In the framework of USUDS project, Saida is defining its pilot project that aims to preserve the traditional hand crafts and improve the socio-economic conditions for the craftsmen and their families.

The old city of Saida is a living urban heritage site that is considered as the cultural heart of greater Saida with major components of special significance such as the souqs, the residential neighborhoods, the monuments and the historic housing stock.

In the recent years, the old city has witnessed a large scale process of renovation and restoration with the attempt to revitalize this area and attract tourists. However, a lot of effort still needs to be done in terms of raising the security and safety in the area, and creating a socio-economic dynamic of change driven by architectural renovation and a social (re)-construction of the city space. Thus, improving the living conditions of the dwellers, developing and promoting the traditional crafts in the old city, and training and providing alternatives for inhabitants to restore their houses will strengthen the people’s sense of ownership of the city’s image, as they will benefit from it and be major contributors to its maintenance and sustainable cultural tourism.

The traditional hand crafts are considered part of the living heritage of Saida, and thus a rich factor to the city. Due to poor socioeconomic conditions that accompany these occupations, these crafts are marginalized and are threatened to disappear, as they are not being passed down to future generations. 

Traditional crafts defined in this context include: micro shoe-making, wood crafting, leather bags, and boat making business. However, the traditional crafts that will benefit from the pilot project are: Wood Crafting, Carpentry, and Artisan Handcrafts.

From the USUDS Strategic Diagnosis Report, “Employment in Traditional Crafts and Trades,” studies showed that craftsmen working in carpentry and wood crafting were the most vulnerable, suffering from the harshest economic conditions. 

Following this analysis, USUDS team in Saida focuses the pilot project on the preservation of the traditional hand crafts and improvement of  the socio-economic conditions for the craftsmen and their families. Some activities and actions have been planned to achieve this aim, and still need to be developped and implemented, such as:

  • Conduct the mapping and surveying of craftsmen to assist in investigating solutions for enhancement of their socio-economic conditions by rehabilitating and improving the work conditions in their shops and surrounding areas. 
  • Creating Partnerships with entities that are located and/or functional in the old city in relevant crafts practices that have already established local community beneficiaries’ trust and have customers within our target market.
  • Meeting with the craftsmen to discuss with them the outcomea of the assessment and introducing the phases of the project.
  • Training of craftsmen in order to teach the craftsmen essential skills to develop and preserve the crafts and prepare the craftsmen for the project phases and the collaborations with partners that might be promoting or buying their crafts.
  • Improve the conditions of the crafts shopsin order to make them more attractive for tourism
  • Creating the identity design of the product to strengthen the products reputation and marketability, enhance and assure quality, and establish new customer segments
  • Packaging of the products. This enhances the attractiveness of the products to target groups.  
  • Publishing of crafts brochures that will market and promote the ‘Saida handmade crafts’ to the target groups, and will be distributed across the city
  • Exhibition of Hand Crafts by craftsmen in Sidon Khan El Efranj organized to display the crafts prepared by the woodwork craftsmen and the partners’ hand crafts in the historical Khan El Efranj venue.