in Australia.
Experience from Australia also indicated the importance of investments in the infrastructure and international promotion. These activities should involve the central government, the local government, and the international community. Investment in infrastructure includes in particular facilitating access to new technology while international promotion, market development and cultural exchange increase the capacity of the crafts sector to work oversees. Embassies abroad proved to be also a key player in promoting crafts oversees.
The Canadian craft sector is consisting of the craft practitioners, organizations, private galleries and boutiques and cooperatives, craft show organizers, public galleries and museums and researchers. In addition, educational institutions and critics as well as large craft related studios and enterprises plus the media. There is also the Canadian Crafts federation (CCF) which is the national art service organization and it oversees the work of the Provincial and Territorial Crafts Council (PCCs). (Canadian crafts federation 2003)
Both the CCF and PCCs carry out dual roles, they both promote the ideas of “culture of craft” and “commodity of craft”. They provide permanent public galleries to their members and sometimes to all professional craft practitioners for stimulating both domestic and international markets. Craft practitioners also have the access to services offered by the single media organizations or guilds. (Canadian Crafts Federation 2003)
One of the recommendations that was given by the Canadian action plan for international trade was to connect craft practitioners with opportunities to give lectures abroad, share their knowledge as jury members, participants in international competitions, exhibitions curators or acting as artists in residences and contribute to international publications, in such a way, to increase the export of knowledge and product that might also lead to commercial gallery representation. Joining efforts of different organizations and learning from best practices and doing research was another recommendation given by the Canadian action plan, it mentioned efforts of different PPCs that should be duplicated or followed like the publishing of a marketing guide for fine contemporary crafts in the united states or co-hosting conferences and coordinating the national trade mission and conferences and trade shows abroad or some traveling exhibition or learning from each other expertise of opening new markets as well as promotion via internet and media nationally and internationally. Another recommendation focuses on the quality rather than on volume or low cost as well as ensuring that craft products are accepted and treated around the globe as mainly cultural goods not only as commercial commodities. Division of specialization was also recommended by the action plan, where some organizations would provide direct services to craft practitioners; others would provide specific marketing information to crafts audience and some would ensure general promotion, branding and international sales. Other recommendations included publishing guides identifying the most important trade shows, galleries all over the world as well as how to access those markets and what kind of recognition needed plus the timing and the competitive issues like price comparisons between different countries. Funding exploratory missions for craft practitioners to visit large trade shows to get a hands on experience and collect market information before starting to export was another recommendation. (Canadian crafts federation 2003).
Export preparedness of providing training services to craft practitioners including documentation through publications and websites and mentoring programs as well as delivery of training sessions and customized tools and resources and making sure craft practitioners know about export regulations and are well informed about different export issues, all those services should be carried out by or under the supervision of the Cultural Human Resource Council (CHRC) , that was also another recommendation by the action plan (Canadian crafts federation 2003).
There is a major financial assistance program for the business working in crafts through the Intervention Fund for the Safeguard of Craft and Commerce (FISAC). FISAC assists in maintenances and expansion of commercial space for French businesses and also assists in funding sector studies when major changes happen for craft practitioners (regulatory, economic, technical, social or technological) and it is mostly aimed at public organization who can provide subsidies to individual businesses (Peartree Solutions Inc 2003)
In 1999, a national program was launched consisting of 44 initiatives to contribute to crafts development and modernization and changing the image of crafts business. Some of the initiatives targeted organizing internet training for crafts practitioners to expand their markets, as well as assigning consulting engineers to work with crafts practitioners and help them develop their designs and techniques. Another initiative was to regroup craft businesses based on territorial locations so they can network and exchange different knowledge, plus assigning an export officer in different regional chambers of trade to be a resource for crafts practitioners regarding information on international trade, as well as writing an information booklet on the European markets. To work on the image of craft, an information campaign was launched by the national organization for promotion and communication in the trades, targeting young people aiming at mobilizing them to work for crafts. Concerning funding, which is always a major issue, a global credit for the development of crafts businesses was established. (Canadian crafts federation, appendices 2003)
Different organizations are assigned to do different initiatives and tasks, like the society for the promotion of crafts responsible for technical and promotional support through organizing crafts days and publishing a magazine as well as offering prizes for apprentices and managing a resource center in addition to a gallery where crafts practitioners meet and exhibit. Crafts credit council and commerce chambers work to help crafts practitioners with financing and funding problems. Other organizations are responsible for developing studies and drafting economic development policies or promoting investment by crafts businesses or providing information related to exports among other initiatives. (Canadian crafts federation, appendices 2003)
United Kingdom
The Crafts Council was established in 1971 as an independent body funded by the arts council of England. It aims at promoting crafts, encouraging high standards and raising public awareness of crafts. (Canadian crafts federation, appendices 2003)
The Crafts Council is responsible for many initiatives like the craft council gallery which hosts many exhibitions that tours nationally and internationally and the council magazine called “Crafts” that cover all forms of crafts as well as a specialized reference library that has a registry of around 6500 practitioners and their contacts plus an electronic library of more than 30,000 image of high quality crafts. The council also organizes what is considered to be the leading crafts fair in Europe in contemporary crafts and applied arts which is Chelsea crafts fair. (Canadian crafts federation, appendices 2003)
For export support programs, the crafts council supports galleries to participate in international fairs like SOFA (The international expositions of sculpture objects and functional art) and the New York International gift fair which are considered major crafts events. (Peartree Solutions Inc 2003)
In Scotland, funds are given to organizations that strengthen the efforts of networking and bringing together different crafts practitioners and widen the range of audience and participation. (Scottish arts council 2011) “Organizations can receive funding for: the appointment/training of crafts officers; the creation and touring of exhibitions; educational programmes and selling initiatives; master classes and residencies; and crafts-based community and special needs programmes. Individuals can receive development and start up grants.” (Canadian crafts federation, appendices 2003)
In Scotland, There are three programs for craft practitioners who are into exploring the markets. The 3 programs are: awards for individual development, exhibitions and craft development.
Some of the awards are given for purchasing time and/or additional equipments to develop crafts work in new directions or for research and travel like doing feasibility studies, or for first time participation at Chelsea crafts fair or covering costs of travel especially for those who come from furthest parts of Scotland.
As for the exhibitions, funds are given for touring costs within Scotland especially for those who are coming from furthest places in Scotland as well as for covering costs of educational workshops, artists’ talks and demonstrations plus participation in exhibitions. Funds for organizations is given to priorities to organizations working for projects for kids or people with disabilities or for participating in innovative exhibitions or exhibitions where new framework or thesis for the understanding of crafts is to be explored.
As for Craft development, funds priorities are given to entities working for projects that links schools and makers and increase the awareness of crafts and the probability of entry of young people into the crafts career as well as projects that tackle the needs of the special needs people plus activities to fund masterclasses by high end national or international craft makers in additions to funds that cover crafts residencies and costs to hire new posts related to crafts in different organizations.

