As another year draws to a close, it is with a heart full of pride that I address you on the achievements and accolades of the Australia Lebanon Chamber Of Commerce and Industry(Vic) (ALCCI) over the past 12 months. 2016 has been a year filled with opportunity and success; it has been a year of new beginnings and a plethora of dynamic opportunity. It is with much excitement that I can tell you of our accomplishments this year, and what we have to look forward to in the next!
I was honoured to have travelled to Lebanon in May of this year with a delegation made up of the ALCCI Directors; and many other influential Australian business corporations. We attended the Lebanese Energy Diaspora 2016 and had the opportunity to meet many Lebanese, numerous delegates not only from Lebanon but other parts of the Globe and a huge international media contingent. This year was exceptional as it was the first time the ALCCI had the pleasure of hosting its own panel at the LDE. Through the facilitation of discussion lead and instigated by myself, we were able to implement and create the first Chamber House in Lebanon to be a host for all International Lebanese Chambers of Commerce throughout the world.
This year, the Chamber had the honour to host many special VIPs including Mr Raed Charafeddine First Vice Governor of the Banque de Liban, Mr Salim Sfeir Chairman and CEO of Bank of Beirut , Political Ministers and Members of Parliament, Mr Lahoud Lahoud Director General, Chief of Protocol & Public Relations at the Presidency of the Republic of Lebanon, Ms Betty Hindi Founder of the First World House of Lebanon and representative of the Lebanese Army, Mr Ziad el Hawat Mayor of the municipality of Jbeil and the highly internationally acclaimed entertainer Ms Carole Samaha.
This year also saw the flouring of two dynamic groups of the Chamber our Young Entrepreneurs- the youth arm of the Chamber- and our Business Women’s Group. Our Young Entrepreneurs have been making ground breaking movement this year, they officially launched on the 1st of April, with over 400 guests attending and a significant myriad of dignitaries. They are the first youth arm of any Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the world, which is a very proud achievement for the Chamber. Our Young Entrepreneurs have successfully established Australian Lebanese Society’s in all major Melbourne universities with the idea of interstate branching on their horizon. They will be looking forward to hosting a youth engagement panel, a youth award evening and their major event for 2017 an annual youth sports day. Their hope is to bring together all denominations of young Australian Lebanese via sport and to culminate the day with a cocktail evening. Our Business Women’s Group have also been a powerful force, they launched on the 26th of June, and hosted an exhibition named “Art of many Genres from Middle Eastern Backgrounds”, showcasing the talents of numerous artists of different genres from Middle Eastern backgrounds. They recently hosted two Empowering Women Thru Leadership seminars which focused on providing powerful tools, knowledge and ability to further enhance their business expectations and so much more. They are excited about their 2017 programs and events promoting Australian Lebanese Women through many different business ventures and projects. They hope to be a catalyst for change in the movement of female empowerment.
This year the chamber was lucky enough to host various events including seminars, ‘From Hawkers Barrows to Boardrooms: 130 years of Lebanese business in Victoria contributing to the community’ hosted in partnership with The Australian Lebanese Historical Society of Victoria. This year the Chamber expanded its horizons establishing connections and partnerships with the Italian, Greek and French Australian Chambers of Commerce. As a Chamber it filled our hearts with pride when The Honourable Marlene Kairouz MP was elected as the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, the first female of Lebanese decent to do so in Australia, we marked this significant achievement by visiting Ms Kairouz and presenting her with an award on behalf of the Chamber.
This year we also hosted a superstar studded spectacular Gala Ball themed “ This is Home”. Our event included the talents of Ms Carole Samaha, Ms Gina Liano, Mr Alin Le Kal, Mr Kevork Khatcherian and Ms Kylie Fisher. Ms Fisher debuted a song which I had the honour of producing titled “ This is Home”, a tribute to the sacrifices made for a better future and the amazing opportunities this country Australia has afforded each and every one of us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Directors for their continuous commitment and support towards the ALCCI. Their dedication, love, passion and hard work is unparalleled so I thank them all for such a significant contribution.
I am very excited and it is with great pleasure that I invite you to participate in Australia Week in Lebanon 2017 themed “G’day Lebanon”. This is a first for the Chamber, and harnesses further our aim to enhance business links and open floodgates of communication for Australian and Lebanese business alike. It is anticipated that we will be hosting G’day Lebanon in May 2017 in Lebanon.
G’day Lebanon is a highly achievable opportunity for you to promote and engage your business and trade with all participants attending from across Australia, Lebanon and the Lebanon diaspora including the Gulf, South America, Europe and many more. This is a premier event to promote business and trade for all participants. Contributing as a sponsor and exhibitor through the week provides a wonderful prospect for your organisation to captivate a large field of both Australian and international politicians and Ministers, highly influential and reputable business leaders who provide support towards decision making portfolios in various capacities, and a vast influx of foreign and local and commercial media.
These scheduled events will provide a dynamic and enthusiastic privilege for your organisation to be involved in. We are all extremely excited about G’day Lebanon and assure you at all times, that our intent is to maximize your benefit and further advance your business.
The strength of the ALCCI is in the diversity and skills of its members. We seek to include members from all facets of business, commerce, tourism, hospitality, education, health, construction, banking and technology. Help us to build the ALCCI by encouraging membership among colleagues and contacts.
We look forward to another successful year working with our partner the Bank of Sydney, to whom we remain grateful for their ongoing support.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Business Women’s Group and the Young Entrepreneurs, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and wish you and your families a very Merry and Happy Festive Season and a very prosperous New Year.
Faddy Zouky OAM