In the bustling heart of Cairo, Orest Zub had the pleasure of spending a day with Omar Nok, one of the biggest Egyptian travellers. Omar shared his unique insights into the challenges and advantages of holding two passports of differing strengths, and his journey across more than 60 countries.
This interview is available in video form on Omar’s YouTube Channel:
We’re here in Cairo, and despite the noise outside, it’s thrilling to be in the middle of this vibrant market. Omar, you’re quite the traveller, looking at your map at NomadMania, I have noticed you did over 60 countries, correct?
Omar: Yes, that’s right. Most of my travels have been across Europe and the Americas. I travel with an Egyptian passport, but I also have a German passport thanks to my grandmother. Surprisingly, depending on the destination, sometimes the Egyptian passport actually offers more ease of access than the German one.
That’s fascinating! How do you navigate the complexities of travelling with two passports?
Omar: The country I plan to visit dictates which passport I use. For instance, as an Egyptian, I don’t need a visa for Jordan or Iran, unlike German passport holders. So, I choose the passport that ensures the most seamless travel experience for my destination.
Omar has a German passport thanks to his grandmother. He travels on both Egyptian and German passport, depending on which one offers the most seamless travel experience for his destination.
Your journey reflects a mix of different cultures. How does this affect your identity as a traveller?
Omar: While I value my German heritage, my core identity, culture, and traditions are deeply rooted in Egypt. I was born, raised, and lived here most of my life. Travelling for me is not just about seeing the world. It is also about representing my own country and culture. It feels like a mission to showcase the richness of Egyptian heritage wherever I go.
When did you start travelling?
Omar: I started after graduating from University, actually, when I was 22 maybe. It was when I moved from Egypt to Luxembourg for work. During my last year at University, I applied to about 60 positions in Europe. Sadly, I faced rejections from almost all, finding it hard to get even a single chance.
Moving to Europe for work opened Omar’s door for more extensive travels.Here: visiting Puente Nuevo bridge in Ronda, Andalusia region in Spain
Why? Because of your degree from Cairo University?
Omar: I couldn’t find any other explanation, all my grades were perfect. I couldn’t find any other explanation than just being from here.
So, do you think being from Egypt affected your work opportunities in Europe?
Omar: Yes, it limited my work opportunities in Europe. Amazon was the only company that interviewed me. Seizing that opportunity, I moved to Luxembourg, which finally allowed me to think about travelling. In Egypt, as a student, the high costs made travelling very difficult, even with a job. My travels began in earnest when I moved to Europe and started earning.
At NomadMania, we practice the motto “Show me your map, and I’ll tell you who you are”. You can really read the person according to the region and the style of visiting. Your exploration of Latin America seems particularly extensive, mostly overland. Can you share more about that?
Omar: Absolutely. I did that last year. I started in California, going south from California down the Pacific coast of South America, all the way until Chile, then made a round to Argentina and then going up north on the Atlantic coast, all the way in Central America, and then all the way back to California. This trip was one of the most enriching experiences. I travelled mostly overland, enjoying the gradual cultural shifts and the richness of each country. It’s the kind of journey that allows you to immerse yourself in the local way of life, which I find incredibly rewarding. I love Spanish, and while travelling there, I improved my Spanish massively, because not many people speak English.
Omar’s profile on NomadMania. He loves travelling overland.
And how has travelling with an Egyptian passport shaped your experiences, especially in regions with strict visa requirements or security concerns?
Omar: Travelling with an Egyptian passport presents challenges but also offers unique insights. In Venezuela, for instance, I adapted my appearance to blend in and avoid attention due to the security situation. These experiences taught me the importance of adaptability and respect for local contexts.
“In Venezuela, I adapted my appearance to blend in and avoid drawing attention, given the country’s security situation”, says Omar. Here in Canaima National Park in Venezuela
Turning to your home country, Egypt is a major destination for travellers worldwide. How do you perceive the travel culture among Egyptians?
Omar: It’s growing. Being part of the global travel community, especially platforms like NomadMania, has opened my eyes to the diversity of travellers out there. My goal is not only to explore the world but to also inspire and connect with fellow Egyptians and travellers from similar backgrounds. While the economic situation in Egypt does limit how frequently people can travel, there’s a budding interest and curiosity about the world. By sharing my journeys, I hope to encourage others to embark on their own, despite the challenges they may face due to financial or passport-related limitations.
Despite having two passports, Omar proudly identifies himself as Egyptian. His goal is to inspire Egyptian travellers to explore the world despite economic challenges.
Looking ahead, you’re embarking on an ambitious journey across Asia, aiming to reach Japan without flying. What motivates this next adventure, and how do you plan to share your experiences?
Omar: This upcoming trip is about pushing the boundaries further, and exploring Asia in depth without relying on flights. It’s a commitment to slow travel, to fully engage with each place and its culture. I’ll be sharing this adventure through social media and a new YouTube channel, inviting others to join me virtually and learn from the experiences I’ll gather along the way.
Finally, if you could have a conversation with any three people, alive or deceased, who would they be and why?
Omar: I’d choose Novak Djokovic for his unparalleled sportsmanship and mental strength, Gandhi for his peaceful impact on the world, and Ramesses the Second to delve into the mysteries of ancient Egypt. Each of them, in their own way, represents a facet of the curiosity and resilience that drive my travels.
Omar, it’s been a pleasure to learn about your travels and insights. Your journey is a testament to the transformative power of travel, bridging cultures and challenging personal boundaries. We wish you all the best in your upcoming adventures.
Omar: Thank you. It’s always a joy to share my experiences and hopefully inspire others to explore the world, regardless of the passport they hold. Safe travels to all!
Omar offers a glimpse into the life of a traveller navigating the world with a “weak” passport, shedding light on both the unique challenges and the extraordinary experiences that come with it. Follow his overland journey from Cairo to Japan on his YouTube channel and check out our interviews section to get more inspiration!