Dedication. Drive. Determination. These are all characteristics that define Taimour Othman. The 31-year old photographer’s passion for photography is what led him to explore Egypt and create local well-known campaigns; #thisisegypt, #roamegypt, and #cleanyourownmess.

His infatuation with photography began with the first camera phone, Nokia 7650, which eventually led into his father gifting him his own professional camera. This solidified his love for capturing photos. “I always want to document everything around me, I would walk around with my camera everywhere while going on trips and constantly snapping pictures everywhere.” said Othman.

In 2012, Othman created the hashtag #thisisegypt as a way to prove his friends wrong. “The hashtag was mainly dedicated to my friends living abroad that were always thinking that Egypt had nothing to offer.” Othman used photography as a tool to help break down the negative stereotypes about Egypt. “I wanna show people that we do have a lot here in Egypt because I have a lot of issues with media since it is not always what you see.”

After developing his digital skills and social media expertise, Othman developed a second campaign with the hashtag #roamegypt. His inspiration behind the campaign name came from a joke that was said on his trip to Siwa with a friend about turning off Othman’s data roaming on his phone. ALong with #roamegypt, Othman relaunched his first campaign #thisisegypt, which he could not previously claim as his own due to his lack of digital knowledge.

Inspired by his hobby of diving, his most recent campaign, #cleanyourownmess, took a more environmental approach by raising awareness about pollution. While on many of his diving expeditions Othman took notice of all the trash he saw in the sea and on the sea shores. This moved him to use his photography influence as a way to create a movement towards cleaning up litter. He encouraged Egyptians to go to shores and collect as much trash as possible and post pictures of their achievements on social media with the campaign hashtag. As the campaign grew, Othman noticed that cigarettes had a harsher environmental impact on the world than other forms of litter on the shores. Cigarette butts were especially harmful because of their long decomposing age. “We realized in this campaign that you can’t tell people what to do but you can try to give them incentives,” Othman explained. This inspired his idea of rewarding 20 participants with an original copy of his personal photographs as a way to encourage action and raise awareness about the issue.

Othman’s campaigns are mainly local because he believes that Egyptians are the ones that can capture Egypt’s true image and that professional photographers lack that motive. It gives a chance for the outside world to see Egypt through a different perspective; the local lens.

Through Othman’s passion and motivation he succeeded in turning a simple hobby into a life career that inspires and influences others.

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AUC Jazzes it up with the 10th Annual Cairo Jazz Festival

The 10th annual Cairo Jazz Festival (CJF) kicked off last night, Thursday Oct. 11, in The American University in Cairo (AUC), rounding up 20 different bands from 14 different countries to create the incredible four-day journey that is coming to life now.

“This year’s line-up is one that I’m most proud of. We worked really hard to get all of these distinctive musicians here today. We are bringing together diverse forms of jazz from all over the world onto one stage creating a massive cultural exchange,” says Mohamed Essam, the host of the event.

The main events are taking place in AUC’s largest theatre-style auditorium; The Bassily Auditorium, as well as a large open-air stage in the campus’ library garden. Additional late-night performances will be held in Cairo Jazz Club while more intimate, low-key performances will be hosted in Room Art Space. In celebration of their ten-year anniversary, CJF has also offered workshops, jam sessions, kids music programs, and a photo gallery showcasing the last ten years of CJF, in the Malak Gabr Theater in AUC.

Amro Salah, a pianist, composer and producer, created CJF in 2009 as a way to spread the art of jazz to more people, “not only as a musical genre, but as a life experience with its ideas, freedom of expression, and innovation,” he explained.

Bands from countries such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Syria, Morocco and Japan have flown all the way to Egypt to perform and watch each other. Locally, Egyptian stars and bands such as Nouran Abu Taleb, Cairo Steps and Hawidro will be showcasing their talents as well.

The festival gives a great opportunity for beginning Egyptian musicians and allows them to present their work internationally and to a wider audience as well as opening up the Egyptian community to a form of music that they are not so familiar with.

“This year’s Cairo Jazz Festival has been the best from what I’ve seen so far! Everything is very organized, the line-up for this year is crazy good, and everyone is just having a really good time! Honestly, the organizers did a great job. Hopefully the rest of the weekend is this good!” Ola Abdallah, music minor at AUC, said while inspiringly jamming out to her favorite France-based band, the Lynn Adib Quartet.

Syrian Lynn Adib Quartet took the stage. Including four France-based performers from different countries. Fady Farah from Lebanon, Maurizio Canguie from Italy and Luknil Perez from Cuba. “I was very impressed when I came across her work, she is a very talented singer and I am so honoured to have her with us this year,” said Essam. The Lynn Abid Quartet set featured both covers and original songs in many different languages including English, Arabic and Indian.

Be sure to grab some last-minute tickets for tomorrow’s shows and join in on a whole day filled with good music, good energy, and good company!