The Agriculture environment pavilion presents a live showcase
of the Emirati palm frond-weaving craft of “safeefah”
Taking place in the historic Heart of Sharjah district, the 18th edition of Sharjah Heritage Days seeks to highlight the heritage and rich culture of the UAE. Also being showcased are the unique crafts specific to the UAE and Gulf region that centre on women makers, enabling them to preserve local handicraft traditions.
One such craft is the generations-old art of weaving using the “safeefah” technique – palm leaves are dried and woven together to create baskets, mats, rugs boxes, bags and other items. At the Agriculture Environment open air pavilion, Emirati women from Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah are seated among palm fronds – called “khoos” – which are divided into sections, some of them coloured, and weaving them into various items.
Before the weaving, the fronds need to be dried (for up to a week) cleaned and assembled as well. The dyeing process is done by dipping the fronds in hot water with the colour in it, before leaving them to dry again. The woven items may take a day or more to complete. Often, it is a leisure activity for the women, spread out over many days and used as a time to catch up with relatives or friends.
While in the past, safeefah baskets and items served a variety of practical use and purposes, it is preserved today as an Emirati cultural tradition, with the products sold as décor items or souvenirs. The weaving activities at SHD offers an informative display and a look into this old household art and activity, for a younger and modern generation of Emiratis and expatriates.