Widow of Rakan Al Mansouri takes part in the Liwa Date Festival's traditional souq every year, showcasing her hand-made clothes and camel saddles
Liwa: After her husband’s death, she used her sewing machine to start a simple business which has led to her occupying a permanent spot at the heart of the Liwa Date Festival for the past seven years.
Since its inauguration, the widow of Rakan Al Mansouri, has been taking part in the festival’s Traditional Souq, showcasing her hand-made clothes, camel saddles and bucket wraps (made of date palm leaves to keep water cool).
“It all started after my husband died of an asthma attack 10 years ago. When my financial situation deteriorated for me and my 10 children, I realised that the burden was all on me,” said Fatheyya Al Mansouri.
“Since there were no tailors in my area, I began to custom-make things for my family, friends and neighbours. Slowly, word-of-mouth spread to several regions in the country,” the Emirati mother said.
Now, Fatheyya has a driver to deliver her products to Bani Yas, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi and her business is gradually improving. She has also made use of technologies such as business cards and BlackBerry, to network with her customers.
However, Fatheyya’s tone was not entirely optimistic.
Sitting in her store situated deep inside the festival’s traditional souq, the craftswoman told Gulf News: “There is very little variety among stores. Visitors can find everything in one place instead of having to walk around the souq because the women are copying each other’s work.”
Selling abayas, henna and bedcovers, Umm Ahmad, whose craft was also born out of hardened circumstances, disagreed with Fatheyya’s opinion, expressing less serious concerns regarding sales this year.
“I did notice that movement between stores is slow despite the festival turn-up being high,” the fifth-year participant said. “Despite difficulties, I am satisfied with the work I have produced and sold this year,” she added.