Envoy welcomes diverse bilateral cultural exchangeInterviewed on the eve of the 51st year of Islam in Korea, which continues last year’s “Celebration of the Golden Anniversary of Islam in Korea” with events running Oct. 9 through 14, Rabah Hadid, the Algerian ambassador to Korea, touched on his country’s past and present while talking about the future of relations between the two countries.
As he spoke about the social and political atmosphere in Algeria at present, his comments took on an edge as he commented, “The only problem that we have are the people from the outside, especially the media.”
Mr. Hadid, who arrived in Korea in October last year, has been a career diplomat for nearly 30 years, and has been on four continents as ambassador in countries including Mozambique, Colombia and Turkey, once serving as his country’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations in New York. He was also the vice president of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in 1985.
Born into an agricultural family, Mr. Hadid entered the National School of Administration in Algeria, established to train the country’s emerging talents destined to become high-level civil servants, when he was 17 years old. “You know, in Algeria, most of the people from the generation of my father and mother did not attain high education ― because we were colonized. Very few people had the opportunity to go to school, to go beyond primary education,” he said as he reflected on his countries’ past. Because of this deprivation, he said, his generation tried to take advantage of every opportunity available.
The ambassador said Algeria has been doing well during the last six years, in terms of its economy. The country’s two traditional sectors ― fuel and agriculture ― have been keeping the country’s economy up to standard. “The agricultural sector has been prosperous for centuries but has faced problems when we had a socialist system in the late 1960s, 1970s, even through the 1980s. However, there has been tremendous growth. We used to have very high food import bills but now it is decreasing,” he said.
The ambassador expressed high hopes for this week’s festival of Islam in Korea, which will showcase cultural items from Islamic countries that have diplomatic relations with Korea and provide an opportunity for the public to discover their foods, music, arts and dance (Location and directions below). “I think there is less bias in Korea towards Islamic cultures compared to other countries and this has been important in the relationship between Algeria and Korea,” the ambassador said.
“Back home,” he observed, “people are discovering Korea. Of course it has been recent, only the last 15 years. I would say they are discovering the country through Korean goods, automobiles and electronics. Now the exchange has been diversified more and we have more visitors both ways,” Mr. Hadid said. He expressed satisfaction about the evolution of the cultural exchange between the two countries, to which the festival makes an important contribution .
by Cho Jae-eun
“Celebration of the Golden Anniversary of Islam in Korea” will be held at the COEX Convention Hall (11th floor), Samseong district, Oct. 9 to Oct. 14. The nearest station is Samseong station, line No. 2, exits 5 and 6. The event will feature some 250 booths, showcasing the history and culture of Islam as well as food from Islamic countries.