The West Bank’s last keffiyeh factory

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Looms clatter in another busy day in the last keffiyeh factory in Hebron in the West Bank

The scarf, a traditional Middle Eastern headdress, became an iconic symbol of Palestinian identity thanks to Yasser Arafat. The PLO leader was almost always pictured wearing one, making it a a fashion accessory for some.

The Hirbawi family set up their this textiles workshop in 1961. Today, 14 looms are used manufacture up to 300 keffiyehs a day. But times have been tough.

The 1993 Olso Accords opened up the Palestinian economy to the world outside, but also brought global competition. Rivals manufacturers , especially from China, severely undercut West Bankl production of keffiyehs.

The Hirbawi factory was hit hard and came close to folding. But in 2011, a Facebook campaign organised by activists in Kuwait saved the company.

It helped the Hirbawi firm find new customers and wholesalers interested in the original Palestinian-made keffiyeyh, expanding exports to France and the US.

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