Lebanon celebrated its National Environment Day Monday with environmentalists still struggling to restore the image of Green Lebanon. Active environmentalists held workshops and gatherings aimed at promoting environmental awareness among the country's youth. Environmental threats, recycling plans and the protection of natural resources topped the agenda of their discussions.
Meanwhile, environmentally aware students across the country planted trees and cedars near their cities and villages. A number of private associations also distributed saplings of palm, pine, and cyprus trees for students to plant in areas surrounding their schools. Moreover, some private schools launched waste recycling campaigns, which also involved young people in their local communities.
Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb revealed the main points of the ministry's first environmental strategy for the country. Shhayyeb was speaking during a panel discussion held at the Lebanese American University to mark Lebanon's National Environment Day.
The ministry's plan aims at stopping the deterioration of the environment, ensuring that potential damage risks are avoided, and repairing the damage already done. Shhayyeb told students these aims could be achieved through the joint efforts of environmental groups, public institutions, and non-governmental organizations in the country.
The new strategy also involves management plans for problems resulting from soil exploitation, quarries, and garbage. But will the strategy be applied ?. The Environment Minister expected its discussion and implementation would be postponed for the next presidential term.
"From Lebanon to President Hafez Al-Assad. A token of loyalty and brotherhood to Syria, its people, and its army," wrote the newly constructed 20-meter-high monument located at the roundabout leading to a new highway in the capital dedicated to the Syrian president.
Under his name, the road was inaugurated earlier this week by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri who said it was a token of Lebanon's gratitude and appreciation for the Syrian leader. The ceremony was attended by high-ranking Syrian and Lebanese officials.
The highway, which is three lanes wide in each direction, consists of two main sections. The first, including two tunnels, links the Salim Salam bridge to the Kuwaiti embassy roundabout. The second, which includes a tunnel and a bridge, links the roundabout with the intersection near Beirut's International Airport.
The overall cost of the project is estimated at 38 million US dollars and it was financed by the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction. The highway is equipped with modern computerized systems of lighting, ventilation, and fire fighting.
Work on the highway started in 1995. Contractors said the delay was caused by traffic congestion, something which is expected to be reduced on the southern entrances to the capital and the road leading to the airport as a main target of the whole project.
Sidon's municipality recently announced plans to destroy the city's old football stadium and construct a new one on a nearby piece of land to be reclaimed from the sea. But the old stadium was only renovated last year. Besides, the municipality hasn't yet acquired a license to build the new sports complex. So the move was opposed by the city's governor and a number of MP's, officials, and dignitaries. Some would say it would obstruct the sea view and destroy what is left of the city's natural coastline.
The municipal council, however, said their work was based on a cabinet decree that allows for reclamation works adding the project did not need a special license. In fact, a private company has already started reclaiming the land on the city's seaside. The new 80,000-square-meter stadium is planned to host part of the Asian Games in 2002.
Under the patronage of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, a conference on administration and business was opened Thursday at the Summerland Hotel in Beirut. The event was held under the title, "How to build a successful high-standard team".
Among the active participants in the conference were Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej and Minister of Trade and Economy Yassin Jaber, in addition to representatives of financial, economic and academic institutions in the country.
The event was organized by Al-Iktissad Wal Aamal magazine in collaboration with the ministries of administrative reform and economy, the Lebanese University, and the American University in Beirut.
During the opening, Minister Merhej said the government aims at providing citizens with all chances of progress. He also stressed that the public sector cannot work in isolation from the private sector.
At the regional headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, a conference on improving transportation links between Arab countries was held earlier this week over a period of three days. Lebanese transport officials in addition to hundreds of participants from across the region attended the meetings.
Held under the title, "Toward the Adaptation and Development of an Integrated International and Regional Transportation System in the ESCWA Zone," the conference tackled improving regional land, sea, and air networks as a step towards enabling the Arab World to be a stronger competitor in global markets. Speakers also recommended ways of improving all modes of transportation in the region.
The conference also decided that a committee established by ESCWA in 1997 would meet every two years starting the year 1999 to further discuss the issue. The committee is comprised of transportation exports who represent ESCWA member states.
The first international conference on travel and tourism was held in the country during the weekend. A major participant in the event was a French delegation representing the tourist sector in France. The conference aimed at enlisting the help of the French to restore Lebanon's image abroad and its place on the tourist map.
The event was hosted by the Portemilio Hotel under the title "Partners, competitors?". Around 168 French companies took part in the event representing travel agencies, tour organizers, airlines and insurance companies in France.
On the sidelines of the conference, the French delegates also held talks with their Lebanese counterparts on ways to cooperate in the tourism field and help promote Lebanon to European tourists.
It will be his first performance in Lebanon..no..actually..his first in the whole Mideast. On Saturday June 12, Luciano Pavarotti will be performing in the country's Cite Sportive. The event is expected to draw huge numbers not only from Lebanon but also from abroad.
This was announced by Pavarotti's representatives during a press conference held earlier this week. Pavarotti's open-air concert will be organized by the Beirut Festival Committee, Murr TV, and Future TV.
"The King of the High C's" was scheduled to perform in the country last September. His representatives said that there was always a reason these plans fell through. But they reassured those gathered Pavarotti is looking forward to singing in Lebanon and seeing the progress that has been achieved in the country.
The concert will take place during the year 1999 that the Lebanese capital is declared by UNESCO as the cultural capital of the Arab world. Speakers at the news conference stressed the event marks another sign of confidence in the country.
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