Afghan carpet producers sell $1.7 million USD at Dubai conference

Rob Leahy

Afghan carpet producers meet with American buyers at Dubai conference.

Rob Leahy

Afghan women weave a carpet on a loom.

Photo: Afghan Carpet 2
Photo: Afghan Carpet 1

WASHINGTON—Afghan carpet producers sold $1,730,970 USD in total product orders at the Afghanistan/USA Carpet Conference held in Dubai, UAE, from September 20-22, 2012. The conference connected twenty of the best Afghan carpet making companies with some of the top American and European rug importers and retailers and established a direct line for future business.

Afghan producers were quite satisfied with the results of the conference and some highlighted that the conference was a unique opportunity to better understand the dynamics of the Afghan carpet trade. Most importantly, they were optimistic about the growth and development of Afghan rug industry.

“Afghan rugs showcase the highest quality of hand-woven artistry seen anywhere in the world,” said Shakib Noori, Commercial Attaché for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. “The carpet industry also provides important income for a wide range of people in Afghanistan, especially for rural areas and for women who often do the beautiful weaving that have made Afghan carpets internationally renowned.”

The carpet industry in Afghanistan represents one of the economy’s most important sectors. It employs people at every step of the process from the rural farmers who produce the wool all the way to the exporters. With this view in mind, the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industries have been working closely with the Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force of the U.S. Department of Commerce on a program called ‘Sheep to Shop,’ which aims to bring American buyers and Afghan producers together.

“The opportunity for the carpet trade in Afghanistan comes at a time when world demand for manufactured goods, including hand knotted rugs, is rising again,” said Rob Leahy of Fine Rugs of Charleston, one of the program’s lead proponents. “This pushes up costs in other rug weaving countries and forces buyers to look for new sourcing situations. We see Afghanistan beginning to build up production in a market that has improving demand and rising prices. That is a formula for success!”

The Afghanistan/USA Carpet Conference has been flanked by two additional carpet exhibitions for Afghan rug producers. The Rug Show was held in New York City at the beginning of September and had several Afghan carpet exhibitions. Another ‘Sheep to Shop’-facilitated showcase of rugs from Afghan producers is currently going on at the Highpoint Market Fall Showcase in Highpoint, North Carolina.


The ‘Sheep to Shop’ program aims to:

  • help Afghan carpet traders build a stable and sustainable future by exporting directly to US rug importers;
  • analyze and improve the sheep’s wool, yarn making and dying supply chain to the carpet makers of Afghanistan;
  • revitalize the carpet traders’ businesses through education, team-building and goal setting;
  • help Afghan producers know the best type of rug to make and maintain consistency throughout the order, production and shipment process;
  • educate carpet making companies about the expectations of US rug importers, so they can fulfill their orders and build strong ongoing relationships.

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