3rd Chapter: Action plan and recommendations:
Role of Civil society
Tackle the problems of the interviews
Role of Crafts practitioners
Role of Government
Cabinet: The establishment of a crafts council as an independent body that would receive both governmental and nongovernmental funds and that has a board of representatives from government, civil society, private sector, and media and crafts practitioners. Council objectives would be to oversee and plan activities and projects that aim at preserving the traditional crafts and developing new and contemporary crafts and new designs inspired by the rich indigenous culture of Egypt. Other objectives would be establishing connections with other international crafts council and exploring different channels to open new markets for the Egyptian crafts internationally as well as implementing different campaigns to raising awareness about crafts in Egypt and its long history and cultural importance so to both increase the national and international audience and at the same time, increase entry into the crafts career by youth.
The council should have different branches all over the republic in different regions that would be autonomous on some issues and have a high level of decentrality so to encourage the innovation and respect of the unique culture of every region whether it is a desert, delta, Nile valley or oasis or mountainous or coastal or rural or urban and it should also be divided into specialized units:
• Unit for craft history and documentation to study and document and scan all the crafts all over the country and establish electronic library of different videos on how to make the crafts and different images of all crafts and its products.
• Unit for research and development responsible for conducting feasibility studies and economic studies of different crafts and designing surveys to explore public taste and needs of national and international markets.
• Unit for organizing national events and exhibitions and permanent and temporary show rooms and galleries as well as organizing competitions of new designs and allocate prizes and organize different workshops for public.
• Unit for international events to organize participation in international fairs and become the focal contact of the Egyptian participants and handle all travel and exhibiting details.
• Unit for export promotion to establish network of international wholesalers and importing agencies as well as to become the focal point with the Egyptian commercial delegations outside Egypt and help them organize different events.
• Unit for capacity building to conduct polls and understand the training needs of craft practitioners so to be able to meet their needs and bring them both national and international experts.
• Unit for membership and recruitment to create a database of all craft practitioners and make it available online for both national and international markets and offer them different services like website promotion, exhibiting at the council showrooms and offering them health care programs, etc.
• Unit for crafts development to explore new techniques for different crafts from different countries and come up with new designs and better durable, environmentally natural materials and link academic and art students to crafts practitioners.
• Unit for monitoring and quality control and accreditation to oversee quality of all crafts practitioners and grant those who meet high quality accreditation, so they have a better chance of exporting and have a motivation for excellence.
• Unit for cultural exchange to organize residencies of foreign artists to Egypt and send Egyptians for residencies abroad plus being a resource for craft practitioners to know about different training opportunities abroad as well as to link them with different international institutions so they participate as lecturers or jury or curators of different events outside Egypt which will later might lead to gallery commercial presentation of their products as well as organizing different conferences and workshops in Egypt so the international community knows about the Egyptian culture of crafts and exchange of experience take place.
• Designs centers where designers, art students, and amateurs can share their designs and get intellectual property rights, so whenever a design is on demand, it has to be paid for.
• Crafts cafes in every branch of the craft council where craft community can meet and network and exchange ideas and make partnerships.
Ministry of Trade: signing bilateral and multilateral agreements with different countries for crafts and facilitate its access to different countries and reduce or eliminate customs. Empowering commercial delegations in Egyptian embassies abroad to establish networks of wholesalers and crafts fairs agencies as well as organize and host cultural events where craft booths should be present.
Ministry of Finance: exempting crafts exporters from taxes and introducing different financial facilities and funding schemes, so craft practitioners can have access to workshops abroad and be able to open to the world as well as a loan system like microfinance for small craft practitioners in order for them to hire more artisans or enlarge the production line or buy new equipments.
Ministry of Tourism: including crafts components in their promotional materials and media campaigns outside Egypt and in any international event they attend as well as include the crafts communities in Egypt in the tourism map of Egypt and promoting clips showing different crafts of Egypt. Briefly, creating a new type of tourism called crafts tourism where it can also be incorporated with ecological tourism and rural tourism for tourists looking for sustainable tourism as well as cooperating with ministry of culture, crafts council, craft practitioners unions ,civil societies and private sector organize and host different festivals in different crafts communities. The ministry should also ban selling Chinese or any non Egyptian handmade or souvenir products in any of its outlets (Freidman 2011 at New York times was pointing at that problem when he was shopping at Cairo airport and then found stuffed camels that are made in China in the treasures of Egypt store).
