by Hummam Sheikh Ali
DAMASCUS, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Hani al-Rakoui, a Palestinian refugee living in Syria, is on a unique journey to safeguard and promote the Palestinian heritage among the diaspora by creating artworks representing his homeland culture.
Inspired by his father, who started the work back in 2000 in the Yarmouk Camp, the largest camp for Palestinian refugees in the Syrian capital Damascus, the now 36-year-old information technology graduate has taken on the mission to connect Palestinians living abroad with their traditional culture.
At his house in the countryside of Damascus, al-Rakoui has established a workshop, where he creates various artworks, like carved maps of historic Palestine, and models of the religious Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem, among other ornaments related to the Palestinian culture.
He also works with designers and tailors to design various patterns and shapes for the famous Palestinian Keffiyeh scarfs and traditional Palestinian women's thobes and dresses that suit weddings and ceremonial events.
"Today, Palestinian refugees wish to have something that relates to Palestine, which could connect us with our homeland, activate our memories, and teach our children that this is Palestine. In the end, we are refugees, and we must return to our homeland," he told Xinhua at his workshop.
Al-Rakoui, along with his father Muhammad, a famous painter who focuses his work on portraying the feelings of the Palestinian diaspora, has been taking the narratives beyond borders by showcasing their artworks at numerous international exhibitions.
He noted that the demand for their products increased during the ongoing crisis in Gaza due to people's sympathy with the situation.
Instead of being a purely commercial activity, al-Rakoui believes that their work is a commitment as Palestine nationals.
Despite the difficulties they face in Syria, particularly after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, they as Palestinian refugees are making efforts to maintain their heritage and identity, he noted.
"We want this work to become a continuous, long-lasting endeavor. As Palestinian refugees, we hold onto our heritage and our Palestinian identity," he said.