Mashhad handicrafts market seen to flourish in post-coronavirus era

December 13, 2021 - 17:7

TEHRAN – A boom is expected in the handicrafts market of Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi province when the coronavirus crisis is finally over, a local tourism official has announced.

Upon the end of the coronavirus outbreak and with the arrival of tourists, the market for handicrafts in Mashhad will flourish, Hossein Amirkalali said on Monday.

Since the handicraft market is dependent on tourists, the increase in tourist arrivals will produce economic indicators, particularly GDP, along with the production and sale of handicraft products, which will be economic results from tourism, he noted.

Handicrafts are close to the field of tourism and can significantly affect the growth of tourism in the province, especially in Mashhad, the official added.

In addition to its capacity to attract pilgrims and travelers, Mashhad’s status as a world city of gemstones means it is able to attract small businesses and small handicraft workshops with a small investment that can create jobs swiftly and profitably for the city and province, he explained.

A number of factors make handicrafts a promising option to reduce unemployment, including the participation of women in production, diversification of household income sources, use of local raw materials, high added value, preservation of local culture and originality, and other aspects, he mentioned.

Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi province, is Iran’s holiest and second-largest city which embraces the shrine complex of Imam Reza (AS), the eighth Shia Imam.

Dozens of five-star hotels and hostels are dotted across Mashhad. The city has also the highest concentration of water parks in the country, and it also embraces a variety of cultural and historical sites that are generally crowded. The metropolis is also a good place to buy top handwoven rugs and carpets, and it’s a staging post for travel to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and little-touristic Khorasan regions.

Before the coronavirus puts almost everything on lockdown, Mashhad, played host to thousands of travelers and pilgrims who come from various Iranian cities, neighboring countries, and even across the globe to visit the holy shrine.

According to official statistics, some 37 million Iranian pilgrims and travelers visited the shrine city of Mashhad during the first ten months of the past Iranian calendar year 1398 (March 21, 2019- March 10, 2020). Of whom some eight million came by road, six million by rail, 3.8 million by air, and 18 million by private cars.

Wide-ranging handicrafts

With 14 entries, Iran ranks first globally for the number of cities and villages registered by the World Crafts Council, as China with seven entries, Chile with four, and India with three ones come next.

In January 2020, the cities of Shiraz, Malayer, and Zanjan and the village of Qassemabad were designated by the WCC- Asia Pacific Region, putting Iran’s number of world crafts cities and villages from ten to 14.

The value of Iran’s handicrafts exports stood at $120 million during the first eleven months of the past Iranian calendar year 1399 (March 20, 2020 – February 18, 2021), Mehr reported. The country’s handicrafts exports slumped during the mentioned months in comparison to the same period last a year earlier due to the damage the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted on global trade.

The Islamic Republic exported $427 million worth of handicrafts during the first eleven months of the calendar year 1398. Of the figure, some $190 million was earned via suitcase trade (allowed for customs-free and tax-free transfer) through 20 provinces, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.

Ceramics, pottery vessels, handwoven cloths as well as personal ornamentations with precious and semi-precious gemstones are traditionally exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, the U.S., the UK, and other countries.