Ministry of Agriculture: encouraging and supporting civil society in organizing workshops for peasants encouraging them and teaching them how to use the agricultural waste in making crafts and how to sell such waste to craft practitioners and how to deal with agricultural garbage as a valuable resource as well as raising awareness of peasants on the importance of hosting harvest festivals of different crops and fruits all over the country where the festivals are cultural events that can host local craft practitioners and sell their products.
Ministry of Education and Higher Education: crafts component should be included in school curriculum of all basic education stages to instill in the students the values of pride of their history and respect for craft practitioners as well as the importance of crafts in the Egyptian culture and increase the probability that some of those students might join the crafts sector when they grow up since the major challenge of crafts in Egypt is the lack of new generations of crafts practitioners as being a craft practitioner is not something of prestige in Egypt nowadays. And hence, almost all crafts are threatened to disappear and some have already become extinct.
Organizing different crafts workshops lead by crafts practitioners showing students how interesting it is to make different crafts and how much time and accuracy and talent are needed to make one unique piece will also increase the level of appreciation of crafts for students, selling crafts at different school occasions will also make students used to seeing and learning about crafts from an early age.
Crafts programs for special needs students should also be incorporated in schools since for some special need kids, making crafts might be of a great importance in building their confidence and their personality and might lead them to have a career in crafts and thus feel empowered and economically independent as well as an active individual that contributes to the richness of the culture of his/her country.
As for technical and art secondary schools as well as higher education art institutions, there should be full courses tackling crafts and their history and how they are made and students should learn new techniques and recent development in crafts all over the world. Students should also study market needs and how to meet it. Students should also be linked with craft practitioners, so practitioners can give them the experience and the knowhow and students share the latest techniques and share fresh designs.
Courses and workshops for adults have to be offered as well, so the possibility of entering the crafts career can always be there, not only that but creating a wider audience that appreciate the crafts and know how much effort, accuracy, time and culture it carries.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: the ministry should facilitate acquiring travel visas through its relations with all embassies for craft practitioners when they travel for international crafts fairs or any international engagement since there are so many difficulties in getting travel visas for Egyptians who want to travel to the United States or Europe.
The ministry should also promote Egyptian crafts all the way in every aspect. They should be present at any event hosted by any embassy abroad and all the gifts that are presented to guests should also be proudly hand made in Egypt.
Ministry of Culture: role of cultural houses or palaces should be broadened; those cultural palaces should be the place where young unexplored talents all over the country get explored in all kinds of arts. Cultural palaces should organize different events and workshops and invite speakers and experts in different crafts and should empower its member to look around and develop their local crafts and should also work as a mean to get the local community proud of their local heritage and willing to participate to preserve it and develop it. Decentralization of cultural places is a very important issue and should be of high priorities so, it encourage ownership which will encourage innovation.
All public museums and public galleries should sell handmade Egyptian products in its gift stores and totally ban selling non Egyptian products. They also should organize different exhibitions and allocate different days for different crafts.
Books and studies about crafts should also be funded by the ministry since it has a long history and knowhow and it should also transfer such experience to the new born crafts council through its experts and give them a hand in all their needs and work as consultants to them.
Role of International Community
International organizations: their role shouldn’t only be limited to granting funds to encourage crafts production and its preservation and development but also to adopt campaigns to raise the awareness of globalization threats and how to face them, awareness to save the cultural diversity of the world and pay attention to indigenous cultures which will lead to a wider intellectual audience of crafts that can advocate for it and appreciate its value.
Increasing the fund of different initiatives and crafts projects all over the world will be of great importance and sponsoring and hosting different events where craft communities of different countries can meet and exchange knowledge and experience. As well as initiating scholarship to study crafts in developed countries for developing countries students and fund art residencies. Publishing different magazines and books about history of different crafts and dedicating each issue to a different craft or a different country is also another initiative. All these type of activities will foster the crafts sector and will help in preserving threatened crafts.
International civil society
Role of Media
Role of Private sector
Decentralizztion and partipatory approach fair trade, cultural diplomacy

