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A glimpse at amazing Bali
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 10 - 12 - 2010

CAIRO - Driven by her enormous love for photography, she unleashed the wings of her creativity and travelled many miles to seize glamorous moments through her lenses.
Her heightened artistic sense and unique ability to capture the true essence of things has earned her success, ever since she popped up on the scene about two years ago.
She is the talented Egyptian photographer Aliaa Refaat, known as Coucla, who, using her photographic expertise, has spent the past few
years travelling around the world, translating the cultures of indigenous peoples into images to which we can relate.
Coucla started her journey in the art of documentary photography in late 2008, with the ultimate goal of: "Inspiring young generations in Egypt and Middle East and educating them about the cultures of others."
Moved by her curiosity to learn more about the world's different cultures and discover its beautiful treasures, Coucla travelled to the amazing Island of Bali, Indonesia, to take some shots about people's daily practices, religious rituals, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies, as well as the natural scenery.
She travelled only with her best friend (her camera). But she came back with many fabulous photographs, introducing us to the magnificent culture of the Balinese, which we know little about.
Coucla's flashy photographs, currently being displayed in the Exhibition Hall of the Indonesian Embassy in Cairo, vividly highlight the Balinese's daily activities, temple anniversary ceremonies, Legong dance, cremations, sacrifices for God and breathtaking views.
They captivate the eyes of visitors to the exhibition because of their 'liveliness' and 'the genuine story they tell' too.
"In her exhibition, Coucla has not only presented her masterpieces, but the essence of Bali as well.
She presents its spirit, people, culture and rituals," Indonesian Ambassador to Cairo Abdurrrahman Mohammed Fachir, who opened the exhibition, stressed.
"Despite her youth, Coucla shows a refined artistic talent and a depth of vision," the Ambassador added.
Bali is one of the 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The island is home to the vast majority Indonesia's small Hindu minority.
Bali is known as ‘Paradise Island' due to its beautiful scenery, spectacular beaches, magnificent culture and the prevalence of spirituality.
"Bali is absolutely amazing. My experience there was unbelievable, full of exploration and adventure.
I was fascinated by its beauty, tropical forests, rice paddies, spectacular beaches, hospitable people, and the vibrant social life.
The scenery there is beyond imagination," Coucla, who graduated in mass communications and advertising from the Modern Arts and Science Academy in 2007, told The Egyptian Gazette.
"I want the viewers to connect with my photos. I want them to experience what I have experienced, to see how people live, and learn about their beliefs, culture and art ��" not just to see them as an unidentified component of an isolated ethnic group," the 25-year-old photographer added.
When you tour Coucla's exhibition, you think you are in Bali, and you learn some exciting facts about it.
Some photographs stress the fact that offerings play a significant role in Balinese life.
Balinese people believe that offerings appease the evil spirits, and thus bring prosperity and good health.
Other photographs explain how cremations happen. Balinese believe in the four elements of life ��" earth, fire, air and water ��" and that's why they cremate.
"ABalinese cremation is an amazing, spectacular, colourful, noisy and exiting event. Strange as it seems, it's in their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun. It is like a European carnival. Ice cream, toys, balloons and motorcycles are all over the place," Coucla explained.
Coucla regards her photography as "an interactive tool to bridge cultural and language barriers in Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond". This has won her the title of “Ambassador of Art”.
Coucla's example highlights the fact that photography is not just a means for the great masses of people to capture important events or intimate moments of their lives in a picture, but also a truly dynamic art form which can document cultures and chronicle the history of mankind.
Bali was not Coucla's first destination. In 2009, she travelled to India with the aim of photographing theyyam rituals and the Khathakali dance in Kerala.

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