Egypt’s Nile River hosts dragon boat festival to celebrate Chinese New Year
Published: Feb 25, 2019 05:23 PM
Egypt's Nile River played host on Saturday to an international dragon boat festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year, with over 200 paddlers of 24 teams from several countries and regions including China, Egypt, the US, Australia and the Philippines.

Overlooking the west bank of the river, Royal Mohamed Ali Club in Giza Province near the capital Cairo was the main venue of the event and the finishing point of the race.

Its green yards were decorated with Chinese-style red lanterns as well as a giant panda parade balloon.

Ehab Gouda, an Egyptian organizer and head of the Egyptian Friendship Association in Hong Kong, said that the event was held to share the Chinese people's Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year.

"The purpose of the event is both cultural and touristic and it also seeks to promote dragon boating as a sport to be practiced and enjoyed by both Egyptians and foreign residents in Egypt," he told the Xinhua News Agency.

Ahead of the main race, a dragon boat eye-dotting ceremony was held by using black ink to dot the eyes of four wooden dragon's heads to metaphorically bring life to a fifth big red dragon whose eyes turned red after the dotting was completed.

The Nile River International Dragon Boat Festival was organized by the Egyptian Friendship Association in Hong Kong and the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo, with Dragon Boat Egypt and the Beijing-based International Dragon Boat Federation as co-organizers.

Shi Yuewen, cultural counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Cairo, said that the festival saw more teams from different countries than 2018, in addition to renowned guests and senior diplomats.

"Besides the dragon boat competition, we've also organized activities related to the Chinese Spring Festival such as traditional Chinese games and riddles, and we've arranged a photo exhibition to show China's modern life and its great development in recent years," the Chinese diplomat told Xinhua.

While the Egyptian teams finished first in the 12-male-paddler small boat, 22-male-paddler standard boat and 12-mixed-paddler small boat races, the Philippine teams won the 12-female-paddler small boat, 12-mixed-paddler small boat and 22-mixed-paddler standard boat races.

"This event not only brings the Egyptian and Chinese people together, it also boosts friendship between several nations as we have here competitors from the US, Singapore and the Philippines," Sayyid Gomaa, the coach and paddler of Dragon Boat Egypt, told Xinhua after a winning round.

Veteran US paddler Cathy Grenham of the DragonMax team from Berkeley, California, said that such events bring people together for better mutual understanding and cultural interaction.

"We're very excited to just be here with the different cultures and to have conversations and get to know people. Being here allows us to become more open and friendly and take in other cultures. So, it's been delightful," she said.

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