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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lebanese showcase their creativity at Beirut handicraft exhibition

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Lebanese showcase their creativity at Beirut handicraft exhibitionDozens of booths selling handicrafts ranging from paintings and furniture to cushions and fashion accessories make up a four-day exhibition from July 2 to July 6 known as Afkart 2008, held this year in Downtown's Saifi Village. "The idea really started around 20 years ago in [the mountainous town of] Faqra, to promote the creative handicrafts of the village of Beit Chabeb," said Nayla Bassili, one of the event's major organizers.

"But handicrafts exhibitions such as Afkart, which now occur up to three times a year, actually kicked off in 2003," Bassili added.

"We have rules here. First, the makers must be Lebanese. Second, all crafts must be handmade. And more importantly, these exhibitions are made to display the works of people who do not have their own business or store," said Bassili.

"People pay the same price for the same tent. We give them electricity, publicity, chairs and tables, and guaranteed safety overnight," she added.

She also said that in recent years increased interest and creative talent was coming from Lebanon's second-largest city, Tripoli, known for its historical wealth and flourishing business prospects.

"For the past two years, we are having more and more creators coming from Tripoli," Bassili said.

One such creator is Zahia Chahal, whose booth, titled Sennara Corner, displayed home accessories such as footstools, cushions and bedspreads of vibrant colors and detailed patchwork. This is Chahal's third exhibition since she first participated in 2005.

"These exhibitions are made for designers of all fields trying to display their works," she said. "People don't come for any specific reason; people often come and don't buy anything at all. They just like to look around."

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