By Fanny Ohier
Wekalet El Ghoury is normally known for showcasing whirling dervishes performing Tannoura dances to traditional Egyptian music. However for five days, visitors will see art exhibitions, workshops of traditional crafts and seminars on the subject throughout the historic complex.
In collaboration with CouchSurfing, the Ministry of Culture is hosting the annual festival for traditional crafts and heritage, which started on Sunday. Visitors can walk around Wekalet El Ghoury and enjoy exhibitions, which are split into different chambers throughout the complex on the ground floor. Open daily from 10am to 10pm, handmade works are diverse, ranging from necklaces to wooden sculptures, including tapestries, paintings, clothes, bags, puppets, vases and so on. Some of those pieces are the results of previous workshops, others by local artisans.
The online travellers network CouchSurfing was responsible for promoting the festival. “Whenever a traveller is abroad, he/she tries to understand the people living in the country,” said Ehab Hamed, CouchSurfing ambassador in Egypt. “The festival promotes Egyptian culture to both Egyptians and foreigners.” The principle of CouchSurfing is to host foreigners in local people’s homes, to welcome them and show them the city.
As the festival’s goals were similar to that of CouchSurfing, Hamed said it was only appropriate to collaborate with the Culture Ministry to organise the event. While, the ministry organised the event itself, CouchSurfing is in charge of organising tours of the neighbouring area.
“The goal is to attract the people to traditional crafts,” Hamed said. One way the festival is doing this is by providing free workshops daily from 10am to 3pm on glass work, tapestry, pottery and etching on copper and wood. A seminar concerning problems and challenges facing traditional crafts will also be held on Tuesday at 7pm at Wekalet El Ghoury.
The Islamic Cairo tours, presented by CouchSurfing Egypt, will be held on Wednesday, 5 June, with no cost. The tour, called Getting Lost in History, will last from 2.30pm to 7.30pm. However, the tour is contingent upon whether or not enough “people are interested in attending”, Hamed said.
The programme of the whole festival, including the tours and workshops is available on CouchSurfing Egypt’s Facebook page. The festival will last for five days, from 2 June to 6 June.