Egyptian officials on Saturday announced the founding of the Egyptian Dragon Boat Federation (EDBF) at a boat club in a hotel in Cairo overlooking the Nile River.
In February, the country's Ministry of Youth and Sports approved the founding of the EDBF before it was recognized by the International Dragon Boat Federation on March 5.
"Sports is a soft power that can bring nations together," EDBF chief Nader Roshdy told Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang sent congratulations in a statement that was read at the launching ceremony of EDBF. "As we celebrate today the official recognition of dragon boat in Egypt, we celebrate at the same time the communication and integration between the two cultures," said Liao.
Dragon boat racing has been enjoyed in China as both a popular sport and an integral part of Chinese traditional culture for over 2,000 years.
Liao believes that the founding of the EDBF will further deepen relations and enhance friendship between China and Egypt.
Mike Thomas, president of the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), sent his congratulations as well as expectations for Egypt to contribute to promoting dragon boat racing in Africa and the Arab world.
Five years ago, Ehab Gouda, head of the Egyptian Friendship Association, introduced the sport to the country. Not only did he and his wife, Mary Lai from Hong Kong, co-found a dragon boat academy in Egypt, Gouda has also organized various local and international dragon boat festivals in Egypt since 2016. Gouda, who mastered dragon boat racing in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, actually achieved a Grade. 1 – International Race Officials Certificate in 2019 and is currently an IDBF representative.
"Founding the EDBF was a dream that has come true," said Gouda. He hopes that dragon boat racing can become a "bridge" between China and Egypt and attract more Chinese tourists to his country.
The IDBF has invited Egypt to participate in this year's dragon boat world championship, according to Gouda.
"There are many ways to enrich the relations between the two countries. I think doing a fun sport like dragon boat is really a great way for the two peoples to meet each other in a friendly way," said Henrywoo Hon, a Chinese businessman from Hong Kong who attended the ceremony.
"We have been looking forward to the establishment of an Egyptian federation for dragon boat for years, and we're happy it has finally come true," said 26-year-old paddler Tarek Sami.
"Dragon boat is not just a matter of sports, but it is a matter of cultural exchange and many other things," said drummer Marwa Mohamed. She described dragon boat racing as "a very beautiful and enjoyable sport that teaches cooperation and unity."