BEIRUT: In his book "In the Spring of Despair," Lebanese author Ameen Rihani envokes a notion that resonates greatly in this present day, that one's hope in his country shouldn't wane.
Standing on the roof of the Munib and Angela Masri Building at the American University of Beirut, Annahar Editor-in-Chief Nayla Tueni and AUB President Fadlo Khuri are cognizant of the challenges currently facing Lebanon, from rising unemployment and inflation to a floundering economy and unending brain drain.
Over 100 contributors will set forth their vision for Lebanon while presenting detailed strategies to pull vital Lebanese sectors out of the current slump and safeguard the country's economy.
In the midst of these tumultuous times, both AUB and Annahar are wary of their respective institutions' responsibility to lift Lebanon from the slump it finds itself in, which is where their latest partnership enters the fold.
On September 27, Annahar and AUB will release a special issue titled "Ensuring Lebanon's Continuity and Investing in its Youth" in the hope of kickstarting vital Lebanese sectors by presenting practical solutions to the current conundrum.
Khuri, given his longstanding affinity to Annahar, will serve as the issue's guest Editor-in-Chief as 123 pioneers in their respective fields attempt to initiate a dialogue within the realms of politics, economics, education, health, and culture.
It only seemed natural to enlist AUB's help, given its decades-old dedication to higher-learning, advocacy to quality education and emphasis on research across a wide array of imperative topics.
The medical professional, the first Lebanese president of the American University of Beirut, knows all too well the importance of injecting life into one's country, having left the United States to serve AUB, and by deafult, Lebanon.
He, alongside Tueni, fathom the struggles at hand, given the Annahar chief's continued battle for the survival of the press as a form of public service in the emergence of fake news and a worldwide downturn of the industry.
"A meaningful and independent press can certainly instigate change," he says.
As both individuals conversed, seeking to shed light on the country's many challenges, confidence grew as the dialogue progressed to touch on the three pillars laid before them, Beirut, the university, and the newspaper; and the role of each element.
Nayla Tueni and Fadlo Khuri discussing the challenges facing Lebanon during the latters' visit to the newsroom.
"My admiration for Khuri runs deep, he's a reference for science and education while grasping the complexity of the times we're living in. His desire to work for positive change is unquestionable," Tueni says.
Tueni, who was asked by the guest Editor-in-Chief to write a piece on secularism, goes on to describe Khuri as a "wonderful man putting forth his due diligence in respect to the special issue."
Touching on the issue veering away from members of the political class, Khuri maintains that "Lebanese have become accustomed to delays in the Cabinet formation" - which has failed to come to fruition in over five months - arguing that disappointment persists even after assembling a fully functioning government.
"Lawmakers are essentially looking for short-term and band-aid solutions. The purpose of the special issue with Annahar is to recognize the country's strengths and weaknesses and to propose viable long-term solutions, we hope to build on these for years to come," he said. "When was the last time we saw long-term strategic planning for the future of art, education, humanities, history, health, law, theater, and the different technological sectors?" Khuri asks.
Those enlisted to contribute will set forth their vision for Lebanon, comprised of "specialists and experts able to diagnose the problem and propose solutions to them."
Workshops will be launched in conjunction with the release of the issue as well as a massive campaign to raise awareness on the many challenges facing Lebanon.
Coupled with extensive lobbying to pass legislation aimed at pulling Lebanon out its slump, both Tueni and Khuri are adamant that positive change can be achieved.
"History taught us that change must come from within."
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