Those that have ever paid the City of Lights a visit will agree that Paris is a tiny bubble, a small microcosm, where it isn’t uncommon for one to bump into the same crowd of people more than they’d think, or want. Despite the thousands of tourists and natives that roam up and down the French capital’s cobbled avenues and narrow streets, the creative community always seems to find each other in whichever arrondissement they nestle themselves in — which was also my case the last time I left Charles De Gaulle.
Rewind to a couple of months ago, at Okhtein’s opening party celebrating the launch of its third signature store in Egypt, I bumped into the very intriguing (and to my eyes at least) undeniably suave and cool Ahmed Razeek, a 28-year-old creative director, photographer, and filmmaker who had made his way back from Paris to Cairo in order to zero in on a handful of projects, including with the likes of Netflix and Gucci, he was investing all of his time and energy on. Brought together by our common upbringing in France, after sharing a cigarette and a handful of jokes, we exchanged contacts, and followed one another on socials, leaving each other on what should’ve been an empty promise of “yeah, we’ll link soon.” Little did I know that five months later, I’d bump into the multi-hyphenate in a random café in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, rushing through an espresso on a foggy Monday afternoon. Given the stellar opportunity that unfolded in front of my eyes, I decided to shoot the man of a hundred gigs a couple of questions to know more about the seasoned traveler and trailblazing mind.
The Cairo-born French-based artist is an up-and-coming name in his field of predilection, and more importantly, the two places he can, and does, call home. “I was born and raised in Egypt. I came to Paris when I was 12, which is young, but that culture, one of masry movies and cinema, has always been with me and always will be,” he confessed. “Egypt is everything, it’s who I am, who my family are, my childhood memories, it’s even shaped my way of thinking and behaving. Although by now I’ve spent more time in France than there, it’s never been erased, I keep on nurturing it, embracing it, and always learning more about it. I’m always in touch with whatever is going on in Cairo or just Egypt more generally speaking. I want to serve as a bridge between both places I have nests in. The objective is to bring Egyptian talents over to Paris and vice versa,” he went on to reveal.
Voir cette publication sur Instagram
With in-depth knowledge of both capital cities, he noted that “Paris is to some extent more cosmopolitan as to the crowd you might come across, which serves as a never-ending well of inspirations coming from all parts of the world. On the other hand, Cairo carries less of that, but bears far more talent from within although the scene still suffers from the lack of institutional and financial support to live up to its true potential.” All that is left to do, according to him, is to blend each side’s advantages together to birth campaigns of a new kind, an aesthetic that’s yet to be unearthed with style, and substance that appeals to a global audience by combining the cosmopolitanism of Paris and the untapped potential of Cairo with the opportunity of creating something truly unique and captivating that draws on the rich cultural heritage and creative energy of both cities, while also embracing modern sensibilities and global trends. With the right resources and vision, he sees endless possibilities for innovative collaborations and boundary-pushing artistic expressions that could redefine the creative landscape in exciting new ways and forms.
Fueling his envy to cast a light on the Land of the Pharaohs while making a name overseas by way of hard work, endless nights of brainstorming, and a craving to bring himself and like-minded peers to the forefront of the region, and world’s, stage, Razeek explained that his first real steps in the fashion and film arena were made back at school, “when (he) enrolled into a cinema class to try bring (his) grades up.”
“I remember really enjoying it and decided to continue studying cinema at University level. I bagged a bachelor’s degree, started working, but the money wasn’t there, hence why I went back to Uni to this time focus on marketing,” he revealed before adding that it eventually led him to work in retail, usually high-end labels, which helped him bring his two passions together before finding something a little more sustainable and worthwhile. “In those couple of years, I was technically working in fashion and marketing but just not exactly at the right spot. It was more of a means for me to reach what I considered to be my end goal which is, I think, where I am at right now,” he continued.
“I remember trying to take on as many jobs and projects on the side to break into the scene and make a name for myself,” he said. The tipping point happened after a small shoot he did where the brand needed someone backstage to shoot some behind-the-scenes content. “It wasn’t necessarily my thing but I just had to do it because we all have to start somewhere,” he recalls. He enjoyed it so much, that the next day he decided to quit his job. “It was a very tough and risky decision as financially that meant no more income dropping at the end of each month, but remembering how people praised my energy was just enough for me to take on that challenge regardless of what could happen afterwards. It was a path that I always wanted to embark on, but was deterred from because of its unstable nature. Eventually, it just gets to a point where you have to believe in yourself. I had a vision, I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to be, and I would’ve never been totally ready to transition regardless of the time frame. So I just got the ball rolling from the early days, adamant that there was some space for me in the industry,” he explained.
Voir cette publication sur Instagram
One thing led to the next and here he is today, though according to him, there’s still much for him to achieve. “I don’t think that I’ll ever be contempt or satisfied,” mused the creative. “So as long as the fire is still in me, I don’t think I’ll ever rest as it always feels like I still have everything to do regardless of the lines I’ve added onto my CV since.”
Before Razeek, many have tried to make the Arab World and Europe meet with more or less success each time. But there’s something about the 28-year-old that left me thinking that he might be the one to actually achieve that goal in due form. Perhaps it is his unique perspective, or maybe it’s his human approach and unwavering determination that sets him truly apart. Whatever the reason may be, Razeek has a certain quality for bridging cultural divides that is infectious and that only relies on time before really materializing.
With so many titles, accolades, and experiences, having notably penned his name alongside that of MBC’s, Adidas’, and even Diesel’s, one could expect him to now cruise and enjoy some of the fruits his several years now of graft have borne. Instead, the man of a few words, that’s always focused on what is about to come next, cut the conversation short and headed to his next meeting claiming that he’d rather do than speak. And just like that, our encounter came to a sudden end, wishing each other luck in our future adventures and endeavors before we bump into each other next.