Rabat – Morocco launched its sixth National Crafts Week (SNA) in Marrakech on Monday, January 13, to celebrate the country’s diverse artisanal heritage.
SNA kicked off at the Esplanade Bab Jdid in Marrakech in the presence of the Minister of Tourism, Crafts, Air Transport, and Social Economy, Nadia Fettah Alaoui.
Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism, Crafts, Air Transport, and Social Economy organized SNA through La Maison de l’Artisan, under the patronage of King Mohammed VI. La Maison de l’Artisan is a public establishment in charge of promoting Moroccan handicrafts in national and international markets. The late King Mohammed V founded the organization in 1957.
Tunisia, Mauritania, Chile, Indonesia, and India are the guests of honor at the event.
The venue welcomes 1,200 exhibitors, including individual artisans, cooperatives, and craft companies. The event includes a preservation space reserved for endangered trades, a space dedicated to children, and various musical performances.
Morocco’s creative economy
Speaking at SNA’s opening ceremony, the minister of trade spotlighted craftsmanship as beneficial to Morocco’s national economy, employing more than one million Moroccans.
SNA’s rich program includes workshops on financing in the craft sector as well as training sessions for Moroccan craftsmen with a focus on strengthening sales techniques.
Abdallah Aadnani, general director of La Maison de l’Artisan, explained to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) that Moroccan craftsmen often face obstacles in successfully marketing their products. SNA’s training sessions aim to reconcile this problem by encouraging engagement between craftsmen and the public and facilitating knowledge-sharing between artisans.
A Moroccan craftsman hammering a metal fixture in Saffarine square, Fez.
Mohamed Khalid Alami, president of the federation of craft enterprises, noted the event’s positive contribution to the livelihoods of workers in the craft sector.
“The National Crafts Week constitutes an added value which contributes to the increase in production and the development of the economic level of workers operating in the craft sector,” Alami stated to MAP.
Alami lauded SNA as an extension of Morocco’s development strategy for the crafts sector.
In a statement to MAP, Sidati Chaggaf, president of the Chamber of Crafts in the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab region, praised the event’s success in promoting Morocco’s crafts, artisans, and cultural diversity.
“The economic approach is undoubtedly the main goal of the organization of the National Crafts Week, to boost the productivity and sales of artisans while highlighting the quality of their products and their skills”, Chaggaf added.
An ode to leatherworking and carpet-weaving
One of Morocco’s most cherished artisanal traditions, leatherworks are on full display at SNA. Leatherworking in Morocco is an ancestral skill that requires immense knowledge of the materials, the preparation process, and creative design techniques.
Artisans have brought their handcrafted leather goods to the event, highlighting unique regional traditions and techniques. The event honors generational leather artisans as well as those trained in modern facilities.
SNA exhibits a diverse array of artisanal leather products such as shoes, bags, clothes and accessories, horse saddles, and rugs.
The leather tanneries of Fez.
Morocco also takes pride in its traditional carpets as emblems of the country’s diverse and colorful heritage. SNA features carpets from around the country made by both individual artisans and larger cooperatives.
Each region of Morocco has its own traditional carpet design, technique, and legacy.
Carpet-weaving as a trade is especially important for Moroccan women, as mastering the skill allows for financial independence and social empowerment.
SNA organizers expect 500,000 visitors to attend the two-week-long event that will continue until January 26.