Accomplishments Touted, Honors bestowed, Selfies Shot, Business & Social Might Celebrated at Annual Hafli
(DETROIT) – The National Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce held its annual Spring Hafli 2015 Grande Banquet at the stylishly elegant Pi Banquet & Event Centre, filling the luxurious Presidential Ballroom with all manner of business types and community boosters and various movers-and-shakers of Middle Eastern-descent, along with a posh phalanx of other-heritaged associates, elected officials, diplomatic dignitaries and veteran journalists. The historic event held under the auspices of National Chairman U.S. Ambassador Sam Zakhem, surely kept its promise hosting an incredible evening by gathering together from around the country over 300 members, special guests and friends of the Lebanese Chamber, to celebrate Heritage, Tributes, Arts & Entertainment.
With champagne flowing, guest arrivals on the red carpet received prominent figures from Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Miami and Canada. Fancy dress, deluxe open bar, a bright crowd of mingling citizens engaged in spirited palaver, the sequin of evening gowns sparkling, along with successful enterprises shimmering in the spotlights – shining proudly upon the guests being recognized for their hard-won economic and social triumphs. Following the official Presentation of Colors by the Boy Scouts of America, the formal program commenced with an invocation delivered by His Eminence Mor Edward Abdulahad Hanna, the Very Reverend Archpriest of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, flanked by Rev. Fr. Mark Ibrahim of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.
Emceed by FOX News Anchor Roop Raj, the sold-out event included the 2015 ‘Pillar of Baalbek’ Award Ceremony honoring Renown Chicago Hair Restoration Surgeon Dr. William D. Yates, MD as Outstanding New Member of the Year, an insightful, globally-themed Keynote Speech delivered by Award-Winning Journalist, Accomplished Author and Eminent Professor, FOX News Commentator Dr. Walid Phares, a Special Tribute to Legendary Singer Odette Kaddo, a presentation on the Troy Rotary Club Water Project in Lebanon by Mssrs. Kamal Shouhayib and Fadi Sankari, a Moment of Silence commemorating the Armenian Genocide Centennial, an exhibit viewing of Fine Art by European Curator Gerard Marti, an exclusive ‘Rose Water & Orange Blossoms’ Book-Signing by best-selling Author Maureen Abood, and with famous Lebanese figures native to México, like Carlos Slim Helú, Salma Hayek & José Sulaimán – joining the festivities was El Consul de México en Detroit, His Excellency Juan Manuel Solana Morales, Del Consulado de Carrera de México en Detroit.
Attendees were dressed to impress as the inimitable Guru of Style Chuck Bennett strutted the catwalk as the night’s version of Fashion Police Chief. Notable figures included the evening’s Celebrity Presenter Pro-Golfer Nick Sutter of ABC Television Network’s The Bachelorette, FBI Detroit Special Agent-in-Charge Paul M. Abbate, Esq., Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence, former Detroit Mayor Kenneth Cockrell, ABC News-affiliate WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Action News Simon Shaykhet, former Michigan House Majority Leader, US Army Colonel Rocky Raczkoski, Ret., The Honorable Chief Judge William Giovan, Wayne County Commissioner Abdul Haidous, and delegations representing the United Cedar Foundation, Jordanian American Association, and Tayar Al Mustaqbal Future Movement of Michigan. Delivering the closing benediction was Father Tony Massad, pastor of Saint Rafka Maronite Church.
Chair covers and table linens dressed in gold and black satin housed table tops that were graced with the floral scent of colorful spring snapdragons as honorees were fêted. Live Entertainment included International Musical Recording Artist Yasmeen Suri, World Renown Oud Virtuoso Ali Barada, Contemporary Jazz Stylings of Soul Guitarist Eric Watson and the much sought after sounds of talented DJ Miami who masterfully scored the moonlight afterglow with top entertainment & all-night dancing. Officially welcomed by Chairman Louis J. Peters, Jr., guests were treated to an extraordinary candlelit culinary experience that included world-class cuisine of Pure Lebanon Hors D’œuvres courtesy of Executive Chef Nazir Fayad of Al Oumara, Traverse City Spring Salad, Sicilian Pasta Ziti Rigati, Slow Roasted Mediterranean Chicken, Medley of Garden Steamed Vegetables, Buttered Redskin Baby Potatoes and a Middle Eastern Savory Dessert Table courtesy of Sahara Bakery featuring a coffee station and fresh baked baklava.
“Tonight we come together as a family, with an open mind and a warm heart,” said Chamber President John Akouri. “The importance of understanding our history is essential in order to shape our future as it is well documented that Lebanese Americans are teeming with extraordinary potential. Change, while challenging, often starts with a hunch, and collaboration breeds change. So tonight let us pledge to continue our shared desire of collaboration amongst each other, not only through formal business functions, but also through face-to-face interactions, paving the way for the NGL – our Next Generation of Lebanese-Americans!” Concluding his remarks, President Akouri shared a quote by Lebanese American Poet Khalil Gibran: “Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”
The annual evening banquet has hosted many luminaries in the past including: MSNBC Personality Raghida Dergham, CNN Personality Octavia Nasr, Hollywood Director Asaad Kelada, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Geraldo Rivera, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Juliette Kayyem, Congressman Justin Amash, Senator Carl Levin, Filmmaker Nadine Labaki, Central Bank Vice Governor Raed Charafeddine, Princess Hayat Arslan, Miss USA Rima Fakih, Author Georges Mokbel, Beirut Marathon Founder May El Khalil, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ambassador Antoine Chedid, NASCAR Legend Bobby Rahal, Comedian Nemr Abou Nassar, and WJR Radio National Hall of Famer Paul W. Smith. The successful event was made possible in part by: Basha Wide Open MRI, DTE Energy, Yates Hair Science Group, Choice Group Properties, Detroit Sausage Company, Rights First Law, Southwest Funding, Modern Art Party Rentals, The Abood Law Firm, Mezza Mediterranean Grille and Abas Ramadan Istudio, NepTix and Atrient Corporation.
The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit national business organization headquartered in the Great Lakes State of Michigan, with a presence in Detroit, New York, Houston, Chicago, Denver & Washington, DC. The Chamber serves to actively develop, promote and advance Lebanese American business and to enhance the economic, social, educational, trade and cultural interests by providing leadership, legislative advocacy, social and philanthropic activities, business networking, special projects and the exchange of business and information. It also seeks to promote economic growth and development, expand business opportunities and heighten awareness between the Lebanese and American communities throughout the United States and Lebanon operating as an American, Michigan-based non-profit corporation linking business professionals locally, nationally, and globally.