Tom Fletcher » British Ambassador to Lebanon

What Lebanese Students Tell Me About Us

I spend a lot of time in universities, talking with students about their hopes for the region and their perceptions of the UK. Lebanon has always been a good place to listen to the currents surging through the Middle East. These sessions are always lively, surprising, challenging. It is foolish to try to generalise about such a complex and dynamic set of opinions, but here nevertheless is a foolish try … Read more »What Lebanese Students Tell Me About Us

New Technology for Old Challenges: Innovation and Development

Feature image for:  New Technology for Old Challenges: Innovation and Development

The Syria conflict has created the biggest refugee crisis in modern history – imagine everyone inside the M25 leaving Britain. Lebanon is dealing with an unprecedented influx of those vulnerable refugees, 78% of them women and children. The international community’s response has been huge – we are spending more in Lebanon per square kilometre than anywhere in the world. UK funding for Lebanon in the past two years is greater … Read more »New Technology for Old Challenges: Innovation and Development

UNITY AND IMPUNITY, TEN YEARS ON

Spring 2005 was when I decided that I would one day work in Lebanon. I was based in our Paris embassy when Rafik Hariri and 21 others were murdered. I remember reading the powerful reports sent by the then ambassador, James Watt, and sharing frantic updates with Lebanese and French friends. The Valentine’s Day massacre ripped through Lebanon’s political fabric, and robbed Lebanon of a strong and visionary leader. It triggered an … Read more »UNITY AND IMPUNITY, TEN YEARS ON

Parting Shots – An Alternative View of the UK in the Middle East

All over the Foreign Office network, we draw on advice and analysis from our brilliant locally engaged staff. One of our colleagues here, Nadim Zaazaa, is leaving us to work on an exciting project – the UK-Lebanon Tech Hub. See here for more details. He shared with me some parting thoughts about the Middle East, and the UK’s role in the region. These are not necessarily my views, nor those … Read more »Parting Shots – An Alternative View of the UK in the Middle East

Keeping the ‘Islamic State’ out of Lebanon, and Lebanon out of the ‘Islamic State’

All of us share the sadness of the French people at last week’s terrorist attack in Paris, and of the Lebanese people at the weekend attack in Tripoli. In their condemnation of the deaths in Paris, the four Muftis of Lebanon sent a powerful message against extremism. It was a reminder that many in this region have paid the ultimate price for freedom of expression. Just as the UK stands … Read more »Keeping the ‘Islamic State’ out of Lebanon, and Lebanon out of the ‘Islamic State’

ALEXANDER THE GREAT, SPEED DATING AND JAWBONE

I recently got a Jawbone ‘Up’, a device that monitors your daily activity, sleep patterns and exercise, and helps you better control your health. As a father of two boys, I don’t need anyone to tell me I don’t get enough sleep. But, like many, I’m outsourcing the collection of my data to a plastic bracelet. Anyone who watches a 3 year old with an iPad knows that our basic … Read more »ALEXANDER THE GREAT, SPEED DATING AND JAWBONE

Is The Pen Mightier Than The Sword?

The Lebanese spend more on education than anything but food, more per capita than any other country. It’s a downpayment of hope in Lebanon’s future. In schools as on the borders and checkpoints, the UK stands beside Lebanon with actions not words. The UK is now Lebanon’s main education partner, through four gamechanging programmes. For the second year, we are getting school textbooks to every pupil aged 6-15, over 300,000 … Read more »Is The Pen Mightier Than The Sword?

Equality, Dignity, Respect: Trading Places

This year’s Blog Action Day (#BAD2014 #Blogaction14), on 16 October, is on inequality. To encourage debate about the rights of migrant workers, I spent the day with Kalkidan Nigusie, from Ethiopia. In the morning, we visited the Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk (who has written his response here), gave a press conference, and chaired a meeting in the embassy. In the afternoon, Kalkidan supervised me cooking and cleaning in the house … Read more »Equality, Dignity, Respect: Trading Places

A United Nation at the UN

For a week every year, the world’s foreign policy elites relocate to New York for the annual jamboree of statecraft, the UN General Assembly. The pace is frantic – diplomatic speed-dating. But it matters. The UN may not be perfect, but no-one has yet come up with a better idea for global coexistence. It matters in particular to Lebanon, a country already under siege from the effects of the Syria … Read more »A United Nation at the UN

Wisdom Amid Adversity?: NATO Comes to Wales

With a formidable to-do list for the world’s leaders, the 2014 NATO Summit takes place in Wales on 4/5 September. This will be the largest ever gathering of international leaders in Britain. In preparation, some diplomats have even been learning Welsh (Matthew Barzun clip). Having been to a few, I’ve sometimes been sceptical about the value of summits in the 21st century. But this one is different. People speak too … Read more »Wisdom Amid Adversity?: NATO Comes to Wales