Embassies of Denmark Beirut and Damaskus
NEWSLETTER - June 2013 1. Denmark-Lebanon Cooperation • • • •
Nourishing Connection A Dialogue is the key Religion and State Denmark: A major Humanitarian Contributor to Alleviate Syrian Crisis 961 A new beer in Lebanon with Danish roots and Lebanese flavours What we experienced in Lebanon Foreign Affairs committee from danish parliament on tour to lebanon and jordan
Dear Friends and Partners of Denmark,
2. Trade • • • •
olden Ahmed G Vestas Power to the people Surprised in Beirut
3. CULTURE • • •
“Danish Feast” – second year running Cartoon roadshow Mancopy – Contemporary dance around Lebanon Nicki Goes to Copenhagen Søren Kierkegaard turning 200
4. News from the Embassies • •
Visa to Denmark updates Staff changes
5. Event Calender and Contact Information
Time is running out, and my family, Kieu and Anna and I will be leaving at the end of July to face new challenges in Saudi Arabia and a large part of the Gulf Countries. Our almost six years in Lebanon have been a fascinating experience, professionally and personally enriching. Six years full of challenges, from re-opening an embassy to developing well-functioning capacities within the areas of commercial consultancy, consular services, public diplomacy branding Denmark for its many strengths and increased and wellfounded political relations. I want to thank all the people we have met in a professional and private context who have made our years here an unforgettable experience and I hope you will meet my successor, Rolf Holmboe and his family, with the same warmth and interest as we have met all over the country. I will finish with an excerpt from my speech on Constitutional Day and Farewell Reception, 5 June: “In my way of doing diplomacy in Lebanon I have been striving to follow the D-E-B-B-A-Oprinciples. What is that? These letters stand for: Diplomacy which is Evidence-Based, Balanced and Action Oriented. I also try in my daily work to get inspiration from the following words of the great Danish thinker and philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose one-self.” After having been here soon six years, I believe I have come to understand Lebanon a bit, although some are telling me that if you believe that you have understood what Lebanon is about, it is because you have got a wrong explanation. We have been here so long, so when I ask my daughter, Anna, about the national anthem, she starts singing “Kulluna lil watan”! I have, in a special complex way, come to
admire the Lebanese mentality, the pragmatism, ingenuity and flexibility that is so conspicuous in many aspects of daily life. Dear Friends, Lebanon has so much to offer: ODE TO LEBANON - I love Ali’s falafels in Baalbek’s four chair “King of Falafel”-shop, - I love sitting “Chez Magui” in Batroun eating fresh seafood, a stone’s throw from the Phoenecian wall, - I love Qadisha Valley at spring time with cherry and apple trees in blossom and its beautiful ancient monasteries, - I love the interior elegance and beauty of the Al Amine Mosque at Martyr’s Square, - I love the narrow lanes of the souk in Saida and the busy daily life and kind people spontaneously inviting a stranger for a cup of “awwe lubnaniyye” in his private home, - I love Tripoli and its “Halawet el Jebenn” and its “Ba’ lawa”, - I love strolling around in Bourj Hammoud’s streets and sensing the busy neighbourhood with its aroma from the spice shops and talking to the craftsmen in the repair shops, - I love your mountains, lime as well as silicone, - I love sit watching the fisher-men in Sour preparing for the night trip, while I enjoy a cool glass of white wine at sunset. Lebanon, you have it all, history, culture, nature, resourceful people. So why is it then that you every second year have to stand looking down into the abyss? Some call Lebanon a Rolls Royce on square wheels. Lebanese, change the wheels and get rolling! Lebanese, you have a jewel in your hands. Protect your jewel, pad it, polish it! “Eh fii amal, Lubnan!” Jan Top Christensen
A Nourishing Connection - Organic Agriculture
By Carine Lteif, Agriculture and Urban Planner I had the chance to visit Denmark in April 2013. As a representative of the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) of the American University of Beirut (AUB), I had received an invitation from the Danida Fellowship Center to attend the course “Organic Agriculture and Products - in a Local and Global Perspective” . A few months before my departure to Denmark, I came across an online article about the happiest countries in the world. As the title captivated my attention, I went through the text and discovered that Denmark came top of the list. At the time, I didn’t know that I was going to visit one of the “happiest countries in the World”. I would have even considered this information fallacious if I hadn’t traveled there and witnessed of Danish people’s high living standards. Actually, several factors contribute to ensuring a high quality of life in Denmark, but to my mind, it is especially the government’s support to agriculture and the increasing interest in organic production and consumption. In fact, besides producing food to 15 million people (3 times the population of Denmark), agriculture occupying 62% of the country’s surface area is highly valuable and offers the Danish population several advantages: from an economic point of view, it is providing food to citizens and a significant economic return to farmers. At an environmental level, large cropped areas, forests and organic production, in particular, allow air recycling and reduce environmental nuisances. However, and most importantly, Danish farmers and all the other stakeholders abide by strict
Carine Lteif with the course manager Ms. Birgitte Wiedemann Larsen
A Nourishing Connection - Organic Agriculture
regulations to provide people with healthy food that is not always available in other parts of the World. At a time when many countries around the world are witnessing a shrinking of the cultivated surface area per farm, Danish farms are increasing in size and their operations are becoming highly specialized. This can be linked to many factors among them farmers’ education, and their powers that mainly emanate from their cooperative efforts. Moreover, I was surprised to know that they are organized under the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, a body that owns the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture that provides them with consultancy servicesand has conducted the course. In fact, I find the whole organizational structure of agricultural stakeholders quite interesting. The model is remarkable and is proving effective as agriculture in Denmark has gained ground, and still; the course I have attended witnesses of that importance, and precisely of organic agriculture position in the market. Its content was quite varied. We had lectures on the principles of organic agriculture, the production and marketing of organic products, and the importance of innovation and action planning which I found very useful because they lie at the heart of ESDU’s approach. Besides Danish specialists’ interventions, we were accompanied on field visits to cattle, pig,
goat farms, processing units, feedstuff and vegetables fields. Additionally, we have visited local market suppliers of organic food and an organic NGO whose concept, structure, and lobbying forces are noteworthy, as it appeared that it has successfully assisted in putting organic agriculture on the national agenda. It is also important to note that during my trip, I have also had the chance to visit the Agroecology department at Aarhus University where professor Mogen Greves accompanied me on a tour and introduced the department’s work. Attending the course on organic agriculture was important for us at ESDU, for several reasons. The unit working at a regional level, I was the only representative of the MENA4 area. Therefore, information and updates on organic agriculture are to be circulated, through different projects, to benefit a larger international community. Moreover, the team is actually developing several projects that fall under a Food Security Program. One of the missions consists of the establishment of food markets where small marginalized Lebanese producers and processors will exhibit traditional and organic products. The importance of this project lies in the fact that it constitutes a first step towards the creation of the Food Heritage Foundation (FHF), an autonomous
body that promotes the production and processing of traditional and healthy organic food, sustaining local livelihoods. At the same time, the unit is looking to build strong partnerships with potent Danish partners, and this trip constituted an opportunity to meet with some of them and discuss future cooperation. In the end, I would like to thank the ambassador, Jan Top Christensen, and his team for all the time and effort they have made to allow my selection and participation in the course, as well as the organizing team at the Danida Fellowship Center, especially Ms. Helle Jørgensen. A special thank you goes to the course manager Ms. Birgitte Wiedemann Larsen, the course facilitator Mr. Erik Fog and the course assistant Ms. Ditte Juul Kristensen whose dedication and professionalism are to be applauded. I wish that this trip will pave the way for others, and for a strong cooperation between ESDU and Danish partners, hoping to see in the future a higher number of Lebanese participants in courses, and certainly, successful partnerships!!
