Contribution to International Understanding
When our magazine propagates the idea of cultural enlargement as method and manner, it has assumed the task of being a link between economy and culture – with the goal of strengthening cultural exchange and in this way forming a basis for mutual understanding.
Foreword Arab Forum, Volume 4, Issue No. 4
November 19th, 2009
The time is slowly approaching to look back at the year and take stock. We at ARAB FORUM would like to thank you for this year, for your loyalty and continued interest. We thank our readers, advertisers, the embassies, companies, museums, those involved in tourism, and everyone else whom space does not permit to mention individually. We hope we have presented much information and shown the many facets of the Arab world and Europe again this year and have managed to whet your interest even more.
or the first time since we have been publishing ARAB FORUM, we are taking you to Lebanon, a country that for years has been in the news almost weekly; usually because of internal strife and even civil war. The Israeli occupation and intervention by the neighboring Syrians also made the headlines. In short, it was all bad news that kept one from traveling to the country. And yet, Lebanon once had the reputation of being the Switzerland of the Middle East in reference to its wonderful landscape, its diversity, prosperity, and security. It would seem that after its presidential and parliamentary elections, Lebanon will be able to pick up on those golden times once more. According to estimates of the Central Bank of Lebanon, around seven percent economic growth is expected this year. The Ministry of Tourism expects two million tourists this year, following the number of visitors to Lebanon having already shot up to 1.3 million in 2008 because of the settled political situation. The number of passengers going through the Beirut Airport rose almost 30 percent in the first half of 2009 to 2.7 million.
We want to take advantage of this good news to introduce you to Lebanon, its diversity in every sense, and its historical and human wealth. This richness is there because since time immemorial this place on the eastern rim of the Mediterranean has been a meeting place of many peoples. Lebanon has remained to this day a hinge between the Orient and the Occident. It was from there that 3,000 years ago the Phoenicians swarmed out to Europe and later to Africa as merchants, a tradition that continues to this day. Just under five million Lebanese live today in their own country, while almost twice as many are spread out around the world, usually as successful businessmen. The wealth and diversity of Lebanon is reflected in the amount of material our writers were able to gather about the Levant. Let them inspire you to travel there.
It’s off to Spain for our Arab readers. Once a huge world-spanning empire that opened up the “New World,” Spain is today once again a kingdom and one of the important players in the global economy. A significant part of Spanish history was shaped by Muslims and Arabs. Al-Andalus was the name of the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula from the eighth century on. Spain looks proudly back on seven centuries of Arab-influenced history, which greatly impacted Europe’s sciences and art. Cordoba and Granada both are a must to see for visitors to Spain.
We see the mutual influence on both sides of the Mediterranean, and that the proximity of the Arab and European cultures are part of our common history and future.
We wish you already much success and happiness in 2010.
M. Saleh Azzawi