By Publisher Lee Kyung-with Editors Kevin Lee, Song Na-ra
Ambassador Khaled Abel Rahman of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Seoul said, “The ties between Egypt and Korea have witnessed an upsurge over the past years and shall continue to do so given the keenness of both countries to work together across all fields, political, economic and cultural to promote mutual benefit and cooperation.”
Ambassador Rahman made the speech at a reception the Embassy of Egypt hosted at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul on July 22, 2022 in celebration of the 70th National Day of Egypt.
Then he said, “In this regard, I can proudly refer to the successful endeavors of both Samsung and LG Corporations to establish industrial facilities in Egypt as shining examples of the length the partnership between Cairo and Seoul can reach.”
“Moreover,” said Ambassador Rahman, “the upcoming period shall bear the fruition of several endeavors from the Korean side to boost trade and commerce with Cairo in a variety of fields amongst which are the fields of robotics, information technology, aviation, tourism, and green technology.” (See excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Rahman at toward the end of this article.)
Ambassador Rahman’s speech was fully endorsed by a congratulatory speech made by the representative of the Korean government, Director General Kim Jang-hyun for African and Middle East Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea.
Director General Kim said, “Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1995, the friendship and cooperative relations between Korea and Egypt have been strengthened mainly in the economic field.”
Then he said: “Currently, Egypt is Korea's largest export destination in Africa, and bilateral trade between the two countries reached approximately US$2.3 billion in 2021. This is an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous year.”
“Looking at the ever-expanding exchanges like this,” he said, “it can be said that the future of bilateral relations is quite bright.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this report.)
Egypt boasts the first civilization of mankind that was born around 5,000 BC in the Nile basin.
The country is considered is a crossroad of civilizations that runs through the world history, including Greece, Rome, and the Islamic era, and is located in a geopolitical point connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, playing an important role in the international community as a leading Arab country among the 22 countries of the region.
Egypt, well known in Korea by the Cairo Declaration of 1943 as well as the glorious ancient cultural sites and Suez Canal such as the Pyramid and the Sphinx, has been strengthening cooperation with Korea in many fields such as politics, economy, and culture since establishing consular relations with Korea in 1961 and diplomatic relations in 1995.
Egypt recognizes Korea as a model country that has achieved democracy and economic development in a short period of time, and hopes to promote cooperation with Korea. Korea also values cooperation with Egypt, a large market with a population of 114 million and a strategic base for Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
In particular, the two countries agreed to establish a comprehensive cooperative partnership with Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi in March 2016, and expanded cooperation through the summit between President Moon Jae-in and President Al-Sisi in September 2018 at the UN General Assembly in New York and the telephone summit between the two Presidents in March 2020.
In addition, Egyptian people are increasingly interested in the Korean Wave and Korean culture, which are spreading all over the world.
In 2005, the Korean Language Department was established at the prestigious Ain Shams University in Egypt for the first time among regular universities in Africa and the Middle East. In October 2014, the Korean Cultural Center was established in Cairo for the first time in the Middle East.
It is of special significance that Korean culture is loved in Egypt, the birthplace of world civilization.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Rahman of Egypt:
Allow me at the outset of this auspicious event to present my sincere appreciation for H.E. Kim Jang-Hyun who has honored me with his presence today and whom I consider a valuable partner in the quest to bolster bilateral ties and mutual cooperation and understanding between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of Korea.
Having said that, the ties between Cairo and Seoul have witnessed an upsurge over the past years and shall continue to do so given the keenness of both capitals to work together across all fields political, economic, and cultural to promote mutual benefit and cooperation.
In this regard, I can proudly refer to the successful endeavors of both Samsung and LG Corporations to establish industrial facilities in Egypt as shining examples of the length the partnership between Cairo and Seoul can reach. Moreover, the upcoming period shall bear the fruition of several endeavors from the Korean side to boost trade and commerce with Cairo in a variety of fields amongst which are the fields of robotics, information technology, aviation, tourism, and green technology.
Also, the Egyptian resort city of Sharm Al Sheikh is set to host the upcoming COP 27 in November 2022, an opportunity that the Arab Republic of Egypt shall seize to promote international awareness on climate issues and hence is looking forward for active participation from all our partners and parties concerned with climate change and the promotion of green technologies and industries. Thank you.
Excerpts from the speech of Director General Kim Jang-Hyun of MOFA of Korea:
Your Excellency Ambassador Khaled Abdel Rahman,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express my congratulations to Ambassador Khaled Abdel Rahman and the people of Egypt on the 70th anniversary of the National Day of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
I worked at the Korean embassy in Cairo for two years from 2013 to 2015. It was such a meaningful and memorable experience. When I left Egypt in 2015, one Egyptian friend told me an Egyptian proverb, “Once you drink from the Nile, you will come back again.” After 7 years, I was back. Last January, I was back in Egypt to accompany the Korean President’s visit to Cairo.