Carine Lteif Agricultural Engineer and Urban Planner (MAgrEcon, MUPP) [email protected]
ESDU’s webpage : http://www.aub.edu.lb/units/esdu/Pages/index.aspx Danida Fellowship Center’s webpage : http://dfcentre.com/ 3 Knowledge Center for Agriculture webpage : http://www.vfl.dk/English/AboutUs/AboutDaas.htm?WBCMODE=PresentationUnpublished% 3bshowmenu%3fMode%3dPrint 1
Dialogue is The Key for Promoting Peace Building, Social Cohesion and Mutual Understanding
Birgitte Søgaard Lauta Danmission is working on setting up a regional office in Beirut covering our activities in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Faith and religious identity can play a major role in interreligious dialogue to energize and inspire people to re-invest in and rebridge relationships that due to tension and transition have isolated groups and communities from each other. This is the main reason that Danmisison has been engaged with partners in Lebanon since 2005. The engagement of Danmission in Lebanon is thereby relatively new, but the relationship with our collaborators has grown stronger every year since then. Together we strive to enhance the role of interreligious dialogue as an integral factor of promoting peace building, social cohesion and mutual understanding within and between Arab and Danish societies. The first dialogue project Danmission participated in was an International Work and Study Camp in 2005 hosted by the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), and in 2013 the 9th edition of the camp will take place with participants from 12 different countries. Danmission has in addition to this supported dialogue seminars, workshops and projects in close cooperation with our Lebanese partners, FDCD, Adyan and Near East School of Theology. The work in Lebanon is closely related to Danmission’s activities in Egypt and Syria that are financed by Danmission’s own funds, but also by DANIDA and The Danish Arab Partnership Program (DAPP).
Danmission’s work has developed from small isolated activities to a broad dialogue programme covering all three countries supported by DAPP. The engagement of Danmission helps to create a foundation of long lasting cooperation and understanding of culture and religion between different groups of society. The dialogue program is among other things focusing on continuation and development of a dialogue programme for young religious leaders and opinion makers in the Middle East and Denmark called “Leaders for Interreligious Understanding” developed and implemented the first time in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, 40 persons from Denmark, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon with very diverse religious and political backgrounds are participating in the project. They are all leaders and are meant to use their newly acquired skills to develop and influence their organizations and religious institutions and thereby function as multipliers. In addition to this they will implement dialogue projects in their own local context. In Lebanon the need for dialogue between religious and political groups seems more important than ever. The fragile peace in the country and the influence of the Syrian conflict add fuel to the flames. It is crucial to bring the people of Lebanon together and strengthen the civil society and its peaceful initiatives and dialogue projects. We are partnering with Adyan on a project by the name: “Interfaith Education for Intercultural Citizenship”, which gives the religious leaders of Lebanon training in citizenship and prepares them to teach and encourage inclusive fellow-citizenship. The project includes a manual about citizenship and
religion, which explains why citizenship and religion work can work together instead of being contradictory. Religion and religious people have a civil responsibility which is an important point especially in Lebanon. Danmission experiences that both Christians and Muslims in the entire region are seeking information and support to influence their countries’ developments with root in dialogue and multifaith understanding. This is also the case in Syria, where the partners of Danmission have continuous consultations with religious leaders – Christians and Muslims alike – who in cooperation deliver aid to internally displaced refugees. Religious dialogue can be a part of the solutions to improve peace and democracy in the Middle East, and religious groups must be a part of the reconciliation process, civil engagement and democracy and hereby support the development of a more democratic and stabile Middle East. It is our hope that religion can be used as a positive force in the creation of reforms in the Middle East and that solid connections between people in Denmark and the Middle East from diverse religious backgrounds are established. Religion and religious community must be a part of the reforms in the Middle East, not a hindrance.
Religion and State. Is a Secular Culture Possible in the Middle East? New Research Center in Denmark on History of Secular Culture and Arab Uprisings. By Associate Professor Sune Haugbølle, Department of Society and Globalization. Roskilde University. Secular Ideology in the Middle East (SIME) is a new research center at Roskilde University. It is funded by the Velux Foundation and is led by Associate Professor Sune Haugbølle. SIME’s five project researchers analyze debates about the role of religion in state and society and the possibility of a secular culture in the middle of upheaval, focusing in particular on Lebanon and Syria. These debates today take place in all Middle Eastern countries. They have a long and important history, involving secular intellectuals, activists, and movements, many of whom have been ignored by scholarship on the region.
