If someone approached you on the street, at a rally or event, and asked if you’d like a free trip to Egypt, what would you say? Would you go? Or would your mind immediately jump to the news reports of guns, bombs and more?
Well, this is what entrepreneur Tarek Mounib decided to find out. Mounib is a Muslim, living in America, and, as Donald Trump toured the country, gathering support, he put out his own message, offering people with, differing opinions, a free trip to Egypt, to witness first hand the people, culture and country.
Surprisingly it took Mounib a while to gather people together who were willing to go. Many people he asked simply flat-out refused, some vehemently so.
Finally though, he has his group: a police officer, an older Jewish couple, two former marines and a couple of very religious, Christian friends, one of whom preaches at his local church.
Mounib pairs these people together with like-minded-ish people in Egypt. Overwhelmingly, all of the participants are amazed at how friendly the others are, how welcoming and warm.
There are a couple of moments where things don’t go so well, such as when one of the marines explains to a woman from Palestine what his tattoo means, though it’s more the fact that he’s been fighting in wars around the world that upsets her, rather than the tattoo.
The police officer is, very surprisingly, paired with an Egyptian who seems to love Donald Trump and everything he stands for, admiring what he’s done, although, he’s admiring what he’s been told he’s done by news reports, as the officer points out, “tell me where those new jobs actually are?”.
What wasn’t surprising, to me at least, was that it appeared to be the most religious, the two Christians, who appear to take the least from the trip. They seem more concerned that the people of Egypt aren’t worshipping Jesus, rather than living in the moment and enjoying the warmth of the people for who they are, rather than their faith.
The film doesn’t particularly explore what the Egyptians made of the Americans, it is lightly touched on and, again, seems overwhelmingly positive. No-one falls out, well, unless you count the Americans falling out with each other, friendly fire maybe?
However, all of that aside, Free Trip To Egypt is an absolutely amazing idea, taking real people off the streets and having them face the reality of what the news so often beams into their living room. Learn the truth, see all sides of the debate, not just what a network wants you to see.
The documentary is directed by Ingrid Serban (“Anuta (Short)”, “All Sales Final (Short)”) who does an amazing job. It’s a mix of professional, steady-cam style shots with hand-held, almost home-footage style video that blends together wonderfully.
After a few months of being back, Mounib travels to meet the participants to see if the trip has changed them at all. Whilst it is clear it has affected some more than others, it is, on the whole, a positive experience that people have come away with and been able to pass on to those around them.
The film is hugely emotional, powerful and emotive. Personally, I’d have liked to have seen a touch more discussion between the pairings, to know more about their opinions on each other’s country, but a Free Trip To Egypt is definitely an emotional way to spark the discussion. #PledgeToListen