Having trouble finding the right presents for family and friends this holiday season? Look no further than BarakaBits’ guide to socially responsible gift giving. Make this year’s holiday giving extra meaningful by supporting local business and social initiatives aimed at empowering communities across the Middle East. Below are our top 10 picks for creative, fun, purposeful gifts from the Middle East that allow you to do good and are sure to be a hit with loved ones of all ages.

1) Forkit

Forkit is a unique initiative which combats hunger in Jordan through the sale of unisex bracelets made from re-fashioned forks. Proceeds from the purchase of this fun accessory benefit the Family Kitchen which helps feed impoverished Jordanian families. Check out the Forkit collection on Facebook .

2) Matar: HandMade in Syria

Support Syrian widows and their children by purchasing one of a kind, handmade objects and accessories. Matar, a UK based NGO, trains widows inside Syria in the art of traditional handicrafts and sells their exquisite creations through their online store.

3) Alangoo

Founded by an Iranian born designer, alangoo.com provides indie artisans and artists from the Middle East with a platform to showcase their work and connect with independent-minded shoppers worldwide. Check out this one-stop shop for beautiful, alternative clothing and accessories.

4) Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative 

This UAE based initiative aims to create sustainable development in Afghanistan by empowering women through traditional carpet weaving. FBMI employs and provides social services to 3,000 low income Afghans. To date 10,000 of their exquisite hand woven carpets have been produced and sold worldwide. Visit the website and showrooms in Dubai & London for more information.

 5) Just Olive Tree Jewelry 

Give your loved ones a piece of Palestine with this handcrafted jewelry collection. Just Olive Tree’s bracelets and prayer beads are made with olive wood beads from the annual trimming of Palestinian olive groves. 25 percent of proceeds are donated to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

6) Bedoubag

Bedoubags combine traditional Bedouin weaving traditions with a social mission. Women from the Huadat tribe of Jordan create these colorful woven handbags and accessories, which empowers them to support their families and take pride in their work. Shop online and at select stores in Jordan.

7) Dar Al Yasmin Photography

Dar Al Yasmin is a non-profit organization which supports Syrian refugees and low income Jordanians living in Za’atari village. A selection of photography depicting life in the village, some of it shot by refugee children, is available for purchase through their website. All proceeds go to buying winter jackets and blankets for village residents.

8) Palestyle 

This Dubai based social business offers high end, luxury products inspired by traditional Arab designs and motifs. The company employs Palestinian refugee women to create beautiful embroideries and devotes a percentage of its profits to social development projects in refugee camps.

9) Yislamoo

This Amman, Jordan based greeting card company produces one of a kind cards for all types of occasions. Their greeting cards and invitations feature fun graphics and messages written in Arabic. Browse the Yislamoo collection online and at select stores.

10) Karam Foundation 

Give the gift of world renowned Aleppo laurel soap and help support Syrian families. Karam Foundation is a charity which run various projects for Syrian refugee children. Their website offers a variety of wonderful handmade soap gift sets made by a women’s small business in Damascus.

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Shirin Wertime

Shirin Wertime graduated from the College of William & Mary in the US with a degree in Government and French & Francophone Studies. As a 2010 Boren Critical Languages Scholar she spent one year studying Arabic in Syria and Morocco. Her study of languages and passion for travel have taken her to over 20 countries. Shirin is particularly interested in the Middle East and North Africa given her Iranian-American background and time spent living and studying in the Arab world. She hopes to pursue an internationally focused career in the realm of development and/or sustainability. ​

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