“I am against sectarianism, but I am not secular”
Secularism is today a ‘hot topic’ in social science. In regard to the Middle East, secularism has mostly been addressed by studying new expressions of Islam and responses to it. But secular ideology in the Middle East cannot just be seen as a reaction to resurgent Islamism. Just as much, it has its anchoring in communism, socialism, art and culture as well as longstanding debates about the place of religious minorities. It is the ambition of SIME to contribute to our understanding of secular traditions, networks and expressions in the Middle East. The aim is to help us understand what ideological positions like left, liberal and Islamist mean in an age when questions of political thought and action seem to have gained new urgency.
sectarian representation. Secularists have strong bases in leftist political parties, but also throughout the media and cultural sector, and today’s activists often hail from leftist families. Being a leftist in a Lebanese context connotes generationslong resistance to the sectarian system, but also individual freedom, support for social justice, tolerance, and the Palestinian struggle. At the same time, calls for secular reform have also come from inside some of the sectarian movements. If we want to understand the other side of the coin in Lebanon – the groups and people who formulate alternatives to sectarians - we need a much better history of Communist, socialist and other secularist parties, but also of Marxist thought, of popular culture, journalism and other manifestations of secular culture.
Two of the five researchers in SIME work on the Lebanese left. Since the end of the civil war in1990, the left has been seen as weak and split, and therefore received scant attention from scholars. SIME promotes the opposite view: that the secular left has wielded massive influence on culture, politics and society. Leftists in Lebanon have long been critical of the system of
In Syria, the Ba’ath Party’s promotion of Syrian nationalism as state secularism created a different dynamic, where communitarian solidarity is either inscribed in the state’s own narrative as being a secular defender of minorities (as in the case of the Christians and the Alawites), or is construed as dangerous enemy of
state secularism (as in the case of Sunni groups). In the years leading up to the 2011 uprisings, the Syrian state has increasingly sought to portray itself as a guarantor both of secularism and of plurality. Meanwhile, secular leftists are split over whether or not to back the regime. Contestation over state secularism is at the heart of the conflict today. Three of the projects in SIME address the views on religion and politics in revolutionary cultural production, in political thought produced by the uprising, and in Christian society respectively. SIME’s researchers are currently doing ethnographic fieldwork in Lebanon and will be present in the country on a running basis over the next three years, linking up with local scholars and others involved in the topic. Two conferences on the Arab left have been organized at the German Orient Institute and the American University of Beirut, and further events are being planned. More information about SIME can be found at www.ruc.dk/sime and Sune Haugbølle can be contacted at [email protected]
Denmark: A major Humanitarian Contributor to Alleviate Syrian Crisis.
Draconian measures are needed to avoid chaos. The Syrian Crisis has now run for more than two years, with only over optimistic people believing it will be finishing any time soon. Dramatic humanitarian suffering is the result of the crisis – inside Syria and outside in the neighboring countries. 6.8 million persons were by end April either displaced within Syria or living as refugees in neighboring countries. More than 520.000 refugees in Lebanon alone. More or less the same in Jordan. This number of people is so challenging that Lebanon, of course, has serious difficulties coping with the influx. Only with substantially increased international assistance, incl. to the poor hosting Lebanese communities, a chaotic situation in Lebanon will be avoided. And even then serious challenges will remain. The international community has been too slow to react with sufficient assistance and it is obvious that the assistance has to move beyond the traditional humanitarian sources. The World Bank, IMF and other international institutions with big money have to come into play with development money to avoid a humanitarian melt down. Likewise for EU. But the traditionally long planning terms for these agencies need to be drastically shortened. Due diligence is key. Draconian measures are needed to avoid chaos.
he review team visited small houses for refugees, designed by Danish Refugee Council and T produced in Lebanon. The house was warm and protecting against the harsh winter in the Bekaa Valley
Denmark has so far contributed with some 50 million USD. The money goes through UN-agencies and Danish NGOs working with local partners.
and Lebanon provided through the Danish NGOs, Danish Refugee Council, Save the Children and Caritas Denmark took place late April. The review team met with the staff of the three Danish NGOs and their local implementing partners, representatives from the governments in Lebanon and Jordan, representatives from UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, ECHO, UNRWA, the Regional Coordinator of the Danish Program Office in Amman, and the Danish Ambassador to Lebanon. The team undertook field trips to observe project activities in the field and meet beneficiaries of the Danish humanitarian assistance.
A review of the Danish humanitarian assistance for the Syrian refugees in Jordan
The Danish assistance through the NGOs has gone to cover many needs such as
winterization needs of extremely vulnerable refugee households and families in hosting communities, providing Syrian children and youth with access to education, protection and psychosocial support, and to enable host communities to handle the increasing influx of refugees in a way that accommodate children’s needs and rights. The general impression of the team was that the NGOs have managed the resources well and met the changing challenges with pragmatism and flexibility. But it is clear for all, that if the Syrian crisis continues at present rate, then Denmark and other sponsors of the assistance have to change gear!
