From Palestinian refugee camp to London, Paris, Dubai boutiques

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A Palestinian woman embroiders at a workshop in Jordan’s Jerash Palestinian refugee camp, which was established to host more than 11,000 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, north of Amman on November 5, 2017. (AFP)
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Palestinian women embroider at a workshop in Jordan’s Jerash Palestinian refugee camp, which was established to host more than 11,000 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, north of Amman on November 5, 2017. (AFP)
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A Palestinian woman embroiders at a workshop in Jordan’s Jerash Palestinian refugee camp, which was established to host more than 11,000 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, north of Amman on November 5, 2017. (AFP)
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A Palestinian woman embroiders at a workshop in Jordan’s Jerash Palestinian refugee camp, which was established to host more than 11,000 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, north of Amman on November 5, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2017
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From Palestinian refugee camp to London, Paris, Dubai boutiques

JERASH CAMP, Jordan: In a small workshop in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Halima Al-Ankassuri embroiders traditional patterns onto a blue shawl, destined for sale in an upmarket Paris, London or Dubai boutique.
The 54-year-old mother of seven describes her work as “modern products with shimmering colors, embroidered with Palestinian and Islamic motifs.”
“I’m proud to see Europeans wearing what we produce here and to see top fashion magazines take an interest,” she said referring to the German online edition of Vogue, a large smile on her face, girded with a red veil.
The Jerash camp where she lives, in northern Jordan, was established to host more than 11,000 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — hence its alternative name, Gaza Camp.
Half a century on, more than 29,000 refugees live in the camp amid poverty, unemployment and crumbling infrastructure.
In 2013, Roberta Ventura, an Italian with a background in investment banking, decided to set up a social project to help women in the camp after visiting it and seeing their intricate skills close up.
SEP Jordan (SEP for social enterprise project) aims to “change lives not only of dozens but over time, hundreds, perhaps thousands of women,” she wrote in a message to AFP.
On the workshop’s tables lay traditional keffiyeh chequered headscarves with inscriptions of different colors, along with cashmere shawls and handbags.
“The project started with 10 women and now they are 300,” said the program’s director, Nawal Aradah. “We make products on request: shawls, handbags, towels, sheets and all kinds of household decor.”



Every two months, 11 to 14 cartons containing 190 to 270 kilogrammes (420 to 600 pounds) of goods are sent to stores in Paris, London or Dubai.
They are also sold inside the Palestinian territories — in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, said the project’s regional manager, Mahmoud Al-Hajj.
In a shop inside a large Amman hotel, prices range from 20 to 300 dinars ($30 to $430, 25 to 362 euros), according to Hajj, who said “most buyers are foreign tourists.”
For women in the workshop, embroidery is an important source of income.
“We all suffer from poverty in this camp,” Ankassuri said. “This work helps us to improve our lives, even if we charge for our products individually at low prices, from 15 to 20 dinars.”
Every product she embroiders requires at least a week’s work.
She says she has pain in her hands, but enjoys being around other women in the workshop.
Ventura said the women’s “unique talent” is “appreciated around the world.”
More than two million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations in Jordan, but about half of the country’s 6.6 million population is of Palestinian origin.
Ankassuri and her colleagues learned the art of embroidery from their mothers and grandmothers. Each region of historic Palestine has its own motifs and patterns.
As well as presenting Palestinian history and culture to a new audience, their craftwork “helps promote the cause of our people,” Aradah said proudly.
A flag and a map hang on the walls of the workshop, reminding the women of their link with the land of their birth or, for the younger ones, that of their ancestors.
“Every woman here has a story,” Aradah said.
“This work helps them to send their children to school, change the furniture in their homes and improve their living conditions, especially since many husbands do not work.”
Hiba Al-Hudari, who was weaving a blue purse with Islamic inscriptions, said the workshop had become “a second home.”
The 37-year-old mother of six said she earns about 150 dinars a month. “With that, I help my husband, who’s a mechanic, provide for our household,” she said.


Chrissy Teigen sports a look by Madiyah Al-Sharqi

Chrissy Teigen at an event. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Chrissy Teigen sports a look by Madiyah Al-Sharqi

DUBAI: Model and social media superstar Chrissy Teigen was spotted wearing an item by UAE-based brand Madiyah Al-Sharqi last week — and it’s giving us major style envy.

The model — who is known for her witty, off-the-cuff commentary and political activism on Twitter and Instagram — hit the streets of New York with her husband John Legend in tow while wearing a pair of high-waisted velvet trousers.

(Getty)

The mustard-colored pants hail from the Fujairah-based brand’s Autumn/Winter 2018 collection and are available on madiyahalsharqi.com.

The label is also available online on e-tailers Ounass and By Symphony.

Since founding the fashion house in 2012, Al-Sharqi ‘s collections have received international acclaim and have been featured in the likes of Vogue Italia, Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Grazia.
Based in the Emirate of Fujairah, which is relatively unknown on the fashion scene compared to its internationally acclaimed sister state of Dubai, the label is making headway on the Hollywood circuit and was even worn by Paris Jackson in June and by US singer and actress Vanessa Hudgens on the set of the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in August.

For her part, Hudgens looked stunning in a lamé corset with lace-up detailing on the back and a sweetheart neckline. Matching, wide-legged trousers completed the 70s-style look that came in a pretty mix of pastel shades, including lilac, peach, sunny yellow and silver.

“Last night’s look on @danceonfox,” Hudgens, who shot to fame after starring in the hugely popular series of High School Musical films during the noughties, posted on her Instagram account at the time. Hudgens worked with celebrity stylist Natalie Saidi to achieve the shimmery look.

Teigen, who recently took to social media to educate fans on how to properly say her name, paired her Madiyah Al-Sharqi trousers with a white, fitted top, knee-length navy blazer and a demure Chanel bag.

In September, she teasingly chastised the media and fans for mispronouncing her last name saying it had been garbled for years, but she hasn’t corrected anyone.

The mother and model took to social media to say it’s not Teigen (TEE’-gihn), but Teigen (TY’-gihn). Off camera, her mother confirmed it with a “Yep!” according to The Associated Press.

The 32-year-old joked that she’s “tired of living this lie.”

She previously wrote on Twitter that her name has been mispronounced and she “doesn’t correct people, ever.”