»We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.«
Free Trip to Egypt takes audiences on a remarkable journey, in which an unlikely group of travelers to the Middle East find themselves transformed by the power of human connection.
Tarek Mounib, a Canadian-Egyptian entrepreneur living in Switzerland, is troubled by a world that seems ever more divided and polarised. In response to increasing levels of anger and hatred towards “the other” on American social and broadcast media, he resolves to reach out to the very people who fear his culture, with an intriguing idea.
With the aim of trying to build mutual understanding, Tarek travels across the United States in order to find Americans who feel threatened by Islam and offer them a Free Trip to Egypt.
The initial reactions range from disbelief to hostility, but eventually, a diverse group is selected. These characters are a cross-section of contemporary America: including a teacher, a police officer, a Marine veteran, a single mom, a preacher and a beauty pageant queen. All have their preconceptions but all are receptive and courageous enough to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
On arrival in Egypt the Americans are paired with locals just as diverse as they are. A retired school teacher and her husband are united with a young Egyptian revolutionary. Two photojournalists from different countries must confront their different experiences. A Christian missionary and a former Miss Kentucky from his congregation are paired with an orthodox Muslim family.
The stories that emerge from these improbable connections are provocative, surprising, funny, magical, emotional, revealing, enlightening, and ultimately life-changing. Free Trip to Egypt is a profoundly original and inspirational feature-length documentary invites us to leave our baggage behind consider the world anew.
But the journey doesn’t stop there. Free Trip to Egypt has gone on to inspire the global initiative #PledgeToListen which everyone can be a part of.
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Tarek and His Idea
»When something comes to you as a calling and you feel it deep in your heart and you do it, you know it’s right…«
Tarek Mounib, creator/producer of Free Trip to Egypt
What would happen if you brought together two groups of people from two different cultures, often presented by politicians and mass media as mutually hostile?
When this question occurred to Canadian-Egyptian Tarek Mounib, it marked the start of a quest to find out if kindness and connection could overcome division. The drive to find an answer to this question would take Tarek from his home in Switzerland to the United States, with a unique offer for willing Americans who were fearful of Islam: an all-expenses-paid vacation to Egypt.
He brought along his friend Adam Saleh, an American Muslim YouTube celebrity and comedian to lighten things up. The intrepid duo set out across America searching for potential travelers with different backgrounds, beliefs and opinions, leading them to some unusual places — a small town in the heart of Georgia, a Trump Rally in Kentucky, Union Square in New York City and many other fascinating locations in between.
Eventually, a group of Americans willing to confront their own prejudices were chosen to come to Egypt and explore the land, its people and their way of life. When each of the travelers was matched up with their welcoming Egyptian counterparts, an astonishing new set of adventures began to unfold.
Five separate camera and sound crews filmed the five journeys, capturing all the eye-opening interchanges, unexpected events and breakthrough moments of each emotional expedition.
True to Tarek Mounib’s vision, Free Trip to Egypt is a remarkable cinematic sojourn of revelation and self-discovery for the participants, the filmmakers and the viewer alike.
But Tarek’s project isn’t over. The experience of making the film provoked a new desire to bring more listening to the world. As a result, the #PledgeToListen campaign was born. This provides everyone with the opportunity to reflect the values captured in the film and by bringing more listening to a world where it is too often overlooked.
For more information about Tarek Mounib and #PledgeToListen, watch these videos:
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