Japanese speech contest strengthens cultural exchange between Japan and Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Consulate General of Japan in Jeddah recently hosted the second edition of the Japanese Speech Contest to foster cultural exchange and strengthen the ties between Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Organized in collaboration with the Saudi Association of Japan Graduates & Associates and the Jeddah Japanese Society, the event took place at the King Fahd Public Library in Jeddah. The contest provided a platform for individuals to showcase their language skills and deepen their understanding of Japanese culture.

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Abdullah Al-Ahmadi, the president of King Fahd Public Library in Jeddah, and Munir Khoja, the distinguished representative from SAJGA, emphasized the significance of this event in fostering stronger bilateral relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia.

In his speech, Khoja shared valuable insights, stating: “I would advise the speakers to recognize the immense benefits of language learning in developing their personalities. This contest provides a unique opportunity to serve as a bridge between Saudi and Japanese cultures. By expressing oneself in the Japanese language, participants can tap into a range of emotions, enabling them to delve deeper into understanding and try to establish connections with their own culture.”

Divided into two groups, beginners and advanced, the contest showcased the abilities of 13 Japanese language learners, drawing a vibrant gathering of Japanese culture enthusiasts.

The Consulate General of Japan in Jeddah hosted the second edition of the Japanese Speech Contest to foster cultural exchange and strengthen the ties between Japan and Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo: Afshan Aziz)

Rahaf Matbuli emerged as the winner in the advanced category, showcasing remarkable proficiency. In the beginners category, Maryam AlAmoudi and Ahmed Tammar displayed exceptional skills, leading them to victory and earning well-deserved recognition.

Matbuli told Arab News: “Participating in the contest was a great opportunity for me to challenge my Japanese language skills and assess my progress. I initially taught myself the language, but later, I enrolled in online courses. As my proficiency improved, I decided to travel to Japan to further enhance my language skills, which ultimately contributed to my success in this contest.”

She added: “I am delighted to witness the increasing coverage of Japan in the news and the growing awareness among Saudis about the captivating aspects of Japanese culture, which I hold dear. As a Saudi individual fluent in Japanese across various fields such as industry, commerce, and entertainment, and having studied abroad, I feel a responsibility to continually enhance my language abilities. It is my aim to promote the positive qualities of Japan for the benefit of both nations.”

Acting Consul-General of Japan in Jeddah Mitsutaka Nishida expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the esteemed guests and participants, highlighting the importance of cultural and traditional understanding of others as a means to achieve the goal of a harmonious world. He encouraged the contest’s participants to continue enhancing their Japanese language skills and foster broader prospects of collaboration between the Consulate General of Japan in Jeddah and King Fahad Public Library.

Before the speech contest, a panel discussion took place involving representatives from the Japanese community in Jeddah and Saudi nationals. The discussion centered around various aspects of Japanese culture that appealed to the Saudi audience and highlighted the cultural similarities between Japan and Saudi Arabia. The panelists also shared their experiences and insights on the most effective methods of learning Japanese and Arabic languages, drawing from their personal experiences.

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