"Those who don't know the past, have no future," proclaims Israeli consul-general Sagi Karni, which is why he spends so much time getting to know the background and culture of each new posting. "You're being exposed really to different cultures - it's most fascinating," he says. "In the diplomatic field, we try to understand the culture, the people and to learn about the history of the place, more than just the business. It makes life interesting." The learning process has become a routine as his family moves every few years because of his work. In fact, Karni explains, this exposure to world cultures is one of the reasons he joined the diplomatic service. READ MORE: Hong Kong's diplomats "It was a good opportunity to see the world, experience living in different places. Not as a tourist coming for a few days, but living at a place, acquiring local friends, really trying to know the place and the culture." Karni sees many similarities between Hong Kong and Israel. Both have immigrant populations and both have been able to build up a unique economic edge, culture and language. Karni stresses the importance of Cantonese. "Maintaining a language is important - it is the core of culture," he says, in pointing out the unique position of Cantonese in keeping Hong Kong's culture and traditions alive. He also points to the revival of Hebrew - a language no longer spoken until resurrected by Israel - as a means of keeping Jewish ways of life alive. Karni enjoys Hong Kong's hybrid culture, saying the city still has an old Chinese charm that is visible on the streets along with its sounds and smells. But Hong Kong also inherited a British knack for business and administration - which Karni says is much appreciated. "Hong Kong still has this sense of ... Englishness prevailing. But I actually like the way people do business here in Hong Kong, I like the efficiency, I appreciate the efficiency, I appreciate the punctuality." This, coupled with convenient public transport, makes for efficient business. "You can have many meetings in one day." Karni, who still has two more years in Hong Kong, says he will miss the greenery and the access to nature. He will likely be returning to Israel after his term is up. Before back injuries struck, he was an avid swimmer and runner - the Israeli is a fan of open-sea swimming and would even have braved the polluted waters of Victoria Harbour. "It was so bad - I put my arm in front, and I cannot even see my hand," he says. Hong Kong's abundant swimming spots, beaches like Shek O and Sai Kung, as well as easy access to walking and hiking trails, were what drew Karni to the city. And as Israelis celebrated Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - last week, Karni wished everyone: "Shana Tova!" - Happy New Year. Sagi Karni Age: 48 Education: Bachelor degree in biology and philosophy; masters in public policy. Career: Israeli embassy in Beijing 1998 to 2000; deputy head of mission in Oslo, Norway, 2000 to 2001; ambassador in Angola 2008 to 2010; Israeli mission to EU 2005 to 2008. HK-Israel relations: Bilateral trade close to US$7.8 million in 2014, mainly IT, biomedical, jewellery. Over US$500 million invested in Israel in past three years. Roughly 1,000 Israelis live in Hong Kong.