961 a new beer in Lebanon- with Danish roots and Lebanese flavours
By Anders Kissmeyer, Owner and Master Brewer, KB&B One day in 2005, when I was working for Nørrebro Bryghus – one of the first and most highly profiled Danish micro breweries – the phone rang and a very polite Dane asked me if I would receive himself and his Lebanese friend and spend an hour or two having my brains picked, as they intended to start a micro brewery in Beirut. At that time I received one or two groups of people a week with the same purpose, so I was beginning to get a bit choosy. But brewing in Beirut sparked my curiosity – partly because I was as ignorant and prejudiced about the Lebanese society as most of my fellow countrymen. The meeting between Henrik Haagen, Mazen Hajjar and myself went very well. So well, in fact, that a friendship developed that for a number of years stayed a strict long-distance relationship. But in 2010 I left Nørrebro Bryghus and started my oneman company, Kissmeyer Beer & Brewing, that besides marketing the Kissmeyer Beer brand offers consultancy. And Mazen was very quick to reach out for some help and guidance, resulting in me paying my first visit to the 961 Beer brewery – and to Lebanon as such – in June of 2010. I was duly impressed by the beers and by the high standards of brewing quality at 961 Beer, so when Mazen proposed that we do a collaborative brew as the first issue in his more ambitious ‘Brewmaster’s Select’ series of beers, I happily accepted. One of my most important principles when I do collaborative brewing – of which I do quite a lot, more than 20 in several different countries last year – is that the beer has
to reflect both parties involved and have a distinct, local touch to it. Thus, when I asked Mazen about the most interesting and typical Lebanese flavors, his answer was to scoot me downtown Beirut to a local spice shop. Here most of the many wooden drawers were opened one after the other for us to smell, taste and discuss. We returned home to the brewery with about 10 – 12 plastic bags full of spices and herbs, and there we repeated the smelling and tasting exercise, ending up with a list of 6 different herbs and spices – wild thyme, zoumac, camomille, anis, sage and lemon mint – and our decisions of the dosing rates of each of them. My contribution was a ‘base recipe’ for a subtly hopped US style IPA, and on an august day in 2010 all this was combined during the brewing of the first batch of ‘961 Beer Kissmeyer Lebanese Pale Ale’. The result was as remarkable as it became popular – a smooth and easy drinking beer with a very distinct Lebanese flavor to it! In the spirit of friendship and cooperation that characterizes the craft brewing community from Beirut to Alaska, we agreed that both parties had equal ‘intellectual ownership’ to the recipe of this beer, and it has been brewed several times and sold world-wide by both Gravity Brewing and Kissmeyer Beer. Since then the ties between us have been further strengthened by me using 961 Beer as a regular contract brewer of my beers, and by the time of reading this article, will have been crowned by the brewing at 961
Anders Kissmeyer at Nørrebro Bryghus
Beer of a very special beer named ‘Amarillo IPA’. This beer has been commissioned from Kissmeyer Beer by the Danish Royal Guards - one of the regiments that have been most active in the Danish participation in the UN mission in Afghanistan - in order to celebrate the return on September 1st, 2013, of the last contingency of Danish battle troops from Afghanistan. This beer will be sold world-wide by Kissmeyer Beer. The 961 Lebanese Pale is sold in most wellstocked liquor stores in Copenhagen.
What we experienced in Lebanon
Written by Maria Rohde Jensen, 9.B, Sønderskov-school
The start of our journey Our journey started off at our meeting place at the school, where we loaded our bags onto the taxi/ bus. We said goodbye to our parents, and drove off towards the airport in Hamburg, taking a plane to Frankfurt, and then would take a plane to Beirut. At the airport in Beirut we met Father Jean who took us to Cadmous College in Sour in South Lebanon by an American school bus.
The 1st day As soon as we entered Cadmous College we went to bed. We woke up at 11 O´clock. It was very warm outside perhaps 25°! After lunch we went to some old roman ruins from Alexander the Great´s time. There was also an old Hippodrome at the site. We also went to the beach by the Mediterranean Sea, however we soon returned because the weather turned windy and cold.
Lessons with the students and visiting Moussa castle On our second day in Lebanon we were split into two groups. Each group were sent to have different sorts of lessons with students from Cadmous. After lunch we were accompanied by the Lebanese students to Moussa Castle.
We met the General Secretary Tuesday we went to Beirut where we met with the General Secretary of UNESCO of Lebanon, she was very happy that we had established a connection between Cadmous-school and Sønderskov-school, and she hoped that we would support UNESCO in the future. When we had left
UNESCO´s office we went to a radiostation called “Voice of Charity”. Some of us Students from Denmark were chosen for an interview in the radio, together with our Principal and Hayssam. When the interviews were finished we went by cable car up a mountain just outside Beirut to the statue of Harrisa (Virgin Mary). On the fifth day in Lebanon we went by bus to see Baalbek. It took us 4 hours to get there by bus so many of us were a bit tired and slept in the bus before arriving, however we didn´t just sleep in the bus. We also enjoyed the view, because Baalbek is located in the mountains, and while driving you can see a lot of beautiful things. A day of relaxation The day after our trip to Baalbek the teachers changed the schedule, so that we didn´t have to sit another 4 hours in a bus to arrive to a forest where the national symbol of Lebanon “the Cedar tree” grow. Instead it was planned that we should go on a trip by boat in Tyre. In the afternoon some of us were yet again chosen to be interviewed by the local newspaper of Tyre, and also of a newspaper from Beirut.
Hayssam and the American school bus
slept in the plane from Beirut, and when we arrived in Frankfurt many of both students and teachers slept on the chairs in the lounge while we were waiting for the plane toward Hamburg airport. When we finally got to Hamburg we got quite a shock. It had snowed while we were gone, so we had gone from about 21°C in Lebanon to -1°C in Hamburg and also in Denmark. Therefore some of us began to miss the warmth in Lebanon a lot. When we got back to our school, parents, friends and other people were waiting for us. And that was the end of our journey, and now it´s the students from Lebanon’s turn to visit us.
The final day in Lebanon On our last day in Lebanon we went back to Saida. There we went on a nice boat trip on the Mediterranean Sea. Thereafter we went to a sea castle which was built by crusaders. Here some of us took the chance to dip our feet in the water, which was quite nice and warm compared to the Danish waters at that time. Returning to the cold 12 O´clock one of the students from Denmark had birthday, so we all sang for him in the bus. In the airport we said goodbye to Father Jean and left. Most of us
he Danish students, teachers and school T director
Foreign Affairs Committee from Danish Parliament on Tour to Lebanon and Jordan Complexities of Syrian crisis and the consequences for Lebanon and Jordan become clear
By Jan Top Christensen
Six parliament members from the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, visited Lebanon and Jordan from 12-17 May. The delegation was led by the president of the committee, ex-minister for foreign affairs, Dr. Per Stig Møller. The purpose of the trip was primarily to better understand the Syrian crisis and the consequences for the neighbouring countries. The delegation met during their two busy programmes with government officials and persons from civil society and think tanks. In Lebanon, the delegation met with both acting prime minister Najib Mikati and acting minister of foreign affairs, Adnan Mansour. Acknowledging that Denmark is an important humanitarian donor, both appealed to much more substantial assistance from the international community. Lebanon as a small country is stressed over its limits with the huge continued influx of Syrian refugees. Serious problems are faced with-in many areas, housing, education and health. And the major part of the refugees lives in areas where the local people are already exposed to poverty.
The delegation saw for themselves the critical level of the problems during the day they spent in the Bekaa Valley. Briefing by Danish Refugee Council and UNHCR gave the general picture of the dire situation. Visits to refugee families clearly demonstrated the hardships of the families fleeing the violence inside Syria. – A visit the following day to the Palestinian refugee camp, Burj Barajne, where many Palestinian refugees from Syria have sought refuge, was an eyeopener for the delegation.
