On October 9th, 2015, the International School Network went to visit the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Ismail Khairat.
Geography of Egypt (by Kate)
HE Mr. Khairat introduced to us that Egypt is at the “Heart of the World”. The country is located on the point of converge of 3 continets : Africa, Asia and Europe. It has acsess to the Mediterranean and Red Sea which provides good trading routes across cultures. Along with the two Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba. The most essential water source for Egypt is the Nile which is the longest river in the world. It runs North and Sourth through eastern Egypt to the Medeterenian Sea, forming delta providing a rich agricultural region. The Nile is called the “lifeline for Egyptians” providing water, food, transportation paths and soil with essential nutrients for agriculture form the time of ancient Egyptians.
Egyptian Education (by Kate)
The education system in Egypt is constructed with three levels: primary, elementary and secandary smilar to the Japanese system. Education is compulsory for primary adn elementary levels with government schools free. The ambassaodr stated that the qunige aspect of eduction in cureent Egypt is that there is an increasinf number of private language schools and interenational schools offered in Egypt.
Tourism in Egypt (by Kate)
As HE Mr. Khairat has stated, “Once you step into Egypt, you will see a monumnet”, Egypt is full of tumbs and monumnets form ancient times. In south of Egypt is where Luxor is located, a city famous for having one third of all the ancient monuments on Earth. It is known today as the “World’s greatest open museam.” In the North of Egypt is the beautiful city of Alexandria. It is at tiem side of the Medeterranean Sea where there are resorts, attractions and sport activities from numerous cultural backgrounds. In the east, tourists visit the beautiful beaches on the Red sea to enjoy snorkeling and diving at the famous spots near Sinai Peninsula. The west of Egypt is popular for desert safaris, driving thorugh miles of golden dunes and uniqe rock formations. Lastly as we all know, the world famous tourist attraction, the iconic three pyramids and the pohinx is located in Cairo and Giza.
Egyptian Cuisine (by Madoka)
The national drink in Egypt is hibiscus juice. HE Mr. Khairat explained that it is very good for the blood pressure and for relaxing anxiety in the body. Beans is included in a typical Egyptian breakfast.
HE Mr. Khairat served to us a very delicious plate of Eyptian cuisine. We were able to enjoy a falafel sandwich. Falafel is a fried patty made of minced beans, herbs, and other greenery, and it was served with lafa, a flat pita bread. We also tasted pasteries made of Syruan dates, and a very sweet Arabic dessert, the balahasham. HE Mr. Khairat commented that these desserts are the “best ever sweets”, and that the balahasham was his favorite.
Egyptian Culture―Music, Films, and Sports (by Kurumi)
According to HE Mr. Khairat, music is a huge aspect of Egyptian culture and “constitutes an important part of life”. He is a guitar player himself, who used to perform as a band when he was eighteen. Being particularly keen on music, he explained to us about the difference between Arabic and Western music. He mentioned that the Egyptian music scale consists of a quarter tone, rather than the standard one tone or half tone, which we are familiar with. There are elements to the guitar that cannot be played in Arabic music. Many of the Egyptian music have a long duration of time in which they are played. For example, in order to play one song, it takes about an hour for the song to actually be over. In comparison to this, Pop music is rather short. In a world where the speediness and compactness of a good is being prioritized, to appreciate and take in the beauty of the sound maybe the uniqueness and speciality of Egyptian music.
Additionally, cinema is also a significant part of Egyptian culture. Egyptian films have undergone a widespread of distributions all around the world. The culture of the arts in Egypt are very much introduced to the rest of the world.
Popular sports in Egypt include soccer, tennis, and squash. Especially for squash, the national team have won various world tournaments. Moreover, sumo is becoming a trend in Egypt. Currently, in Japan, there is a famous Egyptian sumo star named “Ōsuna-arashi”.
Relationship between Egypt and Japan (by Madoka)
Relations between Egypt and Japan begain in the 19th century. In 1862, Japanese samurais stopped in Egypt to witness modernization. Ever since then, Egypt and Japan have had wonderful cultural relations. The two countries cooperated in making a film, exchanged dances and music (including operas and kabuki dance), and shared food culture such as sushi. HE Mr. Khairat mentioned that in Egypt, “we can find a sushi restaurant in every street”.
