Caretaker Information Minister, Dr. Manal Abdel Samad Najd, said in an interview with “Radio Free Lebanon” Channel today that “things are piling up and the country is collapsing, and we are considered false witnesses if we do not reach a quick solution as soon possible, and we are ready for any action in that respect…”
“In our ministries, we carry out our caretaking duties to the fullest, but there are decisions that must be taken across the government as a whole,” Abdel Samad underscored.
She considered that efforts must be combined between all ministries to stop political rivalries and build a strong economy through security stability and preparing tourist institutions in the country to receive tourists under better conditions. “The economy is a complete, integrated and interconnected cycle. The economy is linked to tourism as well as politics, and the economy is rich in our country, but it is fragile and affected by any changes, especially at the political level which negatively affect it, and consequently the tourism sector,” she said.
Abdel Samad touched on the key role played by the media in marketing for tourism; however, she noted that “Lebanon does not need marketing, especially after we notice the impression of expatriates about its hospitality, the warm reception, the beauty of nature, the mild climate, the archaeological sites and nature reserves…”
“These are all aspects that we have to highlight in the media, but unfortunately the media is going through a delicate situation due to the difficult circumstances surrounding our news, which makes it difficult to convey the bright image of Lebanon. Nevertheless, despite all of these difficulties, we can still shed light on the opportunities that emerge from all the challenges and crises we live in. At the present time, there is an additional value for Lebanon in terms of low prices for those who deal in foreign currencies, which renders Lebanon a distinguished tourist destination.”
On the possibility of cooperation between the Ministries of Information and Tourism with local stations to organize an advertising campaign to attract tourists in the absence of budgets, Abdel Samad said: “Budgets are important in this context and help to implement projects quickly and richly, yet money is not everything in all junctions of our lives, including these projects…If we set plans and projects, it is easy to implement them through individual initiatives and people who are keen on Lebanon from the private sector, from civil society and even from the international community that loves Lebanon…This is what I sensed from the Arab Ministers of Information during my visit to Cairo, who showed support, sympathy and great devotion for Lebanon.”
Abdel Samad went on to consider that it is not difficult to obtain funding when we find ideas and projects. “Additionally, Lebanon is proud of its human wealth which is more important than any financial wealth, and this is what distinguishes us and makes us rely on this creativity in our society to come up with ideas that attract tourists by various means and through traditional or digital media,” she said.
“We are in constant cooperation with the media, which is also keen on Lebanon through its programs that highlight the touristic and archaeological sites that encourage tourists to come to Lebanon. It is necessary that we walk together on the same wavelength because we are partners and not opposing parties,” the Minister asserted.
She continued to emphasize that in spite of all challenges, the media can play a positive role by being neutral and objective in reporting the news, and not being a party, and to abide by the media code of honor, which is more important than any law because it is built on solid foundations that enhance the economy.
Abdel Samad appealed herein to all media outlets “to shed light on the positive side of Lebanon away from the negatives, such as the image portrayed on World Music Day, which revealed that despite all the difficulties and crises, Lebanon can illuminate the positive and beautiful aspects it enjoys.”
Referring to her meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during her presence in Cairo, Abdel Samad indicated that she underlined “the necessity of cooperation and solidarity of Arab countries, especially in crises, which are not far from any country.” She added: “We are now going through difficulties. We have stood by our sisterly Egypt and other Arab countries that have gone through crises, and we are waiting for them to stand by our side, and we have touched this stance through the humanitarian aid and solidarity.”
Abdel Samad stated that President El-Sisi expressed his deep sadness at seeing Lebanon collapse at a time when it was distinguished in all sectors, noting that “this is a shameful image for us, and the solution begins from within, alongside external cooperation and support from friends.”