Beautifully painted ceramic plates, designer abayas, fine calligraphy on wood and exquisite leather goods are just some of the items on display at Egypt’s pavilion in Amerat Park.
A pyramid-like structure leads into the pavilion that has around ten stalls hosting artworks from cities like Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor.
Ahmed Eid, a fine artist specialising in pottery and ceramics, is displaying his works in the sultanate for the first time.
“Muscat Festival is a platform to expand business and showcase the culture of our country.” He says that it takes ten days to two weeks to finish an exquisite piece of ceramic art. The products at his stall are priced between RO10 and RO20.
In the adjacent stall sits Aziz Adil, carving verses from the Q’uran onto wood. His work is bought not just for its craftsmanship, but also to ward off evil eye, he says.
“My entire family is into calligraphy, and we normally engrave verses from the Q’uran. These items are often kept in homes, hospitals and offices to ward off evil eye. We also carry out customised engraving.”
Explaining the steps, Adil says that the piece of wood to be worked upon is first allowed to dry thoroughly to eliminate traces of any natural moisture content.
“This can take days. Next comes the engraving, followed by a coat of paint to complete the look.” Among the other attractions at the pavilion are abayas – traditional and designer.
Each one bears a distinct style. Ahmed al Balushi, an abaya seller from Muttrah and a visitor to the pavilion says the outfits from Egypt are different from Oman’s.
“They differ in cuts and design. I have been into this business for a long time and hence can note the difference.” That’s not all.
Do not miss the necklaces made of saaj wood which artisans import from India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. It is also called the crocodile bark for its characteristic rough pattern. “Saaj is not only good for shaping jewellery, but is also durable,” says Majid, an artisan.
Despite the variety of products on display, most artisans say sales have not picked up. “Sales are still low, but we need to give it some time. Last year also we saw business surge only after the second week. It reached its peak towards the festival’s end,” said Magdi Inabba, another Egyptian craftsperson.
Abdullah Mohammad, a representative of an artists’ association in Cairo attributed the low sales to high prices of products, especially those made from wood.
“Wood has become costly, thus increasing the cost of production. Also, most people these days prefer clay handicrafts to wooden ones. But we are positive as festivals like this one provide us with opportunities not only to sell our products but also to explore new business avenues in Oman,” he said.
SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY