Feature: Pottery, handcrafts festival in Egypt attracts local, foreign visitors

by Mahmoud Fouly

FAYOUM, Egypt, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — Crowds of local and foreign visitors have been walking around the little pottery and art shops of Tunis village in Fayoum province, south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, during the eighth annual Tunis Pottery and Handcrafts Festival.

The three-day festival, which kicked off on Nov. 1, showcases unique artworks of pottery and several other handcrafts including wood and granite carving, basket making, handmade carpets, needleworks, clay objects and hammered copper.

“I have been working in pottery for about 27 years and our festival now attracts visitors from different nationalities including France, Switzerland, Britain, Austria, Italy and many others,” said Rawya Abdel-Kader, a pottery workshop owner in her 40s.

The owner hoped the festival will help promote her products for exportation.

Held in the famous pottery-making village of Tunis, with Alexbank as a main sponsor in cooperation with Fayoum province and the Tourism Promotion Authority, the festival exhibits works of 78 exhibitors in the festival from Tunis village and other provinces nationwide.

Christian, a British visitor, was touring the pottery shops around the festival along with his two teenage daughters.

“It’s my first time to come here but everything is really friendly and pretty. I like these little pottery shops. It’s being fun to walk around here this morning,” the British man told Xinhua.

“I like the pottery school over there as I could see potters while making pots. It’s really a nice bit of Egypt which we haven’t visited before,” he added.

His 16-year-old daughter Cherry said that it was interesting to see creative people making things like baskets and pottery that she didn’t see back home in England.

“It’s my first trip outside Europe, so it’s just nice to see a different culture,” Cherry added.

Alexbank has been the festival’s main sponsor since 2015.

“We cooperate with the Potters Association of Tunis Village, financing the stands and stalls for exhibitors, providing accommodation for those coming from all over the country and making business cards and fliers for them to market their products,” Laila Hosny, head of CSR and sustainable development office of Alexbank, told Xinhua.

“We have 14 pottery workshops with some of them exporting pottery to foreign countries including Australia, Austria and the United States. One of them has one of his pieces displayed in the British Museum,” she added.

Among the shops that attracted many visitors is a small one displaying wooden models of dinosaurs, crocodiles, elephants, Cairo Tower, Eiffel Tower and other artworks.

“It’s our first year to join the festival and we feel that our artistic works will get the admiration of the visitors. The festival is a big chance for any artist who wants more popularity for their works,” said Elia al-Nari, an exhibitor in his late 30s.

Al-Nari added that most of his wooden works are made of olive and ficus trees.

The authorities of Fayoum province have been developing Tunis village year after year to make it suitable for the growing popularity and fame of the festival, building a special gate with entrance for the village and paving its alleys with interlock tiles.

Fayoum Governor Essam Saad said that his governorate provides all necessary support for the village and its festival.

“Tunis village is a model to be followed worldwide. All villagers here work hard in beautiful handcrafts, impressing foreigners and exporting their works abroad,” Saad added.

“We’re here to support these handcrafts and we hope this festival will be as impressive as ever and will be fruitful for Egypt,” the governor told Xinhua.

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