I visited Abu Dhabi after some time. This time I came with the purpose of developing greater university and Japan related networks in Abu Dhabi.
The twenty people or so whom I came with included Mr. Toyoda, the former senior officer of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Professor Nakano, the Director of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology of University of Tokyo, and others who have a deep relations with Abu Dhabi. My connection to Abu Dhabi and this delegation formed because I am a member of Board of Trustees of Khalifa University and also because I was a member of the President’s Council at the University of Tokyo, as well the Director of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo and I had wanted to further mutual relationships between universities. Although it has only been forty years, Japan and the United Arab Emirates have had deep relations, not just limited to the spheres of education and research. The United Arab Emirates is one of the main exporters and Japan is one of the main importers of oil. Last month, Minister Motegi visited the area and many agreements were made, with the involvement of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.
We arrived late at night and the following day we visited the campus of United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, which is the national university of UAE. Many Western universities and companies have opened research offices there and it is possible to see the vibrant teaching and research that is going on. They are especially passionate regarding the undergraduate education. It is disappointing that Japan is not participating in such activities. I learned that there is a club called the Sakura Club for students who want to know more about Japan and become friends with Japanese.
In the afternoon, we visited the main campus of UAE in Al Ain. It was ninety minutes by car. The weather was sunny and the temperature was a comfortable 25 to 27℃. We were shown the excellent campus. I have visited the medical school there three or four years ago. The medical school has ties with John Hopkins University. Here too, the undergraduate education is the core of the university.
We were scheduled to depart at five but as we entered the majestic building of the main campus, we came across a sign that announced “Sakura Club event” from five to six. As we quickly changed our plans and entered the auditorium, we saw that there were some Japanese female university students wearing kimonos and a woman who was performing a classical Japanese dance. This happened to be Mako Hattori and her team. We know each other and so we were very surprised to meet here by chance. Considering that around twenty Japanese men suddenly and unexpectedly came into the auditorium, they must have been quite surprised. This unexpected meeting made us very delighted and we all greatly enjoyed Ms. Mako’s explanation of the kimono and dance.
Also present were Ambassador Kamo and his wife, who took the post last November.
I met a student from Waseda University who is studying here for one year. She must have been surprised to say the least. She said her university life has been very fulfilling.
In the auditorium, the female students sat to the left of the stage and the male students sat to the right. This is the local custom.
We left after about half an hour, but it must remain in the minds of the students as a good memory.
Such unexpected meetings can occur in the most unlikely places.