About 13 years ago, Saudi expatriate Nur Alam set up a factory on his house premises in Shikarpur Purbapara village of BoguraSadar for manufacturing 'Best,' a traditional dress of the Middle Eastern countries.
The factory – Best Al Noor – exports this dress to mainly Saudi Arabia and Qatar and earns around Tk2 crore on an average per month.
This dress is most commonly used during Eid festivals, weddings and other festivals, mainly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, the good news is that the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be held in Qatar this time. So there will be a huge demand for 'Best' at this time, hopes Manik Hossain, manager of Best Al Noor.
Each 'Best' is sold at Tk80,000 to Tk2 lakh depending on its design, according to Manik.
Nur Alam now mostly lives in Qatar or Saudi Arabia as he has a showroom of 'Best' in Qatar. Besides, he supplies the dress made in Bangladesh to various companies and shops in Saudi Arabia at wholesale rates.
Manik claimed that Best Al Noor is the only factory manufacturing this special dress in Bangladesh.
The factory imports all the raw materials for making this garment from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Yarn, needles and cloth – all are of best quality. Gold and silver coated yarn, lace and soft linen are used in making the dress. These materials are also available in other Middle Eastern countries and in Japan as well, according to Manik.
Apart from Bangladesh, Nur Alam has set up another factory named 'Best Al Saleh' in Doha of Qatar to manufacture the dress.
Rabiul Islam Rony, son-in-law of Nur Alam, is the in-charge of Best Al Saleh.
He said, "The raw materials like gold yarn for making the 'Best' are imported from Qatar as this quality yarn is not available in Bangladesh or in any neighbouring countries. But there are many hurdles in importing or exporting the yarn or other raw materials. It would have been better for us if these had been made easier."
Besides, if young unemployed people were trained in making this special dress, they would have been an asset for the country, added Rony.
In this regard, AKM Mahfuzur Rahman, deputy general manager of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in Bogura, said, "Small and medium entrepreneurs and businessmen are given small loans. Arrangements will be made to train workers after visiting the factory of 'Best' very soon. Apart from this, we will cooperate if any other help is required."
How it started
About 20 years back, Nur Alam worked in a garment factory that would produce 'Best' in Saudia Arabia. His job was to design with a variety of yarns on thin fabrics.
At one stage, he became proficient in all the crafts. After a few years in Saudi Arabia, Nur Alam moved to Qatar. There also, he started working in this special type of garment factory.
He later proposed to the owner of the factory in Qatar that he would like to set up a garment factory in Bangladesh to manufacture 'Best' with low paid workers. When the owner agreed, Nur Alam came to the country and started the work of making 'Best' with nine workers.
Now, 30 people work in the factory. MdShakil Rahman was a tailor earlier.
Several years ago, Nur Alam offered him to work in his factory, said Shakil. Now Shakil has become very efficient in making a design called Bruze. He earns Tk20,000 per month from this.
Rima Khatun, a class XI student of a local college, is also working in Nur Alam's garment factory, as educational institutions are closed now due to Covid-19 pandemic. Her father is a farmer and mother a housewife.
She first came to the factory to learn handicrafts. Now she earns an average of Tk10,000 to Tk14,000 per month, according to Rima.
Three years ago, Shakib Hossain, 26, was a bus helper in BoguraSadar. His salary was Tk5,000 per month. His family could not survive on this money. He quit his job as a helper and started working in this factory. In the first month, he earned Tk10,000. Now Shakib earns about Tk20,000 per month.
"I have decided to set up such a garment factory if I can manage the capital for it," said Shakib.
It takes a worker at least seven days to make a piece of this traditional dress. The making of the dress is completed in six phases. First, one needs to cut the cloth and then start the design work there. There are particular names for each of the stages of the work. For example, the first step of the design is called Hela. Then there are 'Silas,' 'Bruzes,' 'Maxar' and 'Bardak.'