RIYADH: China’s Sinopec, one of the largest energy and chemical companies in the world, has gifted 2,000 books on Chinese culture to King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.
The donation was marked in a ceremony on Wednesday attended by senior officials from both countries, including the Chinese ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Chen Weiqing, the Chinese envoy, inaugurated a Chinese books corner at the library in the presence of Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, the library’s secretary.
The section was established by Sinopec as part of its mission “to offer a window on China for Saudi citizens, provide reference books for students, beneficiaries, and graduates, and provide support for teaching Chinese in the Kingdom,” according to a press release.
The Chinese envoy praised “historical” bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and China, as well as the promotion of cultural exchange between the two countries.
Al-Zamil said that the opening of the Chinese books corner in the library is a “positive gesture” for further Saudi-Chinese cultural collaboration.
He added that the Chinese books received by the library “are of scientific value that will benefit the beneficiaries and researchers, and help enrich the library with reference books,” noting that the library’s technical departments have finished cataloging and classifying the books, which are ready for researchers.
“We want to enhance cultural interchange, transfer, and cultural exchange between the two countries,” he said.
The rest of the Chinese books will be released in installments, with the first batch featuring books in Arabic, English and Chinese addressing economic, geographical and humanitarian topics. A series of books in Arabic and English by Chinese President Xi Jinping will also be provided.
In a speech, Weiqing praised the heritage of King Fahd Library and its “cultural, cognitive, and scientific achievements,” applauding the late Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz’s efforts to support relations between the “two great countries.”
The effort by Sinopec follows “what the Kingdom initiated in this regard” by opening a branch of the King Abdulaziz National Library in China as its first branch in Asia, Weiqing added.
King Abdulaziz Library opened a branch at Peking University in Beijing, China to “expose the Chinese people to Saudi culture.”
The library is housed in a six-story building located near the university’s main entrance on an area of 13,000 square meters.
King Salman attended the opening ceremony of the branch in March 2017.
“We consider the Chinese books corner to be a cultural collaboration that includes various books of scientific value that will benefit beneficiaries and researchers, as well as help enrich the National Library with reference books, as the technical departments involved with the library have cataloged, classified and made them suitable for researchers,” Al-Zamil said.
“We want to encourage cultural interaction, transfer and exchange of culture between the two countries,” he added, commending China’s cultural legacy, which “has a head start over the civilizations of the entire world.”
Li Xihong, former chief representative of Sinopec’s Middle East office, said that the company has always attached great importance to cross-cultural exchange within Chinese foreign cooperation projects, and has actively fulfilled its overseas social responsibilities.
“Through cooperation with King Fahd National Library, we hope to promote cross-cultural exchange and cooperation, and build a bridge to promote cultural exchanges between China and Saudi Arabia, and enhance the friendship between the two peoples,” he said.
Over the past 22 years of operation and development in Saudi Arabia, Sinopec has formed an integrated industry chain service system of oil and gas exploration, as well as development and technology research.
Fahad Alarjani, executive board member and head of the entrepreneurship committee at the Saudi Chinese Business Council, said that cultural activities foster community development and create vital markets for investors as well as entrepreneurs.
Events also facilitates an understanding of markets and improve skills in an economic development ecosystem, he added. “This is what unique exchange requires in the development of distinguished Saudi-Chinese business relationships.”
Alarjani, a Ph.D. scholar in sustainable entrepreneurship at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, said that the cultural sector is “one of the most important” in the future of knowledge-based economic exchange between Saudi Arabia and China.
“This is evidenced by the launch of several unique initiatives by the two countries over the last five years, focusing on the knowledge-based economic aspect to motivate young entrepreneurs to engage in innovative cultural and art experiences,” he added.
“Such initiatives will form integrations with other sectors including tourism, and will enhance the diversity of bilateral economic exchange,” he added.