Putting Yala back on track by turning it into a center of Malay fashion

With the COVID crisis now receding, Yala City Municipality is working on getting quickly back on its feet with a series of events aimed at boosting the economy and people’s well-being.

Following on from its second marathon taking place on July 31, the city of Yala is going to hold “Pakaian Melayu”, an exhibition of traditional Malay textiles and costumes, on 5-7 August at the TK Park learning park building.

The three-day event will feature sale booths, exhibitions, fabric design, costume design contests, and fashion shows, with the winning designs displayed on the runway on the last day of the event. On the academic front, there will be seminars and workshops to groom the new generation of young designers.

The event is expected to draw about 6,000 participants from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, according to the mayor of Yala City municipality Pongsak Yingchoncharoen.

Yala Marathon on July 31 attracts over 6,000 runners. (Photo by Veena Thoopkrajae)

“We’ve an ambitious goal to push our city to be the center of Malay fashion and we think we have high potential. Thailand’s fashion is second to none and 85% of our population are Muslim,” said the mayor.

He said he was amazed to see so many vendors selling Malay textiles and fashionable clothing and even more astonished to learn that those same vendors were also selling their products online to foreigners as well.

We can see the opportunity as those online sellers could become entrepreneurs and develop their own brands. We have support from many parties to realize our dream. For example, we are being helped by the Bangkok FA fashion institute, which is run by a Yala native. The city recently organized training in fashion and relevant skills and knowledge for interested people in Yala and nearby provinces in the deep south, he added.

The making of Palaging fabric. (Photo by Manta Klangboonkrong)

Pongsak said that such events – the Yala marathon and upcoming Malay fashion event would gradually strengthen the province’s economy after the pandemic. “Whatever creates opportunities for the people is good, and well received. In addition, it increases pride for the local people too,” he added.

A native of Yala province who has been the mayor for 19 years, Pongsak said the events will help the province kickstart economic rehabilitation, and also serve as the platform to make Yala as a genuinely smart city. “We want people to experience Yala with their own eyes and slowly get rid of the image of violence. Nothing is better than offering people first-hand experience.”

The mayor said that the province has strategically timed the marathon and fashion event during the season when famous local fruits are plentiful, thus allowing those who attend the events to taste the fruit too.

Palaging fabric in the making. (Photo by Manta Klangboonkrong)

So far, the province has done quite well. The Yala marathon now ranks No. 2 in terms of popularity of marathons in Thailand, second only to Bang Saen in Chon Buri. Governor Pirom Nilthaya announced at the event that the province aimed to become top of the domestic marathon in the near future.

In terms of attendance, after two years of being on the back burner because of COVID, this year’s marathon this year is welcoming 6,400 runners of 14 different nationalities with 60% of them coming from outside Yala.

“The public participation is rather satisfying and the city has received support from left and right. Personally, I think everyone realizes how important for us to be back on our feet. Such attempts to boost the economy are welcomed by all. There’s no place for violence in today’s world,” he stressed.

By Veena Thoopkrajae

Yala batik cloth


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