Delving deep into Egypt’s rich design heritage and craftsmanship, Farida Hookahs takes hookahs from a male-dominated pastime to an art form with exquisite brass designs. Farida’s intricate designs reflect the meaning behind its name, which means “unique” in Arabic.
“I started my design company, Unique Design, in England in 1990 and came back to Egypt to settle permanently seven or eight years ago,” said Randa Ahmed, Farida’s founder. I fell in love with hookahs, specifically those that were brass made, and how they were made so I spent two years familiarising myself with them and started Farida to design them myself.”
Ahmed is the creative force behind Farida; she designs the hookahs and has them made in Egypt, an important part of her vision for the company.
“I have them made through small workshops with brilliant craftsmen who are the best at what they do but did not previously have the opportunity to reach international markets,” she said.
Ahmed said her goal is to empower and encourage local handcraft industries and promote Egyptian products abroad.
“Former regimes destroyed local industries by allowing Chinese products to flood our markets with no regulations,” she said. “If you go to Khan ElKhalili you will find pyramids that are ‘made in China’, which is infuriating. It makes me very proud to see ‘made in Egypt’ on my products when they are on the international market.”
Ahmed said Farida hookahs are manufactured to the highest international standards.
“My designs are different in many ways; they are taller, heavier and washable,” she said. “They have more detailed engraving, taller hoses, and a uniquely-designed vase and tray.”
The international response has been very positive, she said.
“I take particular care of the finishing and welding of the hookahs and this has been reflected in the overwhelmingly positive responses and reviews on Youtube and the internet,” she said.
Part of having the entire manufacturing process of the hookahs in Egypt is the positive effect it has on families who work in local crafts industries, “some of them have benefitted tangibly from the project and have moved into bigger premises,” Ahmed said.
For the Egyptian market, Farida hookahs offers assistance to upscale hotels, cafes and restaurants that wish to build their own hookahs with their own brand and logo.
“A regular hookah lasts for six months to a year but Farida Hookahs will last for years to come and are made with better, sturdier material so it is a much better investment,” Ahmed said. “I am currently collaborating with a hookah cafe that wants to put their image on the hookahs they serve.”
Ahmed’s designs incorporate many of the artistic forms of design found in Egypt and uses everything from brass and wood to precious stones. The beautiful designs help export a popular part of Egyptian culture and give local craftsmen the opportunity to reach bigger markets, providing them with a better chance of sustaining themselves through their craft. Given the health sides of things try not to indulge too much if you come across Farida’s signature hookahs, admire them for their beauty instead.