Political analysts added to the complexities during a very active working dinner. To see the conflict in Syria in black and white obviously is simplifying things. Most were also left with a fear that the conflict could drag on for a long time. A military victory is excluded for both parties. A political solution may take many years to get around to. Geneva II peace conference had to be tried out, but maybe we should up to Geneva X before we could see some light, an interlocutor put it. But first a “tunnel” had to be constructed.
The discussion with the colleagues from the Lebanese parliament, headed by president of the committee, MP Abdel Latif El Zein, exposed to them that there are at least two different views on the conflict in Syria in Lebanon. The same appeared from talks with civil society representatives from Syria. Some said: “we know what we have, we do not know what we get”.
The visit to Jordan meeting similar partners gave also similar gloomy prospects. A visit to the big refugee camp, Za’atari, 50 km north of Amman, demonstrated clearly that building refugee camps is not a quick fix to solve the problems. You may gain some advantages seen from a logistical point of view, but you add new problems by crowding people together in a small area. The social, health and security situation becomes much more tense and difficult to control. It was a tired, but wiser parliament group that left for Denmark Friday afternoon.
Golden Ahmad brings contracts to Denmark By Jan Top Christensen
Head of the embassy’s Trade Council, Ahmad El Loubani, was in May in Copenhagen awarded “The Golden KAM of 2013” by the Foreign Ministry. The Key Account Manager-system has been set up some years back to make sure that the major Danish companies, frequently using the services of our Trade Council, will get qualified assistance worldwide from one focal point within the ministry. The KAM acts in a way as the “ambassador” of the company within the ministry, although the KAM remains an employee of the ministry. More than 40 KAMs were competing about the prize awarded once a year. Ahmad was the winner this time. Ahmad has since three years been the KAM of BWSC, setting up
power stations all over the world. The prize was not only won because he has played a key role in getting a contract worth of 2 billion DKK to the BWSC-MAN-diesel consortium which, in fierce international competition, got the contracts on the new power-plants in Zouk and Jiyeh (read the full story about this success in this newsletter). Ahmad also got the prize because the embassy in Beirut almost every time comes out with “very satisfied”, when our commercial services to the Danish companies systematically are being assessed by the private customers. With his Palestinian-Lebanese-Danish background and intricate understanding of both Arab and Danish cultures, Ahmad has especially good qualifications to help Danish companies. The embassy is very proud to have Ahmad as a good colleague. We wish Ahmad more success in the future!
olden Ahmad with his prestigious diploma, G proof of his title as best KAM of 2013
olden Ahmad always busy on his mobile, in G search of new customers
Brief Commercial News By Jan Top Christensen Vestas The World’s largest wind turbine producer, the Danish company Vestas, has a good chance of being part of the consortium chosen to build the first windmill park in Lebanon. A decision is soon expected on the first park of 60-100 MW in Akkar, where the wind conditions are extra good for producing electricity with wind-turbines. The Danish Embassy in Beirut has over the last couple of years assisted Vestas in getting a better understanding of the economic and political framework conditions for introducing wind-energy in Lebanon. But first, the Embassy had to get rid of ignorance and prejudice about wind energy and convince a hesitant political and bureaucratic establishment that wind energy also is relevant for Lebanon. The first wind park set up will set a precedent for more wind mill parks in other parts of Lebanon. A conservative estimate says that 1500 MW may be produced using wind energy.
Power to the people – A huge contract to Danish company By Jeppe Nybroe, Journalist - Freelancer “Gigantic, historical, fantastic, one big business card” big words about the new million dollar contract to the Danish company, BWSC, which will now be building power plants in Lebanon.
Lebanese Sunshine “A gigantic contract, probably the biggest contract I will ever have the chance to bring to Denmark”. With Lebanese sunshine in his eyes and filled with pride the Danish Ambassador, Jan Top Christensen, who spent years working on this contract, states that, “This contract will have a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of people in Lebanon”. The CEO of the power plant specialists Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S Anders Heine Jensen is also expressing his happiness in typically modest Danish “Well, it is quite fantastic”, over a celebratory drink at a little café in Hamra. Secured by a special law Over 3 years of hard work was finally concluded with signatures and guarantees from the Lebanese state. The two power plants are expected to be up and running in 2014 - a contract worth 350 million dollars. “In a country notorious for corruption and shady deals, it has been a pleasure to deal with a Lebanese system which from day 1 displayed the full transparency so important to a Danish company like ours” states CEO Anders Heine Jensen. The experienced Danish Ambassador, Jan Top Christensen, concurs “Corruption is well known in this country, but this process has been very positive and clean, no attempts of bribe or other types of pressure. This great investment is unanimously approved through a special law in the Lebanese parliament, which secure the economical aspect regardless of who is in power”.
The Danish Minister of Trade and Investment Pia Olsen Dyhr is excited about the deal “It is a historical contract. I am pleased that this will both benefit the growth and employment rate in Denmark and give Lebanon a more reliable and environmentally friendly energy production” Next stop Syria? Two factors are essential for Danish companies who want to do business in the Middle East: Transparency - both politically and economically - and security. But even though the contract is surrounded by war, BWSC expresses no concern “We have of course analysed the risk of the conflict of the war in Syria spreads to Lebanon, or Lebanon itself succumbing to civil war. We know that this is worst case scenario but it is not something that we or the embassy seriously considers a possibility. On the contrary BWSC is planning to expand their operations in the region “We are considering the contract in Lebanon to be a bridgehead to the rest of the Middle East. Our next big project could very well be the rebuild of Syria, which will be in dire need of electricity in order to get the country back on its feet” says CEO Anders Heine Jensen. The Arabic Spring enhances business And the Danish Ambassador to Lebanon is convinced that Danish companies will be able to get big contracts in the Middle East in the future “This contract is in many ways important to Denmark. A contract of this size is a good promotion of not only BWSC but also for other Danish companies who wants to do business in this region” says Jan Top Christensen. Head of the Trade Department at the Danish Embassy, Ahmed Loubani, adds “These power plants will be in Lebanon for many years to come and remind people of Danish quality. It is two big business cards
to the rest of the Arabic countries. BWSC does not hesitate with their praise of both Head of trade Ahmed Loubani and Ambassador Jan Top Christensen and states that without them, this contract would never have happened. The unconditional praise makes the Danish minister promise an increase in the cooperation between the Danish state and private companies in a pursuit to get into more markets “The Danish embassies are important components in the enhancement of Danish commercial interests abroad, with their knowledge of political systems and broad network of contacts. We must take advantage of this” states Minister of Trade – and Investments Pia Olsen Dyhr (SF). A better daily life for the Lebanese people The Danish CEO and the Lebanese Minister of Energy are pleased by the expected improvements in the Lebanese daily life “For the Lebanese people are the daily power cuts a big problem both privately and in the business life. Vi can assure that Lebanon will get a much better and reliable electricity production, so the life will be easier and the bill smaller” promises CEO Anders Heine Jensen. The Lebanese Minister of Energy Gebran Bassil says that the two power plants, which will be built in Zouk and Jiyeh, “will be the first step towards a complete reform of electric sector of Lebanon and I hope they will lead Lebanon towards a brighter future”.
