A radical innovator since 1994 when, backed up by his father’s confidence, he launched Mega Media, Maged Farrag is one of the brightest minds in MENA’s tech-driven creative industry. With a foot firmly placed into the future, each of the multi-awarded companies he launched over the last 25 years pushed the boundaries of what can be done at the intersection between digital marketing, engineering and art, all nicely glued together by EQ. As the creative leader of 5dVR, his Cairo based digital studio, he was pioneering the creation of absorbing VR/AR unforgettable experiences, aiming to deliver deeply immersive digital realities fuelled by emotion. Driven by his passion to promote local culture to the world, he was behind The Egyptian Pavilion at the World Expo in Milan, the first 360⁰ stereoscopic view of the Pharaonic heritage sites and the region’s first and only VR section within an A-list Film Festival, at the CIFF. How’s life beyond emerging tech in Egypt? Maged recommends horse riding under the moonlight by the Pyramids or the Red Sea underwater experience for an absolute blast.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Enjoying the outcome of a challenging project: finishing it successfully gives me butterflies in my stomach.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
As a child, I was into Lego and puzzles or I would break all my toys into pieces and put them back together in a sort of reverse engineering. When I grew up a bit, I was repeating the operation with all sorts of household objects – from the tv to the cassette player. No wonder I ended up studying engineering. Although right now I am operating in a different field, it is still part of my DNA.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
Spacing out – if you can do it in your head, if you can focus from all distractions and all the noise out there, it is bliss. If it’s not spacing out, chaos serves as inspiration as well. Last, but not least, a felucca experience on the Nile. I live and work in Maadi and I am really lucky – I have a 3-4 minutes’ walking distance from a spot where I can take a ride on the Nile.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
“The Egyptian Pavilion” done in 2015 for the World Expo in Milan. It was an under pressure kind of a project: with The World Expo there is no “buying more time”, as a side solution and we had to make sure everything it will be flawless, not only in terms of idea, but in logistic terms as well. We positioned Egypt like a never-ending story and the entire pavilion was a metaphor demonstrating that Egypt, reduced to the essence, is always the same.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
The VR section of the Cairo Film Festival got a lot of media attention. It’s the only A-list festival in the region that has a VR section. We received high-quality content from the speakers and high quality from the audience. We didn’t charge for the people, we wanted people to just experience it and they had a blast.
THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS
Egyptian creativity is chaotic and precisely because of this, a source of inspiration.
BEST STATEMENT OF EGYPTIAN HUMOR
The door of the carpenter is always broken.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
Egyptian creatives are deeply passionate about their work. If you are encouraging and motivating them, they would go the extra-mile and far beyond what they are paid for. The financial package is important, but tapping into the human side by appreciating their contribution, it helps them give the best of themselves.
If you are wondering about motivation tips that work, think of traveling or learning experiences.
To sum it up, here are three qualities that I find interesting and unique: once you get them on your side, there is no limit to the amount of effort they are ready to invest. They will be on board no matter what. The self-learning is deeply embedded in Egyptian culture. When I started in ’94, no one knew multimedia, but we had to recruit programmers and designers from the regular disciplines. We all emerged into the new media by trial and error and learning by doing. The third and probably the most important – they are not afraid of mindboggling briefs, actually, they are challenge seekers.
BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
When I have friends visiting from abroad and they are complaining about Cairo craziness, we are going with a felucca down the Nile –it’s relaxing and peaceful. The short transition from the chaos and the noise is surprising. I am lucky to have an office in Maadi, we are just walking distance from a felucca spot and in a few minutes we are in the water, changing completely the scenery and the energy. I haven’t done it in a while, but horse-riding in the desert, by the pyramids, under the moonlight, it’s also quite an experience.
BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
Under the water, in Ras Mohammed, Sharm El Sheikh, by the Red Sea. It’s probably one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
The camel. “So you ride a camel to go to work” was a frequent comment I used to hear whenever I was traveling abroad, in my youth. Sorry to disappoint you, guys, we don’t have camel meters.
EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
The local cuisine. The Lebanese, the Japanese, the Chinese, or the Korean cuisines have all been well branded and put in people’s minds and on their taste chart, but the Egyptian one not so much and that’s a pity. “Food in the world’s cultures and ethnic groups” was the theme of the World Expo in Milan and we’ve put a lot of emphasis on the food philosophy in Egypt, within our pavilion. Since the beginning of time, Egyptians had a very sophisticated relationship with food – believe it or not, there are pharaonic recipes available. Eating has its elaborated rules – what to eat, when to eat, what’s the role, and the practice of fasting – it’s an entire world worth discovering.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
It’s a choice. Human beings are made of this “body, mind and soul” trinity and a synergy among them is important for someone to be at peace.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
It’s a tool, never an objective. Being happy with whatever you are doing it is the goal.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
AN EGYPT BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
Yasmin Elayat – New York based, Emmy awarded. Very inspiring.