By Nayera Yasser
Backpacking around the country might be a dream that only a few can afford. To simply drop everything and leave on a path of discovery is an action that rarely anyone chooses in Egypt. While European countries are quite famous for this kind of travel, Egypt is far from it.
Local photographer Taimour Othman decided to represent Egypt as everyone used to know it. On a trip to Sinai, Othman was reminded of the country’s authentic beauty. Accordingly, the promising photographer started using his talent to document contemporary Egypt, just as it is.
“I came up with the concept in Siwa on New Year’s 2015, when I realised that as much as Egypt has so many wonders and so many talented photographers, it lacks a unified display medium,” said Othman.
Being a country with major interest in social media, Othman wanted to use the population’s obsession with technology to document the real face of Egypt.
“I thought of coming up with an appealing hash tag and rallying photographers (amateur and professionals) to document the beauty their eyes capture and their lenses portray giving the world a first-hand experience to what Egypt is all about,” Othman explained.
According to Othman, real Egypt could have never been documented by anyone but the people themselves who get to experience the authentic aspect of the country without the involvement of any political or media agendas; as Othman put it “purely user generated content”.
Unlike the expected type of photos that most photographers choose to capture of Egypt, Othman went for something else to expose the beauty that can never be encountered from a distance. Therefore, his social-media campaign could not have been named anything but “Roam Egypt”.
“Egypt is not the kind of country that gets to be fully and rightfully experienced by conventionally planning destinations and routes. It’s a country that engages all your senses, and Roam Egypt gives it a sense of randomness and liveliness, everywhere you go in Egypt will give you a different experience whether it’s physically visual or through randomly interacting with the elements provided, and those are the things that we should truly document within this great piece of land we have been granted,” said Othman.
As a true local medium, after the launching earlier this year, Othman invited everyone to share their view wherever they may be. The photographer’s strategy aims to turn the viewers to participants and vice versa in order to cover the largest part possible.
“Everyone is free to post about whatever he sees fit, there is no such thing as a good or bad photograph, everyone sees beauty in his own manner whether in tidiness or in chaos, and this is what I’m trying to encourage, capture photos as much as you can, capture the beauty that your eyes sees in Egypt regardless of the social standard or location, this country has so much to offer and has a very different wide array of visuals to be documented that a person should not control,” explained Othman.
Being created in parallel with several international pages that tackle other countries made the foreign audience as important as the interactive local. Roam Egypt could easily be considered a cyber-advocate against all of the current misleading images circulated.
“My audience are pretty much everyone, foreign or Egyptian, who are willing to experience Egypt, whether the ones who are looking for Ideas, the ones who want to visit the highly prominent destinations or the ones who want to experience the paths less travelled,” said Othman.
The audience’s feedback has been quite a surprise to Othman. In a matter of months the hashtag has collected more than 1,200 posts on Instagram alone. According to the founder, the feedback is so positive that many are asking him to quit his job and start roaming the country as a full time job.
Meanwhile, Othman is currently working on developing a website to share the feedback with everyone. As for the future he can only hope that his idea gets viral worldwide.
“Maybe one day I could transform this into the official Egyptian user-generated imagery database,” concluded Othman.