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Esquire Magazine Features UAE’s top Social Media Digital Influencers

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Esquire, the leading men’s magazine in the Middle East, featured UAE’s top digital social media influencers in its December 2014 issue out on stands now. Chosen with the help of HTC, Esquire met these online influencers responsible for hauling the UAE into a new world of web-based awareness, one hashtag at a time. The photoshoot was done on location around DIFC.

Photography: Audra Osipaviciute
Styling by : Kate Hazell
Interviews :  Tom Norton

 

Know your influencer:

@AshrafGhori

CEO at Xpanse CGI. Award-winning artist and filmmaker.
www.ashrafghori.com

 

@Emkwan

Tech and lifestyle video blogger. UAE’s top English language vlogger.
www.youtube.com/emkwantv

 

@JoeAkkawi

Founder of PAZ Marketing, Sky News Arabia tech pundit and digital marketer.
www.joernals.com

 

@FarrukhNaeem

Social Media strategist and tech blogger.
www.farrukhnaeem.com

 

@HishamWyne

MC and digital content specialist. Hosts local comedy night, One Night standup.
www.hishamwyne.com

 

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You can catch the ‘making of’ the Esquire feature with this behind the scenes Vlog created by our good friend Emkwan – don’t forget to subscribe to his channel too :

 

 

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Canon Middle East Round Table Conference

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Canon Middle East‘s Round Table Conference took place during the CABSat 2014 Event at the World Trade Centre on the 12th of March 2014.

The conference was a discussion concerning the digital trends in broadcast and film-making featuring a niche panel of prominent filmmakers and industry professionals from the region such as Khaled Abol Naga, Ali Mostafa and Ashraf Ghori. Also present were Canon’s brand ambassador Sebastien Devaud, Canon Europe’s Paul Atkinson and independent filmmakers Ali Okhovat and Faisal Hashmi. The panel was moderated by Lina Matta, Senior Channel Manager of MBC.

The filmmakers talked about the challenges within the fledgling regional film industry and the impact of technology in filmmaking whether it’s shooting on affordable DSLR Cameras or providing 4K content for broadcast. Canon showcased their impressive EOS C500 DSLR camera which has already been used in several Hollywood productions.

Photos courtesy Canon Middle East & Kevin Sebastian

 

• G A L L E R Y •

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A coffee plant at our studio courtesy Starbucks

 

Our friends at Starbucks invited us over to the exclusive opening of Dubai’s first ‘Starbucks Reserve’ store at the Dubai Mall on the 7th of April.

Doesn’t take much to convince us to attend when there’s rare exotic coffees involved at an event. Apart from having a good time over coffee and cake, we returned with a new addition to the studio, our very own coffee plant. Now this plant might not ever give us coffee beans, but thank you for the very thoughtful gift Starbucks!

Here’s what Starbucks Reserve is all about. It’s like coffee for the connoisseur who’d like to enjoy distinct flavors from around the world. It’s prepared with a high tech process right in front of you where the coffee of your choice is filtered while keeping the aroma and the goodness all in.

So the next time you’re around at the Dubai Mall be sure to check out their new Reserve coffee selections. You’ll be glad you did.

More about Starbucks Reserve here.

 

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Interview News

‘Creative Cool Guy’ of the day on The Dubai Egotist

Xpanse man Ashraf Ghori is featured on The Dubai Egotist as ‘Creative Cool Guy of the Day’ and we simply cannot stop repeating that phrase since.

The Dubai Egotist is a creative blog highlighting the best creative work and talent in Dubai, the Middle East and beyond. Read the full story here:

http://www.thedubaiegotist.com/editorial/2013/november/8/creative-cool-guy-day-ashraf-ghori

 

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Who are you, What do you do, and What’s it like?

I’m an artist & filmmaker. I’ve been a resident of Dubai for over 35 years. I run my studio Xpanse CGI, a digital creative agency as its CEO in Dubai Media City. Xpanse is a small team of talented individuals producing creative content such as animation, branding and web sites for a multitude of clients.

Xpanse and my other actual family keeps me fairly busy. Apart from this, I get to do the artsy stuff like digital painting or CG film-making mostly for fun. Even though it is demanding work I enjoy what I do.

Anything notable that you’ve done?

I’ve done a few things which have put me on the map so to speak. I’ve created the first CGI Sci-fi film from the UAE ‘Xero Error’ which had a successful run at film festivals, even got me on the red carpet at Cannes and garnered a few awards. I’ve produced artwork for comic publishers including Dark Horse Comics & IDW Publishing and regularly get featured as a ‘celebrity’ guest at events like IGN Convention, MEFCC Comic Con among others.

So, You’ve been successful…

Although I’m grateful and flattered by this sort of attention, I certainly do not count myself as successful – not even close. I work hard and continue to do so. I am not particularly proud of anything I have produced or achieved so far and I just know my best is yet to come!

That’s a great philosophy. My philosophy is stupid people shouldn’t exist. Do you ever get asked any stupid questions?

Does this one count?

Probably. But let’s say it didn’t……?

After Xero Error was launched as a short film at film festivals and I had to shelve the dreams of doing a feature length version (owing to lack of millions in cash). I still to this very day get asked by everyone I bump into: ‘Hey how’s the film coming along?’ which puts me in an awkward spot. For people who follow me online on Twitter / Facebook etc, I post all my work and work-in-progress online on my website (www.ashrafghori.com) and believe me if a feature length Xero Error film was in the works they’d know about it already 🙂

There are other cool projects in the pipeline though & I’ll surely pick up where Xero Error left off sometime in the near future.

What’s the one thing you learnt when you got started as a filmmaker

Being a naive first-timer in the film industry I was expecting support and sponsors to fall out of the sky for quick fame and fortunes, but as I quickly learned that without doing the hard work and going through the motions you won’t get anywhere. This is where just about all aspiring filmmakers get caught in only to find out that if you want to do something you are better off doing it with whatever means you have at your disposal. The fame and fortunes will follow if you keep at it.

In 5 words or less, tell us your creative philosophy.

‘Outdo Yourself’.

I always try to better myself and not rest on my laurels. Which is why this is Xpanse CGI’s official slogan too. Give it your 110% and it comes back ten-fold.

 

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CGI Animation Masterclass at SAE Institute, Dubai

We held a CG Masterclass at SAE Institute, Knowledge village on the 6th of October 2011. The masterclass featured an hour of tips and techniques on animation film making followed by a Q&A session.