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In land of the pharaohs, dragon boats hit water

China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-15 13:22

CAIRO-At a boat club in a Cairo hotel overlooking the Nile River, Egyptian officials announced the founding of the Egyptian Dragon Boat Federation, or EDBF, a move expected to boost ties between China and Egypt through sports.

Three dragon boats with tens of paddlers were racing and greeting the crowd with cheers and drums. The EDBF recently gained approval by the Egyptian sports minister and recognition by the International Dragon Boat Federation, or IDBF.

"Sports is a soft power that can bring nations together," EDBF chief Nader Roshdy said during the event, highlighting the "positive effect" of practicing the popular Chinese sport in Egypt.

IDBF President Mike Thomas sent a video speech to the ceremony, congratulating Egypt on the establishment of the dragon boat federation and expecting the country to contribute to spreading the sport in Africa and the Arab world.

Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang gave a statement read to the attendees during the ceremony, conveying his happiness with the founding of an Egyptian federation for the 2,000-year-old water sport.

"As we celebrate today the official recognition of dragon boat in Egypt, we celebrate at the same time the communication and integration between the two cultures," Liao said.

Dragon boat racing was brought to Egypt about five years ago by Ehab Gouda, who was interested in the sport and co-founded a dragon boat academy in Egypt with his wife Mary Lai, who is from Hong Kong.

Organizing festivals

Gouda mastered the sport in Hong Kong and Guangzhou and is currently an IDBF representative. He has organized a number of local and international dragon boat festivals in Egypt since 2016.

"Founding the EDBF was a dream come true," Gouda said, adding the sport will act like "a bridge" between Egypt and China and should attract Chinese tourists to his country. He noted the IDBF has invited Egypt to join the dragon boat world championship to be held later this year.

Iman Negm, undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture who attended the event, described Egyptian-Chinese relations as "special", commending their growing cultural exchanges.


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