The numbers are stark with child mortality above 25%, an average lifespan of 44 years, and 42% of the population living on less than $1 per day. This is the reality of modern day Afghanistan. It was this poverty that moved Her Highness Sheikha Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed to establish FBMI, an Initiative dedicated to alleviating this long-term distress, by providing resources, compassion and the opportunity for impoverished women to free themselves from economic hardship and take a leading role in Afghanistan’s future.
By partnering with Tanweer Investments based in Afghanistan, Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed’s aim is to create sustainable development by empowering women. The Initiative provides women with employment in the carpet production process, an industry they already possess skills in. It also offers them and their families critical social services in healthcare and education. The result is a holistic effort whose benefits are seen not only in fruitful employment, but also in healthier and happier families and communities.
With 3,000 low income Afghans employed, FBMI has already achieved significant success in helping the people of Afghanistan to help themselves. It is testament to the vision and commitment of Her Highness that so much has been accomplished already, and how much more is to come.
The basic premise of the FBMI programme is to provide sustainable opportunity. Women in particular are empowered by using the weaving and spinning skills they already possess, supported further with vocational training. By providing the resources they require, such as looms and wool, and paying a fair market rate for their work, the Initiative gives women their dignity to feed and care for their families as well as support the wider community.
FBMI currently employs almost 3,000 low income Afghans; over 70% of them are women and 35% of them are widows. The majority engage in spinning and weaving activities from the comfort of their home. Others hold office positions in the headquarter facilities in Kabul and Jalalabad. Many of them are residents of refugee camps. As the organization and the Initiative grows, it will seek to expand into new areas of Afghanistan, and to serve as a role model for other like Initiatives to improve the life of Afghanistan’s citizens.
In addition to those actively involved in carpet production, the Initiative also contributes to the employment of medical, educational, vocational and administrative staff. These are particularly important in ensuring that the social and welfare aspects are in line with its commercial sustainability, a core component of its long term aims.
The obvious and immediate benefit of the FBMI Program is to create a revenue stream whereby participants can regain their lives with confidence and dignity. This revenue stream is complemented by the provision of healthcare and education to ensure healthy, productive and peaceful communities. It is estimated that the entire operation has spread the benefits of sustainable economic development to more than 18,000 individuals in Kabul and Jalalabad.
However, much attention is paid to ensuring maximum benefit for the wider community, such as buying and using only indigenous wool to support nomadic farmers. This has a further benefit of enhancing the value of the finished product by guaranteeing its 100% Afghan origin.
Environmental impact is also closely monitored and minimized. As part of FBMI’s environmental awareness commitment, environmentally friendly chemical-free vegetable dye is used. In addition, any contaminated water is stored in septic tanks and disposed of correctly, ensuring that the Kabul River is not polluted.
The Initiative focuses its efforts on those who need its support the most, the poorest and most disadvantaged in society. Employment is provided for those living in refugee camps near the Pakistan Border, and a further extension of the Initiative provides vital employment for 80 women at a production facility established within Badam Bagh Prison in Kabul.
A fundamental tenet of FBMI is to be commercially viable and sustainable in the long term. In order to achieve this, it operates a local value chain entirely within Afghanistan; buying local wool to support farmers, using natural vegetable dyes in the spinning operations, and producing finished carpets for export to world markets.
The carpets reflect the heritage of cottage-based craftsmanship passed through generations of families. The majority of carpets produced by the initiative are made from indigenous Afghan wool purchased from nomads that is then handspun to add to the quality. Out of over 900 breeds of sheep, only a select few qualify to meet the quality requirements of the wool used in the production of fine carpets. Only the best section of the sheep's fleece is used for each carpet. The finest quality wool used by the initiative ensures the carpets pile strength, sheen, smoothness and durability. The initiative also produces carpets that are a combination of wool and silk. All carpets are woven using a cotton foundation to ensure strength, reduce shrinkage and guarantee the rug will keep its shape.
The carpets are designed by local university students who are supervised by Afghanistan’s most famous carpet designer. Designs are both contemporary and dated using antique motifs from carpets that are centuries old. Full scale graph paper is used which indicates to the weaver the color for each knot. Every knot is represented by a tiny square similar to pixels. Another key determinant of the fineness of a carpet is the number of knots; the more intricate and finer the knotting, the higher the quality of the carpet. The initiative further works to tackle environmental degradation through the use of natural vegetable dyes and traditional washing methods; thus ensuring no environmental damage to the Kabul River, which runs into Pakistan and eventually joins the Indus.
