Interview: NZ Amb. speaks about diplomacy, love for Egyptian mangoes



Tue, 25 Aug 2020 - 09:54 GMT


Tue, 25 Aug 2020 - 09:54 GMT

Ambassador of New Zealand to Egypt Greg Lewis paid a one-day visit to Ismailia city - Photo via Ambassador's twitter

Ambassador of New Zealand to Egypt Greg Lewis paid a one-day visit to Ismailia city - Photo via Ambassador's twitter

CAIRO – 25 August 2020: Ambassador of New Zealand to Egypt Greg Lewis paid a one-day visit to Ismailia city, where he enjoyed sampling the city’s best types of mangoes. In a tweet, he wrote about his day trip, attracting many Egyptian, New Zealanders reactions.




Some users recommended him to try certain types of mangoes for the ambassador to try like “Owais” and “Fass,” while others even went on inventing recipes including both NZ butter and Egyptian mangoes.


Falling in love with Egypt’s mangoes


Speaking to Egypt Today via email, Ambassador Lewis said his visit to Ismailia was short, “but did provide a chance to sample the famous (and delicious!) Egyptian mangoes.”


“I had heard that one of the best places for mangoes was Ismailia. I now know there are other parts of Egypt which produce them too,” he added.


Ambassador Lewis expressed his excitement to be able to taste different types of mangoes, out of 100 different types famous to be growing in Egypt and being exported abroad.


Although he commenced his posting as New Zealand Ambassador to Egypt in January 2019, this is not his first time to live and work in Egypt. Lewis was sent here previously by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to study Arabic and later posted as the Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission between 2009-2011.


Family connection to Egypt


“My family history is strongly linked to Egypt,” Ambassador Lewis said, as he explained that, last century, two of his Great-Grandfathers served with the New Zealand forces in both WW1 and WW2, where one of them was stationed at Ismailia in WW2.


Ambassador Lewis recalled growing up as a child listening to stories about Egypt from his grandparents, which helped influence his fascination and love for Egypt as a child.


“Egypt really is Om il-duniya, we all seem to have a connection to this country, or we develop one,” he told Egypt.


“I often joke that I must have drunk from the Nile as I have been back so many times. Egypt is an important relationship for New Zealand. We may be geographically distant, but we share a lot of similar values and cooperate together across many multilateral issues, including at the United Nations,” he continued.


During his posting, he has had visited Sharm ElSheikh, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Port Saieed, El Alamein and Siwa. “Egypt is a beautiful country with friendly people - and its great to get out and explore,” he added.


Boosting diplomatic ties


Discussing his role as NZ ambassador to Egypt, Mr. Lewis said that he considers his role to be the “eyes, ears and voice” of New Zealand in Egypt”.


“We want to better understand Egypt’s priorities so we can better develop and advance cooperation. That could be in promoting our already strong trade relationship and agricultural cooperation programme, greater political cooperation or people to people links,” he added.


He further explained that the embassy is working closely with the Egyptian Embassy in Wellington to promote the bilateral relationship, including cooperation with NZ National Library to facilitate the exchange of important digital cultural materials between both Egypt and New Zealand.



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