Today, we are talking about the history of the furniture industry in Syria, the details of this industry and its most important characteristics, and then addressing its future under the current situation, but at first let us start with a short story:

“The date of marriage is approaching, everything is almost ready, and the house is only missing the bedroom furniture. The groom goes with his parents to the city of Sakba in the eastern ghouta of Damascus to receive the bedroom furniture on schedule as agreed. The groom had already visited one of the city’s furniture galleries and agreed with the owner to purchase one of the most beautiful bedrooms in the exhibition, with the finest decorations, made of the finest types of wood by the most skilled craftsmen in the city. “

This fictional story speaks of one of the most important traditions that preced the wedding in Syria. The city of Saqba was chosen due to its fame and excellence in the furniture industry in Syria. It was even dubbed the capital of Syrian furniture. There is hardly any family in the city without one of its members working in the furniture industry; a confirmation of the importance of industry to this small city located east of Damascus.

In the west of Damascus, the city of Darya was the most prominent destination for those looking for the finest types of furnishings. In addition to Saqba and Daryya, there are the cities of Arbeen and Babلاila as well as dozens of other Syrian cities in all the provinces that excelled in the furniture industry, to produce the finest furniture and compete with the exports of many industrialized economies.

Furniture Industry in Syria  in the city of Saqba

An old photo of furniture gallery in the city of Saqba

History of the furniture industry

There is no reliable source to tell us in which era the furniture industry in Syria began, but some sources speak of its beginnings hundreds of years ago, and of course in a very different way from today, where it evolved over time from craft to semi-manual craft. Today, the process is highly mechanized, but the artistic touch by artisans who inherited the industry from their parents is still present.

Perhaps one of the most important stations in the history of industry is the reputation of Damascene school in the shelled wood industry. For many centuries, the city has produced the most beautiful furniture, aided by the abundance of oak and walnut trees in the Damascus gorge and abundant oysters in the Euphrates.

The situation continued until 2011, and the industry experienced great growth, which was interrupted only by the entry of strong competitors such as Turkish and Chinese manufacturers. However, the Syrian customer preferred local furniture for its durability and beauty.

The industry has largely retreated after 2011 due to the concentration of battles in rural areas, including the Damascus’s Ghouta, which has had a major impact on the industry. Partly because most of the craftsmen migrated to other regions. But also because prices have gone up wildly, leading to a drop in demand. However, there are signs of a resurgence of the industry, especially this year.

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From the tree to the customer’s home

The industry has rebounded in rural areas, as raw material such as walnut wood, one of the finest in the world, is abundant in these areas. After sourcing wood, begins a complex industrial process which needs high skill but can be summarized in basic stages.

The first stage is the preparation stage, where the wood is dried and humidity levels are  adjusted. Then the process of cutting to get the required dimensions, and form the desired shapes and holes for the installation of hinges and other parts. Lastly, is the assembly, finishing and paint. Of course, these basic stages consist of a wide range of more detailed stages that distinguish each manufacturer from others, which are also considered secrets of the profession.

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A variety of machines are used during the process of the industry, where saws are used in different types, as well as sorters and lathes. However, everything is done only under the supervision of the artisans who are the most important factor in finishing the product in its ideal form.

A furniture factory under the supervision of skilled craftsmen

A furniture factory under the supervision of skilled craftsmen

Furniture industry between ancient past and unknown future

The furniture industry in Syria has reached many heights. In the countryside of Damascus alone, sources reported that there were 2375 craftsmen affiliated with the Carpentry Association in 2008, which gives us an indication of the large number of craftsmen Syria as a whole. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2008, exports of furniture amounted to 765.3 billion Syrian pounds.

Today, the situation is very different. The industry has deteriorated considerably because of the shortage of artisans who have migrated, as well as the weakness of purchasing power and exports. However, many factors suggest that the industry could rise again. But the future of the industry is still unknown, as there are many factors standing in its path to success.

Do you think the industry will be able to rise again? This is what we want you to answer for us through comments. We also welcome any opinion or idea that may support the content of the article.