As the most popular Wechat account in Dubai, Dubairen - Seeniun Media's publication brand - is honoured to conduct an exclusive interview with H.E.Rashed Matar Alsiri Alqemzi, Consul General of UAE in Shanghai and the youngest Consul General in the history of the UAE. He shares with us his experience and perspective of China, and determines to build a bridge between two countries and help people discover the synergy between Dubai and Shanghai.
Our guest moderator is Yang ErChe Na Mu (Namu Yang), one of the best-selling authors.
Have you heard of the Chinese magazine Dubairen?
H.E. Rashed Alqemzi: Of course. I know that Dubairen WeChat is very popular. Not only the consulate but also our Embassy in Beijing knows Seeniun media. We know that the magazine serves is popular with many Chinese people in Dubai because they can find in your platform the information when they want about restaurants, bars, and entertainment facilities. Thank you for providing information to Chinese people around the world.
How did you feel when you were selected to go to China, especially to a vibrant city like Shanghai?
H.E Rashed Alqemzi: I am very proud and happy that I didnot hesitate to accept this posting from my country. Shanghai and Dubai have many similarities as well as many differences. Both cities have modern architecture, an international work rhythm, both are major stages for setting fashion trends.
Within 9 months, I have seen and learnt a lot. Chinese culture is so rich and colourful. I always remember my first time watching Beijing opera. I enjoyed every move and tune even though I didn't fully understand the format.
When was the first time you learnt about China?
H.E. Rashed Alqemzi: My earliest memory of China came from my brother, who is a fan of the Kungfu star Bruce Lee. He had affixed a photo of Bruce Lee next to the bedside. My first impression was that China was very far away and an ancient country, similar to how many Chinese think about our deserts being very far away and desolate. When I was young, I never thought that one day I would come to work here with my family and children.
What about your first Chinese food experience? Was it difficult to use chopsticks that time?
H.E. Rashed Alqemzi: When I was young, I mixed Japanese sushi with Chinese food. I had no affection on Sushi because we didn't like raw food. Until later I went to a proper Chinese restaurant. The first dish, hot spicy shrimp, was delicious and completely different from my misconception about Chinese food. (laugh)
Fortunately, the restaurant owner was very thoughtful. In case the Emirati didn’t know how to use chopsticks, he would attach the bases of two chopsticks together, easier to use.
Do you drink Chinese tea in Dubai?
H.E. Rashed Alqemzi: We like black tea and drink mostly Indian tea. But our tea trays are from China. Tracing back to the Silk Road time, Chinese tea trays were exchanged to the Arab World. The name of the tray in Arabic became known simply as "China”.
In ancient times, cultural and economic exchanges between China and the Middle East took place along the Silk Road, which depended on camels and horse back. Throughout the history, China and the Middle East learned and benefited from each other both culturally and economically. The longer I live in China, the more I feel that I need to learn more about Chinese culture. Now, I have the advantage to explore the country with my own eyes. Meanwhile I read Arabic versions of the Chinese books to discover and feel the country's profound cultural background and vitality.
Since you came to China, have your friends in Dubai had any changes in their views about China?
H.E. Rashed Alqemzi: Oh, of course! First of all, they are really glad that I come to China. In just a few months, four groups from my family have visited Shanghai. They were surprised at the modernisation, speed of change and overwhelmed by the beauty of China.
Now, the work is very busy. A lot of delegations come to China. The One Belt and One Road Initiatives create more business opportunities as well as more cultural exchanges. The Chinese expats community in Dubai is also growing year by year. Did I tell you the good new? Now, kids in Dubai can study Chinese as part of curriculum, together with Arabic and English.
**Dubairen, Mandarin Timeout for the Chinese community in Dubai, is the go-to-source for the events, bars and restaurants and special offer. Its successful integration of print, online and social media channels is the best example of its integrated marketing speciality.