Egypt: New Opportunity for an Ancient Civilisation
Situated in the eastern part of North Africa, the Arab Republic of Egypt's territory also includes east of the Suez Canal and Sinai Peninsula at the southwest end of Asia. Egypt has served as a strategic communications hub between Asia and Africa and is near a convenient maritime route between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Egypt is a Mediterranean country and borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and the Red Sea to the east and south. It lies south of the Mediterranean across from Europe and Turkey. Across the Gulf of Aqaba and the Sinai Peninsula lie Jordan and Saudi Arabia, respectively. The total length of Egypt's coastline is more than 2,700 km. It has the highest population of Middle Eastern and North African countries and is the second most populous country in Africa. Its economy and science and technology industries have taken the lead in Africa.
Egypt was once an ancient kingdom and is one of the world's “Four Great Ancient Civilisations.” It was established as a unified slavery kingdom in 3100 BC and 31 dynasties followed. Many historical sites from ancient Egypt still exist today and are the foundation for developing the tourism industry. In addition to famous scenic locations and works of architecture, there are numerous cultural sites, such as the Temple of Luxor, the Aswan Dam, Sharm El Sheikh, the Saladin Citadel of Cairo, the Pyramid of Djoser, the Citadel of Qaitbay and the Valley of the Kings.
The Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Beijing exhibited papyrus paintings and handcrafts with national characteristics, landscape photos and other items representing Egyptian culture from various perspectives at the third “Colourful World” event.
Papyrus paintings are the quintessence of Egyptian culture and can be seen in airports, at tourist attractions and in craft shops. Though papyrus can be a bit yellowish and wrinkled, it is flexible and elastic. The paintings are concise and dignified and usually depict pyramids, ancient Egyptian deities, mascots and landscapes. The paper is made from the pith of the papyrus plant. Hassan Ragab (1911–2004) was appointed the first Egyptian Ambassador to China. After retiring in 1968, he began to research how to make papyrus as it was done by ancient Egyptians. He finally rediscovered the ancient process and this ancient Egyptian cultural process was revived.
Many visitors at the exhibition were attracted by the exquisite copper plates in the Egyptian booth and looked at them carefully. The copper plates were created using traditional Egyptian techniques and feature a variety of patterns. Some of which are engraved with passages from the Koran, ancient paintings, pharaohs' heads and fairytales. Some of the plates are very valuable.
An image of a pharaoh was displayed in the middle of the booth's display and featured the words: “Where Belt and Road Civilisation Begins.” China-egypt relations have developed smoothly since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries on May 30, 1956. In April 1999, the two countries established a strategic cooperative relationship. In May 2006, the foreign ministries of the two countries established a strategic dialogue mechanism. In June 2006, the two countries entered into a cooperative programme to deepen strategic relations. In May 2007, the National People's Congress of China and the House of Representatives of Egypt established a regular exchange mechanism. The two governments have advanced the expansion of economic and trade cooperation between their enterprises, and bilateral trade volume has seen stable growth since 2008. In 2012, bilateral trade volume was US$9.54 billion, a year-on-year increase of 8.4 percent, of which China's exports to Egypt reached US$8.22 billion, an increase of 12.9 percent, and China's imports from Egypt totalled US$1.32 billion, a yearon-year decrease of 13 percent. China's main export commodities to Egypt include mechanical and electrical products and textiles. China's imports from Egypt mostly consist of crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas and marble. China and Egypt have experienced great exchanges and active, friendly, bilateral cooperation regarding culture, education, news, science and technology. From 2005 to 2012, the two countries have held a variety of activities, including cultural weeks, film festivals, artefact exhibitions and photo exhibitions, which were well received. In recent years, China and Egypt have cooperated extensively in economics and trade centred on the Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese enterprises have taken part in major Egyptian projects such as the upgrade of the Egyptian power system and development of the Suez Canal and improved themselves as well. China-egypt cooperation will reach a new stage with the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.