Q&A: Hamza El Arabi aka The Safarer
Words by Salima Issaoui
Photos by Hamza El Arabi
Meet Hamza El Arabi, the man behind “The Safarer” who constantly finds himself on the look-out for new realities to capture and understand through his photography.
It hasn’t been easy to get a few minutes from his time but between deadlines, trips and airports Hamza shares with Atlas Electronic how his curiosity brought him to be the traveller, photographer and journalist that he is today. You can find his work on ELLE, Vogue, Le Prestige, HuffPost or on his Instagram: @thesafarer.
How would you describe yourself?
I would say that I am an open-minded individual with an insatiable empathy and curiosity for the world.
If you had to choose between Hamza the traveller and Hamza the photographer, what would you choose and why?
I communicate about cultures of the world through social media because I believe it is a great way to allay irrational fears and participate in the intercultural dialogue on a global scale. To serve this idea, it is hard to travel without a tool like a camera to help you share the beauty and truths you’ve experienced on a journey.
What makes that “favourite picture” of one trip, to really be it?
I think you can feel it. Sometimes you notice a very special perfection in a picture that combines the beauty you wanted to capture and a little touch of chance enhancing your very first purpose.
What was your first encounter with photography?
My first encounter with photography was during a fashion shoot for the brand Bakchic. It was absolutely not planned but I had to replace the photographer who could not come that day. I started to shoot and I loved how it enables you to express your creativity. We ended up featured on Vogue US, Elle Singapore and other prestigious magazines a few months later.
“Start considering the possibility of putting the things you love in the centre of your life.”Hamza El Arabi
Which city makes you feel at home?
Except for Casablanca, which is my birthplace, and Paris where I lived for almost ten years, I definitely feel home in Buenos Aires, Shanghai and Lisboa. It’s probably the soothing vibes of these cities that make me feel good.
What’s your favourite place in the world?
To me, the most incredible will always be the Bolivian Altiplano. The beauty of this place is just incredible.
What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I think it’s the choice I made to have a different daily life than a lot of my peers. Despite the fact that I’ve completed very advanced studies, that I love, by the way, I am still choosing to push my limits over having a regular well-paying job. I am always scheduling unforgettable adventures around the globe to meet people, share their daily life, trying to understand cultures and secrets of our humanity.
A place you regret visiting. Why?
You always learn something from a bad experience but I would not recommend to anyone to visit Manila without a local guide. Exploring the city alone as a local can definitely be tough and, unfortunately, quite dangerous.
A place you can’t wait to visit?
There are so many! But I would love to visit Iran, Nepal, Chile, Ethiopia and New Zealand soon.
The most instagrammable place in Morocco?
All of the south region of Morocco starting from Taroudant is a masterpiece. To me, it’s the most inspiring part of this incredible country. Despite all my travels, I honestly think that Morocco is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
What are you working on right now?
I am busy completing my PhD right now. But I have some beautiful travel collaborations starting around December 2018 that I am currently considering. Exciting things are scheduled on The Safarer near this year-end.
Please complete the following sentences:
The first thing I do when I wake up is: Being grateful and listing the things I want to achieve during the day.
A book to re-read: A book that is currently changing my life is Les sources du moi by Charles Taylor. It’s about the formation of our human identity. The author puts his finger on the deep truths of our humanity. A fascinating book to read and re-read!
There’s also a book I always have near me called: l’éducation de l’âme by AL-Ghazali. An absolute timeless jewel.
A movie to watch: Recently a film produced in the 70’s starring Barbra Streisand and Yves Montant, Melinda, has inspired me so much. It’s a pity modern cinema does not produce performances like that anymore.
An advice I should’ve taken: Start considering the possibility of putting the things you love in the centre of your life.
Most of us put aside the things we love thinking it will pass us. But I realized the things we are passionate about never ever disappear. The only difference with an early stage is the emergence of regrets as times goes by.
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