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Al-Arish Needlework Project

Corner of a cloth produced by Al-Arish women for the Al-Arish Needlework Project, 2013. Corner of a cloth produced by Al-Arish women for the Al-Arish Needlework Project, 2013. TRC collection.

The Al-Arish Needlework Project was founded in 1973 in Al-Arish, northern Sinai, Egypt, by the NGO, the Mennonite Central Committee of North America. It was set up in order to help Bedouin and village women to make a living by creating and selling needlework, notably embroidery and beadwork.

This work is important, as jobs were and are scarce in the region, especially for unskilled and often illiterate, married women. Shahira Mehrez became the project’s director in 1981. Since then it has expanded to include most of the northern Sinai coastal towns and villages. In 1987 there were about 500 women working within the project and by 2013 this number had increased to c. 1200, who worked both from home and from ateliers. According to Mehrez, the combination of women’s skills and traditions combined with the Mennonite focus on precise work, created a new form of embroidery - al-Arish needlework - which keeps local traditions and skills alive.

The designs of the embroidery are taken from motifs found on the traditional Bedouin dresses of the northern Sinai. In 2013 the products were sold locally as well as in a small number of shops in Egypt, including at Shahira Mehrez and Co, in the district of Dokki, Cairo.

Sources:

SLAVIN, Barbar (1987):

GVE

Last modified on Saturday, 29 April 2017 12:54