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Egyptian diplomat visit proves to be ‘delightful’

ENCINITAS — The visit of a high-ranking Egyptian diplomat to the San Diego Botanic Garden proved to be a “delightful” and thought-provoking experience, said Julian Duval, the garden’s CEO.

The garden hosted Lamia Mekhemar, an ambassador from the Egyptian Consulate in Los Angeles, on Jan. 19. Her visit coincided with the debut of an Egyptian tapestry exhibition at the garden earlier this month.

Mekhemar toured the collection of garden-themed tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre in Egypt as well as the rest of the 35-acre Encinitas garden.

“She turned out to be absolutely delightful,” Duval said. “Whenever you have a dignitary visit, you are never sure how formal it will be, but she turned out to be very interested in the wonder and beauty of nature and it was a very enjoyable experience.”

Duval noted that Mekhemar was even willing to extend her visit, which was originally supposed to begin at 4 p.m., by arriving two hours earlier to enjoy the entire park.

Mekhemar received a statesman’s welcome, complete with a greeting by Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

One of the highlights of the tour, Duval said, was when Mekhemar noted to the contingent that the tapestries were created by both Coptic Christian and Islamic artists.

“It was a very rewarding discovery that during this time of great division in our world that art and nature can continue to be forces that bring us together,” Duval said. “It is nice when we have to opportunity to realize the things that bring us together rather than the focus out there on the things that divide us.”

The tapestry exhibition continues at the garden until March 31 daily at the Botanic Garden.

The Egyptian artists vividly celebrate the flowers of the desert, villages and Nile River in their tapestry work.

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