Ahmed Harbia, 2021 winner
ElSaha.com and its social media properties serve as a localized source of news for Egypt. As Video Content Lead, Ahmed Harbia produces compelling videos covering humanitarian stories and highlighting the needs of the communities El Saha serves. He delves into larger issues facing the country with investigative mini-documentaries; as well as factual, balanced coverage of news that is scarce on the web.
When Ahmed joined the team, he brought a wealth of knowledge about the Egyptian market and the needs of the people. He emphasized topics dealing with human rights, religious freedom and minority rights, that are not covered in the local media, using his creative talents to bring these stories to life.
A dedicated journalist, Ahmed is always in search of stories that needs to be told. He uses his talents as a storyteller to humanize news events across Egypt. In 2020, a 15-year-old girl was accused of manslaughter after she stabbed her abductor and rapist. The story was well-known due to the sensationalized local media coverage that solely focused on the gruesome details about her ‘crimes.’ The local coverage dehumanized her to the extent that they never even used her name, only calling her the Al Ayat Girl. Ahmed went beyond the scandal to get to know the girl behind the headlines. He sought out Amira, who spoke out about what it was like being kidnapped and assaulted, only to survive and then be harshly judged by society. In a similar story, El Saha interviewed Nael, a Sudanese teenager living in Cairo as a refugee. Nael was victim of a racist attack that was filmed and widely viewed on social media. Talking to El Saha, Nael expressed his feelings of rejection, alienation, and fear. He said he was so devastated, that he even asked his mother to forge his death certificate and present it in UNHCR so he can sneak back to Sudan and leave this life behind. Nael shared with Ahmed and El Saha his compassion for his attackers, worried that the sentence they received was too harsh and his concern for their future.
Religious discrimination is also a sensitive topic in the region, but not one Ahmed shies away from. When officials in the remote Egyptian village of al-Wadi al-Gadid quietly and abruptly made it illegal for Christians to be buried there, Ahmed produced a video about a Christian father who was devastated to learn of the change when he tried to bury his young son. Many viewers were so moved by that video, they expressed their anger that this father could not bury his son because of blatant discrimination.
Ahmed also seeks out stories that focus on marginalized groups in Egypt, including women. He reports on women overcoming stereotypes to inspire and empower others. One such story was of three Egyptian sisters who took over their father’s marble factory when he passed away. They continue to make a success of the traditionally male-dominated business. Another report highlighted Donia, a woman who always loved working on cars. So she went to school and now is a teacher of auto mechanics.