by Xinhua writer Wang Xue
CAIRO, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The 2016 Chinese-Egyptian Culture Year drew to an end successfully as some 150 various kinds of cultural activities were held in both countries, which is seen as a breakthrough.
In January 2016, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Embassy in Cairo launched the 2016 Sino-Egyptian Culture Year which marks the 60th anniversary of joint diplomatic relations.
After upgrading the relations between the two countries to a "comprehensive strategic partnership," the culture year came to boost friendly ties and enhance mutual understanding and future development between the peoples of the two nations, whose relations have deep roots back in history.
Actually, marking 2016 as a culture year was the fruit of agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi during their meeting in Beijing in December 2014.
To highlight its importance, the opening ceremony of the culture year was attended by Xi and Sisi in the ancient city of Luxor in January 2016, as the two leaders vowed to boost cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
During the opening ceremony show, more than 200 elite performers from both countries staged a cultural dialogue; both have deep roots in their ancient civilizations.
"We achieved 'new high' in this culture year on the quality and quantity of the cultural activities we held," said Chen Dongyun, Head of the Chinese Culture Center and Cultural Councilor of the Chinese Embassy in Cairo.
"The show in Luxor was a big success, reflecting the new spirit of the two oldest civilizations in this new era," she stressed, referring to the opening show of the culture year.
Other activities, Chen said, also made Egyptians know more about China, not only as an economic power, but also a cultural power.
She added that new media, such as social networks, are being used in broadcasting information of cultural activities and as a tool to talk to internet users in Egypt.
Chen also revealed that over 90 cultural events were held during the culture year in Egypt, a prominent rise compared to the average number of Chinese activities held in Egypt in the past years, which stood at about dozens.
Regarding the Egyptians events in China, Chen said the Egyptian government sent many cultural delegations to present the Egyptian art and culture to the Chinese people.
"The Egyptian culture was warmly welcomed by Chinese people, especially those new and modern style Egyptian shows," Chen said.
In addition to the mutual exchange of culture and art, the culture year also focused on cooperation in various fields such as tourism, sports, cinema, heritage and even archaeology.
In a recent interview, Egyptian minister of antiquities Khaled al-Anany told Xinhua that Chinese archaeologists are very interested in starting excavations in his archaeologically rich country.
Al-Anany, who paid an official visit to China last month, said Egyptian and Shanghai museums signed a Memory of Understanding on cultural cooperation earlier this year, adding that an Egyptian delegation from his ministry is flying to China soon to discuss mutual cooperation with their Chinese counterparts.
In another interview, director of Egypt's National Center for Translation (NCT) Anwar Moghith said the culture year is a great chance to know more about Chinese culture, describing it as "a gate to the Chinese culture."
The official said the NTC recently translated 20 books from Chinese into Arabic, and another 20 Chinese books from European languages into Arabic.
"I have met with many Chinese officials who are very keen to cooperate," Moghith said, adding that "we should translate more Chinese works because Egyptians really need to know more about China and its culture with a history of thousands of years."
One of the most prominent features of the culture year was the naming of China as the guest of honor of the 38th Cairo International Film Festival in November.
"The Chinese delegation brought a reviewing week of Chinese movies, including 16 Chinese movies, and also held a seminar," Chen highlighted.
Chen added that the culture year founded the sodality of the sinologists and translators of the Arab world in Cairo, aiming to collect and support the sinology and Chinese-Arabic translation in Egypt and Middle East region.
As the new year comes, the 2016 Chinese-Egyptian Culture Year will end with a great closing ceremony which will be held on Jan. 7 in China.
"Now we have signed cooperation contracts with five Egyptian organizations and we also have cooperative relations with over 30 Egyptian organizations," Chen said proudly. "Next year will be another year of fruitful achievements."