Ghazaleh, Pascale (1999), “Masters of the Trade: Crafts and Craftspeople in Cairo, 1750-1850”, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, Egypt.
Perrot, G. and C. Chipiez (1883), A History of Art in Ancient Egypt, London: Chapman and Hall.


Hanna, Adel (2000), “Arts and Crafts in Egypt”, http://people.csail.mit.edu/hanna/Egypt/index09.html
Business papers:
“Profile and Development Strategy for craft in Canada: Appendices” (2003) Canadian Crafts federation, Peartree Solutions inc
“Craft International Trade Action plan” (2003), Canadian Crafts Federation, Peartree solutions inc

“Profile and Development Strategy for Craft in Canada” (2003) A Study coordinated by Conseil des métiers d’art du Québec (CMAQ), for The Canadian Crafts Federation/Fédération canadienne des métiers d’art (CCF/FCMA),by Peartree Solutions Inc.


Friedman, Thomas (2011), “pay attention”, New York Times

“A fabulous oasis” (2003), Al Ahram newspaper


Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Antiquities Museum, Islamic Antiquities http://antiquities.bibalex.org/Collection/Index.aspx?collection=42&lang=en
COSPE (2011)

Developing Ethnic Egypt (DEEP)

Fair Trade Egypt,

Industrial Modernization centre (2011)

Scottish arts council

The Cultural human resources Council (CHRC) (2011)

1-Questionnaire for an MA thesis “action plan of crafts sector in Egypt”
Thank you so much of taking from your time to answer the questions, if you are interested to receive the results of the questionnaire, please write your email below.
Kindly email back the questionnaire to rania.salah@gmail.com by June 3rd
In the craft field, which sector you are working at?
 Craft practitioner
 Government
 International organizations
 National NGO’s
 Private sector
What are the domestic market barriers in your opinion? What are the initiatives would you consider to be most helpful in promoting the craft sector domestically?
What are the external market barriers in your opinion? What are the initiatives would you consider to be most helpful in promoting the craft sector internationally?
What marketing opportunities or strategies, perhaps successfully employed in other cultural areas, industries or countries, could be employed to expand the awareness of and demand for Egyptian crafts?
What kinds of support considered useful the government should provide in pursuit of these initiatives?
What kind of training you think the craft practitioners need? How to develop the crafts itself?
Do you think the government should put more fund into crafts sector? Where this extra fund should be allocated?
Did you receive any support from the government? What kind of support?
Do you think there are crafts that threatened to disappear more than others? What are these crafts and how can we save them?
Do you have any cultural dilemmas with the idea of turning crafts into a commercialized commodity? If you have such a dilemma, how do you think it can come be overcome?
-Email (optional):
2-Thesis report: Saving at risk Crafts in Egypt through international best practices

Rania Salah Seddik

The transition from primitive into industrialized modern societies involves the disappearance of many traditional crafts. The textile factories replace the hand spinners and weavers, and the furniture factories replace the traditional carpenters. This replacement process, that is inevitable due to the superiority of the modern modes of production over the traditional ones in terms of output and efficiency, introduces grave losses to the traditional craft practitioners and craftsmen. In particular, those craft practitioners who produce products that are easily replicable by standardized and mechanized modes of production lose their occupations, while only the craft practitioners who produce differentiated and distinct products manage to survive, although facing fierce competition. It is the role of the society to mitigate the side effects of modernization on the craft practitioners who are on the brink of extinction and who are facing such competition. Such role involves finding markets for the products of those craft practitioners, and modernizing their modes of production.
This paper examines the impact of modernization on the handicrafts, and the design of a cultural policy that can face this dilemma of modernization and preservation. This cultural policy is aimed at preserving the cultural heritage, mitigating the impact of modernization on the craft practitioners, and helping those craft practitioners to stand up to competition. The paper employs both the historical approach and the case studies approach to examine these issues. The paper will start with a historical review of crafts in Egypt and how they were affected by the new modes of production. Second, the paper will introduce several case studies based on the cultural policy in other countries. Finally, the paper will examine how this historical experience and case studies can be used in designing a cultural policy in Egypt.

