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British, Israeli Ambassadors vow closer ties with Cebu

Within a three-day span, two distinguished ambassadors touched base with the Cebuano community and local media practitioners in hopes of establishing solidified linkages with Cebu in various fields such as education, trade, and tourism.

According to outgoing British Ambassador Asif Ahmad, they will await funding for the creation of 40 research fellowships this year to provide educational opportunities to qualified candidates, which is designed to enhance their intellectual capabilities and community involvement.

“We have discussed possible partnerships with National University and other schools for the creation of joint degrees with 10 British universities,” Ambassador Ahmad revealed in a press gathering held at the Cebu Country Club. “This will eliminate the need for Filipinos to travel to Great Britain to study, since the degree can be earned in the Philippines.”

He cited the University of Nottingham, which has already established campuses in Malaysia and China, resulting in a rich supply of equivalent graduates who merit the same respect as their British counterparts.

Such arrangements are common in Singapore, where several American and British schools have set up branches, earning the Lion City the distinction as the “educational capital of Asia.”

As to possible venues for such learning institutions, the Ambassador revealed that Hans Sy of SM Properties has eagerly volunteered the rooftops of his malls as host to these schools, thus cutting down on expenses for such factors as land acquisition, water and power connections, and parking.

In the field of business, Ambassador Ahmad expressed wonder on the capabilities of Philippine companies to buy out British companies for fruitful mergers and acquisitions.

“There are already a total of PhP70 billion worth of Filipino investments in Britain. Emperador Brandy and Monde Nissin are shining examples of the Filipino business acumen expanding their reach in the overseas markets,” the Ambassador beamed.

Israeli partnership

In another related event, Israeli Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau praised the Philippines as a fast-moving economy with great potential in developing such fields as Information and Communications Technology (ICT), education, food, and water security.

He expressed keen interest in water-related topics, as he expounded on his country’s expertise in the field, and strongly hinted on assisting the Philippines’ poor management of water supply, as well as with droughts and floods.

“We can help out in water management and agricultural technology,” the Israeli Ambassador said. “For even if we do not have natural water supplies and agricultural products, we have converted our lands into flourishing oases,” he disclosed during a media event held at an uptown hotel.

Another field of interest the Ambassador cited was cybersecurity. For this, he proposed a creation of digital signatures for all, in order to properly safeguard the confidentiality and sensitive nature of personal and corporate matters.

“Israel is the land of creation. We don’t have much natural resources but we innovate. Our chamber will soon be more active as we invite more contacts and increase opportunities for bilateral trade. In doing so, we need to find big partners and products,” Ambassador Matityau added.