Wars Fail to Dampen Creativity

DUBAI - With his country reeling under violence, Ayman Al Qadi, a Palestinian manager of a stall selling handmade candles and olive wood statues in Global Village, looked on expectedly at the stream of visitors.


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sat 31 Jan 2009, 1:33 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:44 AM

George Khair puts together his hand-made olivewood candle stands for display at the Palestinian pavilion in Global Village in Dubai.—KT Photo by Juidin Bernarrd“The war in Gaza has been tough for Palestinians everywhere,” said Ayman as he stacked olive wood candle stands that had engravings on them saying ‘We will not leave our land’ in Arabic.
Ayman’s sentiment is shared by many other stall owners in the Palestinian pavilion in Global Village.

Global Village, one of the star attractions of the Dubai Shopping Festival, houses pavilions of over 30 countries.

Styled to look like famous monuments in the home countries, the pavilions boast the culture, lifestyle and cuisine of those countries.
Amidst the colourful and well-lit pavilions of China and Qatar, pavilions of war-ravaged countries like Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan are hard to miss.

Located right next to Lebanon, the Palestinian pavilion is decked up in the colours of the Palestinian national flag, and popular striped black and white scarves.
George Khair, another stall manager in the Palestine pavilion, was selling key chains, scarves and cassettes of patriotic music.

“Olive wood is very popular in Palestine. We make candle stands, key chains and statues. Since the war in Gaza, the sale of our products has increased considerably. We are very happy about this, because the best way to show solidarity to our countrymen is by buying our products,” said George.
He added the various products are shipped to the UAE from Jordan.

“Muslim and Christian religious verses are carved in olive wood in Bethlehem. The wood is then polished and sent to Govia, Jordan via the West Bank. From Jordan, the products are shipped to the UAE and then to the rest of the world,” added George.

Iraq, another country in political turmoil, has also set up a stall in the village. Delair Amin, an art dealer who has a stall in the pavilion, said, “Iraqi artists and their artworks are world renowned. Modernist and traditionalist paintings and collage art by Iraqis like Ali Ibrahim and Dhiaa Al Khugai are very popular among the buyers here. Ali Ibrahim’s painting of King Sulaiman and Queen of Sheba and Al Khugai’s modern collage of bicycle wheels speak volumes on Iraq’s culture and tradition.”
 Stall owners in the Afghanistan pavilion had similar vows.

Mohammed Azim, a trader of rare stones from Afghanistan, said, “I sell jewellery made from precious stones like rubies and emeralds. The stones are mined in Afghanistan, polished, and then transported to Pakistan via the Khyber Pass. These stones are then strung into beads to make jewellery and later sent to countries all over the world.”
Ezatullah Wahed, another trader in the pavilion, sells ‘segushef’ and ‘gant’ (antique Afghani clothing for men and women, respectively), said, “I am from Kabul, which is quite peaceful at the moment. But good ‘pashmina’ or goat wool for carpets is available only in the villages, which are still occupied by the Taleban.

· dhanusha@kahleejtimes.com

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