Egypt Today staff photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker Hayssam el-Maghraby takes viewers on a tour of Cairo’s fawanis (lantern) market. Known as the hub for copperware, the “Souq El-Nahhasin” is also the home of the nation’s traditional Ramadan lantern makers, who this year are seeing a rebirth of their craft following a government decision to scale back imports of “luxury and non-essential” items.
In this short video, Maghraby talks to craftsmen who argue that Chinese lanterns were nothing but “toys” and could never compete with the traditional fawanis lovingly handmade here in Egypt. Times are tough though, with inflation and last year’s pound devaluation hitting both customers and fawanis makers hard. Although 80 percent of lanterns are Egyptian made, more than 75 percent of their components are imported and this year reports indicate lantern sales have plummeted 55 percent as prices double, raising fears that the industry could soon die out.