Ayed Arafah was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Dheisheh refugee camp. Nowadays, he works and lives in Ramallah. He has a BA degree in contemporary visual art from The International Academy of Art and a BA in social work from Al Quds Open University. Combining classic and contemporary media, he explores the conceptual image that aims to motivate a better understanding about the self (my self and others) in relation with society’s issues related to politics, culture and economics. His aim is to engage with different levels of society.
Yasser Hirbawi opened the Hirbawi Textile Factory in 1961 in Hebron, operating 15 machines and producing 150,000 keffiyehs annually by the early 1990s. Today, due to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the opening of trade with the outside world, only four machines remain in operation producing a mere 10,000 scarves a year. Not one of these scarves are exported, as overseas suppliers produce mass quantities at a fraction of the price, and the shrinking Palestinian economy and Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks create further hindrances to production and trade for small businesses like Mr. Hirbawi's. In Mr. Hirbawi's own words: "My machines are in good shape. They can start working tomorrow. I just need a market." The Keffiyeh's black and white pattern has come to symbolize the Palestinian struggle; the middle pattern, with its "wire mesh fence" design represents the Israeli occupation, while the oblong-shaped patterns on the side represent olive leaves- a symbol of Palestine and peace.
The tradition of glassblowing continues today in three factories just north of the city, a short distance between the town of Halhul and Hebron. Two of the factories are owned by the Natsheh family. They produce primarily souvenirs, most of which are also used as household items. A large hall close to each of the factories displays wine glasses, dishes, bowls, flower pots, and other products. Although most objects are not decorated, some have artistically applied glass strings. Metallic decoration is a recent innovation of the industry.
Glass beads for jewellery have traditionally been made in Hebron. Blue beads and glass beads with 'eyes' (owayneh) were made and used as amulets since they were considered particularly effective against the evil-eye.
In the old city’s Al-Kazazin quarter (Kazazin meaning ‘people who make glass’), three families operated 14 glass factories. Today, there are only two of them left, run by the Natsheh family. The first Intifada, combined with the affluence of cheap goods from China and the rise in oil prices forced the majority of glass shop owners out of business. Both remaining factories have relocated to the entrance of the city, because tourists are sometimes fearful to go too deep into the old city.
Mr. Hamdi - who runs the Hebron Glass & Ceramics Factory together with his brother -started working when he was 17, in 1967. Nowadays, he exclusively deals with administrative aspects, but he is still capable to tell which one of his workers did which piece just by looking at it. The savoir-faire is passed down from father to son, but some are more talented than others and each glass-blower insufflates his own personal touch into his work. The job is hard, sitting seven hours a day next to an over 1000°C hot oven. Workers learn from early childhood and continuously refine the skill.
Hebron Glass is the leading product of those companies. The name originally applied to the national hand-crafted, mouth-blown glass named in Arabic Zujaj Nafakh. Because the color blue is a cultural favorite in the Arab world, Hebron Glass came to describe the blue glass products, both the light turqoise blue (copper blue) and the deep royal blue (cobalt blue). The factories also specialize in a Middle Eastern favorite, Imzakhraf, which is a dot-painted, Arabesque design technique on traditional blown glass.
Abu Ameed is a shoemaker and the owner of Rahala Shoes in the center Ramallah. The shop is crammed with samples and one-offs that Abu Ameed dreamed up. He wants customers to come and see their shoes being made, feel the leather, drink coffee and get creative with their footwear.