Pleasantly surprised in Beirut by Søren E. Frandsen, Vice-President, University of Aarhus, Denmark and Karsten Jensen, Managing Director A group of Danish business leaders visited in April 2013 Beirut, and found a warmly welcoming country and city with stimulating business opportunities – impressions that clearly opposed the myths and stories often told by the Danish media. Belonging to a long-time established group (PIL25) of Danish business leaders, from both the private and the public sector, we visited in April 2013 Beirut, in order to better understand the current political climate and business environment in Lebanon. The inspiration for visiting Beirut was the recent protest movements in the Arabic world that started in Tunisia spreading to the neighboring counties with demands for more democratic conditions, improved human rights, and improved living conditions. Further, it was our wish to understand the impacts on the economic and political development of the significant influence of cultural, social and religious differences that has dominated Lebanon for so many years. It certainly also motivated us, that the experts and researchers we met prior to our visit – all with political, cultural and economics knowledge and insights – told us that Lebanon is blooming and diversified with business opportunities, but also appalling inequalities, unfortunately located in a serious challenged area. So, in spite of some skepticism, nourished by a often biased Danish media coverage of the situation in Lebanon, we decided that Beirut would exactly offer what we wanted to see and understand. Supported by confirming views that is it quite safe to visit Beirut, by both experts and the Danish Embassy, led by the very welcoming and helpful Ambassador Jan Top Christensen and his team – curiosity conquered skepticism. During our visit we met a number of inspiring and knowledgeable businessmen and Lebanese politicians, all confirming both the excellent opportunities, but also
eeting in the exclusive Zaytounay Bay marina headed by Ambassador Jan Top Christensen to the M left in the picture
the need for understanding and adapting to the economic and political situation in the region. Just to mention a few we met: -K enneth Hansen from E. Pihl & Søn A/S, discussing the visions for and the challenges of expanding the harbor of Beirut; - Minister of Trade, Mr. H.E.M. Nicolas, talking positively about the business conditions and his expectations and importance of their Future WTOmembership; - The Danish-Lebanese businessman Mr. Mohamad Al Rai welcoming us on his boat in the exclusive Zaytounay Bay marina, discussing the Lebanese willingness to cooperate and the excellent opportunities for bridging businesses to other countries in the Middle East and - Torben Hansen from Arla Foods presenting the dairy market opportunities and the importance of branding, also giving us insights from crises management inspired by the unfortunately so well-known Muhammad crises. After a very well executed visit – not the least because of a very competent and active participation and help from the Ambassador and his team – we were pleasantly surprised by the prospects of
a blooming Lebanon and Beirut. There is a strong wish in the country to improve the situation to the benefit of everyone regardless of religious or political beliefs. Of course there are still important and unsolved issues related to, for example, the development of democratic institutions and rulings, the segmentation of the parliamentarian system, and its relations to Syria and Israel. If peace prevails we are sure that Lebanon can return to its heyday of tourism and prosperity. Having said that, it is also quite clear that the city in many ways resembles a number of other western cities with excellent attractions, fashion shops, women dressed for male-head-turning, traffic jams, high English proficiency, an optimistic community focusing on improving the school system and solving infrastructure challenges - and an environment where Denmark and Danish companies are well known for doing profitable businesses. We can only recommend exploring Lebanon and Beirut – both from a cultural, political and business perspective - remembering that Lebanon, Beirut and its talented and wellconnected people might very well be an excellent bridgehead for Danish companies and institutions to the region at large.
Danish Feast 2nd year running! By Andreas Holm Pedersen
For the second year in a row, the embassy arranged in early June the Film Festival “Danish Feast”. Following the success of last year’s festival the “Danish Feast” is becoming an annual tradition and more and more Lebanese are getting interested in Danish films. Danish Cinema has received a lot of international recognition over the years and this year’s Danish Feast was giving the Lebanese audience a taste of both
This year, the festival opened with double Silver Bear winner “A Royal Affair”, which sold more than half a million tickets in Denmark and with renowned actor Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Struensee and debuting Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as the mad king Christian VII.
in May, we wanted to bring Kierkegaard to the cinema and a broader spectrum of the Lebanese audience. The “Danish Feast” included two short films inspired by Kierkegaard created by the young Danish filmmakers Trine Nadia and Thilde Holgersen. The films were preceded by an oral intervention on Kierkegaard and his works by Nicole and Jad Hatem from Université Saint-Joseph.
The festival also presented a special tribute to the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard on the bicentenary of his birth. Following the very successful Kierkegaard Symposium at Université Saint-Joseph
The films were provided by the Danish Film Institute and financed by the Danish Art Council. The festival was organized in partnership with Metropolis Art Cinema and co-sponsored by Ksara Wine.
contemporary and classical award winners and nominees.
