Thousands of Egyptians took to social media to grieve and honour the memory of HEPCA's director, an 'environmental warrior' and a hero for the Red Sea.
The Egyptian social media sphere was flooded with messages of grief, as Egyptian nature activist Amr Ali passed away on Saturday. From the diving community to wildlife conservationists, to social entrepreneurs and celebrity explorer Omar Samra, changemakers across the entire nation echoed in the mourning of a man whose legacy in protecting Egypt’s marine life will outlive him.
Former co-worker Jane Herbert referred to him as an ‘environmental warrior’ in an article published on Scubaverse, and young artist Adam Abdel Ghaffar - who didn’t know him personally - was so moved by the wave of posts that he created an artwork about him, naming him ‘the Guardian of the Red Sea.’
As Managing Director of the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (known as HEPCA), Ali catapulted the once small-scale organisation into a model NGO in marine conservation not only in Egypt but also the world. From protecting the Red Sea reefs with what became the largest mooring system in the world to banning shark fishing and creating conservation to protect dolphins and ban dolphinariums in the Red Sea, Ali made a powerful impact in Egypt’s environmental scene.
“HEPCA is mourning the loss of its hero, its knight in shining armour. Amr Ali dedicated his life to the protection of the environment yet he was not only an environmentalist. He was also a visionary, a defender, an innovator and a progressive thinker. Amr was a fearless warrior for what he believed in and will forever be remembered as such. There are no truer words than his own: ‘I am a free spirit and I shall not be tamed’. Now his spirit is free and his memory will never be tamed,” the organisation said in a Facebook post.
Less than two days after his passing, 1,200 Facebook users joined a Facebook group in his name and two fundraisers were created in his memory through the newly launched ‘In memory of’ platform, and there is a project aiming to sponsor a room at the Magdi Yaacoub Heart Hospital in Aswan in his name.
“Amr was an environmental fighter; he worked to save marine life in the Red Sea, he was fighting fishing, saving sharks and dolphins,” says Watter Al Bahry, a wildlife photographer and advocate who worked with him on the Red Sea Dolphins Project.
“He created a HEPCA style to save nature,” he adds. “In the end he had a vision and mechanisms of action to protect nature. God bless this soul and I hope his legacy continues in his NGO and with everyone working on protecting nature in Egypt.”
From environmental activists to leading social entrepreneurs, here are some of the posts that honoured his memory.