by Marwa Yahya
ISMAILIA, Egypt, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Hassan Ragab, director of the Confucius Institute at the Suez Canal University in Egypt, has hailed the Chinese language institute for enhancing mutual understanding, cooperation between the Chinese and Egyptian people.
Egyptian students are eager to learn about the Chinese language and culture as they see China as the model for developing countries, Ragab said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.
Ragab, who received the PhD in Chinese literature in China in 1995, has just returned from a two-week summer camp in China, in which 20 Egyptian students learned about Chinese cooking, writing and literature, in addition to having sightseeing tours there.
More than 1,500 Egyptian students are now studying in Chinese universities, while some 600 others joined the Confucius Institute in 2017, he noted.
In 2018, more than 300 students applied for the Chinese Department in the Language Faculty of the Suez Canal University, which planned to enroll only 30 students, Ragab said.
There are two Confucius Institutes in Egypt, one in the Suez Canal University and another in Cairo University, with several other branches in other provinces.
The Confucius Institute in the Suez Canal University has also opened classes in the China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Corporation Zone, the British University and the Helwan University, with more classes to be opened soon in three other universities.
The institute in the Suez Canal University attracts not only students who want to learn the Chinese language, but also students from different scientific fields across Egypt, Ragab told Xinhua.
Over the past three years, the institute started to receive students from faculties such as engineering, medicine, science, antiquities and law by opening more Chinese classes, Ragab said.
The Chinese government always offers scholarships to help Egyptian students, he said, noting that Egypt ranks the third in the number of scholarships offered by China.
But the Confucius Institute is not only about language, Ragab said, adding that many Chinese companies in Egypt turn to it for hiring Chinese-speaking employees.
In 2017, the Confucius Institute held the Chinese Companies Recruitment Day to help its students find jobs. As a result, almost 200 Egyptian students were hired.
There are around 20 Chinese companies in the Suez Canal Economics Zone in Ain Sokhna district in Ismailia province, where TEDA is located, Ragab said.
These companies have created a lot of job opportunities for Egyptians, and those who speaking Chinese obviously have advantages over others in securing a job.
Ragab also lauded the Chinese policy in the Middle East, which is based on promoting harmony and peace and seeking common development and prosperity.
As its friends increase day by day, China will "win the hearts and the minds of the Arab people," Ragab added.