wife of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Republic of Bulgaria

Safinaz El Tarouty, wife of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Republic of Bulgaria – H. E. Mr. Khalid Ibrahim Emara, is a young, intelligent, active and accomplished woman in her professional field. She holds a PhD in Politics from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and a B.A. and M.A. from the American University in Cairo. She is the author of Businessmen, Clientelism and Authoritarianism in Egypt, published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

She began her academic career in Egypt by teaching in the British University in Egypt.  She is currently a lecturer in the New Bulgarian University, Department of Mediterranean and Eastern Studies.

Mrs. El Tarouty takes care of her wonderful daughter, who is ten years old and studies at the French school "Victor Hugo" and is a wonderful support to Ambassador Emara.

We met with her on the eve of the New Year 2022 to tell us more about Egypt, her work and herself.

- Mrs. El Tarouty, the New Year is approaching. How do you usually meet her in Egypt?

- We usually celebrate the New Year with immediate family at home, and other people celebrate it in big private parties.

- In November, a magnificent show took place in Luxor, which opened to visitors the 3,000-year-old "Sphinx Alley" after major restoration activities. Tell us more about it.

- This exceptional celebration was meant to show the world the major restoration work of one of the ancient cities and capitals in Egypt (Luxor):  The city infrastructure was upgraded and modernized in order to cater the inhabitants and tourists. This event commemorates one of the most important ancient Egyptian festivals "Opet to celebrate fertility and rejuvenation of life and the central role of the Gods". The event showed Luxor as an open museum for visitors from all around the world.

- It was also a campaign to promote the largest open-air museum in the world and will certainly attract tourists to welcome the New 2022. How are you going to meet them at the Covid-19 pandemic?

- Egypt is among the safe destination and major Egyptian touristic resorts are very well prepared to receive tourists given that the service personnel and local population are 100 percent fully vaccinated. Moreover, preventive health measures are taken in open and closed public areas, hotels, museums, and historical sites.

- What is the situation in your country as a whole with the control of the infection and with the vaccination?

- Egypt is producing locally two major vaccines and it is becoming a hub for vaccine production for Africa and the Middle East. This allows the fastest distribution of vaccine to a large population and sixty million doses have been administrated.

- Another impressive event this year in Cairo also attracted the world's attention - the "Golden Parade of the Pharaohs". How did this miracle happen - 22 royal mummies were transferred from the Tahrir Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat?

- The process of transferring the royal mummies to the National Museum of Egyptian civilization took two years of rehearsals and hard work by the artistic team including the world class orchestra. The Egyptian state and all major institutions contributed to create this very big event, which was watched by billions of people around the world and continues to attract the attention of the public until today.

- Bulgarians have always had a strong interest in Egyptian culture. And they love Egypt both for cultural tourism and for holidays in your seaside resorts. Is there any interest on the part of Egyptians to visit Bulgaria?

- Yes, Egyptians are very curious to visit Bulgaria to enjoy the beautiful nature in the mountains and the green forests. They enjoy the natural beauties of Bulgaria, including the Black Sea resort; however, Egyptian tourists still find it hard to get tourists visa to visit Bulgaria.

- With such an ancient and rich history, it is natural to have unique folk customs and traditions. Which ones are your favorites?

- Each region in Egypt has its own costume. I particularly like the costumes of the Nubian women including the long women dresses decorated with silvers, embroidery and with very bright colors.

- What is the place of women in Egyptian society today?

- Women are a central part of modern Egypt. They represent more than 52 percent of all university students and more than 27 percent of the workforce. They are also politically well represented including occupying 25 percent of cabinet ministers, 30 percent of deputy ministers. Also, the Egyptian constitution encourages the participation of women in parliament which led the increase of their participation to around 30 percent in the current parliament. In general, Egyptian women enjoyed wider political participation since the 1950s.

- You are the wife of an ambassador, but you probably have your own profession. Do you manage to combine the two functions by following your husband around the world.

- I am working in the field of academia and I benefited from the fact that I join universities abroad. I am currently lecturing in the New Bulgarian University.

- As a mother of a daughter, what would you like to give her as values ​​and worldview?

- I like to teach my daughter the value of respecting and appreciating different cultures.

- What are your favorite leisure activities?

- I enjoy reading books in politics and history and also playing the guitar.

- What do you like to do here in Bulgaria and what are your impressions of our country?

- I am very impressed by the beautiful nature in Bulgaria. In the fall and the spring I enjoy walking in the beautiful parks and in the winter when the snow falls, I enjoy going to the mountain and talking long walks.

- How will you celebrate the New Year 2022?

- We will celebrate it privately with the immediate family circle.

Photo: personal archive of Mrs. Safinaz El Tarouty