Egypt. State Tourism Dept (1939), Egypt throughout the Ages, R. Schindler, Cairo
Smith, Melanie K. Robinson, Mike (2006), Cultural Tourism in a Changing World : Politics, Participation and (Re)presentation, Channel View Publications, Clevedon
Faroqhi, Suraiya Boubaker, Sadok Deguilhem, Randi (2005),Crafts and Craftsmen of the Middle East : Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, I.B. Tauris , London

Marilyn Strathern (1995), shifting contexts: Transformations in Anthropological Knowledge, Routledge, London
Fick, David S. (2006), Africa: continent of economic opportunity , STE Publishers, Johannesburg

Chalcraft, John T. (1970), The striking cabbies of Cairo and other stories : crafts and guilds in Egypt, 1863-1914 , State University of New York Press,, Newyork

Petrie, W. M. Flinders (William Matthew Flinders), Sir, 1853-1942. (1919), The arts and crafts of ancient Egypt , T.N. Foulis
Giron, J. D. H., M. L. D. Hernandez, and M. C. Caballero (2007). Innovation factors in Mexico’s craftsmanship businesses. Gestion Y Politica Publica 16 (2):353-379.
Jones, R. (2008), British Interventions in the Traditional Crafts of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), c.1850-1930. Journal of Modern Craft 1 (3):383-404.
Kikuchi, Y. (2008), Russel Wright and Japan: Bridging Japonisme and Good Design through Craft. Journal of Modern Craft 1 (3):357-382.
Paige, R. C., and M. A. Littrell (2002), Craft retailers’ criteria for success and associated business strategies. Journal of Small Business Management 40 (4):314-331.
The White House’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (2009), Fact Sheet: Utilizing Trade Policy to Help Small Businesses Export and Create Jobs: Key Findings from the USITC Reports on SMEs, The White house, Washinton DC

