Photos: Gaza’s traditional crafts industries rapidly disappearing

UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2019 09:32 AM IST
Palestinian worker weaves carpets on a traditional wooden loom at a carpets factory in Gaza City. When Gazans think of better economic times, images of clay pottery, colourful glassware, bamboo furniture and ancient frame looms weaving bright rugs and mats all come to mind. While such professions have shrunk worldwide in the face of globalization and Chinese mass production, Gazan business owners say Israel’s 12-year blockade of the territory has accelerated the trend. (Khalil Hamra / AP)
Thousands of unsold clay bowls, pots, vases and jugs sit in the yard of the Atallah pottery workshop. On a recent day, three employees shaped clay on the wheel, while two others mixed mud. Khairi Atallah, the pottery maker, said this is all that remains of the 50 workers he once employed. “The income is no longer enough to get by,” he said. (Khalil Hamra / AP)
Palestinian Tarek Khalaf uses a flame to form bamboo at his family's workshop. For decades, these traditional crafts defined the economy of the coastal Palestinian enclave, employing thousands of people and exporting across the region. Today, the industries are almost non-existent.Under the blockade, Israel has greatly restricted exports and limited imports of raw materials. With unemployment over 50%, demand from the local market is weak. Israel blames the situation on Hamas, an armed group that opposes Israel’s existence. (Khalil Hamra / AP)
Furniture for sale is displayed at a bamboo workshop. COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said exports from Gaza now frequently make their way into Israel, the West Bank and beyond, and that it has worked in recent months to promote even more exports to help develop Gaza’s economy. Agricultural products, furniture and textiles are now regularly exported from Gaza through a cargo crossing with Israel, it added. (Khalil Hamra / AP)
“We have been economically damaged. We are staying, but things are really difficult,” said Abed Abu Sido, one of Gaza’s last glassmakers, as he flipped through a glossy catalog of his products. At his quiet workshop, layers of dust covered the few remaining glass artifacts, requiring him to scrub them to reveal their colors. Cardboard boxes of unfinished products and materials were stacked floor-to-ceiling. (Khalil Hamra / AP)
A Palestinian works at a bamboo workshop in Gaza City. Its living room sets, recliners, dining tables and chairs were once shipped to markets in the West Bank, Israel, Persian Gulf and America. The business flourished from 1975 until the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. (Khalil Hamra / AP)
Palestinian Mahmoud al-Sawwaf, the owner of a traditional carpets factory, displays his products. He believes he is the last weaver in Gaza. With the territory closed to tourists, international aid workers are the only people keeping him afloat. Cheaper straw mats have flooded Gaza, and local residents can’t afford his handmade carpets. But the foreigners still buy them. “Even at this age I continue to work,” he said. “I will not give up and quit.” (Khalil Hamra / AP)

Palestinian worker weaves carpets on a traditional wooden loom at a carpets factory in Gaza City. When Gazans think of better economic times, images of clay pottery, colourful glassware, bamboo furniture and ancient frame looms weaving bright rugs and mats all come to mind. While such professions have shrunk worldwide in the face of globalization and Chinese mass production, Gazan business owners say Israel’s 12-year blockade of the territory has accelerated the trend. (Khalil Hamra / AP)

Thousands of unsold clay bowls, pots, vases and jugs sit in the yard of the Atallah pottery workshop. On a recent day, three employees shaped clay on the wheel, while two others mixed mud. Khairi Atallah, the pottery maker, said this is all that remains of the 50 workers he once employed. “The income is no longer enough to get by,” he said. (Khalil Hamra / AP)

Palestinian Tarek Khalaf uses a flame to form bamboo at his family's workshop. For decades, these traditional crafts defined the economy of the coastal Palestinian enclave, employing thousands of people and exporting across the region. Today, the industries are almost non-existent.Under the blockade, Israel has greatly restricted exports and limited imports of raw materials. With unemployment over 50%, demand from the local market is weak. Israel blames the situation on Hamas, an armed group that opposes Israel’s existence. (Khalil Hamra / AP)

Furniture for sale is displayed at a bamboo workshop. COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said exports from Gaza now frequently make their way into Israel, the West Bank and beyond, and that it has worked in recent months to promote even more exports to help develop Gaza’s economy. Agricultural products, furniture and textiles are now regularly exported from Gaza through a cargo crossing with Israel, it added. (Khalil Hamra / AP)

“We have been economically damaged. We are staying, but things are really difficult,” said Abed Abu Sido, one of Gaza’s last glassmakers, as he flipped through a glossy catalog of his products. At his quiet workshop, layers of dust covered the few remaining glass artifacts, requiring him to scrub them to reveal their colors. Cardboard boxes of unfinished products and materials were stacked floor-to-ceiling. (Khalil Hamra / AP)

A Palestinian works at a bamboo workshop in Gaza City. Its living room sets, recliners, dining tables and chairs were once shipped to markets in the West Bank, Israel, Persian Gulf and America. The business flourished from 1975 until the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. (Khalil Hamra / AP)

Palestinian Mahmoud al-Sawwaf, the owner of a traditional carpets factory, displays his products. He believes he is the last weaver in Gaza. With the territory closed to tourists, international aid workers are the only people keeping him afloat. Cheaper straw mats have flooded Gaza, and local residents can’t afford his handmade carpets. But the foreigners still buy them. “Even at this age I continue to work,” he said. “I will not give up and quit.” (Khalil Hamra / AP)

About The Gallery

Talk about old Gaza, and what pops up are images of clay pottery, colorful glassware, bamboo furniture and ancient frame looms weaving bright rugs and mats. As such professions could be dying worldwide, the pace of their declining is too fast in Gaza that out of its some 500 looms, only one is still functioning.

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