Sunday, August 21, 2016

Short Article: Egyptian Awards in China

Egypt has won Excellence and Best Performance Awards at the Twelfth China International Cultural Fair in Shenzhen, reports Nevine El-Aref.

The distinguished atmosphere of Islamic Cairo was much in evidence this year at Egypt’s stand at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Centre for the Twelfth China International Cultural Fair where the country won Excellence and Best Performance Awards.

Textiles of khayamiya type, a decorative appliqué material historically used to decorate tents across the Arab world, covered the walls of the stand as young men and women in Mameluke garb welcomed visitors against a background of folkloric music. Some artisans sat before their woodwork products, while others decorated metal plates. Another group of artisans practiced Arabic calligraphy.

Fascinated with the skills of the artisans and their products, Chinese visitors to the fair flocked to Egypt’s stand to try to get a glimpse of the country’s handicrafts and smell the aroma of its history.

“The main cultural products we are bringing to this fair are handicrafts,” Neveen Al-Kilani, head of the Ministry of Culture’s Cultural Development Fund told Al-Ahram Weekly. She said the Egyptian stand aimed to put on show the country’s cultural products in order to help visitors understand the history of Egyptian handicrafts.

Several workshops were being held to showcase traditional Egyptian calligraphy, woodwork, khayamiya textiles and metalwork, she said.

“Our stand was the only one at the fair to demonstrate the production of the country’s handicrafts and the only one to allow visitors to practice making them on their own with the guidance of the artists,” Al-Kilani said. She said Chinese visitors had been invited to write their names in Arabic calligraphy and make wooden boxes with shell inlay.

Egypt’s stand had attracted many top officials, she added, among them the Chinese minister of communication, deputy minister of culture, head of the Shenzhen municipality and head of the Middle China Cultural Centre.  At the end of the fair Egypt won Excellence and Best Performance awards and had received invitations to participate in five other fairs in China, Al-Kilani said.

Artist Mohamed Baghdadi had won a special award for his training workshop on Arabic calligraphy, and a similar award was given to artist Mohamed Mounir for his conch workshop.

“The fair is an excellent opportunity to promote our handicrafts and attract traders,” Al-Kilani said, adding that the idea was to exhibit, rather than to sell, products as the fair was held within the framework of the Egypt China Cultural Year and according to a protocol signed between the two countries.

However, intermediaries had been found in China to market Egyptian products. “This is a good market in which to sell our handicrafts, and it in turn will increase the fund’s financial resources,” Al-Kilani said, adding that it had now launched a website to sell such products worldwide. “Egypt and China both have a long history of making handicrafts, and we are expecting more cooperation in this field with China,” she said. 

The five-day Fair in Shenzhen in South China’s Guangdong Province focused on internationalisation and saw some 2,297 exhibitors from China and over 40 other countries attracting 5.87 million visitors, a year-on-year growth of 12.08 per cent.

The fair included two new venues called “Makers of Culture” and “One Belt, One Road” organising over 700 cultural events. It provides a platform for China’s cultural industries and aims to advance the globalisation of Chinese cultural products.

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