Mostly Respected Abati,
Excellencies the Holy See Nuncio and all Ambassadors,
Excellencies Members of the Parliament and the Cabinet,
General, Commander of the Armed Forces,
My very dear friends Tom Barrack and Riad Salamé,
Representatives of the Lebanese Diaspora all over the world,
I would like to welcome you all to the country of your ancestors.
Our people have been in war to keep this piece of land, for nearly their whole history.
First, let me introduce myself:
I am like you, a member of this Diaspora.
The only difference between you and me is that I am from Nigeria, Africa, with its closeness to Lebanon with whom we’ve been always in contact, contrary to the Diaspora that immigrated to the Americas and to Australia.
You heard before me three speakers: My friend Charles Hagge, President of the Maronite Foundation in the World, who was kind enough to dedicate this year’s Academy Final Ceremony to the memory of my late son Ramez. Thank you Dear Charles for this consideration. But I thank you more for what you do to bring back the Diaspora. Charles, I think you are a blessing for Lebanon and for the Maronites.
Then, you heard my brother Tom Barrack who is a leading member of the old Diaspora. Tom has been and will always be a crucial promoter of the Lebanese presence in the world in general and in the United Sates in particular where he has the ear of every influential decision maker.
At last, you heard one of the best Central Banks Governors in the world, Riad Salamé. Riad is part of the new Diaspora because he’s had all his life outside Lebanon, until he was called back to take over the Lebanese Central Bank destiny. Since the day he decided to come back to serve his country, he has been of greatest help to the survival of Lebanon.
Our ancestors sailed to discover a new world, they crossed the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean many many years before the Europeans knew how to sail. The Greek Gods and the Roman Gods were actually the original Phoenicians Gods that were transported to those lands where their names have been changed.
There are certain moments when we might wish the present and the future were build by those men of the past who settled everywhere.
The Diaspora has become integrated into every country where it is part of the society; the majority of our Diaspora is indeed a very successful part of that society.
We would love to bring back to Lebanon your knowledge, what you have learned, what you have discovered, what you have become. That’s why we think the Diaspora is the future of Lebanon because it can make Lebanon what it’s always supposed to be: the jewel of the world. It’s God’s land:
Lebanon has been mentioned so many times in the Bible.
Jesus Christ visited it and did his first miracle in Lebanon. Virgin Mary’s father home is located in Lebanon.
Lebanon is one of the oldest countries in the world, yet we are still acting like we were born seventy years ago, simply because of the different occupations by diverse cultures for most of the last two thousand years; we still haven’t learned how to be independent, we still look for neighboring countries or for Europe or America to come and solve our problems for us. This is what us, the Diaspora, would be able to remedy.
You’re in countries that count on themselves, that have industrialized themselves, that have civilized themselves. We don’t have any natural resources, we don’t have mines, we don’t have oil, but we have got the most beautiful and renewable resources in the world: we have beauty, we have a hospitable people, we have mountains, we have the sea, we have snow, we have everything that is necessary for the whole world to come on holidays and spend its money here.
All what we need is to create the necessary infrastructure and the political climate. In every country in the world and in those countries where you’re in, you might have between your families and the people you know someone who had participated in creating those infrastructures.
No country’s public sector can afford doing its infrastructure on its own today because of the high demand on infrastructure. Nothing stops you the Diaspora, us the Diaspora, from coming back to Lebanon in order to invest in the infrastructures that are required: doing hotels, doing tourism, doing small factories, doing technologic industry because one thing no one can deny is the intelligence of the Lebanese. But while a Lebanese is extremely successful internationally, he fails locally to achieve all his potential, simply because he is always counting on someone else.
I dream about the future of our Lebanon, a future in which the Diaspora should become its architect. I want to be proud when I have dreams about our future. Our ancestors’ success must be a foundation of our future success; that’s why today all together, headed by our successful Diaspora, we should take the good decisions about our future.
This is why we need to place our country where it is supposed to be, in the first and best place, in the Mediterranean and in the whole World.
By the way, before I close, I am aware I’m speaking with a group of young boys and girls, but I am speaking to you as ambassadors of the future of our ancestors’ country, to spread this message to your parents and all members of the Diaspora that you know or meet while preparing yourself for the future to fulfill our dreams.
May God help you achieve the future you wish for.
God bless you all.