As formidable skill is involved in their creation of hand knotted Afghan carpets, they are designed to withstand most normal use and require surprisingly little care. To maintain the natural beauty of the carpet, it is advised to vacuum normally, although professional care may also be sought occasionally. In the event of a spill, clean a spill immediately before it has a chance to set. First, scrape excess liquid, before dabbing dry with a cloth. To remove stains, simply use a cloth dabbed in warm soapy water. Avoid harsh hand movements.
Published On: 11/Jun/2014
While the name Norma Kamali might not immediately spark recognition, the esteemed designer’s iconic pieces should look familiar. Kamali (below
Published On: 04/May/2014
FBMI - Carpet exhibition on Ataya 2014From May 4, 2014 till May 7, 2014Her Highness Sheikha Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is proud to pres
Published On: 22/Feb/14
Afghan Carpets on display at the fair - Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed initiative empowers Afghan women.Her Highness Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed is proud to pres
Published On: 21/Jan/14
While Persian carpets enjoy a walkover in the industry, now new dark horses are coming up IT’S THE end of Saturday evening and exhausted festival-goers a
Published On: 23/Nov/13
Every year, Abu Dhabi Art invites non-profit regional organisations, known for their contributions and efforts in supporting the local culture scene throu
Published On: 27/Nov/13
Pia Torelli, photographer originally from Italy, exhibits an impressive selection of photos of Kabul portraits taken in 2002 and 2013 at the Alliance Franç
Published On: 08/Oct/13
FBMI participated at Abu Dhabi Entrepreneurship Forum 2013. The Abu Dhabi Entrepreneurship Forum (ADEF) 2013 was a great success and was attended by over 800 part
Published On: 11/Nov/13
FBMI participated at Emirates Foundation Philanthropy Summit 2013 on 12/13 November-2013.http://efps.emiratesfoundation.ae/en/about.aspx
Published On: 29/Aug/13
In accordance with ongoing efforts to provide social services to its employees, FBMI signed an MOU with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on August 28th 201
Published On: 12/Jul/2012
FBMI is known to have many admirers of their carpets. End-users of these intricate hand-made Afghan carpets include French ex-President Nicholas Sarkozy, and Germa
Published On: 11/Jul/2012
FBMI proudly participated at the Afghanistan National Carpet Conference 2012, held in Kabul. The annual event was held by the Ministry of Commerce and Industr
Published On: 25/Oct/2011
FBMI has been awarded the Commercial Interior Design Award for the Sustainable Interior Design Initiative of the year 2011.More
Published On: 12/Sep/2011
FBMI have been honoured with the Domotex Middle East Special Recognition Award at the Domotex Middle East Exhibition in Dubai on Monday 12th September 2011.The awa
Published On: 22/Jun/2011
FBMI proudly welcomed a high-level delegation from the United Arab Emirates to the FBMI Centre in Kabul on Wednesday 22nd June 2011.
