International Women's Day, 2018

In honour of International Women’s Day on 8th March, we are celebrating some of the female artisans, innovators and enablers we met on our journey so far.


Thursday 8th March is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” draws attention to rural and urban women sustaining their communities. 

At Atharna, we aim to raise awareness of artisanal crafts to help the craftswomen of the Middle East create a sustainable income through their skill. Many of the craftspeople we have met along our journey so far, fear they are the last generation of makers and encourage generations to come to keep their talent alive.

In light of this, we celebrate some of these women working to educate, empower and make change in their communities. 

Click the images below to find out more about their stories. 

Soaad Mansour, Lebanon
Basket Weaver

‘We have been doing this for generations. After my husband Youssef passed away several years ago, I had to take on the family business.’

ShamsArd Collective, Palestine

‘We really wanted to start building with alternative local materials that don’t have a large impact on the environment.’

Layla Essa, Bahrain
Al Naqda Embroiderer

Essa, who has worked with al naqda for over 20 years, was first inspired to learn it when watching her aunt elegantly embroider garments.


Hamda Al Hashemi, Abu Dhabi

‘Calligraphy is more than an art, it’s a science of its own. ‘I don’t think about anything else other than the artwork when writing.'

Donna Raad, Lebanon
Bisou Silk Museum

‘Being at a place dedicated to preserving another important craft gives me a whole other appreciation of artisanal work.’


Mersar Ahmad, Jordan

‘I didn't want to study at university so I thought: why not have a look?’ she smiles. ‘I took the course, and it turned out I was very good.’

Jamila Salem, Lebanon

‘We wanted to do something for women to sustain themselves in the camps. Today, we have artisans in eight of Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps.’

Um Fayez, Kuwait
Sadu Weaver

Um Fayez has been a sadu weaver since she was 15... She was taught by 'el umahat el habayeb', the ‘beloved women of the tribe.’

Laila Al Hamad, Kuwait
Cultural Development

Laila and her family work with local artisans to elevate Kuwait's cultural heritage through traditional arts and architecture.


Sara Ouhaddou, Morocco
Cultural Development

This 29-year old designer began visiting remote communities to preserve and reinterpret Morocco’s traditional craft techniques.

Adla Al Tweise, Jordan
Development Projects in Petra

Meet Adla, who was the first female driver in Wadi Musa and the first teacher. Today, she’s involved in almost a dozen development projects in Petra.

Saada Al Harbi, Jeddah
Palm Weaver

‘My village lived from making things from the palm tree. When I was around 10, my mother and grandmother taught me to weave.'

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Shop The Sleysla Clutch, hand woven by Saada Al Harbi and the artisans at the Sleysla Centre in Jeddah.


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