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Akoon (translated to ‘being’ from the Arabic word أكون) is an ode to, and celebration of, “Egyptian women and our expressive journeys towards reclaiming the spaces we rightfully deserve,” says photographer and emerging director Zeina Aref.

“This project was driven by a sense of frustration towards the unjust reality that being a woman means so many things except the freedom to be one,” says the London-based creative. “That frustration was channeled into creating Akoon as a means of occupying those spaces and showing that any woman—privately and publicly—can choose who they want to be.”

Aref’s work explores contemporary Egyptian identity and womanhood in times of cultural change. Akoon follows four fictional narratives profiling Egyptian women from diverse yet intersectional backgrounds. They dance in protest. They dance to reclaim their self and space in every desired space.

“As a true celebration of the power of being,” says Aref, “Akoon is about the individual strength and collective unity to exist freely, despite the socio-political and cultural environment.”


Photography by Najla Said

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