Published On: 16/Feb/2011
FBMI has been honoured with the Dubai Customs Golden Eagle Award in recognition of their services to the hand-knotted carpet industry.Mr. Ebrahim Saleh, Festivals
Published On: 01/Feb/2011
FBMI have become the first private-sector company in Afghanistan's history to employ females being held at the Kabul Women's Prison. The initiative will employ 60
Published On: 30/Jan/2011
The FBMI stand at the Dubai Carpet & Art Oasis 2011 was officially innaugurated on Monday 31st January 2011 by His Excellency Dr. Najibullah Mojadidi, Afg
Published On: 27/Nov/2010
FBMI proudly sponsored the 3rd Afghan Carpet Fair held between the 27th and 30th November 2010 in Kabul.The annual event was held in association with the Germa
Published On: 04/Nov/2010
The governments of the United Arab Emirates and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan co-hosted the first Afghanistan International Investment Conference (AIIC) in Du
Published On: 06/Oct/2010
In July 2010, Tanweer Investments proudly announced investment in constructing hand-made carpet centres across Afghanistan, that will implement the entire hand-made
Afghan Carpets on display at the fair - Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed initiative empowers Afghan women. Her Highness Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed is proud t
Design Days Dubai is set to offer an inspiring week of incredible collectible design, art furniture, workshops, lectures, live performances, screenings and installa
Abu Dhabi-based initiative employs 4,000, uses wool and natural dyes.A collection of fine Afghan carpets will be exhibited for the first time in the three-year hist
4th May 2014
Her Highness Sheikha Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is proud to present her humanitarian initiative, FBMI, at Ataya 2014. The FBMI will display its colle
20 May 2014
29th May 2014
Staring out from behind her trademark fringe and thick-rimmed glasses, speaking forcefully about female empowerment, and wearing one of her own de
29th May 2014
Take a look at a selection of the 12 carpets designed by Norma Kamali for the Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Initiative showcased in Manarat Al Saadiyat. READ MORE
31st May 2014
30 May 2014
6 May 2014
Benita Adesuyan discovers how a carpet store in Dubai is helping women in Afghanistan forge a new lifeFrom the outside, the FBMI shop on Jumeirah Beach Road blends
4th May 2014
11 June 2014
While the name Norma Kamali might not immediately spark recognition, the esteemed designer’s iconic pieces should look familiar. Kamali (below)
31 May 2014
18 Aug 2014
SLT talks to Walied Jabarkhl, one of the executive directors of Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Initiative, a non-profit organisation which helps the women in Afgha
15 Oct 2014
An exhibition of carpets made by Afghani women is on display at The Galleria on Al Maryah Island. Liz Totton learns about the message behind them.The luxu
01 Nov 2014
The moment I stepped into the Fatima Bint Mohammad Bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI) showroom on Jumeirah Beach Road, I realized it was different. Despite being in a city
02 Nov 2014
The Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Initiative is liftingsome of Afghanistan’s poorest people out of hardship.Their method of transport? The humble carpet.
Best sustainable design initiative
I have a passion for carpets and ethnic wall hangings, so I enjoy making visits to the shop just to see what is new. The collection is varied, colourful and unusual. I love the Kilims in particular and have bought several. I am looking forward to seeing the new jewellery collection that is coming soon. What a treat!
Instructor, Zayed University
The FBMI initiative which supports women weavers, offers beautiful, handmade carpets in both modern and traditional designs. My favorites are Kazaks; the depth of the colours and the range of designs constantly impress me. You won’t regret going to the shop for that perfect carpet for your home.
Instructor, Zayed University, Dubai
Thank you again for the fantastic work on my two Kilims. I really appreciate the time and effort that went into doing this for me.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Staff and STAR volunteers of the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum, I sincerely thank you for your donation to our recent Silent Auction held during this year's Memorial Day Celebration. Your support plays an important role in the success of our project.
General Tommy Franks Leadership Museum & Institute, USA
My experience with the project has been quite remarkable , given the projects noble objectives , the quality of the craftsmanship and the customer service , It’s two thumbs up
Business Owner, Kuwait
Your carpets are truly beautiful, and they will have a place of prominence in our new home... Afghanistan sorely needs good news and good deeds and your company is providing that rare good thing.
The service from your team was excellent.. all the best.
Managing Director, Abu Dhabi
LOVE your carpets.. introduced me to the beauty of your collection and the story behind the carpets."
The product offered is unique and the clients I have globally have commented on this. The fact that FBMI provides Afghan women with realistic wages to perform the intricate and beautiful work they perform is another benefit of being associated with this initiative. There is no child labour involved, people are not exploited, and the people who do the work are paid for this at an appropriate rate.
This is a truly wonderful and unique product, and team, and I strongly recommend them to any potential client, consultant or purchaser.
Frances Tomkins Design
An excellent opportunity to learn more about the Initiative’s philosophy, the empowerment that is taking place and of course the beautiful carpets. I would like to extend my congratulations to H.H. Fatema, you and the entire FBMI team.
United Nations Environment Programme
All my best and great work!
The carpets are just wonderful
I received the carpet today and it's even better than I expected! Thank you so much for excellent service!
Tel: +93 (0) 7855 55555
865a Jumeirah Beach Road
Opposite Burj Al Arab
PO Box 27677, Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 (0) 4 388 1103
Tel 2: +971 (0) 50 200 1149
Fax: +971 (0) 4 388 1136
Unit 14 Park Royal Oriental Carpet Centre
1 Chandos Road, London, NW10 6NF
Tel: +44 (0) 208 961 5552
Tel 2: +44 (0) 791 817 7777
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