UNESCO launches an apprenticeship programme for Carpentry (Shanasheel) in Basra

Within the framework of the project “Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities” supported by the European Union, UNESCO is strengthening partnerships with the private sector to encourage youth employment and training in specialized cultural and creative industries relating to the reconstruction process in Basra.  UNESCO launched an apprenticeship programme for Basra in Carpentry focusing on Shanasheel, supporting two carpentry workshops in Basra, one small and one medium enterprise, to take on and train apprentices under the supervision of the Department of Labour and Social Affairs and the Vocational Training Center’s staff in Basra. Currently, 12 apprentices from vulnerable groups have been engaged by the industry and are working on various city projects. The programme hopes to alleviate economic hardship caused by the past conflict and the current COVID crisis and to help address the ongoing skills shortage in Basra in key areas of reconstruction.

The elaborate shanasheel carpentry technique for windows that protrude outward to the street is a traditional style of Ottoman buildings in the nineteenth century. It not only provides a view of the street, but also adds more space to the upper floors. Traditionally, these projections were supported by wooden pillars and columns. In the newer houses built after the arrival of the British in 1915, the Shanasheel technique was largely replaced by H shaped steel beams (Shelman).  However, UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities are jointly promoting the retention and safeguarding of the remaining elements of this important cultural heritage of the city of Basra through the programme.