All over Egypt there are local tribes and Bedouins who create the most beautiful crafts and products, but they rarely get the chance to exhibit and sell their work outside their local area. In addition, many of the shops that do carry those products do not shine much light on the makers of the items. So, the craftspeople remain out of the limelight, unknown and forgotten.
Yadaweya, (“handmade” in Arabic), is a new website tackling this issue head-on. The idea for Yadaweya is to tie the craftspeople to their crafts and products, and then make the products available worldwide. The site has been up for only one week, but seems promising.
We talked to founder Usama Ghazali, who is very passionate about the project. “I am from Qena in Upper Egypt and I grew up watching my parents and grandparents working on their crafts and products. There are a lot of different crafts in Egypt; however, no attention is paid to them. So, most of the crafts are becoming extinct,” Ghazali said.
“Yadaweya is a place where you can get to know the spirit of the art and we exhibit the work of the artists. So it gives the artists the opportunity to be discovered. Also, on the website, you can find the story of each craft. The main idea is to connect the craftspeople in Egypt with the rest of the world,” Ghazali explained.
The project came to life when a group of young entrepreneurs decided to make the idea a reality. Along with Ghazali, the team consists of Sama Waly, Research & Artistic Coordinator; Mahmoud Aboud, Communication Coordinator & Co-Founder; Saad Fatthalla, Financing Coordinator& Co-Founder; and Marwa Youssef, Graphic Designer.
Ghazali is also a nature researcher, so along with making the products available worldwide, Yadaweya is also documenting the crafts and their makers. The documentation is done using video and still images and Yadaweya already has a Youtube channel displaying these videos. Ghazali stressed the fact that behind every product or craft, there is an interesting story, which people can find on the website. He also insisted that “the best products are crafted”.
The project takes the hassle out of the exhibition of products and making them available to the public. “The craftspeople should focus on creating their products and should not be distracted by things like marketing,” explained Ghazali. Yadaweya enables craftspeople to create their products without worrying about the rest of the process, so they are in the right frame of mind to be creative.
The website shines a light on the craftspeople by dedicating a whole section of the website to the artisan community. Each craftsperson or community gets a whole page explaining their craft and where they come from in Egypt. One such artisan is Um Saad from the Kome Al Dabie Village in Qena. She makes Ferka textiles and the page highlights her story as she speaks about the importance of Ferka in their village:
“Every house in our village included a traditional Ferka manual piece of machinery named Noël. It was always set up in a special room we called “Hassel”, where you would find a big pit in the ground in order to make room for your legs when working on the loom. I was exposed to the various stages that were to be carried out to produce Ferka,” Umm Saad explained.
The products on the Yadaweya website are available for shipping worldwide.