Artisans get a taste of traditional Qatari craft
24 Jan 2016 - 17:12
By Raynald C Rivera
Doha: Traditional Qatari handicrafts take on new form in “Two by Two”, a workshop in which Qatari and international artisans share know-how to create fresh and unique products to offer the market.
Held on Friday at Katara, the workshop was the first of its kind organised by the Productive Families Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, a government arm responsible for helping Qatari artisans in the production and promotion of their products to the local and international market.
Long before the discovery of oil and gas, Qataris have their own handicrafts that express their cultural identity, from traditional weaving to clothing and perfume making. Through the years Productive Families have been known as a national brand that articulates the cultural and artistic identity of the people through their proudly Qatari made products.
The “Two by Two” workshop is an initial step to further enhance what the artisans already possess and share what they know to other cultures of the world.
“I think this workshop is a very good opportunity for the artisans to take a lot of new information, experiences and techniques that they can apply in their work. More importantly, would enable sharing of experiences and fusion of traditional and international techniques to further enhance their craft,” Sharifa Al Buainain, Training and Development Manager at Productive Families Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, told The Peninsula.
During the workshop, a Qatari artisan was paired with an artisan from another country to teach and learn from each other. Fourteen artisans comprising seven Qatari and seven foreign artisans coming from Spain, India, Argentina, Kazakhstan, France, Colombia and Venezuela who are based in Doha took part in the pioneering initiative. Each of the participants has her own field of expertise.
The workshops focused on Sadu and crochet, jewellery, decoupage and small furniture, aquarelle and painting, perfumes and creams, clothes and patchwork, and dolls, cushions and kids’ items.
It was an invaluable learning experience for each pair as they shared knowledge and techniques and decided on the aspects to include in the making of a new and enhanced product that would attract consumers in the market.
The Qatari artisans have exhibited dedication in their craft as some of them have been in the industry for more than 25 years. They are very proud of what they do showing their traditions through the products they fashion by hand and sold in the market.
Having the chance to sit with Qatari artisans and see how they craft their products, the expatriate participants were satisfied with the outcome of the workshop which organisers said generated interest with other artisans so there is a possibility to conduct more workshops in the future involving more participation from the wider international artisan community.
The areas tackled in the workshop were just some of those conducted by the department, said Al Buainain, adding the ladies create all the products by hand.
Among the products made by the Productive Families are exquisitely designed abayas and jalabiyas; decorative artefacts such as scale models of traditional dhow, inlaid work on tables, jewellery boxes and other items, ghawa set; wooden jewellery boxes; Arabic perfumes and scents; paintings depicting Qatari culture; handmade paper; and colourful textiles in geometric patterns woven using Sadu — a technique employed by Bedouin women in rural communities.
The products are being sold in the local market such as in souqs, different shops and hypermarkets as well as promoted in other countries in the region.
“Productive Families is a group of artisans that produce indigenous handicrafts approved by the Ministry to make and sell their products in the market and currently we have around 800 members,” said Al Buainain.
The Ministry assists the members in many ways including giving them workshops, marketing their products and promoting them internationally.
“We hold a lot of fairs and go to other countries in the Middle East like Bahrain and Dubai to promote the products,” she said. The Ministry also takes strides ensuring the sustainability of the industry amid the burgeoning progress the country is undergoing in many spheres.
“We conduct workshops to further better the quality of their work, especially the traditional products so that they will be sustainable. We are also teaching a young generation of artisans to make sure this very important aspect of our tradition is passed on to future generations and ensure it lives on,” added A Buainain.