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Top Egyptologist woos Japanese tourists with wonders of ancient civilization

15 Oct 2019
Prominent Egyptian archaeologist and former minister of antiquities, Zahi Hawas, during a visit to the historic site of the Giza Pyramids. (AFP)
Prominent Egyptian archaeologist and former minister of antiquities, Zahi Hawas, during a visit to the historic site of the Giza Pyramids. (AFP)
Updated 15 Oct 2019
15 Oct 2019

Laila Mohamed

A world-renowned Egyptologist is hoping to woo thousands of Japanese tourists to the north African nation by promoting the wonders of Egypt and its ancient civilization.

Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian minister of antiquities, traveled to Japan in a bid to highlight his country’s wealth of historic attractions.

The Japanese government expects more than 200,000 of its citizens to visit Egypt next year after a marked improvement in the country’s security situation.

With Japan also a nation rich in ancient heritage, Hawass was keen to push Egypt as a tourist destination and delivered a lecture at the Kanazawa University, in November last year.

He noted the strong bonds between Egypt and Japan, especially in the field of archaeology, which he described as a major tool to enhance cultural communication, coexistence, and cooperation between the two countries.

Hawass told Arab News that the Egyptian ambassador to Japan, Ayman Kamel, had built “extraordinary relations with the Japanese people and officials” that had helped in attracting more Japanese tourists to Egypt.

During an Egyptian day held at the Kanazawa University campus, Hawass shared information about ancient Egypt and gave a talk about Japanese archaeological activities in Egypt. “I also delivered a lecture about my archaeological discoveries, Egyptian folk art, and food,” he said.

“Around 1,000 Japanese people attended the event and both the ambassador, and I were keen to deliver a key message to them.”

They emphasized that Egypt was safe and secure for tourists and that they should visit because Egyptian monuments “belonged to the whole world.”

Hawass said that his visit had helped “to create more interest in 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 added.

According to Hawass, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had done a good job convincing the Japanese people about Egypt’s status as a safe country for tourists.

He said that Egypt and Japan had cooperated on major archaeological projects for years including the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is considered among the world’s most important cultural projects of this century.

Another project was Khufu’s (pharaoh Cheops) second solar boat – an intact full-size vessel from ancient Egypt – to be displayed at the GEM, where visitors will be able to learn about boats and maritime activities during the ancient Egyptian and Japanese civilizations.

According to a report issued by the Egyptian Association of Mosaferoon (travelers) in July 2019, around 32,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt this year and more than 200,000 are expected to travel to the northeast African country next year.

The projected figures for Japanese visitors to Egypt follow an update to the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s travel advice acknowledging the improved security situation in the country.

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