- Title: LIBYA: Effort launched to preserve traditional crafts
- Date: 9th July 2010
- Summary: SEGMENTS OF FILM ON TRADITIONAL INDUSTRIES FROM PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES SHOWN DURING MEETINGS
- Embargoed: 24th July 2010 13:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVAEFCPKPKOYQ95OFSWFFG21E2HB
- Story Text: Arab representatives gathered in the Libyan capital to discuss ways to preserve traditional industries in the region.
The meeting in Tripoli attracted attendees from north African countries like Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt as well as representatives from gulf states like Bahrain.
The vast region is rich in traditional crafts such as pottery, copper work and glass blowing. But many of the artisans and craftsmen in the industry are concerned their craft will become a thing of the past.
Many of the craftsmen are competing with exports from countries like China, with their own products often only being bought by tourists.
Luay Said, chairman of the Jordanian Association of Traditional Handicraft and Fold Arts said governments are aware they need to take action to save the industries,
"Traditional industries were severely hindered over the past few years. During recent years, Arab governments became aware of the significance of this sector in sustainable development programs, particularly since this sector is connected with different developing paths, such as cultural, touristic, social trends as well as the tendency to eliminate poverty and unemployment,'' said Said.
The meeting in Tripoli is aimed at finding a way to develop the crafts and aid the manufacturers.
Libyan craftsmen and manufactures have called for the government to put strategies in place to modernise the workshops and set up schools to educate the future generation of craftsmen like glassblowers, pottery makers, and clog makers.
Manufacturers like Hajj Ahmed Ismael say the market for their goods is getting smaller and smaller,
"The situation of traditional industries in Libya is not good -- its not good. Production is now accumulated and stored. Manufacturers produce and produce with no sales. Production of all levels such as weavers, copper and palm leaves (products) are all stored. There is no benefit if manufacturers produce and in the meantime their output is accumulated because there is no market,'' said Hajj Ahmed Ismael who works in manufacturing.
Many of the skills involved in the industries are passed down through the generations, that knowledge is also at risk of becoming scarce.
"Libya is an open arena for world competition of foreign products, such as Indian and Chinese products, as well as production from neighbouring countries like Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. We need to review our policies along with introducing new and young artisans,'' said Azza Shehati, an engineer also in charge of the School of Arts and Industries in Libya.
The number of workshops and craftsmen across the region is dwindling. Many young people do not want to learn the trades of their forefathers as the industry is seen as one that does not make money.
But many countries like Tunisia and Morocco rely on the skills and the work produced in order to attract tourists to their bazaars.
For those involved in the traditional industries a lot is at stake as their craft is a means of providing for their families.
The traditional industries have a historic and cultural link to the countries concerned, with many cities across the region known for the type of products that are produced there. Syria is famed for its brass making and mosaic, with Damascus known for its glassblowing and fabric production.
The town of Nabeul, on the east coast of Tunisia, is famed for its ceramics and pottery industry.
But craftsmen fear their traditional trade is under threat as large companies and foreign imports flood the domestic market with cheaper products.
The regional meeting which runs from 5th to 7th July aims to create more job opportunities within the different sectors, also helping to fight poverty.
The meeting is organised by National Assembly of Education, Culture and Science in co-operation with the School of Arts and Islamic craftsmen.
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