About the Creative City:
Sharjah is one of seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates. It occupies approximately 235 square kilometers of coastal and mountainous region along the Arabian Gulf and nearing the Indian Ocean. In addition to its cultural heritage sites and museums, Sharjah celebrates many traditional crafts, such as ‘Talli’ weaving. As well as being historically important, this craft is also highly valued within Sharjah because it extensively supports female artisans and communities of native Emirati women. Although niche, the ‘Talli' craft embroidery, sewing and tailoring is a growing sector.
The city of Sharjah actively promotes and celebrates its culture and heritage through festivals and events. Local Sharjah Heritage Days are organized to highlight traditional crafts and provide a platform for the artisans who practice them. In addition, the Sharjah Art Foundation runs a number of workshops, not only supporting professional artists, but also providing training to new designers. These sessions enable the transfer of traditional arts and crafts knowledge, ensuring that such valuable expertise is not lost in contemporary society.
Through schemes, including The Bidwa initiative, Sharjah continues to endorse its crafts and folk art sector. Employing over 60 artisans, The Bidwa initiative is an internationally recognized programme that provides vocational training and support, enabling traders to develop their skills and break into new markets. As well as increasing awareness surrounding local art and crafts, the initiative also focuses on increasing the number of female artisans within the industry. Furthermore, in 2017, Emiri Decree No 5 introduced legislation, policies and strategic action plans, preserving cultural heritage in line with international agreements and charters, ensuring long-term support for the city’s crafts and folk art sector.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Sharjah envisages:
- creating a platform for synergies between the UNESCO Creative Cities;
- building exhibition spaces for the dissemination of crafts and promotion of artisanal contributions;
- implementing educational initiatives to promote knowledgesharing and collaboration;
- providing vocational training for traditional crafts; and
- organising an awards scheme to recognize and celebrate heritage bearers and their contribution to traditional culture.
Farah Nasri, Assistant Manager, Curation and Design, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, email@example.com