Cross­roads of West and East

Belt and Road cul­ture and tourism fo­rum at Shang­hai Book Fair

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE -

There are two pri­mary ways to gain knowl­edge: read­ing and travel. While the for­mer al­lows peo­ple to draw ex­pe­ri­ences based on the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of our fore­fa­thers; the lat­ter al­lows peo­ple to get first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence them­selves. Dur­ing the re­cent Shang­hai Book Fair, four con­suls from Belt and Road coun­tries shared their thoughts on read­ing and trav­el­ing.

Sri Lanka is an is­land coun­try sur­round by the In­dian Ocean. In the past five years it was ranked as one the top 10 travel des­ti­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to Lak­shitha Rat­nayake, Con­sul Gen­eral of Sri Lanka in Shang­hai, as he in­tro­duced his coun­try to the au­di­ence.

Though Sri Lanka is most fa­mous for its white beaches, it is an eco­log­i­cally di­ver­si­fied coun­try with over 6,000 ele­phants, the big­gest leop­ards, a herbal medicine in­dus­try and eight UNESCO World Her­itage Sites.

He also sug­gests Chi­nese tourists in­te­grate a visit to their tea plan­ta­tions and jewel cen­ters. Sri Lanka has a rich tea cul­ture, which are 99 per­cent black tea. Vis­i­tors can spend a night at the beau­ti­ful plan­ta­tions, which are ideal for hon­ey­moons, he said.

There is also an abun­dance of jewel re­sources in Sri Lanka, spe­cially sap­phires and ru­bies. To many Sri Lankan na­tives, these jew­els pos­sess the power to help one find love and longevity, he added.

Mean­while, the United Arab Emi­rates is a des­ti­na­tion of di­verse land­scapes, fan­tas­tic shop­ping, ex­cep­tional re­sorts and world-class events. With a mu­tual visa ex­emp­tion be­tween the UAE and China, UAE has seen a huge in­flux of Chi­nese tourists.

In 2017, the num­ber of Chi­nese visit­ing the UAE ex­ceed 1 mil­lion while tran­sit pas­sen­gers ex­ceed 3.5 mil­lion, said Faizah Al Blooshi, con­sul from the United Arab Emi­rates Con­sulate Gen­eral in Shang­hai.

The gov­ern­ment of the UAE also ini­ti­ated a Youth Am­bas­sador Pro­gram, which has sent over 100 UAE youth lead­ers to learn Pu­tonghua in China while ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Chi­nese cul­ture, she added.

Here I come, Con­stantino­ple

Nearly 10,000 kilo­me­ters away from Shang­hai, Is­tan­bul is a city cov­er­ing both Asian and Euro­pean ge­og­ra­phy, his­tory and cul­ture. Flights be­tween Shang­hai and Is­tan­bul are op­er­ated daily. What makes it unique is its com­bi­na­tion of his­tory and moder­nity, said Sabri Tunc Angili, Con­sul Gen­eral of Turkey in Shang­hai.

Its his­tor­i­cal sites are mainly in the Euro­pean part of the city. Founded over 2,000 years ago and his­tor­i­cally known as Con­stantino­ple, the city of­fers nu­mer­ous his­toric sites left be­hind by dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

These in­clude Ha­gia Sophia, a for­mer Greek Or­tho­dox Chris­tian church, later an Ot­toman im­pe­rial mosque and now a mu­seum; Sul­tan Ah­met Mosque (known as the blue mosque), a sig­nif­i­cant sym­bolic ar­chi­tec­ture neigh­bor­ing the Ha­gia Sophia.

Not far away from these sites is the Top­kapı Palace, once a res­i­dence and ad­min­is­tra­tive head­quar­ters of the Ot­toman sul­tans in the 15th cen­tury. Is­tan­bul also boasts mod­ern street blocks where lux­ury shop­ping malls at­tract droves of tourists. In Angili’s ob­ser­va­tion, Chi­nese have be­come reg­u­lar cus­tomers at these malls.

Ariel Braver­man, deputy Con­sul Gen­eral of Is­rael in Shang­hai, said Is­raeli cul­ture is like a huge puz­zle which in­ter­weaves many cul­tures from all over the world.

Ev­ery Is­raeli book is a small beau­ti­ful piece of the puz­zle based on the great story of mod­ern Is­rael, where one can find touches of cul­ture and his­tory, ac­cord­ing to Braver­man. Ap­proach­ing the end of his speech, he warmly in­vited Chi­nese tourists to Is­rael.

Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of Xin­hua Me­dia and VCG

From top left: Lak­shitha Rat­nayake, Con­sul Gen­eral of Sri Lanka in Shang­hai; Faizah Al Blooshi, con­sul from the United Arab Emi­rates Con­sulate Gen­eral in Shang­hai; Sabri Tunc Angili, Con­sul Gen­eral of Turkey in Shang­hai; Ariel Braver­man, deputy Con­sul Gen­eral of Is­rael in Shang­hai; Au­di­ence at the event

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