3- Thesis proposal:
Outline of Action plan of crafts sector Development in Egypt

By: Rania Salah Seddik
Supervisor: Prof. Dragan Klaic

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein
“The greatest danger in modern technology isn’t that machines will begin to think like people, but that people will begin to think like machines”
“At least 70 million people perished in wars in the first fifty years of the 20’s century. Today, peacetime material civilization posts equally numbing figures of self-made self harm: one million, for instance, represents the number of years nature took to create the amount of fossil of fuel now consumed in a single year. The ecological crisis is Pandoric, man-made technology maybe an unreliable ally in regaining control” Richard Sennett
Motivation for the action plan:
Standardization is the problem, turning the whole world population into machines who consumes the same products and follow the same system and rules is contributing to losing our humanity and contribute to loss of civilization. If diversity and creativity disappear, civilization also disappears.
This is why helping in saving world crafts (the products that are still made manually depending on the skill and creativity of the craft practitioner) is one of my projects contributing to heritage conservation and identity building and now I’m talking about another motivation which is getting to the Egyptian case. Helping saving the traditional crafts of Egypt and helping in developing new crafts and later starting Egyptian fashion lines and furniture lines would help in keeping a distinct character of Egypt and would help build the lost Egyptian identity after 30 years of repression and being consumers of world products and limiting our contribution to the world diversity.
A third motivation would be poverty alleviation and economic empowerment of craft practitioners and their communities as a step towards social and political empowerment. Working in development projects for some years now, I can clearly say that you can’t ask someone to send their kids to school if they can’t afford their kids basic needs so empowering people economically and exporting and marketing their unique products would give a good chance for development projects in all areas to have a real impact.
Outline of the action plan:
First Chapter: History of some crafts in Egypt
Second chapter: International experiences of Canada, France, UK and Australia, and interviews with Egyptian crafts experts working as craft practitioners, in the private sector, in the civil society and in the government.
Third chapter: the action plan:
-Role of the government:
Embassies and trade delegations: promote crafts and host events at Egyptian embassies and get to know crafts events and shows in the countries they are assigned to.
Ministry of Education: in the basic education, designing curriculums that involve crafts and organize workshops with craft practitioners to teach kids and enrich students’ knowledge of their heritage and instill in them the importance and need of preserving and developing traditional crafts making them proud of their heritage and helping the craft practitioners lead a better life when they are looked at with pride and love and help create future generations of craft practitioners since it is a huge problem now that kids don’t want to learn the crafts and that will lead to its disappearing.
Adapting programs with civil society organization for kids with disability since making crafts is a very good way for some of them for their personality building and self empowerment and making them feel useful and important and at the same time, contribute to the rebuilding of crafts sector in Egypt.
Higher education institutes must develop its role and look more at the market needs and try to meet those needs in its training of the students that would be the future art practitioners and incorporate more crafts materials and helping students get more creative with the crafts and try to revive it and develop it without losing its character and authenticity and identity.
Cabinet or ministry of trade: establishment of National crafts council like most of other countries that oversees all crafts activities and have memberships of civil society organizations and craft practitioners themselves as well as private businesses working on the field and distributors. Such a council would have different offices. For example, one for crafts promotion domestically, one for crafts exports. A third one for crafts documentation, a fourth one for research, a fifth one for training and capacity building, a sixth one for developing the craft, a seventh one, for establishing and monitoring the council branches in different cities.
Ministry of culture: opening the cultural palaces everywhere in Egypt for support of crafts and hosting different events and organizing workshops for capacity building plus inviting experts from different countries for residencies for cultural exchange and knowledge diffusion as well as sending Egyptian craft practitioners for residencies abroad and starting a funding scheme for artists that enable them to work and participate in different worldwide fairs, shows and events. Opening museums stores and state galleries for crafts sale.
Decentralization: more power and authority should be given to the local councils and city councils so, craft practitioners don’t have to deal with lots of bureaucracy. It is also important so every city or village can show how distinguished it is and can work according to its own system and culture which would help with the creativity of the products. Rural tourism is another option that should be taken and implemented by the localities whether the villages and crafts towns are ready and willing to turn its towns or villages into a touristic place where tourists come and watch craft making process or not. Organizing festivals to attract more audience and raise more awareness and generate revenues in different rural and urban areas.
