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.

Protests, explosions hit Iraq’s south as demos maintain strength

Updated 10 December 2019

Protests, explosions hit Iraq’s south as demos maintain strength

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s south saw further protests and explosions, as demonstrations against the government and its Iranian sponsor that erupted on October 1 persist unabated, according to security sources.
The southern city of Amara was rocked overnight by four near-simultaneous explosions targeting premises of two pro-Iran armed factions, according to police.
“Three sound grenades targeted two premises and the house of an Assaib Ahl Al-Haq leader and an improvised explosive device targeted the house of an Ansar Allah commander,” police said.
Asaib Ahl Al-Haq is one of the most powerful groups in Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi security force, a network of armed groups integrated into the state, of which Ansar Allah is also a component.
Medical sources reported three wounded by the blasts.
Founded in 2014 to fight IS jihadists who had seized swathes of northern Iraq and neighboring Syria, the Hashed is made up of mostly Shiite factions, many of which have been backed by Iran.
According to security sources, the attacks were committed against the groups due to their loyalty to neighboring Iran, whose influence continues to grow in Iraq, in particular via armed groups that it has long trained and financed.
These attacks come shortly after the recent bloodshed in several Iraqi cities, the latest seeing 24 people killed, including four police officers, on Friday evening in central Baghdad.
Both the state and the demonstrators accuse armed men of perpetrating the violence, the former claiming that it is not possible to identify those responsible, while the latter point to pro-Iran entities.
Since October 1, Iraq’s capital and its Shiite-majority south have been gripped by rallies against corruption, poor public services, a lack of jobs and Iran’s perceived political interference.
More than 450 people have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded during the unprecedented protest movement demanding an overhaul of the political system.
In the holy Shiite city of Karbala, protesters rallied at the police station to demand information within 24 hours on the death of Fahem Al-Tai, a 53-year-old prominent civil society activist gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Sunday evening while returning home from protests.
Others blocked access to the courthouse to demand proceedings be launched against local leaders for corruption — a key priority of the protest movement in a country ranked the 12th most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.
In Diwaniya, also in the south, protesters blocked the road to the Shanafiya oil refinery, according to police, demanding employment.
Despite Iraq being OPEC’s second-largest crude producer, one in five of its people live in poverty and youth unemployment stands at one quarter of the population, the World Bank says.
Protesters from several cities in the south on Tuesday joined thousands of demonstrators gathered for more than two months in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, which is the epicenter of the demonstrations in the capital.
“We came to support our brothers in Baghdad,” said an activist in the movement from Nassiriya, Haydar Kazem.