What defines talent? Having a flair for something, being unusually apt, expertise. However you choose to describe talent, the word itself holds a multitude of meanings. Talent, especially in modern times, can mean anything from whipping up a specialty dish, to being a professional athlete, to juggling bananas with your eyes closed while humming the theme song to The Office. In other words, it’s what you make it. And these days, thanks to the Internet, if someone has a talent that makes for good click bait or easily distracts people who should be working, obscure talents are exposed to the world. The talent that most recently distracted me from my growing to-do list came in the form of a 20-year old Egyptian student named Ahmed Hassan Refaie.

Refaie has been building his talent since he was about 10 years old (pun intended). You see, Refaie is an architect of sorts – only instead of building using carefully mapped out prototypes, and traditional materials like wood and brick, he replicates what others have already made…using nothing but playing cards.

By day, Refaie doesn’t have and endless amount of free time, as he’s busy studying in law school. However, the demands of becoming a lawyer slowly but surely have not been able to deter Ahmed from his unique hobby. His creations don’t come to life in hours, but rather take days to even begin to take form, often times taking upwards of hundreds of hours to result in a “finished product.” It’s a talent that requires both artistic flair, attention to detail, incredible patience, and a feather-light touch. Refaie is not surprisingly hoping to eventually earn a Guinness Record with his unique talents, although that’s not his end game:

“I would like to get a Guinness Record. Some people say Guiness is my goal , but to me it isn’t. To me a Guinness is a step which would enable me to put on a big exhibition. Hopefully, in my 10 year plan, I’d like to build a museum made of cards. I got the idea from a museum in China that is made of cardboard.”


The ambitious student is not making just any old buildings – in fact, he has made palaces and churches and models of monuments from Capitol Hill itself. According to him, the biggest model he has made to date thus far was of the “Church of Losanda,” which he made in honor of a child who was killed in a bombing there. It was not only his largest, but his most detailed piece yet. Speaking further to the “why” behind his dedication to these projects, Ahmed mentioned:

“ I love this, to be honest. I like the idea a lot. I like architectural shapes. I like cards. I like art. So, I tried to find a link between them and this is the link.”

I rarely have the patience to sit down and play cards in a traditional way, so to construct buildings out of them…seems pretty impressive. Best of luck to Ahmed on his quest for the museum spotlight — I can’t predict the future, but to me, it looks like it will be all aces for this law student.

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