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.


Libya airport hit by drone and rocket fire; 2 Haftar troops killed

Updated 15 September 2019

Libya airport hit by drone and rocket fire; 2 Haftar troops killed

  • LNA has been battling since early April to seize Tripoli from GNA forces

TRIPOLI: An airport near the Libyan capital was hit by a new round of rocket fire and airstrikes, the Tripoli-based government said on Saturday, two weeks after it was closed due to repeated attacks.

Separately, two commanders of the Libya National Army (LNA) were killed in a drone strike while trying to capture the capital Tripoli.

The drone strike took place in the town of Tarhouna, southeast of Tripoli. The town has been the main base of the LNA since it lost Gharyan town south of Tripoli.

The Tripoli government and LNA both confirmed that two Tarhouna-based commanders — Mohsen Al-Kani, head of the Kaniyat armed group, and Abdelwahab Al-Magri, head of the 9th brigade — died in the strike. A brother of Kani was also killed.

Both armed groups had teamed up with the LNA whose forces control the east with the help of a parallel government and were key to the Tripoli campaign, analysts said.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) accused forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind Saturday’s attacks on Mitiga airport, but did not report any casualties.

BACKGROUND

The Tripoli government and LNA both confirmed that two Tarhouna-based commanders — Mohsen Al-Kani, head of the Kaniyat armed group, and Abdelwahab Al-Magri, head of the 9th brigade — died in the strike.

A drone airstrike hit the airport early on Saturday morning, followed by “Grad rockets launched by (pro-Haftar) militia,” the GNA said on Facebook.

The former military air base had been Tripoli’s sole functioning airport until a rocket attack on Sept. 1 wounded four civilians including three pilgrims returning from Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a string of similar incidents.

Authorities responded by diverting flights to Misrata, 200 km to the east, until further notice.

The LNA has been battling since early April to seize the capital from pro-GNA forces.

The two sides have since become embroiled in a stalemate in the capital’s southern outskirts.

Haftar’s forces, which accuse the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes, say they are targeting “Turkish drones” being launched from the airport to attack their troops in southern Tripoli.

The GNA’s Interior Ministry has identified at least 11 attacks on Mitiga since June 21, not including Saturday’s incident.

The Tripoli-based GNA called Saturday’s attack a “desperate attempt” at revenge for losses sustained the previous day.

Since April, the fighting around Tripoli has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.