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25 April 2024

Irthi soars to new heights in 2022 boosting global cultural exchange with innovative initiatives


In 2022, the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, a NAMA Women Advancement Establishment affiliate, made significant strides in its mission to preserve and revive traditional UAE crafts and support the local artisan community.

The council saw a 300 percent increase in the number of beneficiaries from its programmes in 2022 compared to the previous year, while 60 training programmes and workshops were conducted by renowned international designers, benefitting thousands of individuals. Additionally, Irthi collaborated with leading global brands to host art exhibitions in the emirate and made a prominent appearance at numerous design exhibitions around the world.

Reem bin Karam, Director of the Nama Foundation for the Advancement of Women, said: "Irthi saw remarkable growth in 2022, marked by a significant increase in the number of participants in its programmes and training workshops. These achievements demonstrate a commitment to growing the number of beneficiaries and highlight the council's success in preserving traditional craft heritage, infusing it with modern design techniques, and revitalising the UAE's artisan community through integrated initiatives that bridge the gap between art and livelihood. This, in turn, ensures a sustainable source of income for the artisans."
Bin Karam added: "The successful outcome of irthi's programmes and training workshops for artisans has been apparent in the presence of their products on global platforms and galleries. This not only highlights the significance and worth of cultural heritage but also showcases the success of its integration into the contemporary crafts industry, thereby promoting the traditional UAE arts and crafts and honing trainees' skill sets in designing and producing high-quality crafts that are fit to be showcased at international exhibitions. These efforts contribute to artisans' growth and build self-confidence and professional abilities that reflect their cultural identity."
300 percent participants increase in Hirfati Youth Programme
The Hirfati Youth Programme, an initiative aimed at fostering the growth and development of young designers and artists, experienced a productive year in 2022. With a surge in participant numbers, the program saw a 300 percent increase compared to the previous year, fulfilling its mission to transfer traditional craft knowledge to over 3,000 children and youth. Through its extensive line-up of 35 workshops, the programme engaged with 2,938 young individuals, while the successful launch of the Hirfati Summer Camp further elevated the programme's reach, attracting 50 young girls.
270 artisans participate in Irthi's skills development programmes
Irthi continued to advance its mission in 2022 by expanding its programmes and increasing the number of beneficiaries.

Over 270 artisans benefited from the council's offerings, which included 16 training programmes and workshops designed to enhance their skills in various traditional crafts techniques. Notable initiatives included a virtual programme focused on the art of Palestinian embroidery and another in-person programme on Pakistani embroidery patterns.
300 training hours in the Artisan Skills Exchange Programme
The Council's Artisan Skills Exchange Programme, led by Pakistan's award-winning fashion designer, Rizwan Beyg, made significant advancements in the skillset of over 40 artisans through two courses. Through 300 hours of training organised over 14 weeks, participants developed and refined their skills in 25 distinct Pakistani embroidery techniques. Additionally, the programme facilitated the establishment of the Irthi Showroom in Sharjah, serving as a platform to showcase and sell a variety of unique handicraft collections to the craft-enthusiast public.
Irthi has bolstered the global status of traditional crafts and introduced Emirati creative designs to the event's visitors from around the world with five innovative collections.

The council showcased a curated collection of exhibits at the renowned Cambi Auction House and received an invitation from the Ministry of Culture of Italy and the Michael Angelo foundation to showcase their unique designs at Palazzo Litta in Milan.
Continuing its international efforts to showcase traditional crafts and highlight their importance in building cultural bridges, Irthi organised a unique exhibition at The Chedi Al Bait hotel in the historic Heart of Sharjah, showcasing 41 items from the vibrant creativity of Bulgari's exceptional heritage jewellery from the late 1950s until today, alongside contemporary and 35-year-old Emirati' Talli' artefacts, rooted in the culture and heritage of the UAE and hand-made by Emirati artisans at Irthi's Bidwa centre.
The council also collaborated with prestigious institutions and programmes such as the Art Salon, Etihad towers in Abu Dhabi, and Design Miami to showcase its innovative collections and raise awareness about the significance of traditional crafts.

Irthi’s participation in these events not only highlighted the council's efforts in preserving and reviving Emirati heritage, but also provided a platform for the local artisan community to showcase their unique and contemporary designs. These collaborations have further established Irthi's position as a leader in promoting traditional crafts on a global scale, fostering cultural exchange and bridging the gap between art and livelihood.