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INTERVIEW:Film director and content creator Ahmed Wahba on using social media to showcase Egypt’s unique charms

Ahmed Wahba talks to Aharm Online about his drive to promote Egypt as a unique tourism destination

Dina Ezzat , Tuesday 11 Aug 2020
White desert ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
White desert ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
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With his pictures and videos of Egypt’s treasured sites -- the White Desert, the beaches of the Red Sea, the historic cities of Luxor and Alexandria – film director and content creator  Ahmed Wahba hopes to showcase the country’s unique attractions to his large online audience.

 

Wahba, an Egyptian social media maven with a substantial following, travels extensively to gather material, as well as using the photos and videos of professional photographers and visual artists, with the aim of creating content for a new promotional campaign that he hopes to work on in the last quarter of this year.

“Creating new content for a new campaign is essential to re-launch attention to Egypt as a really and truly unique tourist destination,” Wahba told Ahram Online.

( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
Ahmed Wahba

It was with similar content, which Wahba had gathered in 2016 and 2017, that he managed in 2018 to launch a major social media campaign promoting Egypt as a travel destination.

“I had been working with and learning from professional photographers and content directors and with them I went places that were just fascinating, and I created content that went viral on social media,” Wahba said.

Wahba invited five social media influencers from Europe and North America to the country, and they too captured pictures and videos of Egypt and uploaded them on their websites and social media accounts. Wahba shared this material on a “Visit Egypt” account that he created.

“The attention was just amazing; the millions following these influencers would plug in and they would see these great videos and photos and they would simply wish to come to Egypt. It was fascinating how the videos and photos made an imprint,” he said.

Wahba established himself as a content creator and influencer in 2016 with his remarkably artistic pictures and videos. However, since his association with the “Visit Egypt” account, his “Project Wahba” social medial pages have also attracted a wider audience.

( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
Luxor Karnak ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)

When he took these photos and videos to the tourism ministry in 2019, officials were immediately interested. The ministry agreed to launch an “influencers’ programme,” inviting over 80 influencers known for creating travel content to visit Egypt.

“This time round the result was just amazing; over 80 influencers from all over the world were just posting photos and videos on Egypt; anyone who was contemplating a holiday would have to come across Egypt as a potential destination,” he said.

This, Wahba added, was part of a wider “This is Egypt” campaign from the ministry, which did make a considerable impact on the number of tourists visiting Egypt.

Amid the slowdown of global tourism due to the coronavirus this year, Wahba decided to offer a morale booster by making a video of the national anthem accompanied by scenery from all over Egypt. The message he was putting across is that Egypt is and will always be beautiful and that it is a matter of time before things return to normal.

Moez St ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
Moez St ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)

Wahba is hoping to use the material he has compiled recently to help Egypt position itself at the top of the list of tourism destinations that will be competing for visitors soon when international tourism returns at full force.

“I think it is a matter of months before the world starts getting over the COVID-19 nightmare, as we come closer to finding a vaccine, and when this happens we should be all set ready to go and capture our share of tourists who would be willing to start moving again -- even though the fear over the coronavirus may linger on for a bit longer,” he said.

The two particular elements that Wahba is hoping to focus on in his new package of material are the White Desert and Nile cruises.

“These are two things that you really cannot have anywhere else,” he said. “And I know we generally have very unique and diverse attractions, but when it comes to the beauty of the White Desert and the Nile cruises, we are just talking about very exotic experiences,” he added.

Luxor Temple( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
Luxor Temple( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)

According to Wahba, there is probably nothing that can dispel the apprehension over a Nile cruise after the unfortunate cases of COVID-19 on board a Nile ship earlier this year, other than having an influencer cover the beauty of a cruise and the strict hygiene procedures that are now being applied to secure the safety of all on board.

“I know that the cruise industry in general had been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis and I know that the industry is planning to work very hard and to invest a lot to regain the confidence of the tourists,” he said. “We should be there for this.”

After he launches his own material, Wahba is hoping to re-launch the influencers’ programme, in cooperation with the tourism ministry. This programme, he said, is perhaps one of the most effective out-reach tools to potential tourists.

“There is a whole segment of people who make travel decisions about the inspiration they get from influencers, rather than from commercials, for example,” Wahba said. “One can never really overestimate the power of an influencer.”

As a result, Wahba is hoping to work towards having a travel influencers’ summit in Egypt -- “maybe by the pyramids or in Aswan.”

“Imagine the message we would be putting out to the world,” he said.

Moreover, Wahba is convinced that the time has come for Egypt to have a content creation school that focuses on producing travel content.

“It happens all the time that people will be moving around and taking pictures and posting them on their social media accounts; the thing is to help as many people as possible make this content professional to make it attractive,” he said.

Matrouh ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
Matrouh ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)

“We are a hundred million people and if just half of us were to put attractive content on social media we would get a lot of attention; and if we manage to help those potentially talented ones become influencers, then we can really have an imprint,” Wahba argued.

Wahba himself studied photography and video directing in the US, having originally gone there for a sports scholarship. When he came back in 2016 as a 22-year-old, he managed to harness the know-how he had acquired to promote the beauty of Egypt.

Wahba has since become a highly successful video creator and continues to gain followers. Earlier this year he made the video hit Millionaire Song, which was featured on the successful Ramadan soap opera Mit Wesh (“A Hundred Faces”).

white desert ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)
white desert ( Photo: Ahmed Wahba)

Being an influencing content creator and photographer, Wahba said, does not come easily; it involves a lot of study and a lot of work. But once successful, he added, influencers have real power at their fingertips, and he hopes more influencers will join him in using their impact positively.

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