A Chinese-language club was launched in Cairo on June 15, when awards were given to the winners of the local Chinese Bridge competition for non-Chinese students.
The ceremony was attended by Chinese diplomats, businesspeople, teachers, Egyptian lawmakers and representatives of Cairo University and the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
"Chinese has become a basic foreign language taught in Egyptian universities," says Mohamed Ayman Ashour, Egyptian vice-minister of higher education and scientific research for university affairs.
The Egyptian official says the newly launched club "will serve as a link connecting the two peoples and the two languages (Arabic and Chinese)".
Initiated in 2002, the Chinese Bridge international language contest aims to boost the youth's understanding of Chinese language and culture.
It has attracted students from over 150 countries.
"It is a bridge, yet not only a language bridge but a bridge for friendship between the people of the two great countries," says China's Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang in a video speech to the event.
"Egypt has started teaching Chinese since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt 65 years ago," Liao says, adding that more than 50 universities in China are teaching Arabic now.
The new club is not only for linguistics but will regularly carry out Chinese-language entertainment activities, offer courses on Chinese culture and traditions, and organize lectures on Chinese corporate culture, according to Xu Yanhe, the club's executive chairwoman.
During the ceremony, more than 20 Egyptian students, who won the local Chinese Bridge contest, sang Chinese songs onstage after they were awarded certificates of proficiency and souvenirs.
"Participation in this competition was a dream of mine since my first year in university. It took me a year to prepare for this contest," says Omar Abdel-Salam, a senior student of Chinese language at Cairo University.
Abdel-Salam, who won first place in the competition that started in May, is among three distinguished winners who will represent Egypt in the Chinese Bridge international contest.
Besides performances in Chinese, he presented a piece written in Chinese introducing himself, his experience in learning Chinese and on Egyptian-Chinese relations.
"Then I concluded the article with my dream, which is to be a messenger of Egyptian-Chinese friendship," he says.
Nashwa Abdel-Hakim was another winner in the competition.
"I am happier with what I have learned than with the reward itself," the 18-year-old says, adding that she once visited China years ago.
"I love Chinese language so much. I feel it is close to my character and thought. I feel Chinese language is part of me, not just a language I am learning."