Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Solidair Company

Public Relations: Hariri versus the Moustakbal (Future team) (April 5, 2005)

This week was heavy with serious mourning: Pope Jean-Paul II passed away, as well as Deputy Ali Khalil and former deputy and Minister Nasri Maaluf.  I am not used to read the obituary pages and will not make it a futile exercise to select samples from the four corners of the world.

This piece of article is about the values and styles of public relations. When martyr Rafic Hariri was among us I cannot remember that he did any serious public relations targeted toward the common people outside of Beirut. I am assuming that he public related to his constituency since he won the latest election hands down.

I do follow politics and read newspapers on a daily basis but my facts about Hariri and his achievements were countable. I think that I heard he is the planner, architect and executer of the renovation of Downtown Beirut through his Solidair Company that he is the one who rebuilt our International airport, the Camille Chamoun Stadium and the highways that lead to the airport.  I knew that he has at least two palaces in Lebanon: one in Koritem/Beirut and the other in the resort area of Faqra.

I also knew, from long time ago, that Hariri has been sponsoring the higher education of thousands of Lebanese during the civil war. Actually, when I was in Oklahoma at Norman I met a dozen of these students learning English. These students were somehow unsatisfied with the University allocated to them and sent a petition to that effect. A week later, former US State Senator Percy visited the Norman campus and I heard that the students were shipped back to Lebanon. I read lately that the 2 billion funds assigned to educating the Lebanese was actually from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and that Hariri was managing the funds. If every politician in Lebanon used his good relations to bring funds home so that thousands could reap the benefits we would have been in much better shape.

I knew that there is a Hariri Foundations in Washington DC with no clear ideas of its functions or purpose.  I still receive brochures, once a year, from the Foundation. I finally learned that it has good connections with several UN branches and has developed several projects that can help Lebanon but I am still in the dark of what these projects might be and how they could be of any help in Lebanon.  If every Lebanese politician endows a Foundation in different capitals of Europe, China, India, Brazil and Canada so that these foundations market efficiently Lebanon we would become an important hub for the tourism agencies.

Hariri proved to me that he is the leader of the Sunni Moslems and of our Capital Beirut from his sweeping election victory. He must have done an excellent public relation job among his constituents but since I don’t read the Al Mustakbal daily newspaper and barely watch the Al Mustakbal TV channel I can frankly say that his public relations barely made a dent on me. Actually, those who opposed his policies had strong impact on me and I rarely believed Hariri’s speeches.

One important item that lacked in the reconstruction of Downtown Beirut was the old souks.  Before the civil war, if you wanted furniture you traveled to Tripoli.  Any thing else you went to the old souks of Beirut to purchase anything you might need or wish. The old souks made Beirut an extremely crowded and vibrant city.  Can any Lebanese feel any vibrations when he visits Beirut now?  Can any Lebanese purchase anything from Downtown Beirut or even rent a tiny room?  Well, there is so much anyone can do but keep strolling the gorgeous streets there and I guess one visit should be enough to get the message clear and loud.

After the assassination of Hariri, the Al Mustakbal team did a much better public relation job, I think.  I learned that Hariri did an excellent job recruiting personnel, consultants and ministers.  When the minister of Culture Salame needed some funds to make the francophone convention or the Arab Summit successes he relied on Prime Minister to supply his ministry from his own finances. Obviously, every dollars spent on these conventions were actually excellent investment because most of the money spent by the invitees were recycled into Hariri real estate empire.  This circulation of huge foreign money had good turnover too because the attendants liked Lebanon and visited Beirut more than once a year. If every politician in Lebanon invested judiciously in bringing conventions to Lebanon we would have been in much better situation.

I learned that 50,000 persons ate at Koreitem during the last Fetr season. I am wondering how many of the visitors were wretched people who managed to get hold of their courage and pay a visit to the Palace.  Supposing that a few of these hungry people ate one night there, what about the rest of the 365 nights a year?  If every politician had one open dinner a year I guess many hungry people would stop complaining about this hard and unfair life.

I heard that Hariri was not only Prime Minister but he did excellent jobs with the ministries of Finance, Tourism and Foreign Affairs. He did more than the whole government members combined.  Why the rest of Lebanon, with the exception of Beirut and may be Sidon, were left swinging in the wind and waiting helplessly for the economy to trickle down to them? If every politician actively worked for the resurrection of Lebanon by achieving a small fraction of what Hariri has done I am sure Lebanon would have been in a much better position to attract investments. Most importantly, I learned that Hariri checked many Israeli plans in Lebanon and elsewhere and won all his diplomatic counter attacks hands down.  I conjectured that Hariri was the number one on the Israeli black hit list.

One Saturday afternoon, my niece and I brought along my mom to visit the sites of the assassination and Hariri tomb.  The Al Mustakbal team was organizing a gathering in Downtown Beirut to take a picture of Hariri made out of hundreds of square cardboards carried by people over their heads. The team threw hundreds of little parachutes from a high crane carrying the red and white scarves; I ran hard to catch one of these parachutes but was out numbered and out maneuvered by the throng of people.

This is not the first time that the Mustakbal team has pulled rabbits from its sleeves.  The team has been very creative in keeping the memory of martyr Hariri alive.  Once it used thousands to hold cardboards to form the Lebanese flag.  Another time it lighted candles that transcribed the word “truth” in Arabic and English in the Martyrs’ Square. Lately it invaded the beach of St. George with hundreds of yachts and boats carrying demonstrators with the Lebanese flag. I am confident that the military genius organizing these gathering will soon attack from the air. I can already see hundreds of hot air balloons in red, white, green and light blue colors ambling toward the Downtown.

Now I am pondering about the formation of these balloons. I think that I can outguess the military genius:  The red, green and white balloons will take the shape of the flag while the blue balloons will take the form of the Al Mustakbal ribbon attached to the far end right side of the flag.

Any way, while walking near the Martyrs’ Square I was surprised to see a set of tennis courts in the most expensive real estate in Lebanon.  These immaculate and totally empty sport facilities were facing one of the most expensive apartment complexes in Lebanon. I kept wondering how many of these ministers or deputies or millionaires living in these apartments are going to wear shorts and making a public display by shaking their fat butts!  I reached the conclusion that none will ever be seen on these famous tennis courts.  I then assumed, and wish Solidair will prove me wrong, that this space was designed to keep the little people at bay from these luxury dwellings.  The Al Mustakbal supporters insist on finding the truth; I am not asking them for the truth but just a satisfactory rational for these tennis courts.

Without any doubt, the Al Mustakbal team made a much better public relation job than Hariri was willing to do.  This team shamed the public relation efforts of George W. Bush to improve his image.  I am not suggesting that the US public relation funds were less than the Al Mustakbal but that you cannot do much improvement on an image if the evidence and facts do not substantiate your marketing gimmicks.  Even the Al Mustakbal team can do much to overcome the shortcoming of Bush’s public relation team.

The image of George Bush will remain tarnished with his bullying behavior, mass killings of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the assassination of the UN charters and the humiliation of millions in Europe and elsewhere. Whatever public relation Bush will endeavor to do will not convince anyone that the heavy participation of the Iraqis in their latest election was a vote for support of the invasion:  The Iraqis were sending the clear message that the US invaders have to leave immediately now that the democratic process has taken place. Bush is not about to believe this fact until all the coalition troops vacate the Iraqi soil and more green bags shipped back home to the USA.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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