The Room Place: A window to Egyptian art 

The shop partners with Fair Trade, a social enterprise in Egypt that works with 2,300 artisans. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 25 February 2020

The Room Place: A window to Egyptian art 

DUBAI: Located in the heart of the UAE, The Room Place in Jumeirah, Dubai is a store that exclusively sells traditional crafts made by Egyptian artisans.

The shop partners with Fair Trade, a social enterprise in Egypt that works with 2,300 artisans in about 17 villages and is divided into 75 crafts, to sell, promote and market handmade work both locally and globally.

The founder of The Room Place, Amira El-Serafy, told Arab News: “Artisans get very excited about working with Fair Trade because they secure a number of added value and benefits to them and to their families. They immediately get the fair amount of cash.”




“You can’t really see imperfection in handmade stuff,” said Amira El-Serafy, founder of The Room Place. (Supplied)

“We work together to ensure that their work environment is safe. We also work together on literacy programs and we try as much as we can to erase illiteracy from their areas,” El-Serafy said. 

In her store, in an Arabian-style souq that “complements the interior of the shop and the products,” the Dubai-raised Egyptian entrepreneur sells home-decor products that range from palm-leaf baskets, embroidery work, wood-carved goods, rugs, pottery and alabaster items. 




Ninety percent of the artisans Fair Trade and The Room Place work with are women. (Supplied)

“The idea of making sure that traditional crafts do not disappear is itself a message,” said El-Serafy, whose background is in advertising and journalism. “We have so many beautiful traditional crafts that we need to shed light on. We can easily compete with mass production and on a different scale because every piece is unique.”

If the artwork is not handmade, the machines the craftsmen use are made by them. “There isn’t machinery that burns fuel emitting toxins into the environment, no. They are aware of the environment,” El-Serafy said. 




If the artwork is not handmade, the machines the craftsmen use are made by them. (Supplied)

Ninety percent of the artisans Fair Trade and The Room Place work with are women. “This shows how they are becoming more independent and are able to sustain their own income,” she said.

“Sometimes people ask, ‘Do you think their perfection is in their imperfection?’ You can’t really see imperfection in handmade stuff. It’s too beautiful on its own. You can feel texture, you can feel color, you can sometimes feel the clay in the items,” she said. 




Fair Trade works with artisans in about 17 villages and is divided into 75 crafts. (Supplied)

The goods sold at The Room Place are made to be suitable for the Gulf region, but without losing the traditional element. “For example, people here like the bigger pieces of pottery because they use it for display,” El-Serafy said. 


What We Are Reading Today: Trigonometric delights by Eli Maor

Updated 10 April 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Trigonometric delights by Eli Maor

Trigonometry has a reputation as a dry, difficult branch of mathematics, a glorified form of geometry complicated by tedious computation. 

In Trigonometric Delights, Eli Maor dispels this view. Rejecting the usual descriptions of sine, cosine, and their trigonometric relatives, he brings the subject to life in a compelling blend of history, biography, and mathematics. 

From the proto-trigonometry of the Egyptian pyramid builders and the first true trigonometry developed by Greek astronomers, to the epicycles and hypocycles of the toy Spirograph, Maor presents 

both a survey of the main elements of trigonometry and a unique account of its vital contribution to science and social growth. 

A tapestry of stories, curiosities, insights, and illustrations, Trigonometric Delights irrevocably changes how we see this essential mathematical discipline.