Video: Egypt's alabaster industry shattered

al-monitor Sayed Matany works on one of his alabaster sculptures. .

Oct 30, 2018

“I may be the last generation of alabaster carvers in Egypt,” laments Sayed Matany as he sits in his workshop filled with small busts of Cleopatra or statuettes of gods of ancient Egypt, all carved in stark white alabaster.

Matany is known as the oldest alabaster sculptor in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor. But the declining tourism in the country is taking its toll on his business. Ever since the 2011 revolution and the wave of terrorist attacks that began in 2013, the tourists who paid handsomely for the traditional alabaster carvings have steadily declined.

“Ever since [tourism declined] in the last three, four years, people started looking for other jobs,” he tells Al-Monitor, urging the government to help the disappearing trade.