‘Morocco Days’ brings a small part of Morocco to Norway: Director of The Artisan House, Abdellah Aadnani, tells The Oslo Times
June 9, Oslo: Abdellah Aadnani is the director of The Artisan House and organizer of Morocco Days in Oslo, the first of its kind exhibition in Norway to introduce Morocco to the Norwegian community.
Three weeks of Morocco handicrafts’ exhibition (with craftsmen/women showcasing how art craft products are made), fashion, gourmet tasting, live folk and Moroccan band music and inspiring lifestyle experience began in Oslo from Tuesday, 2, June.
Aadnani in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times Chief International Correspondent Prabalta Rijal, spoke about the exhibition, culture,handicrafts of Morocco and child right issues.
Excerpts below given is an insight into the interesting talk that followed:
Thank you sir for agreeing to do this interview with us on such a brief notice, my first question to you today is: Can you tell us a little about this exhibition and why ‘Morocco Days’ was organized?
The purpose behind organizing “Morocco Days” in Oslo is to introduce Morocco to the Norwegian community, through presenting its handicraft products. In fact, Moroccan handicraft is a heritage of art and tradition and reflects the ancestral Moroccan art of living.
Secondly, this event represents an opportunity to build strong and long term economical and cultural relationships between Morocco and Norway. In addition to this, exhibiting Moroccan products is a chance to enhance the image of Morocco as a country and boost its handicraft sector.
How many people were there at its inauguration in Paleet and how many people do you plan to attract to the Exhibition?
Morocco Days artisans in Paleet cover a total area of 500 sqm, and we are exhibiting different handicrafts from different areas of expertise in every corner of the shopping mall. On the day of inauguration more than 500 persons were present, however, we hope to attract much more people in the coming days and throughout the entire period of the event. We seek to catch the attention of people who are looking for authenticity and fantasy.
What makes Morocco Days unique from other such festivals?
The main characteristics of ‘Morocco Days’, around the World is to enhance the image of Morocco; to create close relationship with the hosting nation; and also to promote Morocco as a touristic destination full of cultural heritage and modernity. Furthermore, it is an additional channel to promote Moroccan handicraft products, by showing the work of artisans and diversity they have to offer. And holding Morocco days in Paleet shopping center is the best place to introduce Morocco to the Norwegians and attract different segments and stakeholders.
You talked about mutual benefit between Morocco and Norway in regards to handicraft trade, can you tell us a little about the amount of handicraft Morocco exports to Norway and other Scandinavian countries?
Handicrafts exports to Scandinavian countries are very low comparing to other European countries –Germany and France for instance-.The total amount of handicraft exports to Scandinavian countries was around 285 624 euros for the year 2014. The exports to Norway represent 23% of the exports to Scandinavian countries and the highest part goes to Sweden with 42%. For this reason Morocco is trying to strengthen efforts to promote its handicraft inNorway and at the same time listen to this market in order to adapt in accordance to its demands.
Apart from Norway, we have heard that similar exhibitions will also be held in London, Paris and Berlin what was the criterion you used to select the host cities and why were these three cities selected?
The reason we are promoting Moroccan craft products everywhere around the World, for is to reinforce our action in all potential markets. Our handicrafts products are adapted to the taste of all the populations, and we are willing to serve all the communities.
These three cities belong to the three first handicrafts trade partners, so there is already a demand. However, we would like to go to other countries in order to introduce our art of living, so there is no criterion to go to a specific market.
Also apart from these European countries mentioned above and the United states which other countries are you planning take this exhibition to?
So far, we have similar planned events in Middle East countries such as UAE, and other African countries. But we intend to attract other countries to host the events as long as there is an opportunity for Moroccan handicraft products in their local markets.
Besides, we use another channel to promote Moroccan handicrafts products, for instance, we take part of many international exhibitions and fairs all over the World. Mainly in conventional trade partner countries, like European countries, Japan, USA and UAE.
Like you have already mentioned that the event will introduce Morocco to the Norwegian Community, and help in boosting its Handicraft and tourism sector, can you tell us a little about the growth of the handicraft sector in Morocco?
As a representative of Moroccan handicraft, I can say that the sector is expanding; its total revenue had increased by 4% last year. Yet, Scandinavian countries take advantage of a very small part of the global Moroccan handicraft exports. That is why we seek to strengthen action to export Moroccan handicrafts products to Norway and to other Scandinavian markets. The success of ‘Moroccan Days; in Oslo is a good incentive for the Moroccan government to organize more events in Norway, and to enforce trade actions.
How would you describe the Handicraft sector in Morocco and how popular are Moroccan handicrafts outside the country and mostly in Europe?
Overall, the handicraft sector is expanding, in 2013 the total revenue had increased by 4% comparing to the previous year, and the total Moroccan GDP has increased by 2%. However, the part of the total revenue is not fair in all the handicraft segments.
Even if the global trade is struggling the handicraft exports are moderately increasing. And, indeed, European countries are the highest exporters of Moroccan handicraft -43% in 2013-
Despite efforts by UNICEF there are still lots of reports on child labor in the handicraft and weaving industry in Morocco, don’t you it is unethical to sell and exhibit products that could have been manufactured through forced labor, as a handicraft entrepreneur yourself how do you ensure that no child labor has been used to produce the crafts you are selling and exporting?
As a governmental institution we make sure that our handicraft exhibitors respect all the legal and ethical procedures in their production process. We also work on raising the awareness of some crafts producers through learning and education programs.
What steps has the Government of Morocco taken to mitigate child labor in the handicraft and weaving industry?
The Moroccan Government is making efforts to defeat child labor and increase education. It has put in place text of law and takes sever actions toward children’s employers. Besides, the Moroccan Government has started more than ten years ago a planned program in order to structure the handicraft sector. Among others, the purpose behind this plan is to overcome child labor and unemployment, through learning programs and easy access to information.
I would like to slightly change the topic here, how do you like Norway, do you think you would visit here again and what is it that you like or dislike about this place the most?
Norway is a very welcoming country, and we were nicely surprised by its wonderful nature. And yes for sure we would like to come to visit again and also to carry on similar events.
Before we wind up this interview, is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers?
In brief, we are more than excited by the welcoming of “Morocco days” in such prestigious shopping center. And we would like to carry on actions to present Morocco through its art of living. So, please come visit Morocco in Norway until June 21st in Paleet shopping center.
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