JEDDAH - On the eve of its National Day celebrations, the Ethiopian Consulate held a grand reception here on Wednesday, which brought together African and Arabian cultures and reminded one of the first contact that Islam had with Ethiopia when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sent some of his Companions to this African country to escape the cruelty of the Qureish in Makkah.
“The relations between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia are not only old and deep-rooted but they have also been illuminated by many recorded historical facts and incidents,” said Consul General Tekleab Kebede to general applause.
Hundreds of Ethiopian expatriates – men, women and children – and many Saudi citizens gathered for the celebratory event which featured the showing of a documentary, the sampling of Ethiopian cuisine, the viewing of cultural programs by children, and, of course, the drinking of world-famous Ethiopian coffee.
Elaborating on the deep-rooted link between the Kingdom and his country, Consul General Kebede said that Ethiopia was the first country to give recognition to the Kingdom when it was established under the leadership of King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud in 1932.
He commended Ethiopian expatriates in the Kingdom for earning a good name in sectors, such as, health, education, finance, and service. They have acted as a human bridge between the two countries by fostering friendly and cordial ties, he said.
The Consul General said that he had high hopes that the two countries would continue to have close relations in the future as they both share common perceptions on many regional and international issues particularly with respect to peace and security as well as economic and social development.
Saudi Arabia has been Ethiopia’s largest investor. The proximity to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries has yielded dividends for Ethiopia as trade has been enhanced and investments have poured into the African country. With an average growth in GDP of over 11 percent, Ethiopia has been recently chosen for the Good Governance Award by the Corporate Council on Africa at a workshop held in the US state of Virginia.
Hence, Consul General Kebede underlined reasons for the Gulf countries to expand their trade with his country as trade is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the new democratic Ethiopia.
A documentary film, entitled “Ethiopia – the Eternal Journey”, produced and directed by a Saudi, Ali Hamzi, was shown, which captured the beauty of the nine regions of Ethiopia and delved deep into its history and traditions.
“Our presentation of this humble work is to educate future generations and to attract tourists and investors from the Gulf region,” Hamzi, whom the Consul General called “a wonderful friend of Ethiopia”, said.
“Ethiopia is like a rose and its people the wings that carry purity, loyalty and love like the country itself which offers green landscapes and captivating lands,” Hamzi said.
If a Saudi presented Ethiopia through his sharp camera lenses, the country too honored several Saudi businessmen and professionals including Hamzi, with certificates and gifts.
Nuredin Mustefa, Consul, Economic Cooperation and Business Affairs, who took this opportunity to promote tourism and investment in his country, inaugurated the program, and said: “This promotional event is to increase your knowledge about Ethiopia.”
The event ended with colorful dances by both schoolchildren and young men with some Saudis joining them to the loud beat of Ethiopian music – a remarkable occasion for the meeting of two very different cultures. – SG