Building on the success of its earlier editions, the competition “Favorite Village of the Lebanese” is back in full force for the fourth consecutive year. Promising to be as pleasant as the previous ones, it was officially launched with great pomp on the evening of July 10 during a ceremony on the grounds of the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS).
Akkar el-Atiqa, Sir el-Denniye, and Bkassine were winners in previous years. Ten villages are vying for the title in the fourth edition of this prominent contest, where the winner is selected exclusively by the vote of the public. This year, the competitors are: Amchit, Barouk, Baskinta, Becharre, Cana, Ghazir, Hermel, Hebbariye, Machghara, and Qobeyat. In the coming days, each of these villages will seek to win over the hearts of the Lebanese public.
The colorful, festive event celebrated the ten villages in a rural traditional ambience; all villages made sure to present and serve their traditional food. The guests enjoyed the food catered by Food Heritage Foundation and the live music band until almost midnight.
Deputies Nadim Gemayel, Eddy Maalouf, and Elias Hankache attended the ceremony as well as former member of parliament and minister Michel Pharaon, one of the main promoters of domestic tourism in Lebanon.
In a speech, Pharaon emphasizedthat "rural tourism is an evident and clear success" at the national level. The former minister of tourism also pointed out that "L’Orient-Le Jour is the most important vector in the promotion of culture and development, "noting that an average of nearly 170,000 people have voted in the past years’ competition.
AUB’s president, Dr. Fadlo Khuri, also made a short speech referring to the issue of immigration, deploring the fact that "rural areas and agriculture" are largely neglected. "We have a responsibility towards young people in the villages,” Khuri said.
For his part, Dr. Shady Hamadeh, director of the ESDU, explained that the main reason that the launching ceremony was held at AUB reflects on the fact that "many of AUB’s students are francophone." He also said that he "aspires to see the emergence of more ecological villages."
Dania Kassar, Fransabank's marketing and communication manager, emphasized that her company is committed to "continue to showcase the beauty of the villages and to promote rural tourism".
Finally, Ziyad Makhoul, former editor in chief of L’Orient-Le Jour, urged the Lebanese to visit villages such as Akkar el-Atiqa, Douma, Ehden, Jezzine, and others, pointing out that since the launch of the competition, a hotel has opened in Akkar el-Atiqa (the winner of the competition three years ago), while tourists continue to visit Sir el-Denniye" (the winner two years ago).