-Role of the private sector
Establish a wide network of corporate buyers all over the world. Getting to know and participate in more crafts shows around the world. Open galleries and show rooms both in Egypt and outside. Adapt fair trade ideas when dealing with craft practitioners and compensating them fairly. Fund research for crafts development and documentation.
-Role of the civil Society
Establish network of craft practitioners or help craft practitioners of the same craft establish networks and unions and then other regional unions of all craft practitioners of all crafts. Design capacity building programs that meet the training needs of craft practitioners as well as design and implement community development projects of their communities. Starting programs of teaching crafts to insure sustainability of the crafts and combat the fact that all traditional crafts are disappearing. With media, design and promote for crafts campaigns encouraging people support to buy handmade projects and their pride in the craft practitioners which will insure sustainability and will encourage new comers to the field after many reasons for their withdrawal that is happening now.
-Role of the Media
Giving more space to crafts and introducing more programs about its historical roots and the development in making the crafts and meeting with the craft practitioners and filming them making the craft as well as filming their villages and communities and how rich the indigenous culture is, as well as bringing professional and academicians talking about how crafts are an important component of the culture and how our culture is what distinguish us and how much it contributed to the civilization of the mankind. All campaigns should aim at promoting crafts for creating bigger audience participation and for creating culture of crafts appreciation and craft practitioners’ appreciation that encourage craft practitioners and new generation. Media also should work hard with civil society for promoting programs of capacity building and a call for new craft practitioners. Media can also participate in promoting crafts internationally through including crafts in the clips and movies it creates for promoting tourism all over TV channels of the world.
-Role of Craft practitioners
Craft practitioners must get organized according to geography and craft. Craft practitioners must also get to know other craft practitioners from other crafts, so they mix crafts and create new products as well as collect efforts and share costs to attend international fairs together. Craft practitioners should get unionized since they are the only ones who can always fight for their rights and for their crafts sustainability and development. Art school students and applied art university graduates have to also get to know traditional craft practitioners and incorporate their skills and talents together where students and graduates can provide traditional craft practitioners with new design and craft practitioners can create it or where they can teach other different techniques and exchange knowledge.
-Role of International Community
What I mean with International community is international organizations and crafts fair organizers and networks of distributors. International cultural organizations role is not only funding capacity building projects and sponsoring international residencies but also designing education and promotional programs for raising the awareness about the importance of traditional crafts and how it contribute to the diversity of the world that is mostly needed now. International cultural organization also have a role to stand against this huge process of standardization of the world and killing cultural diversity by putting more emphasis on the subject and underlining its importance. International community should also try to allocate its expertise to help people of each country find their own unique way of managing their cultural heritage and how to develop it and make it sustainable.
Some of the questions that I’ll always be concerned and struggling with are:
Questions of “modernization versus tradition” like the concept of rural tourism and turning some villages into a big display for tourists to come and visit the exotic culture and turn the peaceful peasants into business people and changing their value system for economic development and more income for the people and ideas of festivals and how it should be organized in a way to benefit the community not to shake its essence.
Questions of people life styles changes. Since I’m asking for development of crafts sector which means more exports and more sales that would insure the crafts sustainability, lots of problems arise from that demand. Unfortunately, that means abiding by International market rules of delivering orders in specific timing and following exact standards and rules which contradicts with some craft practitioners communities in Egypt that lives in the rural areas where the woman at her convenience while she is home waiting for the food to be cooked on stove, goes and sew a pillow or something. Asking craft practitioners for committing to market needs might lead to losing the character of the people behind the craft and turning them into regular laborers who have to meet deadlines and work exact working hours. Overcoming such challenges is not easy.
Sennett, Richard (2008), “The Craftmen” Penguin books, London
Egypt. State Tourism Dept (1939), Egypt throughout the Ages, R. Schindler, Cairo
Smith, Melanie K. Robinson, Mike (2006), Cultural Tourism in a Changing World : Politics, Participation and (Re)presentation, Channel View Publications, Clevedon
Faroqhi, Suraiya Boubaker, Sadok Deguilhem, Randi (2005),Crafts and Craftsmen of the Middle East : Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, I.B. Tauris , London

