May 16, 2021

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Tales from Dubai Creek: Love at First Fabric

Elisa and Mahmoud built a life by the creek and made beautiful hand-woven rugs and carpets
Photo Credit: Supplied

The historic Dubai Creek feels a myriad of emotions. Its gently flowing waters recall some days past, while for others the creek was the source of love, life and longing.

American citizen Alyssa met the love of her life Mahmoud Khasim, a Syrian weaver, near Dubai Creek in 2019. Today the couple run Magic Rogs, a local textile studio in Seef, a place that inspires the love of Arabic crafts, culture and traditions through beautiful home textiles, such as carpets. And rugs.

When I met Alyssa near the creek, she seemed happy as she was expecting her first child, a girl, in June. Her days are busy planning breakfast, developing her business with her husband, and dreaming about the new member of her family. “Mahmoud and I met in 2019 when I was a tourist in Dubai. I was on a cruise with my mother, and we were shopping at Al Seef after a great dhow cruise on the Dubai Creek. I had a small table looming at home in the US and I recently became Very interested in weaving. I was pleased to see Mahmoud al-Suri’s large loom, and I was even more happy when I was allowed to use it! I stayed two hours in the weaving and then returned every day of my trip. She says: “Love in the beginning was a weave.”

There were a lot of things that worked for the couple, despite the cultural differences. “Mahmoud and I love weaving and all of the fiber arts. We have different styles, but we like to try together and learn from each other,” says Alyssa.

The couple also shares a deep love for Dubai and the opportunities it provides for them. She says, “We find Dubai to be diverse, friendly and safe. It’s a great place for an international couple! Sometimes it reminds me of Syria and sometimes it reminds me of the United States. The UAE is very special because there is always something to do, no matter what you care about. We love the mixture of ancient traditions and technology.” New and blending of many different cultures. “

The Syrian relationship

Alyssa eventually moved to Dubai and it was only natural that she wanted to be part of the family company. “Mahmoud comes from a family of weavers in Aleppo, Syria – who have been making rugs for hundreds of years. It’s in his DNA! He started weaving as a young child and worked closely with his father in their factory. We hope to continue the tradition with our daughter,” she explains.

For the couple, running the store was a lot of fun. “We meet people from all over the world, both tourists and residents. We have become friends with all of our customers, and we love for them to leave our store in appreciation of the Arab culture and heritage,” Mahmoud says.

Alyssa and Mahmoud worked hard to make the business grow and reach a larger audience. “We form a very good team because we always listen to each other and like to try new ideas. It is very fun to work with your best friend every day! Mahmoud is the brains behind the items because he knows so much about carpets and rugs. I manage our communications, but my biggest contribution was my idea of Weave lessons! ”Says Alyssa.

Mahmoud comes from a family of weavers in Aleppo, Syria
Photo Credit: Supplied

Knitting lessons

Magic Rugs offers personal and group lessons every day, all taught by Elisa and Mahmoud. “Our students loved learning weaving! Everyone makes their own little rug and takes it home – kids and adults! We have taught people from dozens of different countries, residents and tourists alike, and everyone has enjoyed it! We have some families who come over and over again.” Alissa explains. : “Our weaving workshops take 2 hours and require advance reservation.”

According to the couple, the fabric is great for improving dexterity and motor skills in young children. It is a very relaxing activity, and it allows for complete freedom and creativity. “We have many different colors and types of threads, and we would like to allow our textile students to experiment and have fun,” Mahmoud says.

A mixture of modern and traditional styles

Mahmoud says the rugs he weaves are a mixture of modern and traditional weaving methods. “They are bright colors because this is Syrian style. We have handmade rugs and machine-made rugs. We like to use traditional textile elements and designs, but we are rearranging them into new and modern styles. At Magic Rugs, we have a large loom that we both use for custom textiles. Customers can choose their colors.” We also sell carpets and rugs from other countries. We also have a group of used luxury carpets that we clean, repair and restore. “

Building life on a historic creek was a lovely journey for this couple. “We like to be on the creek. It is a beautiful historic district unmatched anywhere else in the world. It’s a very special place, and we love that we’ve built life here, since our first meeting in the Dubai Creek in 2019, “says Alyssa.