On July 19, 2018, President Sawa met with two members of the General Culture Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Eng. Fahad Abdulrahman S Alkanaan, Strategy and Partnership Advisor, and Mr. Tamer Sameer A Almadani, International Affairs Specialist and Japan Project Manager.
Also present at the meeting were Prof. Mitsuko Okamoto, Vice president for international affairs and campus diversity, who is also professor of animation, and Associate Prof. Mitsuhiro Kanada, chair of the Faculty of Fine Arts’ international affairs committee, who joined the president in greeting and welcoming the guests.
The meeting started off with Mr. Almadani’s presentation, outlining the roles of the General Culture Authority. He discussed the cultural agency’s efforts to promote various projects in the field of the arts, including training and educational programs, with focuses on literature, film and media, theatre and performing arts, music, and visual arts.
Eng. Alkanaan referred to the Saudi Cultural Week to be held in October 2018, which will provide a venue for musical performances and art exhibitions relating to Saudi Arabia. He expressed his wish for Tokyo Geidai to take part in the event and shared his ideas for a collaborative performance of Saudi and Japanese music.
Noting that the university has a department specialized in traditional Japanese music, President Sawa replied that he would explore the possibility of collaboration. Then, Vice President Okamoto introduced the university’s work of animation that had been created based on inspiration from “The Four Seasons” by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. Eng. Alkanaan responded, with enthusiasm, how Japanese animations and manga (Japanese comic books or graphic novels) were popular in Saudi Arabia.
Eng. Alkanaan further discussed the idea of establishing a partnership with Tokyo Geidai for training talented Saudi artists, proposing an initiative that would allow the cultural authority to send professional artists to Tokyo Geidai or invite faculty members of the university to Saudi Arabia for workshops and master classes.
In response, Assoc. Prof. Kanada explained that the university had hosted in the past art professionals, mostly academics, from institutions in other countries for a short-term as “guest researchers,” while most international exchanges take place based on a formal agreement between two institutions. President Sawa said that he would consider how the university could help once he received a detailed proposal.
Assoc. Prof. Kanada explains the university’s current international exchange system
In closing, President Sawa said, while expressing his respect for the country, “the university has had little connection with Saudi Arabia up until now and the country has never seemed so close, but it would be great if this would be the first step to developing ties between the General Culture Authority and Tokyo Geidai.” Eng. Alkanaan agreed, emphasizing his expectations for partnership between the two institutions. With recognition of potential collaboration opportunities in the future, the two officials concluded the meeting.
Upper row from left to right: Reem Ahmad (Interpreter, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia), Vice President Okamoto, Assoc. Prof. Kanada
Lower row from left to right: Mr. Almadani, Eng. Alkanaan, President Sawa