x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Islamic theme translates to sales in Yiwu

Just as Yiwu has developed a population of Arab and Chinese Muslims, many products on show in the city have a very Islamic character.

Li Guohui, a partner in Xin You Photo Frame Oil Painting. Daniel Bardsely / The National
Li Guohui, a partner in Xin You Photo Frame Oil Painting. Daniel Bardsely / The National

Just as Yiwu has developed a population of Arab and Chinese Muslims, many products on show in the city have a very Islamic character.

Li Guohui, a partner in Xin You Photo Frame Oil Painting, talks about his business selling framed Islamic calligraphy and images of the Grand Mosque, Al Masjid Al Haram, in Mecca. The company has a shop in one of Yiwu's commodities markets.

Where do you sell the Islamic calligraphy?

Nearly every Muslim country from the Middle East will buy them, as well as Chinese Muslims. We sell to the UAE but our main markets are Iran, Iraq and Syria and Egypt. About half of our business is to Arab countries.

How did you become involved in creating and selling these pictures?

We used to just make picture frames. Then Arab traders sent us some samples because they wanted to take advantage of the low cost. The Arab traders buy paintings as well - landscapes. They also like mirrors.

How much do the paintings sell for?

Each sells for 100 yuan (Dh57.7). Smaller ones sell for 40 yuan or 50 yuan. It takes half a day to paint the larger ones.

How often do you make shipments of the Islamic calligraphy or pictures?

It's not very regular. It's quite unpredictable. Sometimes the customers may buy two containers of them and we ship them to the Middle East and then we go six months and there are no customers at all.

Has the unrest in Syria and other Arab countries affected your business?

Yes, obviously it has. Some of our clients have made orders and paid their deposits but things have been seriously delayed and they're not taking their orders. We're in touch with them but they're saying they're facing a capital shortage. They're trying to get money for the orders but they're facing difficulties.

* Daniel Bardsley