Jordanian actress Dana Hamdan has been working and living in Egypt since 2015. She adores the country and its people to the extent that she delves deeper into its alleys, different towns to make vlogs in which she encourages her followers to visit places in a country she fell in love with.
“I cannot find words to express how much I love Egypt,” Hamdan told the Egyptian Mail, the weekly edition of The Gazette. “It is a country that has no parallel in the whole world, indeed.”
She lived most of her life in the United Arab Emirates and studied fashion in Italy.
She believed that social media plays a vital role in connecting people especially after the increasing technology of smartphones. At first, it was just a tool to post things that related to one’s career or job, but now it goes beyond mere commercialising one’s work and focuses on establishing a live link with countless people of many nationalities.
“In the beginning, I was just posting about my TV serials by adding photos of a certain scene. But by time, I want to be closer to people, so I make vlogs and post them on my social media platforms,” she said.
“In my opinion, the right way to use social media is to be close to people.”
Last October, Hamdan made her first vlog in the clothing and accessories market el-Wekala in Boulaq Abul Ela district in Cairo. She went there to prepare clothes for the character she played in the Ramadan television serial Al-Tawoos (The Peacock) that aired in May 2021. She bought accessories, wigs and garments from there and documented every step of her experience.
“Sellers and pedestrians were shocked when they saw me walking alone, holding a mobile and taking videos,” Hamdan said, remembering that she wore jeans, T-shirt and with no makeup — an unusual sight for people who always see actresses with full makeup and riding in luxurious cars, or accompanied by bodyguards.
“Unfortunately, their astonishment when they saw me reflects the big gap between actresses and people. They believe that actresses just go to Gouna resort, attend festivals, buy brand name clothes, and we do not know what is happening in the country.
“That is far from the case. We go to rich and poor areas alike.
“In el Wekala I met many sellers. I talked to them about everything, about their problems, and of course about their beautiful products which cannot be found anywhere else at such affordable prices,” Hamdan said.
After Hamdan posted the Wekala video on her social media platforms, she received many calls and messages from her followers and friends asking her about the place.
“A lot of people from Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States called me saying that they visited Egypt many times but they had never heard of, let alone visited, places like el-Wekala,” Hamdan, who has two sisters also are actresses, said.
She focuses on unknown places and shoots videos with her comments as a foreign visitor.
“I decided to lift the veil off little known places in the country,” she said.
She toured narrow old streets in downtown Cairo such as Clot Bey Street in old Cairo, El Fahhamin alley in Darb El Ahmar, Al-Azhar Street and Ghouria. Those places are rich in selling specific products such as threads, accessories, flip-flops, fabrics and shoes.
“When I visit sellers in these areas and post the video after editing the following day, they contact me and shower me with thanks that many people buy from their shops after watching my vlog.
“You can’t imagine my happiness when they told me that I was a reason to shed more light on them to let people buy from their prices-handy products,” Hamdan said, adding that she also received many messages from followers asking how to reach those sellers in order to buy quantities for their private business.
In order to reach more places, meet new people and delve deep into her beloved country not just in Cairo but in other governorates, she made vlogs in Alexandria, Damietta and Port Said. She is planning soon to visit Mansoura, which is on her list of towns she will visit in the near future.
“Every town I visit makes my heart flutter. I have visited the US, Italy, Greece, Spain, France and London, but every town in Egypt makes me feel like I’m touring the whole world,” Hamdan said.
“When I have a chance, I will post the vlogs not only on my social media but in foreign media programmes such as Netflix, Amazon to let people all over the world see the beauty of Egypt’s towns, kind people, streets, delicious food, in addition to its endless antiquities.”