The first episode of Narrative Summit – Reshaping Norms explores how different forms of arts carry stories from the Egyptian cultural heritage and mirror the Egyptian national identity. In this episode, Egyptian young handicrafts entrepreneurs, sponsors of arts, tourism promoters reflect on their experience in adding a contemporary touch to the originality of the past.
During the episode, Mohamed El Kahhal, partner and head of production at El Kahhal Carpets, says that handmade carpets are unique pieces of art, each reflecting the authenticity, culture, and identity of Egypt. “Despite what the ever-changing market requirements, we strike a balance between the spirit of the past and the distinctive artistic side of the Egyptian identity and the quality of contemporary and practical products that are suitable for today’s buyers,” he said.
He added: “Manufacturing handmade carpets go through three basic stages, in which we deploy old methods. It starts with preparing spinning wool, dyeing threads, then weaving on the loom. Finally, we cut and wash the carpet to be ready for sale.”
Hend El Kahhal, partner and head of the sales at El Kahhal Carpets, said that it is impossible to produce the same carpet twice. “Handmade carpets are unique pieces of art, as each carpet is inspired by the lives of its maker and the long experience they accumulated over the years to serve as a mirror for the Egyptian cultural heritage.”
She added: “One of the most difficult phases of carpet making is choosing the colours and the designs, as it requires time, experience, and artistic sense. Artists, sometimes, experiment dozens of times until they find the right combination.”
“Carpet designs are inspired by the Egyptian history and culture throughout eras. Sometimes, we incorporate glimpses of Persian, Ottoman, or even European civilization,” she noted.
Also appearing in the first episode is Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, founder of Art D’Egypte. She said: “Egypt is a country rich in its history and culture. When foreigners visit Egypt, they seek a different experience, in which contemporary life merges with history, which is what Art D’Egypte strives to present.”
She added: “While the government plays a major role in the development of Egyptian society to meet the requirements of the future, we, on our part, are trying to contribute to opening a different field for cultural tourism in Egypt, fuelled by our belief in the cultural diplomacy of Egypt, its soft power, and the role of people in preserving their cultural heritage.”
Last year, Art D’Egypte organized virtual exhibitions to spread Egyptian art abroad amid the covid-19 pandemic. Art D’Egypte also cooperated with the UN Women to change the mental image about the status of women in Egypt and their participation in work in Egypt.
Abdel Ghaffar said: “The Forever is Now exhibition, which will be held in October 2021 for the first time at the Giza pyramids plateau, will be a tribute from the world’s artists to the Egyptian civilization that inspired all the arts of the world. It will be a message of hope from Egypt to the world that people and their achievements will remain for as long as pyramids.”
In 2020, Narrative Summit launched five seasons of its flagship online forum Reshaping Norms, receiving great follow-up on social media, hitting 11 million followers, 4.5 million views, and 3.5 million interactions.