The oldest girls’ school in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla has launched an initiative that helps female artisans create commercially viable collections showcasing their local heritage to cater to the country’s growing tourism market, Reuters reported on Monday.
In June 2020, the al-Deerah school announced the initiative in collaboration with Turquoise Mountain Foundation, an NGO established by Prince Charles to protect traditional crafts and historical areas, and the Royal Commission for AlUla.
It aimed to help craftswomen explore their craft, be it wicker design, pottery, textile, or jewelry design, to help revive, protect and sustain Saudi Arabia’s culture.
“Al-Deerah school is one of our flagship community programs. This is where we inspire young artisans to create products that will be flagship for people to take all over the world and create a sustainable, thriving local economy,” Royal Commission of AlUla’s CEO Amr al-Madani told Reuters.
The school has now become a hub for artisans, with 60 women who are aspiring to become pioneers in their craft.
Al-Deerah welcomes both established craftswomen and beginners to take part in their workshops.
“We started six months ago from zero. We learned sewing and stitching and I hope to run an international brand that started from AlUla in the future,” said stitching student and Saudi citizen, Amerah al-Harbi.
“I studied this craft [pottery] at university and I wanted to improve myself in it to open my own business. I joined Turquoise center to train on ceramics and pottery, and hopefully I will continue to get the proper training so that I start a business,” said Saudi craftswoman and student at the pottery workshop Maram Makki.
The initiative was announced as part of a master plan which is set to transform AlUla, a city located in the Kingdom’s northwest, into an attractive tourism destination, Saudi press agency SPA reported on Friday.
The ‘Journey Through Time’ masterplan is part of a program aimed at developing a strategy to achieve the country’s 2030 Vision and to provide 38,000 new job opportunities.