In a bid to prevent end-of-summer fires, Lebanon is to take firm measures in the face of this annually recurring phenomenon. As a first step, a meeting was held at the Mount Lebanon Governorate headquarters urging Lebanon's municipalities to clean up forests in September of every year. The meeting also discussed the different causes of fires and possible cautious measures to prevent their recurrence every year.
For this purpose, a central operating room was established at the governorate's headquarters including firefighting teams from the Lebanese Army, the Civil Defense, the Firefighting Department, and the Lebanese Red Cross. The meeting also charged the Lebanese Army with providing the operating room with maps for all Lebanese forests and fields, thus enabling the room to open new roads to these areas and provide them with water resources that can be used when needed.
Around 480 fires blazed in the different Lebanese areas during the last six days. The fires destroyed cultivated land, pine forests, and olive fields, almost reaching residential areas in some places and wounding residents and civil defense members in others. The fires were mainly caused by exceptional heat and fast warm winds that prevailed in the country in the last seven days.
The First Lebanese-French Conference on Fresh Water and Health opened Thursday at the Engineers' Syndicate in the Lebanese capital. The event is being organized by the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research and the French Association, Microbiologie.
Minister of State Elias Hanna opened the conference representing Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Hanna told the meeting man can not bear thirst adding that the subject of water has always been a primary cause of conflict between states. The minister mentioned the Litani River as a living example of Israeli greed and aggression. Hanna said the conference tackles the strong relationship between water and health stressing that, "since water is one of the basic elements of life, and since health is a primary factor in the continuity of life, water should have no impurities that can hurt health and life."
A group of businesswomen coming from different countries in the Arab world this week gathered in Tripoli to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation between Arab women in business. Delegates from Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon presented their views on the different economic trends in Arab countries and discussed the possibility of the establishment of an Arab Common Market.
A delegation of the Joint Group of Lebanese-Egyptian Businesswomen today visited President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda. The delegates later told reporters at the palace this was a protocol visit that came on the occasion of the First Economic Forum held by Arab businesswomen in the country.
In a related development, representatives of a joint UN-Social Affairs Ministry program issued a report this week positively assessing the number of new businesses being run by women in the country. They also suggested plans that would enable more women get into the market. The joint program also offers consultation services and organizes orientation workshops throughout the country.
Lebanon is laying the final touches on its preparations to hold an exhibition of agricultural and industrial products in the Iraqi capital. Aside of this bilateral exhibition, Lebanon is also expected to take part in Baghdad's International Exhibition. Around 63 industrial companies representing Lebanon's various industrial sectors and some other 19 companies will send their representatives to Baghdad. Moreover, around 120 Lebanese businessmen are expected to participate in sideline meetings and conferences.
The Lebanese Agriculture Ministry will also participate in a special branch displaying Lebanese agricultural products. The event is co-organized by the Industrial Marketing Group (IMACO) and the Lebanese Industrialists Association in addition to the Union of Chambers of Commerce in Lebanon.
Participants and representatives will head to Iraq next week.
The American giant auto-company, General Motors, revealed plans to triple its slice of the Lebanese market soon adding it would bring a car sales revolution to Lebanon. The company's Middle East director earlier announced in Beirut General Motors will introduce to the country an entirely new way of doing business, based on customer enthusiasm and the refocus to give car retailers here a more customer friendly ambiance.
GM Director Alan Batey held a press conference at the Vendome Intercontinental Hotel in Beirut. He revealed that seven new GM cars will be introduced to the Lebanese market before the end of 1999. He also announced that all Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, and Opel retailers in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria will now report to General Motors' regional headquarters in Dubai instead of Zurich. Batey added the five-year-program, will introduce road service to Lebanon and a sales and customer service for the Lebanese market.
But little was said in the conference about increasing the number of dealerships in Lebanon. GM only has about a 5% share of Lebanon's car sales which amounts to 1,000 new vehicles sold per year.
In another sign of support to Lebanon in its daily struggle with the Israeli occupation, Kuwait dedicated a sum of 100,000 US dollars for media activities and reports that center on the subject of liberating South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa from Israeli occupation.
This was announced by Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa after a meeting he held with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Youssef Al-Sumeit. Sabaa praised Kuwait's bid to boost bilateral ties between the two countries especially on the media level.
Around 300 people gathered at the UNESCO Palace in the capital to witness a special evening in the history of the country's cinematic production. The 1998 Beirut Film Festival grouped a number of directors and scriptwriters who were all anxious about the results of the evening's prize giving. Some 50 guests of honor also participated in the event including French actress, Vanessa Demouy, and Egyptian actress, Layla Alawi. 14 awards were presented to young Lebanese directors. The prizes went as follows:
- Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Documentary
Majnounak, Director Akram Zaatari
- Best Short Film Screenplay
Merci Natex, Elie Khalife
- Best Short Film Director, Best Short Film
Raddem, Danielle Arbeed
- Best Short Film Sound, Best Short Film Cinematography
24,442km, Fadi Baddour
- Best Student Film
Soha, Bassem Fayyad
- Student Film Mentions
What a man, Haytham Shamas
Boys First? Ladies After, Rana Alameddine
Other trophies were awarded to young student directors and amateur films. But the $10,000 Maroun Baghdadi Award for best non-produced script went to Philip Arkatunji's, Nabil Le Petit Etranger.
The jury was made up of Lebanese Nidal Al-Ashqar, Egyptian Nour Al-Sherif, Tunisian Farid Boughedir, Lithuanian Marvte Kavaliauskas, and Swiss-Italian Marco Muller.
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