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Arts and Handicrafts: Exploring Diarna’s North Coast Exhibition

August 27, 2023
Photo Credit: Screencap of promotional video from the Diarna Facebook page

Handicrafts always bring a sense of artistry to a place, whether it is in the form of a carefully sewn bag, a meticulously crafted tablecloth, or a beautifully painted piece of pottery.

While most of Egypt’s handicrafts are sold to tourists according to a 2019 study, local artisans still work hard to exhibit their pieces year round in events like Diarna.

Diarna is a handicrafts exhibition organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity in partnership with the Ebdaa Men Masr (Creativity from Egypt) project by the Alex Bank and Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.

It takes place every year, with smaller editions of the exhibition occasionally running at different times. While the main event can usually be found in the First Settlement, another edition is currently being held at Marina 5 in the North Coast.

Despite its size, the exhibition remains filled to the brim with all manner of eye-catching handicrafts by artisans from all across Egypt and beyond who are enthusiastic about sharing their work.

From 4PM to 4AM throughout July and August, the many halls of Diarna have been lined with booths of all sorts of unique crafts. Visitors can find anything from curtains and carpets to lanterns and decorative plates.

For those looking to add an authentic Egyptian touch to their decor, the exhibition is a treasure trove of material to work with.

Walking through the exhibition hall at night definitely has its advantages — such as seeing these elegant works of glass and metal in all their illuminated detail.

“All of these products are made in Gamaleya, and it is all handmade,” says Mohamed Embaby from the Khan Embaby booth. “Made of copper, mother of pearl combined with copper — it is made into all different kinds of ornaments.”

For those seeking a more personal purchase, the artisans at Diarna are ready to provide; many booths are dedicated to galabayat and other kinds of bright and patterned clothing.

Sewn with a variety of materials, the diversity of the clothes is matched only by that of their creators, who have gathered from a variety of locations to show their skills.

Of course, the vendors in attendance are not exclusively Egyptian. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Egypt is home to 300,000 refugees from 55 countries.

Refugees often carry with them pieces of their homes, and in recent years, Diarna has become a space where they can share their crafts with fellow artisans.

Diarna is being held for two months in the North Coast this year to better integrate the sale of local products in the market.

Although the exhibition will reach its end after this Thursday, 31 August, the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity encourages small businesses and entrepreneurs to continue to participate in these exhibitions and plans to continue providing support.

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