- Title: Cairo shop adds modern twist to Ramadan lanterns
- Date: 21st May 2017
- Summary: PORTRAIT OF MOHAMED MOUNIR ON COMPUTER SCREEN
- Embargoed: 4th June 2017 15:46
- Keywords: Ramadan Cairo Egypt Lantern
- Location: CAIRO, EGYPT
- City: CAIRO, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA0026HS67O5
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An Egyptian maker of traditional lanterns which adorn streets across the Middle East during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan believes he has found a way to stop a flood of Chinese replicas from extinguishing his ancient craft.
Mohamed Gamal, from Cairo's impoverished Imbaba neighbourhood, affixes to lanterns, known locally as "Fanous", acrylic portraits of Egyptian footballers and pop stars, a modern spin on the more traditional wooden lamps which are being undercut by Chinese imports.
"I've worked with lanterns for 10 years and wooden lanterns have been the most popular during this time. I wanted to do something different," said Gamal.
Chinese products have for years flooded Middle East markets and are becoming increasingly popular in Egypt where ordinary Egyptians and businesses like Gamal's are struggling amid rising prices brought on by inflation.
But the arrival last year in Cairo's shops of plastic Chinese-made lanterns touched a nerve among Egyptians who view the tinted-glass lamps of nickel and carved wood as a symbol of national pride.
Following an outcry last year on social media about the dying handicraft, Egypt's Ministry of Industry and Trade issued a decree banning imports of Chinese-made lanterns.
But flashing in the windows of shops near Gamal's workshop are rows of the battery-powered Chinese knock-offs.
"All of the lanterns in the market are, of course, made in China so my dream is for us to stop importing them," said Gamal. "In fact my dream is for us to export our lanterns to China!"
In the run up to Ramadan, nothing is more traditional than a lantern but with Gamal's twist on it, Cairo's modern lanterns could bring the economic boost the city needs.
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