18th Century Damascus Bazaar Goes Online

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A group of entrepreneurs announced the launch of hamidiyah.com, which promises to take Damascus’ famous 18th century Hamidiyah bazaar online. Hamidiyah.com will offer a virtual marketplace featuring top-quality handicrafts and showcasing modern crafts by up and coming designers from the region.

“The timing of our launch was driven by two factors,” said Karim Malas, co-founder and general manager of Straight Street, the Lebanon-based company that started hamidiyah.com. “E-commerce is growing at exponential rates in the Middle East, creating a trend that will continue well into the future,” Malas elaborated. The Syrian and Lebanese entrepreneurs who founded Straight Street had another motivation, however. Some of Syria’s most famous handicrafts are on the verge of extinction due to the damage inflicted by the war on one hand, and the fall in demand on the other. “We felt that this was the right time to intervene. The idea was to capitalize on the growth of e-commerce in the region by creating an alternative sales channel for Syrian handicrafts, thus helping stimulate demand and hopefully saving some of these crafts from becoming extinct,” Malas explains.

Houmam Kotob, Straight Street's commercial manager, emphasizes that hamidiyah.com “tells a story of incredible resilience against all odds.” He describes how difficult it has become to find suppliers and source materials in Syria during these circumstances. For craftsmen in Syria, it's a daily uphill battle. Producing anything is almost a miracle. Selling it in the current circumstances is a far-fetched prospect. “But despite the hardships and daily challenges, the way their faces would glow when you hand these proud artists a purchase order makes it all worthwhile,” Kotob added.

Zeina Nofal, who will run marketing for the store, indicated that Souk Al-Hamidiyah was once a top attraction for all tourists that came to Syria. “It's almost impossible for them to visit it now, or shop there. So we will take it to them. Great artistic pieces, offered with the usual Syrian courtesy and a smile,” Nofal says. She added that hamidiyah.com utilizes best practice in e-commerce technology, providing buyers with a secure, simple, and transparent purchase process. “Our payment gateway is based in the UK, allowing us to accept all major credit cards. Once PayPal is available in Lebanon, that will be an option too.”

For a limited time, hamidiyah.com is offering free shipping. In fact, the first orders are already on their way to the UAE, Kuwait, and Canada.

You can find out more about their website by visiting: http://www.hamidiyah.com.

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Karim Malas
Straight Street sarl
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