Ambassador Khalid Emara: Egypt was the First Arab Country with which Bulgaria established Diplomatic Relations #AmbassadorTalksNovinite Insider |Author: Nikola Danailov | December 21, 2022, Wednesday // 09:40| views
This is our last interview for 2022 in the series Ambassador Talks. In 2023, we will have more guests from the diplomatic missions in Bulgaria. We will also change the format a bit and the questions. Today, we have the honor and pleasure to welcome our last guest for the year: The Ambassador of Egypt in Bulgaria, Mr. Khalid Ibrahim Emara.
1. What is your opinion on the bilateral political and business relations between Bulgaria and your country?
Egypt was the first Arab and African country with which Bulgaria established diplomatic relations, back in 1926, and is Bulgaria’s largest economic and trading partner in the Middle East and Africa. We certainly want to continue developing these historical relations between Egypt and Bulgaria for the benefit of the two peoples.
2. What kind of improvement of these relations do you see in the near future and the long term?
The areas where we can cooperate certainly include energy, agro industry, pharmaceuticals, furniture and woodwork. We are also looking at electric cars as an area for collaboration, green hydrogen production, renewable energy. We would also like to continue cooperation in science. In the cultural domain the arts, theater, dance, music, folkloreare wonderful and very successfully preserved in Bulgaria. We also have a symbolic Bulgarian mission in the field of Egyptology, which is currently working in Luxor. I think we have a wide range of things we can do together. I believe that the coming years will give us more opportunities to work closely for the benefit of the people of Bulgaria and Egypt.
3. In your humble opinion, what is the place of Bulgaria in the modern world?
It is a very beautiful country close to my heart. This is my first time serving in this part of Europe. I had a long career in the Foreign Office in various posts in Western Europe, but I had not visited the Balkans before. The more I travel around Bulgaria, the more I love it, I highly value the people here. I feel the warmth of the south, the hospitality. I love the mountains, I love the beautiful Rhodopes - I visit them regularly, whenever I can, together with other ambassadors. I also really like the Black Sea. It has a very special nature - the combination of forests and sea is something that we do not have in Egypt. Our sea is next to the desert, but our forests are underwater – in the coral reefs!
4. If you want to promote Bulgaria to investors from your country, what would be the 5 most important advantages you would mention?
I believe that Bulgaria has a great potential to become a gateway for businesses into Europe and Egypt on the other hand is an economic gateway into Africa and the Middle East. This is a good base for future trade partnerships between the two countries. Bulgaria is strategically located between the Middle East and Europe and has a solid transport infrastructure – several major European transport corridors are passing through the country. I am confident that in the future trade and investment partnerships and cooperation between Egypt and Bulgaria will intensify and that will bring a great economic benefit for both sides.
5. Do you think Bulgaria can improve its image or branding and if yes - do you have an idea or advice you could share with us?
Bulgaria has many great advantages – economic, geographic, cultural. It needs to be more pro-active in presenting these aspects to the world, and especially to potential investors. Often the internal political discourse is too focused on the negatives and this might affect the lens through which the country presents itself internationally.
6. What would be the 3 most important events for your Embassy until the end of this year?
In the last couple of months, our Embassy participated in several Egyptian-Bulgarian business forums, which took place in key cities around the country. An Egyptian business delegation with companies in the fields of agriculture, furniture production, tourism, pharmaceuticals, and trading came to Bulgaria and took part in a business forum hosted by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sofia on November 29th, jointly organized with our Embassy. This business forum is the first step to activate bilateral trade and economic relations after the pandemic, so that companies can start conversations with each other, cooperate and hopefully start joint investments.
This was followed by another business forum in the city of Varna on December 2nd, 2022, co-organized by the Mayor of Varna and the Embassy. The forum was attended by representatives of over 30 companies from the sectors of tourism, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, furniture production, textiles, export of fruits and vegetables, cultural industry. The forum was a great success and it presented all participating companies with a great opportunity for networking and creating contacts for future partnerships and investments.
Earlier last month I had the opportunity to visit the port of Burgas and meet with the local business community and with representatives of the Burgas Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The businesses expressed readiness to establish contacts and future cooperation, so our Embassy plans to organize similar events in 2023.
7. How deep has the COVID pandemic affected the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and your country?
As is the case around the world, Covid affected the trade volumes, limited human contacts and potential interaction and investment. Nevertheless, the solid cooperation foundation between Egypt and Bulgaria serves as a good basis for the recovery and future expansion in relations.
8. What advice can you give to Bulgarians who want to do business with people from your country?
Bulgaria and Egypt have a rich historical foundation, but there is still untapped potential in trade and economic relations.Egypt is a vast market for business opportunities, with a population of 105 million people and a very rapid economic development. There are enormous opportunities for Bulgarian companies looking to invest and expand their businesses. Over the past 7 years, Egypt has gained significant experience in technologies and models for the implementation of clean energy, waste recycling and non-polluting manufacturing. Egyptian companies are willing to share their experiences in those fields.
9. Tell us about yourself - what was your professional diplomatic career, how long have you been in Bulgaria, and what are the most fascinating places or even dishes for you in Bulgaria?
I was very lucky to study Liberal Arts at the American University in Cairo. This gave me the opportunity to explore different subjects while pursuing a bachelor's degree in political science. International relations and diplomacy have always excited me. I didn't know when I entered university that I would be heading into this career. As a child I traveled a lot, even alone, from the age of 13. It gave me a passion for working on topics important to the world and to society in general. In Egypt we have a national competition for the selection of diplomats and I was happy to succeed from the first selection. I was very young when I entered the Foreign Office - 23 years old. I realized that this was the career for me only after my first official visitto Japan, a year after I started working in the Ministry. It was there that I learned that through diplomacy important connections can be built between very distant countries, which are very important cultures in their own right.
10. If you must describe Bulgaria in just three words, what would they be?
The country of the future.
Novinite.com presents its new series titled: “Ambassador Talks”. It consists of interviews with Ambassadors or Heads of Missions accredited to Bulgaria in order to see their point of view on current developments - both domestic, bilateral and international. Each interview will have the same 10 questions.
Our Honorable guests so far:
Ambassador of China, His Excellency Mr. Dong Xiaojun. You can read his interview here.
Ambassador of Denmark, His Excellency Mr. Jes Brogaard Nielsen. You can read his interview here.
Chargée d'Affaires ad interim of Germany Irene Maria Plank. You can read her interview here.
Ambassador of Spain, His Excellency Mr. Alejandro Polanco Mata. You can read his interview here.
Ambassador of Italy, Her Excellency Mrs. Giuseppina Zarra. You can read her interview here.
Ambassador of Brazil, Her Excellency Mrs. Maria Edileuza Fontenele Reis. You can read her interview here.
Ambassador of the Czech Republic, His Excellency Mr. Lukas Kaucky. You can read his interview here.
Ambassador of Albania, Her Excellency Mrs. Donika Hoxha. You can read her interview here.
Ambassador of Romania, Her Excellency Mrs. Brandusa Predescu. You can read her interview here.
Ambassador of Portugal, Her Excellency Mrs. Ana Maria Ribeiro da Silva. You can read her interview here.
Ambassador of South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Thabo Thage. You can read his interview here.
Representatives of Embassies based in Bulgaria can contact Novinite for more information at Office@novinitegroup.com
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