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For the First Time Ever, An Egyptian Woman Makes It on Forbes' 30 Under 30 Europe

In an exclusive interview, young graphic designer Ghada Wali tells us what it's like to be the first Egyptian woman to ever be selected by Forbes' 30 Under 30 Europe.

Cairene graphic designer Ghada Wali was just selected as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 Europe, marking the first time an Egyptian woman makes it on the annual European list. The artist, who studied in Florence, Italy, was included in the in the 'Arts and Immigrants' category of the list, which last year featured Maria Sharapova, Adele, and John and Patrick Collison. The annual selection, now running its second edition in Europe, includes changemakers with entrepreneurial mindsets who are leading and disrupting their fields.  

“The process to get on this list is rigorous, especially since I am a non-EU citizen,” says the young artist, who has previously won two Adobe Design Achievement awards and, most recently, the Granshan competition in Munich. “My belief that 'graphic design can change the world' is the main conviction behind my every piece of work, and I think it shows in my submitted pieces. This makes my objective as a designer to both learn and educate people through graphic design and leverage it as a tool for positive change,” she adds, reflecting on the reasons that prompted her nomination.

Having kicked off her career at advertising agencies in Cairo, the young artist moved to Florence to pursue an MA at IED (Istituto Europeo di Design). “I was working as a creative team leader at MI7 Cairo and, although it was an amazing learning experience, at some point I felt that advertising was taking away my soul,” says the young artist, who is now considered by the Society of Typographic Arts Chicago among the best 100 graphic designers in the world.

“I really craved working on the design themes I always loved, to explore the worlds I am interested in and regenerate my brain,” she recalls. Aiming to pursue an MA degree, she applied for a scholarship and won, with a project titled I Am the Future, a 30-second video demo portraying the human being used as a medium of science and art. “Rather than sending a lifeless PDF of still work, I wanted to take the jury into a future world of virtual reality. Basically, a digital simulation of a whole world, seen in different sectors of experience such as fashion, advertising, design, entertainment, nature, photography, music, art, astrology. It's an actual first demo to the concept; the human brand,” she said in her application.

Ghada Wali's award-winning project 'I am the future.'  

I won the scholarship and I moved to Florence not thinking twice. It was almost the best decision I have ever made; it opened doors to so many possibilities both personally and professionally,” says the graphic designer, who describes her work as “new, innovative, culturally driven, originally imprinted, clear, interactive, functional, emotional, conceptual, a signature, a treasure.”

Along with Wali, the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe features 300 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders across Europe who are under 30, and who are transforming business, technology, finance, media, culture and more, as judged by some of the most accomplished and acclaimed individuals in each category.  “We scoured the continent to find the most talented millennials and, with the help of our expert judges, are proud to honor 300 of the most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and brightest stars in Europe right now,” the Editor of Forbes, Randall Lane, said.

Photo credit: Ghada Wali.

Check out her work on Ghada Wali's website.

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