Egypt has changed beyond recognition in 7 years. Cities have been unrecognizably overhauled and Cairo is full of energy. To me, that demonstrates President Al-sisi’s great leadership.
Although Korea and Egypt established diplomatic ties in 1995, the Consular relationship was established in 1961. When there were no diplomatic or consular ties for Korea in the Middle East, the establishment of consular ties with Egypt marked the beginning of Korea’s Middle East Diplomacy.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1995, the friendship and cooperative relations between Korea and Egypt have been strengthened mainly in the economic field. Currently, Egypt is Korea's largest export destination in Africa, and bilateral trade between the two countries reached approximately $2.3 billion in 2021. This is an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous year. Looking at the ever-expanding exchanges like this, it can be said that the future of bilateral relations is quite bright.
When President Al-Sisi made his historic visit to Korea in 2016, the two countries adopted a “Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership.” When our President visited Egypt in January of this year, we moved beyond the trade and investment-oriented cooperation, and consolidated our “Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership” in various future-oriented fields that contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the people, such as the Cairo metro, electric vehicles, desalination, and renewable energy.
Cooperation in new fields that require strong trust between the two countries, such as in the defense industry, were agreed upon, and joint research on a trade partnership was promised.
In addition, the two countries decided to strengthen substantial cooperation with a focus on development cooperation, such as increasing the EDCF funds to $1 billion for five years and choosing Egypt as an ODA Priority Partner Country. Amid the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and the Ukraine crisis, the cooperation between these two countries is even more meaningful.
To my knowledge, Egypt is currently pursuing the construction of a New Administrative Capital. For its part, Korea built Sejong City as a new administrative capital for purpose of the balanced development of the country. I hope that Egypt will also be able to solve the problem of overcrowding in the metropolitan area and welcome a new economic leap forward through the successful establishment of a new administrative capital.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, cultural ties have also strengthened. After Korean TV shows like Winter Sonata and Jewel in the Palace gained immense popularity among the Egyptian public, Ain Shams University opened the Korean language department in 2005, the first one in the Arab world. Soon after, a graduate course has also been opened. In 2012, Egypt’s National Satelite TV station started broadcasting Korean language classes for beginners. In 2014, responding to the increasing demand for cultural exchange, the Korean Government established a Korean Cultural Center in Egypt.
Egypt’s splendid culture has been always in full bloom, as it is the birthplace of ancient civilizations and an ancient center of cultural exchange. I vividly remember visiting the Egyptian Museum and being overwhelmed by the amazing Egyptian cultural heritage, including the mask of Tutankhamun. The recent special exhibition of Tutankhamun at the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan was very successful, thanks to the keen interest of the Korean people since its opening last year. If cultural exchange exhibitions between the two countries are activated in full-swing, the friendship and understanding between the two peoples will deepen, and it can promote tourism as well.
This year, an MOU was successfully signed between the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt. I understand that the Egyptian Digital Heritage Center project, which preserves digital materials by integrating materials related to Egyptian relics, is the first of many future cooperation projects between the two countries based on this MOU. I look forward to the successful establishment of the center as well as to the many future projects to come.
I sincerely wish for the successful hosting of COP27, which will be held in Egypt this year. Hosting COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh was an excellent choice. When I was living in Egypt, my family fell in love with Sharm El-Sheikh's beauty and wanted to come back. I believe that if delegations from different countries engage in negotiations against the beautiful backdrop of the sea of Sharm El-Sheikh, concessions will be made one at a time, leading to tangible results.
I remember that when I was working in Egypt in 2013 and 2014, Egypt was already leading the climate change agenda and was carrying out many renewable energy projects such as solar panels and wind power generation. President Al-Sisi chaired the African Summit on Climate Change in 2015-2016, launching two important African initiatives. Being very vocal about his thoughts and priorities on the important issue of climate change, he served as the representative of the G77+China group and as the African negotiator in the 2018 climate change negotiations, representing developing countries and African countries.
And now, Egypt will chair COP27 this year. This year's COP is a meeting that materializes the commitments made by the Parties that came to fruition at the Glasgow COP26 in 2021 so that they can be put into action. I look forward to Egypt’s successful hosting of COP27 with the leadership it demonstrated for the climate change agenda.
Korea is also very invested in climate change; green growth is one of our main economic policies. Also, Egypt and Korea are both interested in water resource management and the development of new and renewable energy such as solar power, and cooperation between the two countries has continued in this respect. I hope that such cooperation between the two countries will lead to multilateral cooperation at the COP.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Korea and Egypt are two friends that are destined to cooperate with each other and walk shoulder-to-shoulder towards the future. I’d like to borrow the Arab proverb, “Al Rafik Kabl Al Tarik” -- meaning, “Choose your friend before choosing your way.” Recently, the international community witnessed the Ukraine War before fully recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. In these challenging times, true friends are more needed than ever. Korea views Egypt as a companion on a long journey, and a true partner for the coming future.
I would like to ask all you here for your interest and support so that Korea and Egypt can open a new horizon. Thank you.