Under the auspices of the President of the Republic Michel Sleiman was held the opening ceremony of the Environmental festival in Tripoli, organized by the Maurice Fadel Prize, Tripoli Youth Network, and a number of environmental associations, in the presence of the Prime Minister, a number of ministers and deputies, the Mufti of Tripoli, Archbishops George Bou Jaoude and Ephrem Kyriakos, and the heads of the municipalities of Tripoli and Mina, as well as a number of political, social, educational, sports, religious, environmental and military personalities.
Following the national anthem performed by Al Faiha’a Choir, Mr. Fadel delivered a speech in which he welcomed President Sleiman and the accompanying delegation, stressing “the importance of this event that is in the interest of Tripoli and the North.”
“In the name of Tripoli Youth Network, in the name of Maurice Fadel Foundation, and in the name of the residents of this city, I welcome you Mr. President in your city; you, the wise leader of the national reconciliation process in the country of mutual understanding,” said Fadel. “This visit is truly one of a kind, because the last visit by a President to the Mina city was paid by the late Charles Helou in 1966; therefore, this visit is the source of great happiness, not only for the citizens of Mina, but to the entire city of Tripoli and the North; this visit is intended to sponsor an exceptional event, which is not an event like any other that takes place in Tripoli and the North, since the whole Faiha’a is the event. In fact, the entire city holds more than 150 sports, cultural and artistic activities on its main roads and streets which are, for the first time in the history of Tripoli, Lebanon and the Arab world, free of cars, after having received the UN Ambassador for Environment, singer Ragheb Alameh in an event that gathered all the citizens of the city, regardless of their affiliations,” Mr. Fadel explained.
He then added: “This visit is one of a kind since it took place at a historical moment and because we are witnessing, truly and proudly, the beginning of the renaissance of Tripoli. Yes, this is the beginning of the renaissance of Tripoli since this event created a certain promising dynamism and motivated a young generation that refuses the marginalization of Tripoli and the distortion of its image. Tripoli is just like this new generation, open, educated, and attached to the city and country. This new generation proves that it is proactive and capable of renewing Tripoli. It is capable of changing its reality, its image and drawing its future. Thanks to them, Tripoli is back to the cultural, artistic and environmental map, in other words, to where it deserves to be.”
“On the occasion of your visit, I can’t but tackle the problems that Tripoli is facing, as a deprived and wounded city,” added Fadel.
“Mr. President, you know that Tripoli became one of the poorest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and indisputably the poorest in Lebanon. You also know that 50% of its families survive with less than 4 dollars a day, and poverty level is worse compared to countries like Algeria and Morocco. You know Mr. President, and Mr. Prime Minister that the number of unemployed reached 20000 persons and it is expected to become 40000 in 2020. You also know, Mr. President that school drop-outs have reached 25% versus 11% in the nineties. This percentage reaches even 50% in regions like el Tall and El Bassatin, which shows that a big number of young people are left with no horizons and that our city is becoming a social time bomb,” Fadel described.
Fadel added: “In front of this tragic situation, the eight deputies of Tripoli, among whom Prime Minister Mikati, supported by former Prime Minister Hariri, have developed a comprehensive action plan and a road map that is based on providing job opportunities through:
First, establishing an investment fund to create job opportunities through new medium and large companies. We have established this Fund last month with a group of businessmen from Tripoli and the North and with the support of eminent figures. We look forward to keeping this initiative away from the political conflict. We need your support and the Government’s support to facilitate all the projects that Fund should be undertaking, and to widen the base of funders outside Tripoli and even outside Lebanon.
Second, speeding up the process of implementing the project of special economic zone which first stages were completed by the previous government and that the current government is required to complete the remaining part of, noting that this initiative can ensure between 5,000 and 10,000 job opportunities.
Third, improving the image of Tripoli to encourage investments and tourism that would contribute to ensuring 150000 new jobs in Lebanon, and we have to take our share of it, here in Tripoli. This is what we started to do through this event and through the media campaign that we are launching.”
Fadel added: “Last but not least, Mr. President, your presence with us is a unique event at a unique time of the history of this city; and I hope you would feel and witness the renaissance of the youth of Tripoli.”
“Finally, to the young generation of Tripoli I would like to say: when we first met, you were holding a big number of small projects; my advice for you back then was: be ambitious because you are capable of changing the reality of Tripoli. We agreed on holding this great event and you surprised the city and Lebanon. You surprised the city and Lebanon with new ideas emanating from a city that was unfairly judged as being closed on itself. You surprised the city and Lebanon when you overcame all the political and sectarian obstacles and the conflicts that resulted from wars and political crises; you worked as one team, ignoring the political and religious identity and affiliations of each member of you.”
“Now, I proudly say that you passed the first and toughest exam and together we will make bigger and more ambitious activities so that Tripoli becomes a model city, or more precisely, so that we confirm that the new Tripoli will be the pioneer and not only the second city,” Fadel concluded.
Sleiman had received from Fadel and his spouse Hala an appreciation award that represents the Tall clock in Tripoli, and received from the heads of the municipalities of Tripoli and Mina the keys of both cities, giving thereafter the kick-off signal of the first environmental day in Tripoli.