Arab News, Dubai
An in-depth survey carried out to coincide with the launch of Arab News Japan has been hailed by experts for helping to bridge the gap between the two cultures.
The detailed Arab News-YouGov study, which highlighted the need for greater cooperation between the Arab world and Japan, continued to elicit responses from various quarters.
Saad Al-Subaie, a Riyadh-based distinguished international security fellow at the National Council on US-Arab Relations, said the survey had proved to be an “important step” toward understanding public perceptions.
“Misunderstandings here could be a result of the lack of social interactions between Arab and Japanese peoples, which the study alluded to (only 4 percent of Arabs had visited Japan).
“Although different, the two cultures share fundamental similarities when it comes to traditions, and both cultures have a lot to learn from each other.
“One important thing that Arabs can learn from the Japanese experience in this regard is how to strike a balance between advancement and traditionalism,” Al-Subaie told Arab News Japan.
Noha Khayyat, owner of Jeddah toy store Nippon Sayko, which claims to be the first shop in Saudi Arabia to sell everything related to Japanese, Korean, anime and K-pop culture, said synergies had existed between the Japanese and Arabs for some time.
“There are two generations of people who like anime. The first are those who grew up watching dubbed anime, while the second generation is fascinated with stories and fantasies that cannot be found in movies,” she added.
For many people anime represented happier and simpler times before mobile phones and social media, said Khayyat. “I belong to both the generations. I grew up watching dubbed anime and watch the new ones too. The popularity of Japanese anime has grown during our nine years in business.”
Bahraini, Budoor Steele, a certified Japanese tea ceremony practitioner, said that while the majority of Arabs were attracted to Japan through anime, many of them had little understanding of the country’s cultural depth and beauty.
“The outstanding architecture, their beliefs that reflect their life philosophy, and their deep connection to nature, means there is no wrong time to visit Japan as each season has its own charm.
“The flowers in bloom are displayed on each occasion, the sweets cater to each season, and the street decorations and the celebrations all reflect the same,” added Steele, founder of a Japanese tea house.