Unemployed Palestinian engineer makes living by learning string art painting

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Unemployed Palestinian engineer makes living by learning string art painting
Naim Maarouf creates an artwork at his house in Gaza City, March 7, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

In order to earn bread for his family, Naim Maarouf, a Gaza-based unemployed civil engineer, has to make money by learning to produce artistic paintings with the string art.

The string art painting involves using nails and colored threads to form geometric patterns or images on wooden boards. Maarouf usually produces designs that embody Palestinian national personalities and legacies.

Maarouf, a 30-year-old father of two, started producing his paintings two months ago in a bid to make ends meet following his unemployment earlier.

The young man came up with the idea of selling his paintings when he saw the reactions from his family and friends about a painting of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat that he made with the string art.

"I was surprised by the reactions of my friends and family about the beauty of the painting. They asked me to produce for them artistic paintings that embody their personalities as well as paintings that mimic nature," he told Xinhua.

Maarouf, in addition to making paintings for his friends, also started marketing them through social networking sites and participated in several art exhibitions.

"My paintings became popular, and I became known to the locals through this rare art in the Gaza Strip," Maarouf explained.

Every week, Maarouf usually produces about 40 paintings, whose prices range from three U.S. dollars to 150 U.S. dollars, depending on its size and the complexity of the image.

"We may face many difficulties in life in the Gaza Strip, but it is important to think outside the box and do not give in to those circumstances that make us prey to depression and psychological pressures," he said.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been put under a tight Israeli blockade after the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) seized the coastal enclave.

A report issued by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights in February found that 1.5 million Gazans live in poverty due to the blockade.

The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip climbed to 50.2 percent at the end of 2021, which is among the highest in the world, compared to 23.6 percent in 2005, the report said.

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