Despite his young age, Ibrahim Ahmed Abul Nour, aged 25, has become one of the well-known Ramadan lantern manufacturers in Haggana Area, Maasara district. He has been active in the craft for 15 years, working on perfecting the traditional lanterns, to compete with the new styles.
Although the new, Chinese-made lanterns made of plastic and wood have appeared, the original Egyptian form is still strong, he says. “This profession is not as seasonal as some believe it to be. The lanterns are prepared throughout the year for Ramadan, because the manufacturing of the old-style lanterns takes a long time.”
Abul Nour is not afraid this industry would fade away, as he is aware of the value of the old-style lantern. “I have been working for 15 years and I hope to continue, since I really love my job. The lantern made of tin is the original one. My lanterns can be found in most provinces today,” he adds.
Abul Nour believes China cannot compete with him in terms of product quality. “China tries to imitate the original Egyptian lantern but it has not succeeded. As for me, traders ask for around 1,000 lanterns of every size and the demand increases as Ramadan nears,” he says.
Regarding the manufacturing costs of the lantern, he says, “it depends on the size and the work required. It starts from LE5, until up to LE200 for a wholesale business. For a medium-sized lantern, whose height does not exceed 1,5 meters, the cost is around LE100. The smaller size costs LE80.”
“The materials are expensive. Every year, the prices of tin, glass, aluminium and printing increase,” he adds, stressing that the government should intervene to reduce the material prices, and facilitate loans for lantern manufacturers to increase their production capacity, enabling them to export their products.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm