It is good to see the waves of British visitors in Lebanon this Summer. British Airways are laying on extra flights, the Hay Festival has just been, and we have several brands – Jack Jones, Marks and Spencer, Virgin Radio, Ted Baker – opening in the coming weeks. This is exactly the relationship we want – vibrant, trading, creative interchange. But amidst this positive progress, it remains as important as … The Brits are coming… but please stay in touch
I was asked to speak at the Issam Fares Centre tonight on how Lebanon can best manage contagion from the growing crisis next door in Syria. Thanks as ever for the input via Twitter. Lebanon faces no more pressing question. We won’t have the luxury of addressing other issues – the potential gas bonanza, Leb2020, the regional challenges – that I’ve covered elsewhere on this blog unless we can prevent the … Managing Contagion: The Battle to Keep Lebanon out of the War in Syria
I spoke this week at a conference on Lebanon’s gas sector. Interest in the subject is rightly high. This could be one of the largest gas finds anywhere in the world in the last decade. It could pave the way to a Lebanese renaissance – to Beirutopia. It could be the basis for a gas peace dividend in the region, as Mediterranean powers agree maritime borders and work together to maximise the collective … Lebanon’s Gas: Blessing or Curse?
As a Brit in the Levant, you can never go far without being reminded of history, and our role in it. At this week’s Lebanese Army conference, the moderator spoke of ‘the British habit of interventions in the Middle East’. I countered that this was a relatively recent phenomenon – others had been at it far longer than our 1000 years or so. At the same event I was told, … History, Conspiracy and Meaningful Independence
Last Friday, I was lucky to attend the launch of the National Charter for Education on Living Together in Lebanon, which provides pupils with the knowledge and attitudes needed to live together in a diverse society. It was the first public milestone in the work that the Education Ministry, the Council for Educational Research and Development, and a remarkable NGO called Adyan are undertaking to ensure Lebanese education reinforces national … The Courage to Coexist?
Guest blog from British Ambassador to Turkey, David Reddaway, marking the second anniversary of the Syrian Uprising: The two years of crisis and human tragedy in Syria since the uprising, shaped by the Assad regime’s decision to respond to the Syrian people’s demand for democratic rights by repression rather than reform, have had a huge impact on Turkey, Syria’s northern neighbour. Turkey had made a huge effort in recent years … Two years of crisis and human tragedy in Syria
Today marks the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising. Lebanon now hosts almost 400,000 registered Syrian refugees, but the real number of Syrians here is over 1m. Imagine the impact of 15m refugees in the UK. Lebanon, lashed to Syria by history and geography, has responded with extraordinary generosity. With camps avoided for political reasons, it is families and communities who have shouldered the burden. Local schools and hospitals play … Syrian uprising two years on
Yesterday was our ‘Education, Education, Education’ Day. I met the prizewinners of our competition for English teachers, including an inspirational administrator from Nahr el Bared Palestinian refugee camp, whose winning lesson plan was based on fish and chips. She is helping even those living in extreme desperation to enjoy and unlock English. But the day began with earthier Anglo-Saxon, unsuitable for a family blog. I had got up early to … Britain’s Education Offer to Lebanon, and Speechmaking by Twitter
Earlier this month I posted some futuristic thoughts on what Lebanon could be in 2020. Much more interesting than the speculation in the post was the response. The almost 300 comments so far give a good sense of current debate in Lebanon: idealism, cynicism, fatalism, frustration. Some seek to apportion blame, many to identify practical solutions. I’m with the second group. As I’ve argued in responses to some of those … Invitation to a Virtual Dinner: Can Lebanon Skip a Tech Generation?
Diplomats hate making predictions. Churchill once said that you could ignore every other page of Foreign Office advice, because it tended to be in the form of ‘on the one hand’ and ‘on the other hand’. The files are full of pre-election telegrams that hedge their bets. There are good reasons for this. We don’t like being wrong. And the more we study international politics, the more we realise how … Beirutopia