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Strengthen the role of traditional Syrian & Turkish crafts and its developing in achieving integration and civil peace in the border cities

This is exactly what the arts do. It is simple and very effective in spreading love and building bridges.

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Since the beginning of the war in Syria, more than three and a half million Syrians had fled the cycle of ongoing conflict toward Turkey, most of them had concentrated in the border cities. The impact of this large number of the Syrians in those cities compared to the size of the city led to several tension events, despite the efforts of the Turkish state to reduce tension between the two sides. Not only the civilians who were victims of the violence that continued for years, but also the list of victims increased to include the cultural aspect of the country. Main goal of the project is Enhancing opportunities for Syrian-Turkish rapprochement between civilians in cities where large numbers of Syrians have been mobilized, and promote integration and co-existence through traditional Syrian craftsmanship in cooperation with Syrian artisans with the advantage that Turkish culture is so close to the Syrian culture. This will contribute to the exclusion of the sense of Turkish people that the homeless are just receivers of aid and that they are taking the capabilities of their country. In addition, it strengthens the psychological situation of the displaced, that they are capable of production and they have got a great historical and cultural heritage.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Turkey was one of the largest share countries that had received the most displaced Syrian people with a number exceeds three and a half million. Most of them had concentrated in the border cities such as Antakya, Gaziantep and some major cities such as Istanbul. The city of Gaziantep is the second largest city after the city of Istanbul in terms of the number of Syrians present in the city with about a half million.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

One of the most important roles that the arts can play in this world is to inspire marginalized individuals and groups to express themselves in the public sphere. And it's that idea that is at the heart of a new report just released by The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, titled 'Living Together: Fostering Cultural Pluralism through the Arts'. According to this idea we work on building a cultural bridges between Syrians and Turkish that helping refugees adjust to the new environment.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

The long years of war in Syria had led to a whole generation whom are completely ignorant of his cultural identity. The difference in language was another obstacle because most of the main materials used in these professions were not known in the Turkish market for craftsmen. The difficulty of working for many Syrian artisans who entered Turkish territory illegally has contributed significantly to this decline also, due to the lack of a legal framework that allows Syrians in some cities to perform their jobs. There are many groups of women who have lost their husbands or children who have lost their parents or adults who have suffered various disabilities because of the war In Syria. Most of them suffer from poor physical condition due to multiple difficulties related to language and the difficulty of work and integration with society. The project contributes through the training workshops in raising the level of empowerment and sustainability between different age groups.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Syrian culture is characterized by its proximity to Turkish culture. They lived in the same geographical area under one rule during the days of the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, the art of decoration is not far from the Turkish culture, so that Turkey is a school of decoration. Through the first exhibition of this craft in the city of Gaziantep, we found the desire and passion of the Turkish public with the products of the craft offered. We believe that this acceptance will have an impact in making the desired change. In addition, from our good relations and contacts with many cultural bodies open to accept refugees in the city, we found the welcome idea and willingness to provide what is needed to help proceed with this project.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Traditional crafts are defined as those industries with a historical extension, that transform raw material into a product that reflect a heritage. Traditional crafts are a manifestation of civilization and its primary means of expressing the culture and originality of society. Damascus is the oldest inhabited capital in history and has a great history and cultural heritage. In addition, the history of the Ajami Damascene handicraft dates back more than 1400 years during the reign of the Umayyad state. In addition, it has been listed on the UNESCO Heritage List. Many Turks believe the opposite of these facts, and that the people who have resorted to their country lacks the material and civilized potential. Through the project and cooperation between the Syrian artists and the Turkish cultural bodies, the picture will be clarified by monitoring the activities and publishing them through audio and visual materials and publishing them through the means of social communication.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The city lies on the borderline bordering Syrian territory with the historic city of Aleppo.Gaziantep is the second largest city after Istanbul in terms of the number of Syrians in the city by about half a million. The impact of so many Syrians in the city compared to the size of the city has led to many events of tension. However, the efforts of the municipality, cultural gatherings and students contribute greatly to the openness of the guests. The historical and historical character of the city plays an important role in achieving this rapprochement because of the proximity of the Syrian and Turkish cultures.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

I attended several training workshops on craft during my undergraduate studies at the Syrian Artisans and Artists in Damascus. I participated in several group exhibitions through a number of works. I had got a financial grant from Goethe-Institute in Istanbul and Spaces of Culture Team (Kultur Icin Alan) for a project to revive the craft and spread its work in Turkey. The project included training and rehabilitation for several Syrians and Turkish. I held the first exhibition for this handicraft in Turkey on 15/10/2018. I was appointed by Istanbul Cultural Culture as a cultural director representing Gaziantep City to attend a cultural gathering bringing together many artists and workers in the field of culture from Turkey and Europe and training for cultural directors.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

• Gaziantep Municipality - Gaziantep. • Kirkayak Kultur - Gaziantep. • Kultur icin alan – Istanbul. • Retaj-Gaziantep. • Yasser Ghazal - Roqoosh-Gaziantep. • Syrian Handicraft Artist – Alia Nuaimi • Ghazwan Al-Saka – Photographer & Producer.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name


Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We're a Palestinian Syrian Family settled in Gaziantep Turkey since 2015 and working on a historical and an old Syrian craft which date back more than 1400 years. The craft which well known outside Syria by the name "Ajami Handicraft" is present in the historical Syrian and Damascene rooms and present also in most of the international museums like The Metropolitan in The United States of America and the Islamic art museum in Germany. We worked on a project to re-initiate it through training workshops and we were able to win a small fund for this project from Goethe Institute in Istanbul to present the craft to the Turkish society especially the craft is so close to the Turkish culture. Although we know that it is difficult for any organization to response positively in the case of individuals, but as a Palestinian family suffered from being refugees twice, a family spent its whole life as a refugee, we still prove that in spite all of difficulties we always have the ability to change.

Website URL: YouTube channel: retaj art

Type of submitter

  • We are individuals who are part of an informal group or collective

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

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Attachments (2)

Syrian Ajami Handicraft.pdf

Full Description of the Historical Syrian Damascene (Ajami Handicraft).

Strenghtn the role of Traditional Syrian Handicrafts.pdf

Full Description of the circumstances that led to the idea of the project.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Our Workshop

Our solution is also rooted in craft and design!
I believe that time spent together Making and Sharing is a very very effective way to create strong connections between people from vastly different backgrounds.
Also, we need to retain the wide variety of craft skills!!

Photo of Ata Akil

Hi Our Workshop
One hundred percent, When talking about traditional crafts in general, you find that the craftsmen who work with these crafts adhere to the traditional character, believing that any attempt to develop these crafts will be deprived of traditional character. I think that the usefulness of such workshops lies in the possibility of introducing new ideas concerning these crafts, the presence of artists and craftsmen from different environments will expand the horizons possible and may achieve a balance between the development of these crafts on the one hand, and preserve their traditional character on the other hand.

Photo of Our Workshop


I would love to work with traditional craftspeople from Turkey!! I have applied to run projects at the Istanbul Bienalle twice - based on investigating local crafts in the streets there... Never managed to get chosen though.

Best regards,
Heath Nash (Our Workshop Founder)

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