Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Will Next Year Be The Beginning Of The Egyptian Ramadan Lantern End!!??

For centuries since the Fatimid era, the handmade tin Lantern has become a part if not a symbol of the holy month of Ramadan in Egypt, for centuries it was one of the jewels of the handmade industries in Egypt, for centuries Egyptian manufacturers at the famous old Cairo workshops presented various shapes for the lantern using tin, glass, wood and in the past 20 years plastic to meet the demand of all classes, ages and also uses.
but it seems that after all these centuries the famous Ramadan Lantern of Egypt has a very slight chance of survival against the Chinese Ramadan Lantern.

Chinese Ramadan lantern on the shape of footballer Mohamed Abu Tarika
Abu Tarika lantern 2010
During the last ten years the Egyptian lantern industry has been facing a huge fierce competition from the cheap imported Chinese plastic lanterns that found a growing demand in the largest consumer market in the Arab world. The Chinese lanterns won a market by targeting children, it began with a simple attractive colored lantern light plastic lantern that evolved to a colored plastic with flickering light lantern then a colored plastic with flickering light and famous Ramadan songs too1 ending to lanterns on the shapes of famous cartoon characters and famous footballers like Mohamed Abu Tarika , the star of the Egyptian national football team this year and moving lanterns that are actually toys more than lanterns.
 Each year the Chinese lantern makers present a new fashion, a new package of attractive features to children and their parents too with its very cheap prices compared to their native original lantern.
The Egyptian lantern can’t compete with the Chinese lantern, aside of its classic designs that may not sound fashionable to new generations of children; it is very expensive if we consider the raw materials used from tin and glass besides of course its manufacture cost ; unlike its Chinese counterpart , it is handmade.
The increase in raw material prices and the shortage in the trained manufacturers put the whole industry in risk.
From left to rights ; Chinese , Egyptian , Egyptina !! Starting from next year the Chinese tin lanterns will invade our market
Chinese tin lantern on the left
Despite the fierce competition the Egyptian lantern market put its bet on the adults market, whether the consumer market or the business market; many families still love to buy authentic Egyptian big glass lantern to hang it whether in their balconies or put it in their living rooms, shops and hotels love to have that expensive big glass lantern as part of their Ramadan decorations. Things seemed to be fine for a while but not too long because the Chinese lanterns have entered the tin age in Egypt.
Starting from this year Chinese lanterns importers began to import Chinese tin lantern with the same design and specifications of the famous traditional Egyptian tin lantern, this year small lanterns are imported while next year the big lanterns will arrive the Egyptian ports to start a new era for the historical industry in Egypt. The economics of the industry play an important role because again the Chinese clone is much cheaper in cost than the original Egyptian.
The Egyptian handmade lanterns will be there but on demand for a big price.
Chinese Ramadan lantern of this year : Bogi and Tamtam !!
Bogi and Tamtam lanterns

Egyptian traditional lanterns besides the Chinese traditional lanterns
Egyptian lanterns besides Chinese lanterns
At Dokki's biggest lantern workshop and distributor

1. The Chinese included the famous Ramadan songs in their lanterns.
2. I wrote a short report about this in Demotix 


  1. Oriental style lanterns are so in for home and garden decoration these days. Im in the UK and saw several projects for selling handmade items, all made in parts of Africa and Asia, notably India, according to an ethical trade system. The idea is to sell traditionally made stuff, to preserve the skill, to preserve the livelihood of the ppl producing such stuff, to provide an avenue to sell these good in other markets for proper revenue and under fair conditions. We have so many wonderful handmade stuff that could easily be sold abroad and provide an incentive for those with the skills not to be forced to search for something else to do. I get stopped here in Europe and before in the US and have had girls asking me about a traditional bedouin scarf Im wearing, or a traditional looking silver or gold earrings Im wearing.Ive always received positive feedback on traditional gifts I got for foreign friends from home furnishings to bedouin inspired photo frames, scarfs, even galabeyias, with many asking if they could find these stuff abroad.

    Why isnt any one doing any thing about it?!! This could be a real business venture with a development aspect.

  2. They could easily stop these chinese lanterns from coming into the country w/o violating rules of int trade. If the lanterns are using Egyptian songs, this is infringement of Authors rights (for the songs that are still protected) and all that is needed to stop the shipments is complaints from the owners of the Authors rights. You cant sell an item using a song w/o first securing permission from the owners of such songs.

  3. @anonymous , one of my projects in my senior year was selling online handmade stuff and during my research I found that the workshops in Egypt need a little help from the government side to overcome the red tape to export directly to consumer in the west.
    If Egypt Post with its agreements with FedEx help these workshops , if the ministries of trade and IT set up shopping portals for our handmade industries from clothes, lanterns,cotton products and carpets !! Just imagine the profit !!??
    These workshops need a little help and unfortunately they asked the government which does not want to hear or understand or recognize their suffering.

    @anonymous#2 These points have been raised before in our press and nobody hears or cares for them , the furniture industry in Damietta now is suffering hell on the hands of the cheap Chinese furniture
    We are speaking about a huge industry which the government does nothing to protect it so I am not surprised with indifference to our lantern industry !!

  4. @Z: Im the Anon who posted the past 2 posts. Id be very interested to hear about this project u made. Do think there is a way to bypass the gov? There might be an idea for an NGO here

  5. China has become the world's 2nd most powerful economy beating Japan, Germany, France and England....soon the world will kiss their lanterns goodbye.
    The Canadian.

  6. @anonymous , there is of course a way but it needs an entrepreneur or even a company like LinkdotNet to adopt this project
    Simply you need an e-commerce portal , you need to convince the workshops in old Cairo for example with your project , you make an an agreement with Fedex or DHL or even Egyptpost to transfer to the final customer in Europe
    When I spoke about the government I consider its logistics and the fact that the workshop owners can be convinced easily by a big project by the government that by a lonely entrepreneur

    @The Canadian you got a good point !!

  7. If Egyptian consumers prefer Chinese to Egyptian lanterns, it is pointless to protect the Egyptian lantern industry, and wasteful "to preserve the skill, to preserve the livelihood of the ppl producing such stuff". Let those ppl do something useful, like make things ppl want.

  8. Jason , this capitalistic view many American industries suffer from as well

  9. Jason you want to argue with science? Come on!

    Zeinobia, it has really nothing to do with capitalism^^. It is a consensus of most important schools of economics today

    Same scientific consensus as that evolution exists or that the Earth is round. That is why I say that your ideas are harmful to Egyptian economy and you even do not realize it!


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