Six Egyptian men of the world embarked on an adventure beyond the boundaries of convention and off the well-trodden tourists' paths. Find out how they fared when left to uncover the hidden treasures each city had to hold...
Exploration and adventure; discovery and diving headfirst into the unknown; that is the very essence of the #OpenYourCity campaigns, that encourage citizens to abandon the obvious and explore the unusual and the interesting, the unchartered territory, the innermost secrets of their own cities. And the beermasters were back at it once again!
This time around, #HeinekenEgypt selected six men of the world from Cairo to go off on an adventure, a la Indiana Jones.
Shadi Al Fons, Mohamed El Shaarawy, Hussein El-Terawy, Ashraf Hamdi, Taimour Othman and Mohamed Mekawy were the chosen few who were selected to opt out of the obvious and explore Egypt through an unseen lens, all the while sharing their visual story on Instagram with the hashtags #OpenYourCity and #HeinekenEgypt.
These intrepid explorers were each dropped off in different cities scattered across Egypt, that correlate with Heineken’s new city-stamped bottles, from Alexandria to Aswan, to go and unearth the magic that each city holds. The six were armed only with their curiosity – and a super pimped out backpack loaded with traveller necessities such as a GoPro, a selfie stick, headphones, and a slew of Heineken goodies.
They had 24 hours to gallivant around their city and document what they discovered – but they couldn’t go to the regular tourist traps. Each man was given a map of places they COULDN’T go to, so that they could push out of comfort zones and truly pursue the road less traveled.
As the intrepid explorers wove their way through their respective cities, we kept a close watch on the avid adventurers as they chronicled their travels on Instagram and unfurled their separate stories. Here is the tale of six men who went off in search of city secrets…
Mohamed Mekawy landed in Luxor and instantly travelled back in time to the first house built in Qurna, back in the 40s, by renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, followed by a mini performance at Qurna’s first theatre. Next up the funnyman delved even further into Egypt’s history, rewinding back 7000 years as he made his way through Ramsis III’s Habu Temple. As night fell, he wandered through the alleyways of the Old Souq and then hopped on a horse-drawn carriage for a midnight ride through the city! And as they say, there ain’t no rest for the wicked as he was up at the crack of dawn the next day, cruising the Nile in style, gliding along its waters and making his way to Luxor’s little known banana island, where he monkeyed around, exploring the leafy land – and grabbing some bananas to munch on for fuel! After resting like kings at the Sofitel Winter Palace, they drove all the way out into the desert and ventured into Wady El Orod. Historical excellence, CHECK.
And that is how the story started! We drove into this mighty dessert till we reached our destination but that's not all, we had to climb a huge mountain called " Wady El Orod" and then use the stairs to go all the way inside it. As they say life is full of ups and downs and that is one. I was amazed by what we discovered, #Ay Tomb and there we found 12 pictures of different type of monkeys that are no longer to be found and i was more amazed when i discovered that those 12 monkeys🙈🙉🙊 symbolize the clock. @marwanhamdy20 #openyourcity #mekawyinluxor #HeinekenEgypt #القرد_في_عين_امه_غزال #MekawyisHere
Filmmaker and actor Ashraf Hamdi put his signature stamp on his Aswan adventure, taking us down the rabbit hole with him as he explored. Rabbit mask in place, he made his way out onto the Nile, where, unafraid of potential crocodile (you’re a braver man than us Ashraf Hamdi), the actor quite literally took a dip in its waters, and made friends with the captain of his Felucca as the boat glided to the serene Gharb Sohail island. He explored the kaleidoscipic colours of the city, snapping the rainbow-hued beauty of the homes. The next morning, after an action packed day prior, the actor peeled off his shirt, and dove into the stunning blue pool at the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract. And then proceeded to produce a stunning feat of videographic wizardry documenting his experience as he roamed the land, worthy of an Oscar for Best Instagram Short, if there was such a thing.
Taimour Othman had a late start to his adventure, so the clock was ticking! Armed with his trusty camera, he hopped aboard a train and took off to uncover the magic of the iconic city of Alexandria. After settling in and grabbing a quick drink at the Four Seasons Alexandria, San Stefano was the first spot on his list, as he captured the city lights glistening on the sea. The next morning was kicked off with the statue of Saad Zaghloul, followed by the regal Pompey pillar, “the only known freestanding column in Roman Egypt.” After that, the photo fiend rewound time as he made his way back through the ages and all the way to the 2nd Century, excavating the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Clearly, someone paid attention in history class.
Shadi Al Fons started his journey on a slightly more leisurely note – digging in to marshmallow treats at the Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh. And then in signature style, armed only with his backpack, he ventured out onto the road and hitch hiked – yes, hitch hiked – a ride from a stranger. The funnyman then made his way through the desert dunes, atop an Arabian horse as the sun set behind the sand, and as darkness fell, he jumped on a quad bike to continue exploring the desert. The next day, the comic genius took to the seas, diving into Sharm’s blue waters, and snorkelling amongst the reefs. But that was just the appetizer; he soon strapped on his diving gear and dove deep into the water, meeting a not-so-friendly looking eel along the way!
Professional wanderluster Hussein El Tarawy took on Cairo – by scooter no less. But he soon abandoned the scooter in exchange for a Felucca to get him to Geziret El Dahab, where he wandered through its fields, its mazes, and discovered the lives of the people who reside on the tiny island. But he wasn’t done yet – the explorer took it upon himself to start transporting us around the world; first he brought us a little slice of Havana with a Cuban-themed street in Downtown Cairo; next was a piece of Vienna with Abdeen Palace, followed by Parisian Cairo. After bewitching us with beautiful views from the Gayer Anderson Museum, he discovered a truly secret spot in Cairo; the Saint Saamaam El Kharaaz Monastery, ancient and awe-inspiring. After resting up in his beautiful Om Kalthoum Suite at the Mena House, he awoke the next morning rejuvenated and ready to take on day two. He brought out his inner Batman in the caves at The Fish Gardens, captured stunning fractured light filtering through the windows at Bayt Al-Suhaymi in El Darb El Asfar, and wandered under bridges, exploring the “city beneath the streets.”
Mohamed El Shaarawy and his impressive beard boarded a plane and hit the seaside city of Hurgada! After grabbing a speed boat, a la James Bond, and making his way to paradisiacal island Abu Mon2ar, he delved deep into the desert to one of the most stunning but unknown man-made features of Egypt’s landscape; Desert Breath, an crop-circle-esque art installation. As the sun sank low, Shaarway decided to indulge in a few nocturnal shenanigans, hitting up Gouna’s Top Model competition. Because every explorer needs a model on his dapper arm. Duh. The next morning the bearded bro took a more sportive approach; harnessing the wind’s power to learnt how to windsurf!
You can check out their adventures for yourself using the hashtag #OpenYourCity and #HeinekenEgypt.
Studio photos shot exclusively for CairoScene by MO4 Productions, shot on location at MO4 Network's in-house studios.
Photography: Lobna Derbala
Art Direction: Ahmad Abi
Styling: Gehad Abdalla