Marilyn Strathern (1995), shifting contexts: Transformations in Anthropological Knowledge, Routledge, London
Fick, David S. (2006), Africa: continent of economic opportunity , STE Publishers, Johannesburg

Chalcraft, John T. (1970), The striking cabbies of Cairo and other stories : crafts and guilds in Egypt, 1863-1914 , State University of New York Press,, Newyork

Petrie, W. M. Flinders (William Matthew Flinders), Sir, 1853-1942. (1919), The arts and crafts of ancient Egypt , T.N. Foulis
Giron, J. D. H., M. L. D. Hernandez, and M. C. Caballero (2007). Innovation factors in Mexico’s craftsmanship businesses. Gestion Y Politica Publica 16 (2):353-379.
Jones, R. (2008), British Interventions in the Traditional Crafts of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), c.1850-1930. Journal of Modern Craft 1 (3):383-404.
Kikuchi, Y. (2008), Russel Wright and Japan: Bridging Japonisme and Good Design through Craft. Journal of Modern Craft 1 (3):357-382.
Paige, R. C., and M. A. Littrell (2002), Craft retailers’ criteria for success and associated business strategies. Journal of Small Business Management 40 (4):314-331.
The White House’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (2009), Fact Sheet: Utilizing Trade Policy to Help Small Businesses Export and Create Jobs: Key Findings from the USITC Reports on SMEs, The White house, Washinton DC
Business papers:
“Profile and Development Strategy for craft in Canada: Appendices” (2003) Canadian Crafts federation, Peartree Solutions inc
“Craft International Trade Action plan” (2003), Canadian Crafts Federation, Peartree solutions inc

Las Vegas

And we’re back from Sin City, Las Vegas. This guy got his big ass and mouth to the wedding and what a ride it was. We rented a white Ford Mustang Convertible and didn’t have any run ins with the law heading down or coming back up. Now finally I can stop writing on this blog and focus more on my thesis which is still in need of some editing, and time is running out. Photos will be up in the days coming soon … hopefully. This blog is now retired, as the banner image of donkey, or ass was taken just outside the city where I left to serve Armenia in the Peace Corps, there was even an Armenian couple at the reception. What a nice ending to a crazy ride it has been over the last three years. Adieu.