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Back to Newspaper articles archive: 1999

Author: Faiz Abbas


Rami Nofi from Shfaram, whose family-owned factory is doing the sculpture and construction work in the Baha'i gardens in Haifa, talks about the Baha'i's high demands and the work around the clock..."I am aggravated by the fact that there is no appreciation in the country for Arab professional workers" says Rami Nofi from Shfaram, whose family-owned factory is doing the special stone work in the Baha'i gardens in Haifa. In a few months the work in the project will be over, which has been going on continuously for the last ten years, and has cost more than 300 million dollars. According to specialists, the special work in the garden, especially the stone work, the sculptures and water pools, are of the most beautiful ones made, and similar ones can be found only in Italy. The few visitors that arrive in the place, especially garden and sculpture professionals, are excited by the level of the work and say that only the Italians can execute such a huge project. "When I explain to them that I am doing the sculptures and construction work, they smile cynically and leave the place", says Rami Nofi,an engineer by education, who is in charge of the projecton behalf of his father's company. "We work at a crazy pace, in order to complete the work in the site", says Nofi, "and we are proud that it is our share to do the working the most beautiful and unique garden in the whole world". Rami Nofi is a son to a family whose main work is sculpture." Grandfather, Najib Nofi, worked until the age of 80 in sculpturing. He sculptured the sculptures in the Annunciation Church in Nazareth, and did additional projects in churches all over the country. My father learned the profession from him, and I and my brothers are following in their footsteps", says RamiNofi, and tells us that when the Baha'is planned the project they were convinced that they would not be able to find professional workers in the country who could do such a large project successfully. They sent letters and met with engineers and sculptors from Italy, France and other countries, but not all of them were willing to sign contracts with the Baha'is, because of the scope of the complex work, which requires much preciseness and art. "In the old building of the Baha'I Centre, my grandfather did work 60 years ago", explains Nofi, "they found his name in the registrations at the Centre, looked for him and reached my father. My grandfather was not alive, and my father checked the very complex plans and decided to take the work". For the execution of the project, the family established the factory in Shfaram. They bought state-of-the-art equipment and started looking forstone that would be suitable for the plans and the requirements of the project. "We found that the best stone is the Galilee stone (Sajour stone).We bring rocks weighing more than ten tons and start breaking it apart in the factory and prepare the pools, the stairs and the huge pillars. This is very precise work, because if the Baha'i engineers find a deviation of 1 millimeter, they will instruct us to take the work apart. Therefore, there are very clear instructions for the sculptors, among them a Russian Jew, who has been working with us for years". Nofi tells about an incident when the workers put up a stone fence. The Baha'i engineers checked the work and found a deviation of 3mm between the beginning of the fence and its edge. They instructed the workers to take the fence apart and to build another one in its place. The preciseness of work amazes us anew every day, and the Baha'is told us that they want our work to last for a thousand years, and therefore they demand the preciseness and the strongest stone, whose colour will not change over many years". In the marble factory at the entrance of Shfaram work 25Arab workers who sculpture, cut rocks, and from the stone they succeed in producing art pieces, that would not shame the best of sculptors in the world, especially in Italy. "Our workers know that they are excellent sculptors, they are unknown, they have no studio for sculpturing and do not display in exhibitions. In fact, no one has heard of their hard and artistic work. I and the workers are proud that it is our share to do the work in the Baha'i garden, one of the most beautiful in the world and that our name will be on the building for many years. This is our satisfaction ,in addition to the large amounts of money we have received from the Baha'is. In the office buildings in the delimited area of the project, a building of 5 floors was constructed under the ground. Cars can park on the lowest floor of the mysterious building, and no one knows for sure why it has to be under the ground. The mystery around the project is not understood, and the people in charge of the place do not let curious people or nature lovers enter the area and jealously protect their privacy. In the Shfaram factory, work goes on at an increased pace ,in order to complete the work in a year. According to the orginal planning, the work will end in March 2000, and according to information from the Baha'i Centre,300 thousand people from the Baha'i sect will come to the opening from all over the world.

From a Haifa Newspaper, translated.

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