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Recording memories.

Over the past year, scrapbooking has grown in popularity in the sultanate, thanks partly to the work of three talented crafters

Many of us will have printed out photographs or kept mementos from our holidays and special occasions that have ended up in a box or lost among the usual bits and pieces we collect over the years. While to some people scrapbooking may be wrongly labelled as something for children to do, it actually offers the ideal opportunity to chronicle your life as three women in Oman who aim to share their love of the craft with others found.

Issa Ahmed started scrapbooking four years ago, but her love of crafts began much earlier than that. As a child, Issa enjoyed collecting photo albums and stylish stationary, but when she had her first child, she wanted to do something special and set about designing a personalised photo album for him. It was after this that Issa began finding out more about scrapbooking and last year, she started Afkaari Boutique, which specialises in everything related to scrapbooking.

"I really fell in love with this hobby as it captures the priceless memories of your life and gives you the chance to take a break from our busy lives and enjoy every shot taken. The reason why I started this business is that I truly believe that every one of us is creative; it's just a matter of unleashing the creative side of us," Issa said.

Many of the products that Afkaari stocks are sourced from the US and Europe as despite the growing popularity of this craft, it is hard to find materials in Oman, something that has on occasion frustrated Zamzam from Papers & Scissor. Zamzam has been scrapbooking for around a year now and gets most of her materials from Afkaari or by ordering online. The story of how she began is similar to Issa's in that Zamzam enjoyed crafts as a child and after seeing something her cousin was working on, decided to try it out for herself.

On why she has kept it up, Zamzam said, "To me, pictures are precious and I like to keep them safe in an album or frame, which ispersonalisedand has dates, names, places and some comments about the pictures. Another reason is that scrapbooking can be done at any age; you find people who are

five andpeoplewho are 50 scrapbooking. I have met so many nice people through my short scrapbookingjourney."

After moving to Oman in 2011, Andrea MartE[degrees]nez started Dream Cards Oman and having started off by making cards in a room in her house, she has now formed a team of Venezuelan crafters and designers whose work, she said, has become a benchmark of scrapbooking in Oman. At first, Andrea said, she struggled to source materials, ordering online from the US or shopping in Dubai before Afkaari opened.

One thing that came as a surprise to Andrea was how quickly scrapbooking became popular here. "It is incredible how fast the market is growing and one of the things that has inspired us the most is to teach and help new crafters such as Papers & Scissor and Eglee Craft to start their own collection of products. The people of Oman have been very supportive of our work and for Dream Cards, it is important to share all our knowledge in paper crafting with them. Everyday, more and more people want to learn how to create unique and personalised gifts. This is what we love the most."

Due to the success that Dream Cards has had

in Oman, it is now going to begin operating in Ven-ezuela, covering South America, while distributing in the sultanate through Boutique Muscat. All three women are very keen to connect with other scrapbookers in the sultanate thro-

ugh their group Facebook pages while Zamzam encourages people to expose their work to the public and be open to feedback.

Afkaari also offers themed workshops, details of which are on its Facebook page. Issa added, "Just like any other hobby, scrapbooking can be done in so many different styles. I would like to tell people that once they start scrapbooking, they would never want to stop."

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Aug 8, 2012
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