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Palestinian Olive Tree Crafts



In the West Bank town of Hebron, a 75-year-old man designs wooden sculptures using the region's cherished olive tree. Muhammad Idries has been doing this job for the past 46 years. Muhammad: "I love this job, artistically I mean, because I am actually a very precise individual. So I started with this line of work and thank God, I became successful. I have been doing this from roughly 1965 to date." Scores of Palestinian locals, like Idries, would practice this traditional craft but many were forced out of the business when the market became flooded by Chinese imports that were sold cheap on the market. Olive trees are a strong component of Palestinian heritage. Using his craftsmanship Idries hopes to revive these traditions through the symbolic use of the tree. Muhammad: "God created a special vein inside the olive tree that makes it beautiful. As the tree ages, the veins become more beautiful and form spectacular designs, so really, the olive tree is the main part of this job." Idries runs his own workshop, where he sells his creations and works on producing craft as requested by his customers. Muhammad: "Honestly, this is a good job from a touristic perspective and also religiously -- it's our heritage. We have some customers who ask for designs of the Ibrahimi Mosque, many ask for this. We specialize in designs of the Dome of the Rock." Idries hopes that his works will help revive Hebron's battered economy. Hebron is divided into zones of Palestinian and Israeli control. Many Palestinian businesses in Hebron's city center were deserted due to conflicts between the city's Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers. Reported by: Shounaz Mekky-Nadia Idriss Mayen Speakers: Muhammad Idries Voice: Nadia Mayen and Aqeel Bukhamsin

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