We speak to Mariam Makram, the creator of the popular Egypt Represent social media profiles, letting real people show the Egypt they know and love to the world.
Photo above by @osmaneeee
Last week we wrote a article comparing the most remarkable unseen places in the world with random shitholes around Cairo. This was of course a joke, a paradoxical take on Egyptians obsession with glaring at their laptops, daydreaming about far-flung holiday destinations when in actual reality, Egypt genuinely does have a treasure trove of beauty more vast than a cheesy two minute tourism ad on CNN could ever capture.
From the kaleidoscopic sky melting sunsets over the gemstone-blue waters of the Red Sea to the post-colonial architectural heritage of a bustling Downtown, Egypt Represent aims to capture and curate the nation’s scenic soul.
The fanpage was started earlier this month as the graduation project of University of the Arts London marketing student Mariam Makram, an Egyptian living in London.
“I’ve always been skeptical about advertising and its ability to get under our skin and persuade us to buy into services or products we don't need, or shouldn't have, without our realising it. So I decided that I want the work I produce to have meaning, and to use the power of advertising to contribute to the world in a positive way, which ultimately lead me to start a project to help support my country.”
Of course, it’s not the first initiative to shine a more positive light on what Egypt has to offer but it does have a sort of younger feel to it, with its hipsteresque minimal logo, neat presentation and use of hashtags. And with rapid decline in the tourism industry since 2011, the country needs all the help it can get. “It is a beautiful land that has much more to offer than what meets the eye, and Egypt Represent is my way of trying to change negative perceptions of our beloved country and spread the word about just how incredible it really is” Makram told us.
The images are sourced from both Instagram and Facebook, from people who tag @egyptrepresent and the images include photo credits to whomever they belong to. “I feel like this is a huge part of the personality of the brand; the posts are real experiences being shared by real people, which tells us more about the country than a planned photoshoot ever could.” And if we were thinking about holiday destinations ourselves, this page makes Egypt a verified paradise.
So far, Egypt Represent is a social media tool to promote special spots around Egypt but Makram has plans to expand including an interactive platform in the works that’ll soon be launched: “it will get people involved and create an open conversation between tourists and locals, so that people can find out how to really experience Egypt, which I think is key in refreshing Egypt’s image. Ultimately, I aim to have it continue to grow and spread, so that it can serve its purpose, hyping up and creating a positive buzz getting people to visit, and to keep coming back.”
After spending all day staring at all this diverse stunning mise en scene, we wondered if Makram had a definitive answer to the most beautiful place in Egypt? “I believe each place has it’s charm and satisfies a different desire so it’s almost impossible to choose just one. However, so far my favourite place to be has been floating in the middle of the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea, everything surrounding me enveloped in the golden glow of the sun. It’s so hard to find perfection like that anywhere else in the world.”
Here’s to that.