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Carpet repair booms in Syria’s Aleppo amid economic crisis

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by Hummam Sheikh Ali

ALEPPO, Syria, April 29 (Xinhua) — Before the war erupted in Syria in 2011, the business of repairing carpet was mainly about fixing ancient and expensive handmade carpets, which were considered heritage and treasures due to their value.

However, the situation has now changed as people can hardly afford new expensive carpets amid the economic crisis resulted from the long years of war and the harsh economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Syria.

Omar Rawas, a 44-year-old man who inherited this business from his family, sits in the yard of his workshop surrounded by carpets.

“Repairing handmade carpets is like fixing paintings,” he said of his business, who is knowledgeable about various kinds of carpets from different parts of the world, such as famous Iranian carpets like Mashhad, Tabriz, Arak, Isfahan, Kashan, and Kerman.

Ancient handmade carpets are highly treasured in Syria as they have been passed from one generation to another, and the Syrian carpet weavers used to fix only these kinds of carpets in the past.

But as the crisis has taken a toll on all aspects of life in Syria, carpet weavers, whose number has largely declined during the war, are now fixing any carpet because people no longer just throw the old rug away.

“Before the crisis, I wouldn’t fix the ones made by machines which were simple and affordable; but amid the hard economic situation, people started fixing machine-made carpets that they wouldn’t normally fix,” Rawas said.

He also recalled that before the war, tourists and Syrian expats came to take gifts from Aleppo for their friends. “Now, the business has dwindled,” he added.

The man worried about the possible extinction of the profession as the young generation in the country is not interested in such a difficult and intricate handmade art that demands patience and skills.

“Our young generation is no longer interested in old traditional handcrafts because it needs to master the skills first and then comes the money,” he remarked.

He is working on passing his skills and passion down to his sons.

“I am trying to put the love of this profession in the hearts of my sons. When he loves it, he will know its real value,” Rawas said.

“I have big hopes that if tourism returned, my business would boom because people love to see the handmade stuff in Syria’s Aleppo,” he noted.

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