Danish Youth Cinema on the Road 2013 By Andreas Holm Pedersen The Danish Youth Cinema was on the road again in the spring of 2013. Following the great success of 2012 we took another trip around the country. Most of the cultural activities in Lebanon take place in and around the capital of Beirut, which makes the countryside and provincial towns so much more interesting to visit. That is why The Danish Embassy chose to go around the country during the first round of Danish Youth Cinema on the Road and this year was no exception. At every screening the movies were preceded by an introduction to Denmark by our local Coordinator Anita Aoun, who also worked with us during the screenings in 2012. Anita would begin by asking questions about Denmark and correct the kids when funny answers like the capital of Denmark being Abu Dhabi would occur. The kids were very active during these discussions and very eager to learn. It was one of our goals for the festival that the kids would
A nita discussing impressions of films with the kids
go home, after a good day, knowing more about Denmark than when they came, and it sure seemed like we succeeded. This year we aimed at covering regions of Lebanon that we did not visit during last year’s festival. That brought us to areas and cities such as Tripoli, Mtein, Baalbek, Sour, Dhayeh and Zgharta and all over the country we received a warm welcome from our local partners at the cultural centres and schools and an appreciation of us getting out of the capital, which underlines the necessity to do more cultural activities outside Beirut and the potential to be found around the country.
The festival also aimed at strengthening the relationship to the civil society in Lebanon and to acknowledge the great work being done in the cultural centres for kids and young people of Lebanon. Each of the films were followed by discussions about the themes of the film, such as the feeling of neglect when your parents are preoccupied with your new born baby brother in the film “Having a brother” or questions of belonging and identity when you are taken from the environment you grew up in and put in a completely different setting such as the boy struggles with in “The boy who wanted to be a bear”. Throughout these discussions the kids were keen on sharing their own personal experiences. The festival once again turned out to be a great success and gaining recognition around the country and we look forward to repeat and further develop this event. Our partners this year were: - Safadi Cultural Center in Tripoli - Beitukom in Baalbek - Hangar Umam in Dhayeh - Cadmous College in Sour - Rene Moawad foundation in Zgharta - The Cultural Center of Mtein
alestinian kids from Burj Barajne show their enthusiasm together with the Danish ambassador, Jan P Top Christensen
The festival was sponsored by the Danish Film Institute and the Danish Institute in Damascus.
Danish dance company Mancopy takes contemporary dance around Lebanon By Jens Bjerregaard Choreographer, living in Beirut For the past 5 years, Danish dance company Mancopy has been active in the Middle East, presenting performances, creating teaching and coaching opportunities, and researching further development projects of contemporary dance in the region. With the assistance of the Danish Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon has been a focus point since 2012. EVERY last BREATH In May-June 2012, Mancopy created “EVERY last BREATH”, a contemporary dance performance choreographed by Jens Bjerregaard (dk) and performed by Arab artists (Aurelien Zouki (LB), Mahmoud Rabeiy (EG), Geoliane Arab (LB), Farah Saleh (PL) and Yendi Nammour (LB)). The creation took place in Beirut and the piece toured successfully all over Lebanon (Beirut, Zahle, Jounieh, Saidon, Tyre, Tripoli and the women prison in Baabda), before going on an international tour (Warsaw, New York, Copenhagen, Singapore…). Following this unique initiative of taking international dance performances to the different Lebanese regions when most of the cultural happenings take place uniquely in Beirut, Mancopy launched OPENING SPACES in February 2013. OPENING SPACES In collaboration with Collectif Kahraba and Art&Movement dance school, OPENING SPACES is a series of 12 contemporary dance workshops led by international guest artists that have taken place in Jal el Dib (Art & Movement dance school), Jbeil (Al Sarab Alternative dance school) and Zahle (Swandance) in its first edition. Artists from Denmark (Jens Bjerregaard), Belgium (Lodie Kardouss), Hungary (Adam
E VERY last BREATH starts in Lebanon and goes around the world: in Copenhagen with Yendi Nammour, Mahmoud Rabeiy, Geoliane Arab and Aurelien Zouki- photo by Rima Maroun
Fejes & Adrienn Hoffmann), and Germany (Maura Morales) have come to meet young professionals and amateurs of dance. The workshops have been received with great enthusiasm, reflecting the growing need for contemporary dance activities in Lebanon and the lack of professional training opportunities. A second edition of OPENING SPACES is now in the making in collaboration with more venues around Lebanon and many leading European dance artists. ABSOLUTES Besides providing training opportunities, Mancopy is also performing this year in
Beirut in a world premiere. “Absolutes” is a new performance consisting of three short solos, all choreographed by artistic director Bjerregaard and performed by French dancer Lodie Kardouss, Cuban Maura Morales and Bjerregaard himself. The performance will take place in September (6-8) in Mar Mikhael, on the impressive Vendome stairs in the frame of “Us, the moon and the neighbors”, a street festival organized by Collectif Kahraba in its 3rd edition. Don’t miss it! Follow Mancopy’s activities: www.facebook. com/mancopy
”Nicki Goes To Copenhagen”
By Andreas Holm Pedersen
“Nicki goes to Copenhagen” is the latest book in the series “Nicki goes to“, where we have previously followed Nicki and her cat Miaw to London, Paris and Istanbul. The author and illustrator of the books is Nicole Debbas and this year she is realising the fourth book in
the series “Nicki Goes To Copenhagen”, where she and her cat Miaw experience the wonderful city of Copenhagen from eating liquorice in Tivoli Garden, walking through the Citadel and ending up by the Little Mermaid. “Nicki Goes To Copenhagen” is supported by the Danish Embassy in Lebanon and by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and it is a great way
to raise the curiosity of children about Copenhagen and Denmark in general. The book was launched at a fantastic event in the Beirut Souks where Nicole and her team had a Danish, English, French and Turkish corner with specialties from the 4 countries. The book itself will be released in printing by August and we look forward to experience Copenhagen and many more cities with Nicki and her cat Miaw.
Kids playing with Lego bricks at the Launching of “Nicki goes to Copenhagen” in the souks, June 2013
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself” - Søren Kierkegaard
17-18 May, Université St. Joseph, with support from The Embassy of Denmark, organized an international colloquium to celebrate the bicentenary of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard under the heading, “Kierkegaard, notre contemporain”. By Jan Top Christensen Søren Kierkegaard is the man behind one of the most original and fascinating authorships in recent centuries. Juxtaposed both philosophical and political systems, Kierkegaard emphasizes the significance and responsibility of the individual person and is thus often called the father of existentialism. But with his penetrating analyses of psychological phenomena such as anxiety and despair, he is also far ahead of his time in a psychological context. Kierkegaard had a significant influence on Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus, and also inspired Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers and Ludvig Wittgenstein. Theologically, Kierkegaard has engaged thinkers such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Paul Tillich, Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. In a literary context, he impacted authors like Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg and Franz Kafka. But his influence is global today and his and his works continue to be translated all over the world.
