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Fashion house helps unemployed Gazans to start their own businesses

Gazans attend a fashion course at "Aya and Khalil Fashion House" in Gaza City, March 22, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

"I have joined this course in order to find a job, especially since I was not able to get a job related to my university major," said Hussam Abu Kashif, a Gazan novice designer, who was aspiring to open his business and support his family with an adequate income.

by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Hussam Abu Kashif, a 20-year-old refugee from Jabalia Camp, is among dozens of unemployed Gazans who anticipated jump-starting their own careers in the fashion industry through a comprehensive training program.

"After weeks of intensive and continuous training, today I am able to design both menswear and women's clothes … I find myself talented in drawing and fashion design," Abu Kashif told Xinhua while sewing a jacket.

Five months ago, upon hearing that the Gaza-based "Aya and Khalil Fashion House" was opening the courses, he quickly enrolled.

"I have joined this course in order to find a job, especially since I was not able to get a job related to my university major," said the novice designer, who was aspiring to open his business and support his family with an adequate income.

Gazans attend a fashion course at "Aya and Khalil Fashion House" in Gaza City, March 22, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Apart from preparing some 70 attendees to compete with Arab and international designers, the courses were also set to promote locally produced collections instead of imports.

Tahani al-Hour, another trainee from Khan Yunis city who has experience in clothing production, said she was happy with the chance to learn new skills.

"I learned here how to supervise the production, especially as I am exporting them to the Palestinian communities abroad," the 40-year-old mother of six told Xinhua.

For many years before the imposition of the Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2007, thousands of highly skilled Gazans worked in the field of sewing for Israeli fashion companies with an end market in Europe.

A Gazan (R) attends a fashion course at "Aya and Khalil Fashion House" in Gaza City, March 22, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

But nowadays, local markets are crowded with imported clothes which are exorbitantly priced, whereas Gaza-produced items can rival at a more competitive price, said Khalil Khudair, the co-founder of the fashion house.

"Tailors usually rely on ready-made designs that they get whether from the Internet or Israeli companies. We lack professional and talented designers who are able to compete with," Khudair said.

Khudair said the courses, which would take at least three months and a half to finish, "teach local people … from drawing models for dresses or formal outfits to sewing and final production of clothes to be ready for sale and use."

Considering many of the applicators are financially strapped, the courses offer large discounts on tuition fees, so the students could be better positioned to launch their own business, according to the organizers.

A report issued by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights in February found that 1.5 million Gazans live in poverty due to the Israeli blockade, with an over 50-percent unemployment rate by the end of 2021.

Gazans attend a fashion course at "Aya and Khalil Fashion House" in Gaza City, March 22, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua) ■