Egypt and Japan trade many important goods. Egypt exports selamics, onions, and fruits to Japan, and imports cars, automobiles, mackrel frish, electronics, entertainment gadgets, cameras, and chemicals. Recently, the two countries have been sharing know-how for buildings. Buildings in Japan are very sturdy to resist earthquakes, and Egyptian buildings are also very firm and durable to stand through dusty and hot weathers. HE Mr. Khairat explained that Egypt is aiming to increase the durableness of their buildings.
Preservation of Traditions and Views on Globalization (by Kurumi)
HE Mr. Khairat mentioned that tradition is well-preserved and this is evident in the way Egyptians treat their family and the elders. However, at the same time, he stated that being attached to traditions could act as a barrier for flow of new ideas and culture. “Sometimes, tradition is an obstacle to the things that change,” he commented. HE Mr. Khairat expressed that globalization is an important process, in which we cannot prevent from happening. “It is very good when learning about different countries. Because of globalization, we are able to just sit here and learn about the world and about other cultures. There are positive aspects to it if we use it well but if we don’t, there are negative aspects to it,” he added.
World Peace (by Madoka)
HE Mr. Khairat explained to us that world peace is achievable “when all nations want to achieve peace”. He believes that at this stage, if we accept others, respect all religions and human beings, and stop pushing them to change, peace can be achived. He says that humans are able to ask for peace in the same way they have asked for war.
HE Mr. Khairat believes that the United Nations must work towards solving more problems, including contemporary ones. He says that because we have reached a new millenium since the organization was formed, changes must be made to adapt to the world that has changed.
Living His Dream and the Japanese Experience (by Kurumi)
As a child, HE Mr. Khairat dreamt of coming to Japan. He was very fond of Japanese culture, way of living, and idea of discipline engraved in the mentality of the Japanese people. He had three sons and one of his son is attending an international school in Japan. Hence, he is glad that his son can live the Japanese culture and way of living through actual experience in the country. “Although it may take some time, it is possible to accomplish your dreams,” HE Mr. Khairat stated.
When asked whether he had experienced any surprising events in Japan, he responded right away, saying that he had not. However, he did and is still feeling the language barrier. “I think I would be having a completely different approach if I were able to speak the language,” he commented. Previously, HE Mr. Khairat had worked in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia.With two years left of his job as an Ambassador of Egypt to Japan, he reflected that in the past to the present, he has been having a “big Asian experience”.
Ambassador’s Goals (by Kurumi)
As an Ambassador, he hopes to establish good relations with Japan and hopefully undergo student exchanges between Egyptian and Japanese students. In addition to this, he will continue promoting his country in the economic, business, and cultural fields.
Exhibitions and promotion of women value (by Madoka)
HE Mr. Khairat explained to us that Egypt is working towards bringing old cultures and monuments back to publicity. He also mentions that the country is making efforts to promote womens value. Recently there is a new exhibition in Tokyo Museum called “Cleopatra and the Queens of Egypt”. There is also an exhibition called “The Golden Pharaohs and Pyramids” in Mori Building in Roppongi, Tokyo. HE Mr. Khairat commented that women play a very important role in culture and work in Egypt. He also believes that “women are the most important person in the family and goverment”. The female pharohs of Egypt reflect the old Egyptian culture of women being very engaged in the citizens daily lives.
The Ambassador’s Message (by Kate)
The ambassador described Japanese people with great manners and discipline. He stated that the high level of education system provided creates the respected Japanese society. Mr. Khairat commented, “continue to be the best” wishing that this culture of Japanese people will be passed on to the next generation.
His message towards students was to “read a lot.” Mr. Khairat explained to us that reading is the best way to know the world. As reading lets us view things from different perspectives, introducing us to new thoughts and cultural beliefs. The more knowledge we gain from reading, the more prepared we are when facing new challenges. He suggested that reading will help us become a better person and lead us to a better future. The second message he taught us was the importance of engaging in community work. Providing services to the community is a chance for students to apply their academic learning to human needs and learning from the communication between people.
Madoka Nishina 12th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 12th Seisen International School
Youngbin Noh 12th Saint Maur International School
Kurumi Onishi 11th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 6th Saint Maur International School