The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

El Nafeza

El Nafeza: 100% Egyptian and Eco-Friendly Paper Products

  • Karyat Al Fakhareen El Gededa
  • Home Accessories
  • Saturday-Thursday, 09:30AM- 03:30PM -
reviewed by
Ranya Saadawi
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El Nafeza: 100% Egyptian and Eco-Friendly Paper Products

Located in Coptic Cairo next to Darb 17 18 is El Nafeza, a small, dynamic workshop where employees work diligently to revive the papermaking industry in Egypt.

El Nafeza’s
owner, Mohamed Abou El Naga designed an environmentally friendly technique that
uses the agricultural refuse of Egypt, mainly rice straw, banana stalks and
river flowers, to produce saleable, eco-friendly and handmade paper
products. El Nafeza employs young women of lower income backgrounds as well as members of the
deaf and mute community, trains them to recycle agricultural waste into paper, then produce
and design quality handmade paper and paper products for very reasonable prices.

El Nafeza’s
workshop serves as both the centre of paper and design production as well as a retail
outlet for the products. The workshop is always buzzing with activity and
filled with materials, paint and paper; you can feel the artistic juices
flowing through the room. To the right is a cabinet that displays many of the
finished products. This includes notebooks of various sizes, colours and
designs (10LE to 40LE), double photo frames (35LE), mini-boxes to hold office
products or jewellery (starting at 10LE), and bags designed especially to hold
wine bottles (20LE). Designs range from kheyameya designs to Arabic calligraphy
and arabesque patterns.

As you walk
around the workshop, you will find other products scattered throughout,
including gift boxes of various sizes, folders that were custom-ordered for an
event and tote bags designed for the Embassy of Singapore. There are also stacks
of newly-produced paper of different colours and patterns, waiting to be
twisted, tucked and cut into a new product.

designers work on the left side of the room and behind them more products are
displayed, including a new line of lamps and lamp shades made of recycled paper
(starting at 30LE). El Nafeza also takes special orders and can create business
cards, wedding invitations, folders and anything else that you desire. In fact,
El Nafeza often launches a new line of products based on popular demand by
their customers.

In the
outside section of the workshop, you will see where the paper is actually made.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be there on a day when the employees are dyeing the
paper pieces and hanging them on the walls to dry. The employees are more than
eager to show you the process and even let you make your own paper!  

At El Nafeza, you
will get more than just handmade product; you get to be a witness and a
participant in the entire process. The next time you’re near Coptic Cairo, be sure to pass by this
gem of a shop.

360 Tip

Be sure to ask to see the outdoor section, where the paper is made. A traditional falafel machine is used to create pulp to make the paper!

Best Bit

The mini-picture frames and notebooks make perfect small gifts.

Worst Bit

The products are not very well-organised or displayed; so spend some time looking around the workshop to see what else they have to offer.

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