Salima El-Gebaly is a Bedouin from Saint Catherine. She was the first among her community to obtain a secondary school certificate, and went on to work for years in Saint Catherine Park. As a child, while playing in the monastery or wandering along the wadis between the mountains, Salima noticed the Bedouin women, who tended goats in the mountains or collected medicinal herbs, drawing what they saw. They did not use pen and paper, but rather wool thread on traditional fabrics, to express their feelings and depict their natural environment. Salima began to see this as “a traditional artisanal documentation of their environment” and a true Bedouin art form.
In 1998, with the support of the Saint Catherine protectorate, she began to be involved in training local Bedouin women and marketing their traditional handicrafts. The natural elements of this environment — the sun, birds, trees, and wadis — are a recurrent motif, but what she finds remarkable is how, in the handmade products, “you will always find the sun, or the same tree, drawn in different styles.”
In 2002, El-Gebaly decided to lead a local community-based enterprise. With the support of the protectorate, she established "Fan Sina" (meaning 'The Art of Sinai') as a craft and income generation initiative. Starting with only 5 women, today Fan Sina works with 350 women from 4 different tribes along the valleys of the holy town of Saint Catherine, South Sinai. Today, Fan Sina has a total of 350 Bedouin women producer and provides them with a monthly income.
A products from FAN SINA , Inspired by nomadic culture and the natural environment, made by Bedouin ladies make authentically beautiful handcrafted embroidery and products. Through using colorful thread and beads brings back to life motifs of elder tribesmen sawn in an attire of modernity, fashion and functionality much suitable for our present day. FanSina's products are more than a piece of handicraft. They are a symbol for empowering women living in the far-away valleys of St. Katherine’s, on the margin of today's society. Their work, passion, and art shape thread and cloth into beautiful bags and cushions, and these help shape the lives of these 300+ women and their families.
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