A range of events form celebrations of the Netherlands’ 45 years of diplomatic relations with Vietnam this year.

By Le Diem on July 09,2018 02:34 PM


Photos: Embassy of the Netherlands & the Dutch Business Association Vietnam

Fifteen years after exhibiting in Vietnam for the first time, the World Press Photo Foundation, founded in Amsterdam in the Netherlands as a global platform connecting professionals and audiences through trustworthy visual journalism and storytelling, returned to Hanoi for a second exhibition from 16 June to 6 July. At the time of writing, just three days after opening, the exhibition had already welcomed thousands of visitors. It was one of a range of activities organised by the Embassy of the Netherlands to celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations between two countries.

As a booming world city, Hanoi was selected as a destination for the world-renowned exhibition this year, together with others including Singapore, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Macau. Vietnamese-related photos displayed at the previous World Press Photo Exhibitions include the famous shot by Vietnamese-American photographer Nick Ut of napalm victim Phan Thi Kim Phuc in 1972, the first expeditions into Son Doong Cave, the world’s largest, in 2010, by German photographer Carsten Peter, and the personal life of gay couples in Vietnam in ‘The Pink Choice’ collection of Vietnamese photographer Maika Elan in 2013.

The exhibition aims to provide the opportunity for a wide range of people in Vietnam to enjoy the best and most memorable press photographs from around the globe, according to Ambassador of the Netherlands to Vietnam, H.E. Nienke Trooster. ‘We feel people deserve to see the world through different perspectives and to express themselves freely through photography,’ she said, adding that. ‘In this era of digital communication and fake news, the importance of objective and high-quality visual journalism has only increased.’

In celebration

The Embassy also plans to celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations by highlighting the much broader relations between two countries. Trade first began in the 17th century, while development cooperation has continued for over 50 years and there have been decades of student exchanges and other people-to-people contacts, according to Ambassador Trooster. These broader relations have featured in a series of events following the launch of celebrations during the visit by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms Sigrid Kaag, on 6 and 7 February.

In April, Nhat Tan Bridge in Hanoi was lit up in orange on the night of April 27, the colour of the Dutch Royal Family, in honour of the official birthday of King Willem Alexander, which is also Dutch National Day. The lighting up of the bridge, the gateway to the city from the airport, is a symbol of the connection between the two countries’ people and is especially meaningful this year.

In May, the Embassy joined with the Vietnam National Academy of Music in presenting a jazz concert by Dutch duo Saskia Laroo and Warren Byrd, who performed together with Vietnamese jazz musicians in Hanoi and delighted the Dutch and Vietnamese audience.

The Embassy also wants other regions of Vietnam to join in the celebrations. ‘Dutch Days’ are on the calendar and will bring a touch of the Netherlands to Vietnamese people in different places.

The two-day events have one day of economic events, focused on commonalities such as both countries being coastal states in strategic locations and delta countries and also face challenges from climate change, especially in agriculture and water management. Trade and investment promotion in areas such as energy, the maritime industry, and logistics will also be featured. The second day is aimed at the general public and focuses more on culture and education, such as showcasing the Netherlands’ advanced educational programs together with bike parades, painting and book exhibitions, music, art, and other activities.


Two of the Dutch Days have already taken place, in the central city of Da Nang on 25 and 26 May and in the central highlands city of Da Lat on 8 and 9 June. Two more will be organised in the northern city of Hai Phong in September and the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho in November.

Other events such as receptions, film screenings, and concerts are organised in Vietnam every year by Dutch organisations.

Enterprise support

PUM Netherlands, a volunteer organisation committed to the sustainable development of small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries and emerging markets, introduced one of its first incubator programs in Vietnam. The program allows new businesses to be set up and supported and helps create job opportunities in developing countries where youth unemployment is soaring. Providing a higher number of job opportunities prevents young people from trying their luck elsewhere, turning a ‘brain drain’ into a ‘brain gain’.

A dozen startups in Vietnam have already emerged from the incubator. Da Lat University, for example, is recruiting startups from the program. The university is located in one of the most important agricultural regions of the country and seeks to promote technological development in agriculture. The government also believes it is important to support entrepreneurship in the central highlands. The Vietnam Climate Innovation Center (VCIC) in Hanoi, meanwhile, is a business incubator for Vietnamese startups specialising in sustainability and climate solutions. It was set up two years ago as a World Bank initiative and needs to be self-sufficient from 2021. PUM is helping it on its way. In order to be able to stand on its own two feet, the VCIC sought PUM’s help and various missions were agreed upon that will focus on the transition phase, product development, fundraising, and the incubator’s clients. It deals with a wide range of climate issues such as how the technology can be used to fight climate change and has supported startups in identifying solutions to climate change issues, like solar energy and water management.

Events for Dutch community

Many events are also being held for Dutch community in Vietnam.

The main annual event is the King’s Day celebrations, which is also the country’s National Day, organised in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. On the day in the Netherlands the whole country turns orange, in flags, clothes and even drinks. People pour out onto the streets to celebrate, attending several ‘free markets’, outdoor concerts, and sporting events. The King, the Queen and the Princesses visit a provincial Dutch town every year to engage with local people.

With the same concept, King’s Day celebrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will see guests wear something orange and enjoy typical food and music from the Netherlands. The day is not solely for the Dutch though, as Vietnamese government officials, diplomats, alumni from the Netherlands, business partners, and many others are invited to come along, creating an opportunity for the Dutch community and Vietnamese to jointly celebrate the strong economic, social, cultural and political ties between the two countries.

Another event Dutch expats, especially kids, are excited about every year is the Sinterklaas celebration. Taking place on 5 December, Sinterklaas (or Saint Nicolas), dressed in red robes, and Pieten, his helper, bring gifts to children if they have been good throughout the year. Last year, Sinterklaas and Pieten found their way to the Dutch Ambassador’s Residence in Hanoi, with help from a cyclo, rather than a horse, as in the Netherlands, giving both the kids and their parents a lot of fun.

A host of events for the Dutch business community are also held by the Dutch Business Association Vietnam (DBAV) and the Dutch Social Club HCMC (NLV).

DBAV’s members are also members of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), through which the association has established strong connections with government institutions and other chambers of commerce in Vietnam. Through this network, DBAV is a fundamental part of the larger business community in the country. DBAV also maintains close links with the Dutch Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in HCMC.

NLV, meanwhile, is the driving force behind social activities and events within the Dutch community in Vietnam.

Since their establishment in Vietnam in 1999, the two organisations have held a range of important and interesting activities, such as networking events, business forums, workshops on different subjects, primarily on doing business in Vietnam and in Asia, science and technology, and current economic and social issues, Dutch Drinks, a social gathering organised every month for DBAV members and friends, and DBAV’s football and golf tournaments.

‘While our bilateral trade and investment ties have been growing rapidly, perhaps equally important is the increase in people-to-people contacts,’ said Ambassador Trooster. ‘I am confident that the last 45 years is just the beginning of a future of long-lasting and positive ties, not just between our countries but also between our people.’

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