Under the title of “Egypt talks handicrafts”, Egypt’s hugely popular annual heritage handicraft fair, Diarna, currently runs at the Cairo Festival Mall, in the east Cairo satellite town of New Cairo. Egypt’s Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine al-Kabbag opened the 61st edition of the fair on 15 February.
Six days after the opening, the Ministry of Social Solidarity noted that the fair managed to bing in a revenue of EGP2 million. Ms Kabbag thus decided to extend it two days beyond the date it was scheduled to close, meaning that it will run till 27 February 2021 instead of the original 25 February.
Despite unstable weather conditions of severe cold and rains, Cairenes have been flocking to the fair which witnessed great demand for women’s jewellery, kilims, carpets, ornaments, and alabaster products.
This year’s exhibition is witnessing a number of entertainment and banking services, including having guests’ names inscribed on paper in intricate Arabic calligraphy.
Handicraft workshops are being held in partnership with the Heraf Ahl Masr (Ahl Masr handicraft) Association for economic development, to teach the participants various skills including candle making, ornamentation, copper working, mosaics, jewellery, and embroidery. Handicraft workshops have also been held for children.
ATM machines and electronic payment utilities are accessible to all.
Partner agencies in the fair include the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Cultural Development Fund, and the United Nations High Commissioner for refugee affairs.
The wide range of products on display comprise leather goods, seashell handicrafts, bed sheets, rugs, jewellery, crochet products, home ornaments, designer goods, and high quality heritage products, including Egyptian traditional foods.
The current Diarna Fair spreads over 2800 square metres, and showcases goods produced by some 300 exhibitors from all over Egypt. In addition, a special pavilion displays goods produced by persons with disabilities and women in debt.
“Diarna”, literal for “Our Homes”, started off in 1958, sponsored by the Ministry of Social Affairs—today the Ministry of Social Solidarity—under the name “Productive Families Fair”. The aim was to market products of cottage or home-based industries in order to help families increase their income. It has steadily grown, today featuring products from all Egypt’s 28 governorates, and has expanded to include goods produced by craftsmen and micro industries, also a few public sector companies that sell at discounted prices personal and home products in high demand by the public. It now opens in various cities across the country at different times of the year, generating good revenue.