Dr Al Khaili receives the Japanese decoration.
Japan honoured a senior Emirati official in a colourful ceremony on Sunday evening, in recognition of his contribution to Japanese-UAE educational relations.
Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, former Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, Adec, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Community Development, DCD, received at the ceremony ‘the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon,’ one of the highest civilian awards established by the Japanese Emperor.
Akihiko Nakajima, the Japanese Ambassador to the UAE, conferred the decoration on Al Khaili at the event held at the ambassador’s residence in the presence of senior Emirati and Japanese officials and community members, according to a Japanese Embassy statement.
The envoy praised Dr Al Khaili for his efforts to promote the cooperation and exchange between the UAE and Japan in the education sector, which helped provide more hope and future possibilities to the youth in both countries.
Dr Al Khaili encouraged Emirati children to enrol in the Japanese School in Abu Dhabi by supporting the school’s operational costs and human resources, the ambassador pointed out. With his efforts, the number of Emirati students in the school reached 34 by 2019, Nakajima said.
In his speech, Dr Al Khaili stressed the importance of education and human resource development for the future of both the UAE and Japan.
The Government of Japan previously announced the award to Dr. Al Khaili on 21st May 2019.
Senior Emirati officials, including Salama Al Ameemi, Director-General of the Authority of Social Contribution, Ma’an; Hamad Ali Al Dhaheri, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Social Support Authority; Dr Yousef Al Sheryani, Undersecretary at the Department of Education and Knowledge, ADEK; and representatives of Japanese private companies and entities in Abu Dhabi also attended the ceremony.
Japan and the UAE are currently discussing an initiative to teach Japanese as a second foreign language in some UAE high schools, according to a top Japanese diplomat.
“It is expected to start within a year,” Akihiko Nakajima, the new Japanese Ambassador to the UAE, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, recently in an exclusive interview.
He said both nations are currently giving importance to educational cooperation.
“To both countries, education is one of the most important policy pillars for our prosperous future, and I firmly believe that we can contribute to each other in this area,” Nakajima said.
“Some achievements have already been made in the past years,” he said, citing the Moral Education Programme introduced in UAE primary schools in 2017, which “reflects Japanese moral education system as one of the model cases.”
As the ambassador is impressed about the UAE’s young engineers and their innovative spirit, he would like to explore cooperation in Research and Development sector.
He said there is a criticism that innovation activities are costly in Japan and young talented engineers are not managed well.
“The UAE should be proud of its globally competitive governance and management skills as well as its young educated engineers,” he said, adding that this gives the potential for synergetic cooperation in Research and Development activities.
Nakajima wants to extend bilateral relations to new areas as stipulated in the Japan-UAE Joint Statement signed last year.
“Until recently, our bilateral relations have always been centered around the economy, more specifically, oil business. I believe my mission here is to further expand and deepen these existing fields of cooperation of both countries,” he said.
He would like to materialise and vitalise cooperative programmes and projects such as industry-academic cooperation already identified in bilateral Memorandums of Understanding and other policy documents.
The envoy is also impressed with the curiosity of Emiratis about Japanese culture.
In recent years, bilateral relations have dramatically developed in the area of culture and sports as well. Manga, a Japanese comic, and Judo, a Japanese martial art, are becoming popular among Emiratis, Nakajima said.
“[People] ask [me] how Japan has absorbed and digested different civilisations, while still retaining its indigenous culture. Regrettably, Japanese people, including myself, are not necessarily aware of the uniqueness or particularity of our own culturethis country who always let me realise what Japan really is,” Nakajima explained.
People-to-people links are crucial in bilateral relations, the diplomat said. He said he would organise several cultural events in the coming months to encourage people-to-people relations.
More than 4,000 Japanese people live in the UAE and the number is growing year by year, with approximately 3,000 residing in Dubai and more than 1,000 in Abu Dhabi and other emirates.
The Japanese Association with its branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai play a significant role in bringing the community together with their regular social events, Akihiko Nakajima added.
He is also excited about his first posting in the region, as it could be instrumental in introducing Arab/Muslim world’s civilisational values to his country.