LYNNWOOD — Like old friends, Egyptian professionals from Snohomish and King counties gathered for a picture, arm in arm with Egyptian Ambassador Lamia Mekhemar, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, five priests and pageant winner Mrs. Egypt.
The smiling photos followed a VIP lunch in honor of Mekhemar and Somers, who both encouraged unity and community.
The gathering was billed as a historic meeting with members of the Muslim Egyptian community and Coptic Christian Egyptian community of the Greater Seattle area. It was seen as a chance to display those common values that aren’t always shared in Egypt.
“A failed system is a system that does not recognize its members,” Mekhemar said. She implored Egyptians living in Washington to build lasting relationships.
Mekhemar, the Consul General of Egypt in Los Angeles, is making her second trip to Washington in as many years to offer consul services and connect with Egyptians in one of the 11 western states she represents.
This year’s trip was arranged by the Saint Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church of Lynnwood.
“Having the ambassador come brought us all together and was a great opportunity to be with a group of people who are really excelling and important in our community,” Somers said.
Professionals from Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and other major businesses attended the event, which offered a chance for local Egyptians to network and connect.
“It’s an opportunity for all Egyptians to get together and have a conversation about Egypt, our presence in the community and the U.S., and how do we help each other build a sense of community, but also helping the broader community,” said Mohamed El Gammal, a director at Amazon and resident of the United States for 26 years.
Much of Friday’s event had a light tone, but Mekhemar was stern in directing the onus on Egyptians to organize their own events and participate in consulate-sponsored opportunities.
“You have a responsibility in your community, in engaging with us, to exert some effort,” she said.
Somers offered his office as a space for willing collaboration.
“County government is here to support the residents of our community,” Somers said. “We need to begin to understand those needs in your community.”
The ambassador’s excursion is for more than just creating bonds.
While on her swing through the Puget Sound area, Mekhemar and her delegation are offering consul services to Egyptian nationals, assistance that is normally only available at consulates in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
“That has been a great win for the consul and the community,” El Gammal said. “It’s a great service that has allowed the community to converge, because it’s not only a social event, you can also get all your paperwork done.”
Passport, civil affairs and legalization services will all be offered at the Lynnwood Convention Center on an appointment basis with a $20 entrance fee through Sunday.