Souviners with an Emirati Spirit


Young Emirati make souvenirs, postcards, burqas and accessories with a local spirit to introduce the Emirati culture and identity, and make souvenirs that tourists and visitors to the country buy with authentic details and features from the folklore, and this is what the youth project "alBeqsha" sought.

The idea of "alBeqsha" came from the passion for local culture and the desire to translate and engrave it in the memory of real travelor, who want to get a souviner that tells a story. Evbery gift they make is with cooperation with Emirati craftsmen and artists.

The word "al-Beqsha" means the piece of cloth in which the food remains are collected for preservation. The Founder and the General Director of the "alBeqsha", Maryam Qayed, discovered that the souvenirs that tourists buy from the market do not represent the history and culture of the UAE in its true nature, which prompted her to think about establishing a social entreprise in cooperation with heritage artisans, as well as some Emirati artists and photographers.

Ms Qayed launched the company last year, but they took nearly a year of cooperation with craftsmen and artists to create products that the souvenir market was missing locally. Identity Spread Ms Qayed pointed out that entering the souvenir market was accompanied by many challenges, especially from competitors who aim for material profit only, forgetting the cultural dimension and spreading the Emirati identity through souvenirs, which is what the "Buksha" project relied on. "Some people may think that the Emirati product is high-cost, but our products are not, as we believe that culture need to be accessable and affordable for everyone, despite the long production period that each product takes, as well as the effort that the craftsmen take in manufacturing," she said.

Ms Qayed added that the work of Emirati artists is rarely linked to the Emirati heritage, customs and traditions, which poses a challenge in producing gifts. Preserving the heritage Regarding the cooperation of traditional craftsmen with the project, the "Al-Buqsha" Founder stated that crafts today are limited to senior citizens, and there are modest efforts to teach the younger generation traditional crafts such as making Sadu, Alsafa, embroidery and tally, indicating that the project's curators intend to organize workshops to teach young people traditional handicrafts. This will help in preserving the heritage.

Heba Al-Qahtani, a team member of AlBeqsha, said that their young company participated in various local exhibitions and events to market their products, pointing to cooperation with a number of institutions, including the Namaa Foundation in Sharjah, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Cultural Communication in Dubai.

Munira Heikal said, “We focused in Al-Beksha on that each product carries a story and a story that we tell to tourists and visitors, which are the stories that the craftsmen tell us when we share with them making some products.”

Photographer Essa Al-Amiri, a callaberating Artist from UAE says: “It was joyful to see my shots transformed to a lifestyle product a Postcard with anembroidery"

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