Ramadan Nostalgia: Are you 'Thirty Something'?

Ameera Fouad , Sunday 9 May 2021

The Thirties Show’s second season is showcasing 'Ramadan Nostalgia' during the holy month of Ramadan this year

Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond

Reminiscing about memories in Ramadan for certain age groups is not always an easy task. A few years ago, many TV advertisements brought back beautiful memories to those born in the 1980s.

This year, Egypt’s Thirties Show is bringing back another bunch of memories to a different age group every Friday and Saturday in a YouTube programme that speaks to Egyptian men and women in their thirties. 

The Thirties Show’s second season is showcasing “Ramadan Nostalgia” during the holy month of Ramadan this year, reminding still-young people of their youth and TV shows like Fawazeer, Power Rangers, One Thousand and One Nights (Alf Leila Wa Leila), and other childhood memories.

“Blowing out the candles on my birthday cake, I was terrified by the thought that I was now a 30-year-old man. Was it time to get married? To change careers? To find financial stability? To take care of my health and change my lifestyle,” asked Tarek Abbas, co-founder of the online programme.  

Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond

Abbas’s birthday party turned into a heated discussion about what people expect to accomplish in their thirties. Several questions came into his friends’ minds, who ranged from 25 to 35 years old. But no one could really answer them.

People sometimes fear their thirties, thinking of the number itself and claiming that it is the end of youth, the end of being crazy, dynamic, or even the end of planning for the future.

Some may be in a constant state of pleasure-seeking, aware that they need to finish all this before they slip into their thirties, get married, and seek stability in their careers, Abbas noted.  

That’s how the idea of the Thirties Show came to light. “This age, from 25 to 35 years old, is often ignored, not only by the media, but also by most of our society even though it is a crucial age in one’s life,” added Abbas, an outreach coordinator at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

“We thought about creating an online, friendly and interactive programme that would reflect people’s fears, but that would also reflect success, passion and the desire to get the best out of this period in one’s life.”

In fewer than two months, the show had gone online with creative informative that attracted lots of viewers. The show aims to shed light on examples of young people who have succeeded in turning this age into stories of success. 

Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond

It gives many good examples of how people have changed careers at this young age, regardless of their majors in education. It shows how some have pursued their passions, defying societal norms, and it presents some who have developed a different lifestyle or have developed their personality and skills.

“We had a pharmacist who is now working in organic cosmetics, for example, and an engineering graduate who learnt how to make bags and shoes while working on leather and now has her own brand,” said Aya Abdel-Hakim, co-founder of the show and a production coordinator at the Alexandria Library.

“Our success came home to us when viewers asked us about certain courses that our guests had talked about or places they could go for advice. Thus, we acted as mediators and influencers between our audience and our guests.”

For Abbas and Abdel-Hakim, the show is not about fame or fans, as much as about content that can serve the public and help them at this crucial age. 

“We want to help young people in every possible way, like funding startups and supporting entrepreneurs. We would like to be a hub that can foster young people’s projects and support entrepreneurs in fields like music, culture, business, and so on,” added Abdel-Hakim.

Hazem Youssef, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, was one of the first who believed in the idea of the show and supported it in every way. As co-founder of Design Sector, a design studio, Youssef could provide suitable locations for shooting indoors and outdoors for the programme. He believes that young people need not only guidance, but also for their voices to be heard. 

As a young entrepreneur with a five-year business project, Youssef said that “many young people think they cannot accomplish what they want, and they may be hesitant about changing jobs or creating their own businesses. But from my experience, I can say that one must be both an employee and an employer while taking chances in both.”

Youssef explored opportunities during his teens and early twenties. “I used to knock on every door I could find for internships inside and outside Egypt. I used to attend conferences and seminars and join voluntary clubs and youth organisations to expand my network.”

Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond
Enjoying your thirties and beyond

“These accumulated experiences made me unafraid of taking risks and they allowed me to get to know different people in various circles and networks.”

To Youssef and to many young people his age, there is a need for society to understand their needs and ambitions. There is a need not to be bounded by constraints that everything needs to be done by a certain age.

With the Covid-19 pandemic and the stagnant market in Egypt and worldwide, the challenges are bigger for young people today who are trying their best to invest in themselves and in the job market. 

“We do not need to get married in our twenties. It is okay to be single and a bachelor in our thirties or even forties. We do not need to get stuck in a specific job and never change it just because it brings financial stability,” said Marwa Ahmed, a 34-year-old translator.

“It is okay to be a single female and foster a child at any age. As time changes, so our norms have to change as well,” she added.

Anna Brech, a US lifestyle writer, says that the thirties are the best times of your life for many reasons. Most importantly, one stops being on a rollercoaster of emotions, and it is a time when “you stop caring too much and you know what you want and whom you want to be with.”  

Whether you are reading this article at an age that is younger or older than your thirties, please sit down, relax and enjoy whatever age you are in. 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 May, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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