Julie and Ramy used to have a normal life in Cairo as any other married couple. Then they took a decision which changed their lives forever. They purchased a kitesurfing station, rebranded it as Hawa Safaga, and started their own passion project on the Red Sea coast. At Hawa Safaga, Ramy is responsible for the operation in the water as well as dealing with local authorities, while Julie takes care of administration, finance and everything else; they take all their major decisions together. We sit down with them to learn more about their interesting work and lifestyle.
Making that switch was not a premeditated decision they had come to beforehand. In fact, they weren’t looking for a new challenge. “This chance came to us! We were called and asked if we would like to take over the management of this kitesurfing station,” Ramy tells. This wasn’t Ramy’s first interaction with this kitesurfing station, as he used to be a frequent customer. While tourism was not at its best when this happened, in 2016, and despite the fact that the station needed refurbishment and investment, they went for it.
The division of the high and low seasons gives a real opportunity to break the stress routine
This move had its benefits from the get-go, due to the fact that life on the beach is more conscious and healthier. “On one hand, you have the environmental/practical facts, like pollution versus clean air,” Julie continues, “on the other hand the division of the high and low seasons gives a real opportunity to break the stress routine.” This makes a great deal of difference, of course, “in the winter we get to enjoy the beach life, travel, unwind and have enough energy and time to plan personal or business goals,” Julie explains.
At the station, Julie and Ramy offer various services, “Hawa Safaga is an accredited kitesurfing and windsurfing station. We offer professional courses in multiple languages, as well as rental packages,” Ramy says. For kiters with their own equipment, Hawa Safaga provides surveillance, rescue services, and beach and set-up assistance. Also, 6KM north of the station, there is a submerged sandy island in the middle of Soma Bay where they’ve installed a platform. At the “Hawa Platform in Soma Bay” there are excellent teaching and freeriding conditions with a spectacular view.
A beach life eliminates certain external negative factors like noise, pollution, traffic… and so on, but leaves you to a greater challenge of overcoming your weaker self.
A move like this is not for everyone, as life on the beach is different from what Cairenes are used to. “A beach life doesn’t mean you’ll have no more stress, or that it becomes easy to be more disciplined,” Julie continues, “a beach life eliminates certain external negative factors like noise, pollution, traffic… and so on, but leaves you to a greater challenge of overcoming your weaker self.” This means the move will be easier for those looking for simplicity and being closer to nature, than people who cannot imagine a life without certain luxuries like delivery services, shopping malls, and such things.
Ramy and Julie even have advice for those looking into making a similar move. Their main advice is to consider the local values, habits, and educational level. “For me, Julie, a woman who thinks she can do almost everything by herself, I had a difficult time with our local staff in the beginning,” Julie explains, and tells that many people working in tourism on the mainland coastal cities at the Red Sea are from Upper Egypt, which means they have strong traditions and values. “My husband acted as a diplomat to create mutual understanding of each other’s way of thinking,” Julie continues, “after almost two years we overcame this challenge, the process involved a lot of learning from each other and accepting different values.”
We eat much healthier, and we are almost vegetarian as it is difficult to find quality meat and poultry
Julie and Ramy’s lives have been positively impacted by their move to the Red Sea. The most positive thing and their main motivation to move being the fresh air and access to the sea. Yet, there is more. “We eat much healthier, and we are almost vegetarian as it is difficult to find quality meat and poultry,” Julie continues, “we eat fish, especially in winter when there aren’t many customers, our staff fishes and provides us with fresh fish!” It is not all perfect, though, “since we are far away from our friends and family there are no spontaneous visits,” Julie tells. And that is not the only thing, “we miss the cultural aspect and going to parties and get-togethers with friends,” Ramy elaborates.
I believe this will have a positive impact on Egypt’s economy and the inhabitants outside of Cairo
Julie and Ramy are not alone, and many are making the move away from Cairo. Something which they believe is positive. “It is difficult to live a healthy life in Cairo’s smog and the fact that it is almost impossible to walk in the streets,” Ramy continues, “I believe this will have a positive impact on Egypt’s economy and the inhabitants outside of Cairo.”
Working together as a husband and wife doesn’t come without challenges, especially that both Ramy and Julie were shifting careers along with this move. “At the beginning the common aim of success made us a super strong team. Now, after having accomplished the first big aim, it has become very challenging,” Julie tells. Despite having separate work and responsibilities, Ramy and Julie argue a lot about work matters and sometimes take these arguments home with them. However, they are working on ways to create more personal and professional spaces for them both.
COVID19 hit us hard economically, but we are surviving it. We are spending quality time with our daughter and learning new kite and windsurfing skills
Naturally, Hawa Safaga’s work was affected by COVID19, closing until mid-August. “COVID19 hit us hard economically, but we are surviving it. We are spending quality time with our daughter and learning new kite and windsurfing skills,” Ramy concludes.
Make sure to drop by them whenever you are in Soma Bay or Safaga.