Sao Paulo: Visitors to the ongoing Sao Paulo International Book Fair are getting a glimpse of age-old practices that embellish the UAE’s unique social fabric.
Representing the UAE through the Sharjah pavilion at the 25th edition of the Sao Paulo book fair, where the emirate is a guest of honour, Emirati artists are displaying a range of heritage art including embroidery, handicrafts and traditional music.
Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi), an affiliate of Nama Women Advancement Establishment (Nama), and the Sharjah Institute for Heritage are hosting a variety of activities at the fair to introduce the international audience to some of the crafts that have been practised by Emirati women for generations.
Six artisans from Irthi’s ‘Bidwa’ Social Development Programme and another five from the Emirates Handicraft Centre at the Sharjah Institute for Heritage are giving live demonstrations on a variety of traditional Emirati crafts like talli (hand-woven braids), safeefa (palm frond weaving), henna art, doll-making and burqa-making, among others.
Reem Bin Karam, director of Nama, said the Brazil visit is a reflection of the UAE’s and Sharjah’s keenness to strengthen cross-cultural partnerships and share expertise.
“We are here to encourage dialogue between two very distinct yet similar cultures. Heritage, art and empathy are global humanitarian qualities — ones that are strongly endorsed and encouraged by our leaders and our nation,” said Bin Karam.
She added that the Irthi’s participation in Brazil seeks to spread the UAE’s wonderful legacy.
“It is interesting to see people interact with some of the emirates’ most authentic practices. We also aim to broaden the horizons of female artisans practising these crafts, empower them by enabling them to gain social recognition and financial security,” she added.
Irthi has collaborated with the Sharjah Institute for Heritage to showcase heritage crafts that shed light on Emirati tradition and culture in line with the council’s dedication to preserving and developing the traditional crafts and its goals to support and empower women artisans and designers, enabling them to develop their products through strategic partnerships and innovative programmes, to provide a sustainable source of income and access to local and international markets.
The participating craftswomen from Bidwa Social Development Programme are: Aisha Sulaiman Mohammad Al Abd, Shaikha Mohammad Saeed Shabeeb, Amnah Ali Ahmad Al Danhani, Shaikha Rashid Hassan, Bainah Saif Khalefa Al Sereidi and Fatima Ahmad Mahmoud
Artisans from the Emirates Handicraft Centre include Moza Abdullah Bin Hudhaibah, Najia Hameed Saif Al Muhairi, Moza Rashid Khalifa Sivan, Shamma Eid Bilal Al Tayer and Maryam Rashid Bin Khaseef.
The Emirati participation also saw composer and song writer Taresh Al Hashemi playing the UAE’s traditional Oud music to a large international audience of music lovers and cultural enthusiasts at the Sao Paulo book fair, which is running till August 12.
His music forms part of the cultural programme that celebrates Sharjah as the book fair’s guest of honour.
Through his musical pieces, Al Hashemi brought to the audience the dreams of the UAE’s seas and narrated stories of the country’s strong marine heritage — an age when pearl divers and fishermen depended on the sea for their survival.
His songs depicted their tales, starting with bidding farewell to their families, their adventures at sea, and ending with their return home.