Among acacia trees in Shalateen, an area in the southern stretch of the Red Sea, about 250km south of Marsa Alam, there is a small Bedouin tent made from branches of the local acacia. you can meet with Zeinab, Aisha, and Fatma — Bedouin women from the Ababda tribe — they lead a first women cooperative for train and support women working in handicrafts. “We would just gather together, a group of local women, and chat while each woman made her traditional handicrafts,” explained Aisha, while crafting her kaboota(coffee tools container) and fronds basket. “But since we received support from Gabal Elba Park, we started our first women's handicrafts initiative. It's the beginning of a revival in ancient handicraft traditions in the South Red Sea.”
Zeinab added, “It was really nice to see the hand-crafted pieces made by our mothers and grandmothers in the past inspire us to produce our own new handicrafts for tourists and hope for the whole world. But we face a lot of problems. We need to travel at least 300 km every week to exhibit our crafts for tourists in some of the hotels and resorts of Marsa Alam, but each day we come back with less than 500 LE (($90). As you can imagine, 500 LE is not enough for the more than 150 women who work with us and give us their products to market and sell, we hope we can find a way to market our crafts without this daily torment.”
She said that some people helped them display their products in a few showrooms in Cairo, but “they pay us very low prices and sell them for much higher. So we have to put up with the tough weekly travel to Marsa Alam to sell to tourists, who appreciate these unique handicrafts and are willing to pay a fair price. All the benefits then come straight to the women".
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