18 June 2009

* IISS Middle East Lecture Series - ‘The Implications of the Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon’








On 15 June 2009 Fouad Makhzoumi, Chairman National Dialogue Party of Lebanon; Chairman, Future Pipe Group, spoke on ‘The Implications of the Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon’.

With a political system as divided and complex as its recent history, the success and outcomes of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon will serve as a key indicator to its future stability and progress. Fouad Makhzoumi presented a timely analysis on the outcomes and implications of these elections, which took place on 7th June, and discussed the role of Lebanon in regional diplomatic initiatives involving Syria, Israel and the United States. A 30-45 minute question and answer session followed his lecture.

Fouad Makhzoumi is Chairman and founder of the National Dialogue Party of Lebanon, established in 2004 as an independent political party committed to democracy and electoral reform. He is also Chairman of both Future Pipe Group and Future Management Holdings.

Mr Makhzoumi is a leader in charity and philanthropy in Lebanon as Founder and Honorary Chairman of the Makhzoumi Foundation, established in 1997. From 1995 until 1998 he acted as Vice Chairman of the Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and has been a member of the International Board of the US Council on Foreign Relations: US/Middle East Project since 1996. In 2008 he became a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The lecture was chaired by Dr John Chipman CMG, Director-General and Chief Executive, IISS and took place on the Fifth Floor at Arundel House, 13-15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3D.



(iiss)



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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.