Aerial photo taken on June 27, 2022 shows the construction site of the T01 Iconic Tower of the Alamein Downtown Towers Project in New Alamein, Egypt. [Photo/Xinhua]
Walking through a rebar jungle, Mahmoud Ezzat and his Chinese mentor Song Guoshuai arrived early in the morning to start work at the construction site of the Alamein Downtown Towers Project in New Alamein City on Egypt's Mediterranean northern coast.
Under Song's instructions, Ezzat skillfully tied the steel bars up with delicate knots. Months of close cooperation have transformed the teacher and the pupil into a pair of partners. "I have worked as a steel bar worker in many projects before, but this is the first time I had a chance to work on such a large-scale project," Ezzat said, adding that he couldn't even read the on-site steel bar diagram when he first joined the project.
The Alamein Downtown Towers Project, being constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corporation, consists of a 300-meter-high Iconic Tower, four 200-meter-high buildings, and other commercial and municipal facilities. The design of the Iconic Tower was inspired by the Egyptian obelisk, which is elegant and full of power, Ezzat said, noting that "upon completion, the tower will become the highest point overlooking New Alamein City."
It is another example of China-Egypt cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative after the Central Business District (CBD) project in the new administrative capital of Egypt, according to Fan Xinfeng, chief engineer of the project.
"There are about 2,700 Chinese and Egyptian constructors working against time on this project," Fan said. In order to improve efficiency, the project department assigned a Chinese mentor for each Egyptian worker, and therefore Ezzat and Song formed a mentorship.
However, although Song is a veteran with 20 years of experience as a rebar worker, he felt all at sea when he started teaching Ezzat because of the language barrier. "I can't speak Arabic, so I try to use gestures to communicate with my prentice," Song said, adding that he has demonstrated the process of binding steel bars to Ezzat umpteen times, and shared with him all techniques of binding rebar in super high-rise buildings. With the help of Song, Ezzat has learned the skills of binding rebar in building walls, columns, beams and slabs, and is able to complete the work independently according to construction drawings.
Song has also been learning from Ezzat, who has taught Song quite some Arabic. After work, they often talk about their lives with each other and have found that they have many similarities in their life trajectories.
Song is from Henan Province in central China and Ezzat comes from southern Egypt's Qena Province."We grew up drinking the water of the Nile River and the Yellow River respectively, and moved to various projects to make a living through our own skills," Song said. "And most importantly, we share the same aspiration for happiness in our lives."