NAYA | Clara Kossaifi: Documenting real stories from the Arab world

The self-starter began with Project Safar out of frustration from the lack of resonating love in people.
by Maria Sakr

4 September 2018 | 13:55

Source: by Annahar

  • by Maria Sakr
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 4 September 2018 | 13:55

This photo shows Clara Kossaifi. (HO)

BEIRUT: When words fail, images speak — and sometimes even louder than any syllable, as emotions and self-expression in storytelling know no limit. In 2017, Clara Kossaifi took it upon herself to start Project Safar; an artistic concept with two main activities: Safarthestory and Safartheshop.

The first is a collection of documentaries that mainly tell forgotten stories from around Lebanon and the Arab world, while the latter is a shop that sells travel-themed merchandise, made by Kossaifi herself.

“It all started with Safarthestory,” Kossaifi said. “I had this need of taking out my camera and filming, instead of waiting for projects to come around.”

The self-starter began with Project Safar out of frustration from the lack of resonating love in people, “It seemed like everywhere I went, and everyone I met wanted to get out of here, and it was getting really frustrating hearing the same thing over and over again,” she said.

Kossaifi transformed her concept into an online platform — a website, with social media accounts — where she posts short documentaries about society and culture in Lebanon, and the Arab world, showing a realistic image of the region.

“The videos are not here to show only a positive, and beautiful image, and it’s not just all negative either, because I’m sick of seeing negativity everywhere… it’s just a true, realistic image.” she told Annahar.

A number of the documentaries are real testimonies of forgotten people and their stories around the country, while other shorts show beauty and nature.

“I also like to focus on social entrepreneurs,” Kossaifi added, “though the videos are now more oriented toward social issues, which I hope bring awareness to certain topics that need it, I love what certain groups and NGOs are doing in terms of positive change, and I want to be part of it as much as I can.”

Despite the videos resulting in great success and fulfillment, the artist needed something to be a bit more financially sustainable, and that’s how Safartheshop came about (later in 2018).

“I did not want any revenue from the videos themselves, because I don’t want anyone to have control over the content, so I decided to create a new activity,” she said.

The shop sells a handmade collection of items related to traveling, including cross-stitched passport covers, bag tags, pouches and notebooks. The beautifully designed merchandise has also been doing well, selling at different local events and stands, as well as via Instagram order. The Safar merchandise has also extended its reach, as it is now being sold at a boutique in Amman, Jordan.

“The best part of the journey is receiving beautiful messages from people who were touched by a video they watched or even by a Safar product they received and appreciated the time it took to create it,” Kossaifi told Annahar.

There’s an infinite amount of stories to tell, and an endless well of emotions to pour out, and it’s safe to say that Project Safar’s potential is limitless, handing it the torch of being the powerful storyteller.

Follow the journey here: www.projectsafar.com

Instagram: @project.safar

Facebook: @projectsafar.lb

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