United Arab Emirates
On August 16, 2018, the International School Network visited the Embassy of United Arab Emirates (UAE) to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Khaled Omran Alameri.
Relations between UAE and Japan began in 1973. The nation, composed of 7 countries, emirates, has a unique structure of being a federation, which different from any other country in the Middle East. UAE has been providing electronic as well as fabrics for Japan. The first shipment of trade to Japan was in 1962. H.E. Mr. Alameri noted that the relations between the countries started from people to people before trade. Japan and UAE share excellent strategic relations, expanding in cooperation in various areas including energy, gas, and security.
Last April, Prime Minister Abe has visited UAE for issuing a joint statement to levitate the relationship into one that is comprehensive and strategic. Such high-level visits are an important milestone in diplomatic relations, as the nations now cooperate in aspects including political, economic, and cultural. H.E. Mr. Alameri noted that Japan as a leader in East Asia, uniting visions with UAE, a leader in the Middle East, can do wonders for the global community. Despite UAE being geographically far from Japan, H.E. Mr. Alameri can feel that the two countries have been getting closer, such as through the spread of popular culture, including Japanese anime. H.E. Mr. Alameri has met many students from UAE who have studied in or about Japan, and are able to speak Japanese. UAE is also hosting the largest Japanese community in the region of the Middle East and the whole of North Africa.
H.E. Mr. Alameri expressed his hopes for bilateral relations to progress rapidly, as the two countries have a strong basis for relations to further blossom. H.E. Mr. Alameri has high expectations for prosperity, peace, and stability that the two nations can bring to the international community for the future.
H.E. Mr. Alameri emphasized that education in UAE has been a priority since the formation of the nation. Despite UAE being a young country, it hosts many schools and highly accredited universities, both Emirati and foreign, such as New York University and Sorbonne University. H.E. Mr. Alameri commented that one key achievement of UAE has been its focus on government expenditure on education: 20%. UAE therefore now has the illiteracy rate of less than 1%. H.E. Mr. Alameri explained that the system of education in UAE is being modernized through the 2020 Strategy, where new approaches not only of teaching but also of learning are being implemented. He believes that the objective of education in the UAE is to “provide the best education delivered by modern systems”. UAE is a country blessed with natural resources as it is one of the largest oil producers in the world, yet H.E. Mr. Alameri notes that since day one, the leaders of UAE identify the main resource of the nation to be its people.
As a modern and globalized country, UAE is unique because 80% of its population, of a total of 9 million, is formed by people of foreign nationalities. Education of UAE must therefore cater for students of different countries and backgrounds. For instance, H.E. Mr. Alameri introduced to us that there are two Japanese schools in UAE; one in Abu Dhabi and another in Dubai. There is even an initiative for UAE nationals to enter Japanese schools from kindergarten until grade 9, who then go to Japan to continue their studies in Japanese. This is an example of the many Emirati students who choose to study abroad as they compete on the global level.
H.E. Mr. Alameri noted that a common value between Emirati and Japanese students is the inspiration and commitment they have towards working hard and giving back to their community. H.E. Mr. Alameri explained that students of both countries feel a belonging and hence a responsibility to take care of their community. Despite the two countries having different cultures and religions, he believes that the building stones of the people's beliefs bring a common and deeply rooted value of morals and ethics.
The main cultural value of the United Arab Emirates is unity. H.E. Mr. Alameri explained that unity comes from great leadership, caring hearts, and a shared future vision. The father and establisher of the UAE has been able to unite everyone of seven different countries, which H.E. Mr. Alameri described as being a unique experience to the UAE, felt by every Emirati. UAE has various visions including the 2021 strategy and 2071 strategy, which illustrate the nation’s united efforts towards prosperity.
80% of UAE’s nationalities are foreign, and this consists of about 200 nationalities! H.E. Mr. Alameri explained that this portrays the openness and tolerance that Emirati people have. The society and people of UAE is therefore very diverse and modern.
Culture is continuing to progress while traditions are being preserved, such as clothing, which H.E. Mr. Alameri mentioned is similar to the Japanese people treasuring rooted traditions like the kimono. In just 46 years, the country has developed their resources, infrastructure, education, and health miraculously. Furthermore, despite the rapid development rate, it can be seen that UAE never forgets the value of tradition and hospitality.
H.E. Mr. Alameri’s passion as working as the Emirati Ambassador to Japan is the connection he has towards Japan, which started early to him, when he was a high school student. He learnt the Japanese culture and way of thinking and became fluent in the Japanese language as well. As Japan is like a second home to the Ambassador, he is passionate to serve UAE’s interests and those of Japan as well. He explained that he is able to wake up every day with energy because he knows he is serving both people, and taking part in “drawing the prosperous future of both countries”.
As the Ambassador, his goals is to bring Japan and UAE closer together in many aspects. H.E. Mr. Alameri hopes to see the countries working towards a “common vision” in a “happy society”. To achieve such reality, he is thinking everyday of new approaches, ideas, and methods. He hopes that the people of the two countries can get closer. He noted that being surprised by culture is natural, but it is the step of understanding and appreciation of other cultures that make the big step. As an example of something that surprised him in Japan, H.E. Mr. Alameri noted the beautiful traditional dress of kimonos, as well as raw fish, especially moving squids!
Globalization and Peace
H.E. Mr. Alameri believes that globalization is a good cause that should be promoted alongside the awareness and respect for differences. He first explained that globalization is especially beneficial for interactions between businesses that can lead to global economic development. However, it was noted that while globalization brings people of different cultures together, the appreciation of such differences may often be treated without enough attention. H.E. Mr. Alameri therefore hopes that people around the world can be encouraged to acknowledge different cultures and points of view in order to know and interact well with each other. H.E. Mr. Alameri expressed, “Difference is good,” and that he hopes more people can realize this.
For approaching world peace, H.E. Mr. Alameri emphasized the importance of the sense of a “shared responsibility”. He believes that using a step-by-step approach, people can get closer to peace by cooperation and sharing responsibility.
The UAE receives about 20 million tourists per year, which is double its population! H.E. Mr. Alameri explains that the nation has many attractions. One area he recommends is Bolge Khalifa. It is the tallest building in the world, and is surrounded by various landmarks, where one can enjoy cuisine from all around the world. The nation also has beautiful nature, featuring the clean beach and sea, as well as a quiet, clear, and golden desert.
The UAE also hosts a branch of the Louvre museum, which has a unique presentation. H.E. Mr. Alameri explained that this international museum puts together religious books such as the Bible, Quran, and Torah, so convey the message that all religions are beautiful and should coexist in equality. Similarly, H.E. Mr. Alameri introduced that the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is not only significant in architecture but is symbolic as the center of dialogue between different faiths and cultures. H.E. Mr. Alameri believes that differences should not make us far from each other.
H.E. Mr. Alameri encourages people and students worldwide to learn more about UAE culture, and about Islam. He mentioned that unfortunately, mass media has been portraying the Middle East to be an unstable region for a couple of years now. He hopes that more people can realize and appreciate the real values of Islam and its principles, and properly differentiate them from the extremist and terrorist organizations.