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AZ International Rugs

A Tradition of Hope for the Future

“Handcrafted Oriental rugs can achieve far more than enhancing the atmosphere of virtually any room in your home. They can also tell a story: one rich in traditional history and another that offers the promise and hope of a bright future,” said Alex Zahir, owner of Knoxville-based AZ International, LLC, merchants of many of the finest hand-woven rugs available in the marketplace today.

Alex sells more than extraordinary works of art. He offers beautifully hand-crafted rugs that contribute to the décor in your home and can become a legacy within your family as it’s passed on from generation to generation. But there’s another legacy at hand; that of three generations of rug weaving history that Alex first experienced as a child in his native Afghanistan.

“As a child, I witnessed the entire hand-woven rug weaving process, from the natural dying of handspun wool, to the weaving of intricate patterns that transcend description, to the finishing of the finished rug,” said Alex. “We’re proud of the works of art we created and continue to create. We’re part of a thousand of year’s old tradition of beautifully hand-crafted rugs that tell the history of a people and a region.”

But there’s another story that reaches far beyond these individual works of art. It’s the future of Afghanistan and its people and an industry that has been ravaged by decades of war. It’s the story of an initiative to revitalize this industry and its people, in the face of adversity, to offer Afghanistan the stability, peace, and hope for the future it deserves.

Alex, a U.S. resident for more than two decades, acting in an advisory capacity with his associate, Rob Leahy, of Fine Rugs of Charleston, has been working with the United States Department of Commerce’s Afghanistan Investment & Reconstruction task force. The initiative, titled “Sheep to Shop,” is tasked with the responsibility of identifying and addressing the challenges faced in today’s Afghanistan rug production supply chain and to propose and implement solutions. Alex, who is proficient in six languages and draws upon his firsthand knowledge of the Afghan culture, has already made his presence felt within this bold initiative.

“This initiative has tremendous short- and long-term potential for my countrymen,” he said. “It offers an alternative to years of war and transforms hate into hope.”

With 20% of Afghanistan’s entire population touched by the value chain of this woven-rug industry, the consequences of this initiative are enormous, with the nation’s future in the balance. Rug weaving and allied businesses touch five million people’s lives in Afghanistan. Weaving alone employs one million people and four million people are working on other segments of this industry.

“I’m proud of my contribution thus far and look forward to continuing my efforts with the Department of Commerce,” said Alex. “I’m focusing on the marketing and sales of these hand-crafted treasures with my new rug gallery. Each rug I sell represents a rich tradition and history, a legacy for your family, and a contribution to the stability and hope for a people who, like you, strive for peace for their family.

Readers interested in learning more about the “Sheep to Shop” initiative to aid the people of Afghanistan, and to discover why the area’s leading designers rely on AZ International to assist them in the home decorating projects, are encouraged to visit Alex at AZ’s showroom at 5215 Kingston Pike. For more information on this initiative and recent articles, visit

AZ International, LLC

5215 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919

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