Home away from home

By Liu Xiangrui ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-05-27 07:58:09

Home away from home

Abbas Kdaimy has devoted to the cultural exchanges between China and the Arab world over the past two decades.[Photo by Liu Xiangrui]

Abbas Kdaimy has spent nearly two decades explaining Chinese society and culture to the Arab world, Liu Xiangrui reports.

When Abbas Kdaimy made his first trip to China, his knowledge of the country was limited to what he had read in schoolbooks.

But now, 18 years later, the Iraqi translator and editor, who has been working in Chinese media and the publishing industry, says China and the Arab world have developed strong cultural links.

He moved to Beijing from Baghdad as a news editor for the Xinhua News Agency after the Gulf War of the 1990s and the ensuing UN sanctions on Iraq that took a heavy toll on his country's economy.

"I wasn't sure how Chinese people would receive me," recalls Kdaimy, 54, deputy editor-in-chief of the Foreign Languages Press' Arabic department.

Kdaimy arrived in Beijing alone in the summer of 1998 and was struck by the booming economy that stood in contrast to his country, he says.

His wife and three children soon followed him here.

In the early days, the family had to overcome challenges like finding an Arabic-language school for the kids, and halal food.

"We all feel the hospitality and understanding of the Chinese people," Kdaimy says, adding that the food problem was soon solved after they found restaurants in the city that catered to Muslims.

Despite living away, Kdaimy says his heart is with the Iraqi people and he always looks out for news about his country.

One of his life's difficult moments came on March 19, 2003, when the United States decided to invade Iraq.

"I was crying in my heart," he recalls, adding that his Chinese colleagues helped him with their emotional support.

Kdaimy has won the respect of his colleagues in China with his talent and hard work. He was invited by the Beijing Olympics' organizing committee in 2008, to write articles on China targeting Arab tourists and athletes.

He witnessed the city's development in a short time and says the event's experience remains unforgettable.

Kdaimy went to enjoy the Games and shared his knowledge of China with people from other countries when he had the time.

The following year, he joined his current organization as a translator and editor, and has been amazed by Chinese literature since.

"It's a pity that for a long time very few Chinese literary works were translated into Arabic, compared with Western classics. I am very excited to share this treasure and build a bridge between Chinese literature and Arab readers."

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