An-Nahar special issue in partnership with AUB: a road map for a better future

S​ally Abou Melhem, Office of Communications, sa256@aub.edu.lb​

A special issue of An-Nahar newspaper, with AUB President Fadlo Khuri as its editor in chief, was published and distributed around Lebanon on September 27, 2018. In this issue, Khuri presents, along with over 100 leaders in their fields who contributed as writers, a comprehensive vision and strategies to ensure Lebanon's continuity and prosperity by investing in its youth.

Lebanon has suffered from a great deal of internal and external struggles over the past half century, after a period of development following its independence, when the country was at its peak. This special issue of An-Nahar includes the road map for the next 25 years, with emphasis on 30 vital areas grouped into six categories: strengthening our arts and humanities, transforming the educational experience for all, celebrating our inclusive cultural diversity and depth, developing accountable and consistent shared governance, planting viable seeds for a sustainable economy, and towards a healthy Lebanon. The hope is that bringing attention to these areas, along with a systematic and transparent methodology, will lead to a prosperous, educated, diversified, healthy, and economically viable Lebanon before 2050.

An official launch of the issue was held in front of a packed audience in AUB's historic Assembly Hall, attended by individuals from various backgrounds such as politics, media, culture, and academia, including many of the writers and artists who contributed to the issue.

The event included the screening of two videos. The first was a dialogue between President Khuri and An-Nahar Editor in Chief Nayla Tueni that took place at the AUB campus. The second was of excerpts from the editorial meeting that was chaired by Khuri at the An-Nahar offices, discussing the issue's topics with some of the writers, and his tour around the various sections of the newspaper, talking to the journalists and supervising the technical sections.

“This issue was born in the image of An-Nahar and AUB, embodying the vision of a university above religion, color, race, and sect. A vision of an editor in chief of a university that brings together opinions and ideas, solutions and strategies, and more than a hundred experienced thinkers. One that brings together women and men of high competence, all fixated on ensuring the continuity of Lebanon and investment in its youth, so they wrote a country where life is beautiful," said AUB Director of News and Media Relations Simon Kachar as he introduced the speakers at the event, AUB President Khuri and An-Nahar Editor in Chief Tueni.

President Khuri described the event as “the beginning of the end of the accumulated problems," adding that “the role of younger generations is now beginning, with our pledge to all that we will not leave them alone, but will work with them so that they will not be solely responsible."

He also expressed his confidence that cultural initiatives such as this issue and its intellectual content will lead to a bright future for Lebanon. “The contributors that were chosen were those who not only presented the problems but also proposed solutions."

Khuri continued, “This is a long-term project, in which we will not be satisfied with the release of this issue, but will work in the future with all corners of the Lebanese society to find basic solutions to all the issues that Lebanon and the Arab world suffer from."

Tueni then spoke about the new generations which she believes can prevent the destruction of Lebanon. “We place in the hands of all those concerned, a road map for qualitative investment in Lebanon, and in its creative forces. That is what An-Nahar wants. This is what An-Nahar has worked on, and this is an approach that we will continue with, proceeding from our belief in the ability of the word and the depth of content to build a public opinion capable of achieving change."

“We wanted to combine reason and thought, in a collaboration between An-Nahar and the University, to make this extraordinary issue foundational. For its part, An-Nahar will continue to take upon itself the task of contributing to making Lebanon a country in terms worthy of the word, the truth, the decent life and the freedom."

President Khuri and a team from AUB collaborated with the An-Nahar team, led by Tueni, to assemble subject experts who would not only write their opinions in this issue, but also follow up over the years to come, in order to ensure moving forward. Writers were approached based on the need for credible, accomplished leaders who would write columns and propose solutions to the problems Lebanon faces.

“Over the past few months, we have met, brainstormed, and argued points with these extraordinary individuals, and while I am cautiously optimistic that paths forward exist, with several identified in this inaugural issue, none should doubt that that path forward is difficult, demanding, requiring resilience and the ability to take the long view," said Khuri.

“The makers of this issue, its writers and artists, women and men, believe in the ability to find solutions to the Lebanese problem, refusing to be content with the logic of characterization, diagnosis and rotation in its vicious empty circle," said Tueni. “They look forward to the future and set the central goal of investing hope for younger generations."

In the front-page article of this special issue, written by its editor in chief, President Khuri, he says, “we frankly see no alternative to assertive progress, as time is not the friend of the Lebanese people, should this level of environmental destruction, economic waste, patronage, corruption, and institutional decay continue. In that case, consequential and negative change will become increasingly difficult to reverse. And there is no real reason that it should. The citizens of Lebanon, and those of Syria, Palestine, and Iraq, deserve much better. Armed with that conviction, and the provision of some concrete solutions, we are convinced that the time is nigh for a more abundant life."