Emirati craftswomen highlight Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council’s role in communicating their talent to the world at IGCF 2022

Sharjah, 29th September, 2022 (WAM) -- A group of Emirati women artisans who work with the UAE-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi), a NAMA Women Advancement (NAMA) affiliate, to preserve the UAE’s rich crafts heritage by revitalising and promoting it locally and internationally, have led a panel discussion at the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2022) to share how they have utilised effective communication strategies successfully to showcase the richness and relevance of the UAE’s traditional local crafts as well as their own artisanal prowess to the centre stage at major global international forums.

The panel session titled "A Success Story: How Communication got Me Here" was held at NAMA’s Inspirational Eve stage in Expo Centre Sharjah, as part of the efforts of Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme to create new networking and showcasing opportunities for its female artisans.

Moderated by Sharifa Al Dhuhoori, Manager, Bidwa Social Development Centre, the panel brought together three of Bidwa’s craftswomen, namely Fatima Al Naqbi, Sheikha Al Dhuhoori, and Fatima Ahmed who shared their unique experiences in leveraging communication strategies to promote their craft to the world.

Artisan Fatima Ahmed talked about her participation in local and international exhibitions that allowed her the opportunity to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers and were instrumental in highlighting her experience and skills in traditional Emirati crafts.

She pointed out that through effective communication using signs, she was able to transfer her crafts making skills to an Italian student and taught her without knowing her language.

Fatima Al Naqbi noted, "I had an experience with using the colours of wicker in the traditional Emirati craft of Safeefah with the limited option of using only five to six colours. However, responding to changing fashion trends and market requirements, it was an exciting challenge for me to develop products according to the demands of two different generations, one of which was the generation of young designers and craftswomen."

She emphasised that adopting communication strategies of major international companies has helped her work with Emirati artisans to provide larger quantities of their Safeefah products in compliance with stipulated deadlines.

Al Naqbi also said that using different communication strategies has also empowered her to take a bolder approach to offer exclusive products in partnership with the luxury brand Cartier.

Sheikha Al Dhuhoori said she was proud to leverage her own skills of communicating with foreign audiences - one she utilised perfectly during her participation at the Sao Paulo International Book Fair in Brazil a few years ago.

Al Dhuhoori emphasised that Irthi created an incredible opportunity for her and other fellow artisans to meet, communicate, network and exchange expertise with local Brazilian artisans under the entity’s umbrella. This opportunity opened the door for them to create a strong knowledge-sharing culture and channels of effective communication with younger generations by integrating traditional crafts and contemporary thought to develop crafts.

Another Irthi-led discussion titled ‘Crafts as an influential gateway to government communication strategies’ was organised on the second and concluding day of IGCF 2022, which turned the spotlight on the Council’s diligent efforts for the adoption of the UAE’s artisanal heritage as a medium for more effective government communication by highlighting the role crafts can play to offer an insight into different societies and civilisations, uncovering uncover common features and attributes that may lead to forming deep connections.