# “ L’ironie divine chez Luther et Kierkegaard” # “Kierkegaard et le comique” # “Variations ontologiques autour du concept d’angoisee chez Kierkegaard” # “Kierkegaard et Catholicism” # “Eléments d’une interpretation kierkegaardienne d’Aristote dans Les Miettes Philosophiques. # “ Le problème kierkegaardien de l’écriture philosophique chez Wittgenstein” # “Le modèle de communication chez Kierkegaard”
irector Trine Nadia introducing her movie D “See me now”
rofessor Jad Hatem from USJ giving his P speech entitled “L’ironie divine chez Luther et Kierkegaard
The colloquium had impressive audience in spite of the sometimes complicated matters being discussed. The Danish ambassador in his introductory speech asked the question whether the Arab world today with the Arab uprisings was suffering from anxiety because of “le vertige de la liberté”. Are some people and movements trying to limit “liberté”, because of fear of where all this newly gained freedom can lead? The colloquium is also seen as the start of a long-term institutional cooperation between USJ and The Center for Søren Kierkegaard Research at Copenhagen University.
The Colloquium with specialists from five different countries engaged with subjects as: # “Sur la contemporanéité philosophique et artistique de Kierkegaard”
VISA to Denmark – new partner per 1 July 2013 – new visa staff at embassy
On 1 February 2013 the Danish Embassy in Beirut took over the handling of Schengen Visas to Denmark as well as applications for family reunifications, residence and work permits and re-entry permits from the Norwegian Embassy.
(see their website below), won the contract for the coming years. As from the 1 July 2013 TLS takes over. Practical information about this will be available on the Embassy’s homepage in very near future, but general Schengen rules will of course remain the same.
The handling of preparatory work all applications was outsourced to the visa application center VFS. A constantly increasing number of applicants have found their way to the VFS in order to apply for visa to Denmark for family, business or cultural visits. The number of applicants surpasses all expectations by more than 50 percent.
For the new visa section the embassy has recruited two new staff members Maysaa Karo Hamoudeh and Radia Fansa. Both Maysaa and Radia are Syrians. Maysaa worked at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus for 16 years and Radia worked at the Danish Embassy in Damascus for 4 years. Radia is on maternity leave from 15 May and is replaced by Rahaf Ballouk. Rahaf is also Syrian and comes from the British Embassy in Damascus where she was working for 20 years. Radia will be back from leave by early October 2013.
Due to general EU-rules regarding contracts with the private sector, a regular new bidding round took place this Spring and a new company, TLS
Beirut Maria Lindhardt will return to the embassy after a 6 months maternity leave. She will replace Andreas Holm Pedersen who has been substituting for her. We welcome Maria back at the embassy and wish Andreas good luck in his continued studies.
Andreas Holm Pedersen
olf Michael R Holmboen
Jan Top Christensen
Rolf Michael Hay Pereira Holmboe is replacing Jan Top Christensen as ambassador to Lebanon on the 1st of August. Jan Top Christensen will be moving to Riyadh, as he has been appointed Ambassador to Saudi-Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Hay
Ivan Nielsen has been appointed Head of Representative Office in Tripoli, Libya. We wish him good luck in his new job. Regional Security Advisor Daniel Andersen is also leaving the embassy.
New staff in the visa department: Both Maysaa Karo Hamoudeh and Radia Fansa are new faces in the embassy’s visa department as of the 30th of January. Welcome to the embassy.
Contact Information Embassy of Denmark Damascus, Syria
Tel.: +963 11 61909000
Embassy of Denmark Beirut, Lebanon
Embassy Complex, Sérail Hill Army Street, Down Town Beirut P.O. Box: 11-5190 Beirut Consular Department opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday 09:00am – 12:00 noon Tel.: +961 (1) 991 001 Fax: +961 (1) 991 006 [email protected]
Royal Danish Honorary Consulate General Amman, Jordan
Royal Danish Honorary Consulate General, Amman Located in Kawar Group Building, Fourth Floor 24 Sharif Abdul Hamid Sharaf Street P.O.BOX 222 Amman 11118 Jordan Tel : 00 962 6 5609500 Fax: 00 962 6 5698322 Email:[email protected]
The newsletter from Beirut and Damascus is published 2 or 3 times a year. The Newsletter is targeting both Danes and Arabs with an interest in the region and is including the activities and events hosted by Danes or with a connection to Denmark. The editing is done by turns by Damascus and Beirut. The editing of this number is done in Beirut. The Newsletter is available online at; www.ambdamaskus.um.dk and www.ambbeirut.um.dk. In addition to this, the newsletter is send electronically to Danes registered with the embassies. All who are interested are more than welcome to subscribe to the newsletter by contacting one of the two embassies. Articles and suggestions are more than welcome. The articles are not necessarily a reflection of the embassies opinions or assessments.
June 24-30: B eirut Design Week with participants from Denmark, Adam von Haffner Paulsen and Razan Sadeq August 24-26: Souk al Tayyeb in Copenhagen. Souk al Tayyeb is going to Copenhagen to participate in MAD Symposium 2013 in collaboration with restaurant NOMA August 27: OPENING SPACES a series of contemporary dance workshops initiated by Mancopy Dansekompagni (DK) September 6-8: ABSOLUTES a contemporary dance performance by Mancopy Dansekompagni (DK) October: Danish Youth Cinema on the Road 3rd edition November: EU Film Festival
OFFICIAL CLOSING DAYS BEIRUT 2013 2013: Friday 09/08/2013 Monday 04/11/2013 Friday 22/11/2013 Tuesday 24/12/2013 Wednesday 25/12/2013 Monday 31/12/2013
Id El Fitr* Hegira New Year* Independence Day Christmas Eve Christmas Day New Year’s Eve
*Based on Lunar Calendar *Based on Lunar Calendar