June ‘15
Insight Interview

June ‘15
Galal Zekri-Chatila
Galal Zekri-Chatila


    


What can you tell us about yourself?

I am a 21 year old college student who loves adventure, traveling, nature and filmmaking. I had the opportunity to explore the beauty of Egypt at a very young age. I am also a business developer and leader at 'Wild Guanabana' and a partner at 'Ma7sool Productions'.


What inspired you to start your cycling journey?

My school gave me the opportunity to explore the beauty of Egypt at a very young age. When I was 14, I walked all the way to Suez, and at the age of 15 I cycled to Ismailia and at the age of 17 I had my first cycling journey from Egypt to Sokhna. My biggest inspiration is nature, wild life and the capability of a creative human being who possesses a strong will like Mohamed Ouf, an older student colleague who inspired me with his 400 km bike trip, Christopher McCandless, the hero behind 'Into the Wild' movie in addition to our Egyptian hero Omar Samra. People are capable of creating miracles when they step out of their comfort zone.


Talk to us about 'Egypt on Two Wheels'.

'Egypt on Two Wheels' project is simply a 700 km tour of pure cycling that involved touring every inch of our beloved country covering: The Sinai Peninsula -except North Sinai- The Suez Canal, The Red Sea -until Halayeb- The Nile Delta, The River Nile to Abou Simbel, The North Coast, and finally The Western Desert. It also involved producing an adventure travel documentary. I am currently in the postproduction phase, I hope it turns into a high quality movie that can compete in international film festivals. During this journey I also got to record my daily challenges and experiences, and capture a lot of photographs from the different places I've visited. The outcomes of the trip weren't just limited to a 7000 km bike trip, a movie, a book and a photo gallery; but in my point of view it has a social and inspirational side. The social impact comes to bringing the diversity of the country under one roof through the pictures and the videos, it also proves that our Egypt is a safe country to visit and travel within. On the other side, it has a good impact on encouraging foreigners to come to Egypt and Egyptians to get to know their country better. My story starts with an impossible dream, borrowing the poorest bicycle to realizing that I am capable to turn what I thought was impossible into a way of living.


What were the difficulties that faced you during this journey?

Natural obstacles like sandstorms at high speed, strong rainfalls, cold weather, as well as the heat, and high temperature in some places, in addition to unpaved roads, dog packs, flat tires, etc'¦ Funny enough, the hardest obstacle was dealing with the bureaucratic lifestyle that is surprisingly scared from cameras.


What did you gain from the entire experience?

Lots of things! I'm still figuring out some of them, and will do for the rest of my life. Traveling in general builds a strong character, and it enables the individual to get to know a lot of things about himself. Achieving my dream made me realize that nothing is impossible. Being close to nature taught me that we, as citizens of cosmopolitan areas, aren't sensing the beauty of nature. We are far away from connecting with sunsets, sunrises, the stars, the moon and the wild trees! The serenity and the limitless horizon are indescribable in the wilderness. Unfortunately nature has lost its power in our country!


What was your favorite stop and why?

The entire country is seriously beautiful, but for me my favorite stops were and will always be Sinai, El Dakhla Oasis, and the Southern side of the Red Sea.


What's next for Galal Zekri-Chatila?

Working on getting people out of their comfort zones and help them challenge themselves is my top priority. Getting my degree is on the list as well. Most importantly, I will be working on sustaining a living out of what I love to do which is adventuring, traveling and filmmaking; so basically the next project will include these three elements.


By Rania Ihab