Egyptologist reveals Japan’s love for Nefertiti and Cleopatra

Zahi Hawwas, center, is interested in bridging of civilizations. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 25 August 2019

Egyptologist reveals Japan’s love for Nefertiti and Cleopatra

  • Hawwas said that his visit to Japan will help in “restoring the monuments of this great civilization which fascinates the Japanese people”

CAIRO: Former government archaeology official and world-renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawwas is known for his passion for ancient Egypt and his eagerness to attract more tourists to his country.

However, Hawwas is also interested in the bridging of civilizations. So, it was no surprise to see Japan, another nation with a great ancient civilization, at the forefront of his endeavors while promoting tourism in Egypt.

In November 2018, Hawwas visited Japan, where he delivered a keynote lecture at Kanazawa University in Tokyo to a large audience fascinated by Egypt and its ancient glories.

During the lecture, Hawwas underscored the deep and strong Egyptian-Japanese relations, especially concerning archaeology, which he described as a major tool to enhance cultural communication, coexistence, and cooperation between the two countries.

Speaking to Arab News, Hawwas said that Egyptian Ambassador to Japan Ayman Kamel had quickly established an “extraordinary network of relations with the Japanese people and officials” that will help attract more Japanese tourists to Egypt.

“Undoubtedly, this better serves Egypt’s interests. I have personally witnessed part of his efforts when he agreed with Kanazawa University and tourism expert Fathy Ismail to hold an Egyptian day at the university’s campus.

“I was invited not only to provide information about the ancient Egyptians but also to talk about the archaeological activities of the Japanese in Egypt. The activities of the day included a lecture I delivered about my archaeological discoveries, Egyptian folk art and Egyptian food,” Hawwas said.

“Around 1,000 Japanese attended the event. Both the ambassador and I were keen to deliver a key message to the Japanese people: Egypt enjoys safety and security, and that it is important for them to visit Egypt because Egyptian monuments do not belong only to Egypt but rather to the whole world.”

Hawwas said that his visit to Japan will help in “restoring the monuments of this great civilization which fascinates the Japanese people.”

“The Japanese adore queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra. Japanese television networks aired a four-hour film about Cleopatra starring famous Japanese actors. Many other adventure films have been produced about Egyptian monuments,” he said.

Hawwas added that when he visited Japan, “I found that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had impressed on the Japanese people Egypt’s status as a safe country that attracts tourists.”

The famed Egyptologist said Egypt and Japan have been cooperating in major archaeological projects for years. These include the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), considered the world’s most important cultural project this century.

Another venture is Khufu’s second solar boat — an intact full-size vessel from ancient Egypt — which will be displayed in a special hall in GEM, where visitors will get to know about boats in ancient Egypt, as well as maritime activities in the ancient Egyptian and Japanese civilizations.

The Egyptian Association of Mosaferoon (Travelers) said in its latest report issued in July 2019 that 32,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt this year. More than 200,000 Japanese tourists are expected to visit the country next year after the Japanese Foreign Ministry updated its travel advisory to Egypt acknowledging the improved security situation in the country.


Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

Updated 13 min 2 sec ago

Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

  • This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians

CAIRO: Gunmen killed two women and three children of the same family while they were driving on a highway near the capital, Tripoli, less than a week after an airstrike slammed into a house killing at least three civilians, a health official said Thursday.

The city has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. A UN-supported but weak government holds the capital, but the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) — which is associated with a rival government in the country’s east — is trying to seize it.

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car, Malek Merset, a health spokesman with the Tripoli government told The Associated Press. The family was headed to the capital, where the children, ages 3 to 6, were expected to receive vaccination shots, Merset said.

FASTFACT

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. However, LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari blamed the attack on militias allied with the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government. “This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. “In order to eradicate them and avenge the murdered, the battle shall continue.”

Earlier this week, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) held the LNA responsible for the shelling of a civilian residence that killed at least three civilians and the wounding of two, including children. The LNA denied the accusation saying that it targeted a military camp that the Tripoli militias used as an “operations room.”

The battle for Tripoli has stalled in recent weeks, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city’s southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

The fighting threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Separately, Libya’s coast guard said that it has rescued 82 Europe-bound migrants, including 11 women and eight children off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

The rubber boat carrying migrants from Syria, Bangladesh, Sudan and many other African countries was stopped on Wednesday 64 km to the north of the western town of Zawiya, according to a statement released on Thursday by Libya’s navy.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with the coast guard and other Libyan forces to try to stop the dangerous sea crossings.

Rights groups, however, have criticized those efforts, saying they’ve left migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.