With experience in the arts, education, design and sports and a brief encounter with advertising, Cairo born Emma Benany has been inseparable from rowing for the better part of her life. She raced for gold from 2012 until 2019 in the national competitions and came in first place in the Arab’s first indoor championship. After representing Egypt and ranking in Africa and the Arab region in her category for many consecutive years, by blending her interest in pedagogy with the love for nautical athletics, Emma became the first female to coach the National team. She was also chosen to be one of five female coaches worldwide to be supported by the Olympic Solidarity and FISA to represent women in the Olympic Games. In 2019 Emma co-founded Cairow, a Water Sports School reviving the lost charm of rowing, a discipline invented in Pharaonic times. Within the framework of Cairow, she is currently involved in ongoing environmental awareness campaigns that reflect her enduring appreciation for the Nile.
Taking her dreams up a notch, Emma has gone on a venture to co-found Cairow Watersports, a rowing school to share her love of the sport by making it accessible to everyone. Within the framework of Cairow, she created opportunities for social development through collaborations with NGOs. She is currently involved in ongoing environmental awareness campaigns that reflect Emma’s enduring appreciation for the Nile and all that the river has brought to her life. ً
WHAT MAKES YOUR SOUL SING?
What makes my soul sing is to realize that I have been working for hours on something using my hands. Fixing a boat at my club, working on a woodworking project, or learning a new craft.
Building projects is when I feel most fulfilled, here is a picture of me in a DIY sailboat made with grade 6 students using a barrel and PVC pipes. I hope to always continue building!
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
At seven months old, I somehow found a way to crawl out of the house and climb up three floors, ending up on the roof.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION
I find myself most inspired when solving problems or trying to find creative ways to go around certain situations.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
The project I love most has been building Cairow Watersports from scratch, which started with the idea of making rowing accessible to the people of Cairo and experiencing the Nile in a different way. This project was a dream come true and an enjoyable experience from coming up with the name to creating the logo and negotiating the location along with my partners. Cairow has given me a great meaning and joy day by day as I witness the place become home to so many people.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
Being by the water brings many thoughts around issues of sustainability and environmental awareness as well as community involvement. We have launched the Care for the City project at Cairow to spread awareness and look after our beautiful Nile. I would say that people got really excited over the Nile cleanups, many volunteered to remove waste from the river and we were all very happy to see the impact.
THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS
I think with the least resources Egyptians can do wonders! The job is usually done with nearly no budget and surprising brilliance.
BEST STATEMENT OG EGYPTIAN HUMOR
عُك و لَيّس كُله كوَيس
Mess up and patch it, it’s all good.
This proverb just wants you to take yourself and life lightly. That it’s all ok at the end of the day, even if it’s not perfect.
I think this portrays the mentality of so many people here, myself on many occasions too!
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
There is so much talent and creativity here, but a lot of good work and profiles are not documented online. Word of mouth, ask if someone knows someone!
BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
Anywhere close to the Nile.
BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
Salt lakes, Siwa oasis.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD
All Egyptians are Muslims, all Muslims are terrorists.
EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Its beaches, sun, and watersports.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
One strives to be grounded and to be in equilibrium. Do so in a way that fulfills your soul. I work with passion, listen to music, give, and receive love every day.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Have a bit less than you should, it will liberate you I think.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE I follow The School of Life’s channel on Youtube, and find it to be real and challenges one’s thoughts of love, success, money and the taste for Arts. At different points, it was a reminder of why I do what I do, and at other times it was the catalyst to quit dull work for a more fulfilling life.
The School of Life also publishes a wide range of books as a resource for inspiration and leading a more fulfilled life.
AN EGYPT BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
Shaymaa Shoukry: choreographer and contemporary dancer. I have known Shaymaa for years and have always been fascinated by her process of creation. She gets immersed in the questions that trigger her projects, questioning love, anger, attachment and politics. It’s always interesting to see and discuss her work.
You can find out more about Cairow, here.