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Egyptian female photographer narrates
“Tales from China” via photo exhibition

By Xinhua writers Mahmoud Fouly, Zheng Kailun CAIRO (Xinhua) -- At the palace-like Gezira Art Center in downtown Cairo, an Egyptian female photographer tells vivid stories about the everyday life of Chinese, as well as many of China’s famous landmarks and landscapes through the “Tales from China” photo exhibition.

With decorative red lanterns hanging from the ceiling of the exhibition hall, red paper-cuts of fish and the Chinese word “happiness” put on the walls, and traditional Chinese music playing in the background, the exhibition by Sara Fouad shows a unique photographic vision of the Chinese capital city of Beijing and Shandong Province.

The exhibition, held under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture from Sept. 13 to 27, reflects the Chinese culture and civilization as seen through Egyptian eyes. 

“The exhibition hall has separate corners and I made each corner tell a separate tale from China. A tale can consist of one, two or three photos out of total 44 photos in the exhibition,” Fouad told Xinhua.

The photos were taken by Fouad during her two-week stay in Beijing and Shandong in 2014 in a trip supported by the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo.

Fouad, a bachelor of arts in Middlesex University of London and also a member of several photography associations in Egypt, Britain and the United States, said that her photos of the Chinese people were inspired by the kindness, hospitality and warm help she received from them during her short stay in China.

“The Chinese people are so kind and friendly. Although I did not speak Chinese, they were helpful and they never annoyed me or prevented me from taking photos. A female hotel worker even left me a gift in my room before I left China,” Fouad added.

The largest photo at the center of the exhibition displays an overview of a Chinese woman in traditional garment holding a red umbrella with embroidered white flowers.

Other photos show a newly-wed couple, common Chinese people on the streets and marketplaces, a chef grilling fish and shrimps outside a seafood restaurant, the cliffy road on the way to the Great Wall, a bird’s-eye view from a cable car and many others.

Mohamed Hadad, an architect who likes visiting art exhibitions, was obviously impressed by the photos. He carefully studied nearly every photo on display in the gallery, while stopping before some photos to take a deep look and reading the captions.

“This photography exhibition introduces different details about China, such as their food, habits and traditions. It tells also details about nature and landscape. I like so much the photo showing the way to the Great Wall of China over there. I also like the central photo of the woman with a red umbrella,” Hadad told Xinhua.

“The exhibition lets me know more about China from inside. Each photo talks itself,” he continued. “I am impressed that the Chinese people preserve their culture, habits and traditions. They are not so much affected by globalization like others.”

Another visitor, Amira Nour, a photographer of a magazine belonging to Egypt’s largest state-run media foundation Al-Ahram, said that her profession urges her to attend various photo exhibitions, noting that she herself held an exhibition on China after her visit in 2013.

“I found that ‘Tales from China’ is so different in terms of the neat layout and method of display that take a visitor from one corner to another as if from one tale to another, moving from social life, habits and traditions to temples and architecture,” she told Xinhua.

Besides people, the exhibition also displays many photos of unique Chinese landmarks, famous structures and tourist attractions, including the Forbidden City, the National Museum of China and the National Grand Theater in Beijing, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Qingdao, the Kite Museum and railway station in Weifang, and the Thousand Buddha Cliff and Daming Lake in Jinan.

Fouad was recommended to the Chinese Cultural Center by award-winning Egyptian photographer Ayman Lotfy, who said that it was an advantage to get a country photographed by a different eye.

“Street photography is not easy as it is crowded and full of details and icons, but Fouad’s eyes discovered China so neatly and calmly with so accurate components, and the cuts and angles make the photos look like enjoyable works of art that a visitor would like to get and hang at home,” Lotfy told Xinhua at the exhibition.

China and Egypt have held several joint cultural activities including festivals, folklore performances, and art exhibitions to celebrate the growing bilateral relations and cultural exchanges since the two countries marked 2016 as the China-Egypt Cultural Year.

Chinese Cultural Counselor to Egypt Shi Yuewen, who attended the opening ceremony of the “Tale from China” exhibition, praised the photos as “artistically and vividly captured.”

He said that Fouad took pictures of what caught her eyes in China, especially from her Egyptian and female perspectives.

“The exhibition effectively enhances the Egyptian people’s understanding of modern China, which is vitally important to deepen the friendship between the two peoples,” Shi told Xinhua. 

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