LAU and Hariri partnership blooms in Downtown Beirut
Representatives and friends of the university and the Hariri Foundation gather at the launch of a new education academy in Downtown Beirut.
“I am doubly proud today,” declared Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to representatives and friends of LAU and the Hariri Foundation at the launch of the Outreach Leadership Academy (OLA) in Beirut this morning. “The launch of OLA in Sidon in 2014 was the result of a great partnership. Now, in Beirut, we must restore to our capital its role in fulfilling the ambitions of our youth,” continued the Premier during his address in Arabic.
He took the opportunity to thank his aunt Bahia Hariri, president of the foundation that began a fruitful collaboration with LAU in 2011 which has borne many a successful initiative. “Not only has she had an essential role in parliamentary and political life, but she has always held high the torch of our beloved Rafik Hariri.”
The late prime minister established the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development in 1979 when, “we stood between destruction and construction, life and death,” said Bahia Hariri during this morning’s ceremony.
The foundation has since signed a number of agreements with strategic partners, among them LAU. The first joint initiative with the university saw the establishment of the Model Arab League in 2011. In the following years, the Leadership and Constitutional Education Academy (2012) was followed by the launch of the Moderation & Justice Academy for Leaders (2013), the Outreach Leadership Academy in Sidon (2014) and most recently the Model European Union (2016). Many of the educational initiatives were first launched in the southern city of Sidon, the hometown of the Hariri family.
“We came together for the benefit of society and … now we have moved to Beirut, to Solidere, the heart of Lebanon, to bring people together and implant in them a desire to care for each other,” said LAU President Jospeh G. Jabbra at the inauguration of the two-story academy in Downtown Beirut. “We will carry out our mission effectively and lovingly, and will add exponentially to what we have achieved in Sidon … and onwards to Tripoli, Mount Lebanon and the Bekaa to bring Lebanon together,” added Jabbra, calling on Lebanon’s politicians to both hear and help in that mission.
In the two and a half years since OLA opened its doors―in a building that used to house a school attended by the late prime minister―LAU students, faculty and staff have hosted 239 training sessions attended by 3,922 beneficiaries. So said Elie Samia, assistant vice president for Outreach and Civic Engagement at LAU.
“OLA is about openness and moderation. Our beneficiaries include young children, middle- and high-school students, civil society actors, civil servants, and entrepreneurs,” he added. While boasting about a number of the academy’s many programs, certifications and partnerships, he explained that its aim is to make the leap from policy recommendation to policy making. It is then perhaps most fitting that the new hub is but a stone’s throw from the Grand Serail.