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Egypt in Palestine: National Participation at the 1933-34 Arab Exhibitions in Jerusalem
A densely ornamented corner of the Palace Hotel pictures displays of furniture, jewellery, cosmetics, and objects, resplendent with patterned carpets, woodwork, metalwork, and Ancient Egyptian wall paintings. What was previously the only known photograph of the interior of the National Arab Exhibitions at the Palace Hotel in Mandate Jerusalem (1933-34) depicts the Egyptian wing at the first exhibition, which can perhaps be considered a measure of its importance. The early 1930s marked increasing participations in international fairs, including Marseilles, Chicago, Le Havre, Milan, and Paris led by a dedicated ministerial department that sought to promote Egypt’s products, foreign trade, and tourism across international markets. Following a controversial participation in the Zionist Levant Fair of 1932, Egypt participated in both iterations of the Arab Exhibitions in Jerusalem, presenting a decidedly different offering, organised within a pan-Arab framework, and thus arguably geared towards an Arab audience. Participation in both exhibitions takes place in conjunction with the formation of a trade agreement between Egypt and Palestine, which proposed free trade in local products between both parties and stipulated specific favourable imports and exports. This essay examines Egypt’s participation in the Arab exhibitions, which showcased the fruits of burgeoning industries and crafts. I argue that pictorial evidence as well as that of named craftsmen within the exhibitions’ catalogues points to a shift from established hierarchies of arts and crafts in the modern Egyptian context. Seen within the wider framework of participations in international fairs, exploring Egypt’s contributions to these exhibitions elucidates the artistic, social, political, and economic dynamics at stake amongst Arab nations.
Art/Art History
Geographic Area
Arab States
Sub Area