THE LAST SCARF FACTORY IN PALESTINE
The Hirbawi Textile Factory, located in the West Bank city of Hebron, is the last factory in the occupied Palestinian territories to produce the original Keffiyeh – the iconic patterned scarf that has become a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.
The family run business was set up by Yasser Hirbawi in 1961 and quickly developed into a successful business that at its peak employed 25 workers operating 15 machines, producing 150,000 keffiyehs annually. Demand for the traditional Palestinian produced scarf, however, began to drop as a result of market liberalisation policies introduced under the 1993 Oslo Accords. These allowed the import of cheaper keffiyehs made in China, which flooded the global market and by 2010 the factory had reduced its capacity to only four machines, with annual production dropping to 10,000 scarves. With the help of social media and international media attention, business began to bounce back from 2011, seeing an increase in international sales. The factory currently has eight machines in operation, now producing more than 25,000 keffiyehs annually.