As normal as "Made in China" has become on nearly every product we buy - from clothes to housewares to electronics - it's still a bit jarring to see that ubiquitous label on 'traditional' souvenirs. But people looking for that perfect Nefertiti bust or Ramadan lantern to take home from their trip to Egypt won't being seeing that label anymore: Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour issued a ban on the import of all products that bear folkloric, artistic and historic features.
The decision was made in an attempt to preserve Egypt's popular artistic heritage and its intellectual property rights. The mentioned items include paintings, sculptures, figurines, mosaics, jewelry and gems, textile and carpets, as well as musical instruments.
“Chinese goods and antiquities are scattered in the Egyptian bazaars for two reasons: The first is the cheap prices and low cost of importing these goods, and the second reason is that the tourists who visit Egypt are less affluent than previously,” the chairman of the Chamber of Tourist Antiquities, Mohammed Al-Qattan, told Daily News Egypt.
According to Abdel Nour, the intellectual property rights law gives the culture minister full authority to supervise financial and literary rights pertaining to national folklore. Subsequently, a team from the Trade, Culture and Antiquities ministries will be formed to draft guidelines to protect the country's intellectual rights.
During 2014, at least 7,000 bazaars were shut down out of 14,000 licensed bazaars, Hussein El-Gabry, a member of the Chamber of Tourist Antiquities, previously said.
Egypt is a country of rich history and cultural heritage, one that made way for numerous arts and crafts which bring history and culture to the tips of one's fingers. A single walk through Old Cairo reveals the magnitude of skill and art that goes into Egypt's traditional products.
This new law will provide a boost to traditional craftsmen, though it may be a blow to the pocketbook of tourists.