Meet the First Woman to join the Lebanese Security Forces

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Major Suzanne El-Hajj is one tough woman.

El-Hajj is a pioneering Lebanese security officer and the first female police officer in Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF), the national police and security force of Lebanon.

A graduate of Balamand University, El-Hajj was born in the Koura District of Lebanon. She majored in communications engineering and earned a master’s degree in computer science, making her equipped for combating cyber crime.

In 2001, her father spotted a recruitment notice for a communications position in Internal Security Forces, which did not specify a gender requirement. He encouraged her to apply.

“Until recently, workplace inequality existed in Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF), the country’s national police and security force,” El-Hajj said. “Very few women worked within the ISF: out of 25,000 members, only two were female. I was one of them.”

The second woman, Captain Dyala Mohtar, joined the ISF as a lieutenant in the computing section in 2003.

El-Hajj is known as one of the ISF’s toughest officers, fighting for cyber safety and minority rights, especially among women.

“When people see and accept a woman as mayor and understand that she was truly elected, the scope for seeing more women in Parliament will no longer be a far-fetched idea,” she once suggested.

During her tenure at the ISF communications bureau, Hajj created the ‘Rights, Equality and Diversity Bureau’ to ensure that minority workers, particularly women, were addressed and facilitated.

In 2009, El-Hajj helped coordinate a Civilian Police Training Program Partnership between the United States and Lebanon, where she worked with ISF officials to expand the ranks to include Lebanese women.

In 2012, 610 Lebanese women were accepted by ISF.

El-Hajj recently created a new unit called RED (Rights, Equality, Diversity) Police, with an objective to mainstream diversity within the police in all regions of Lebanon.

“The ISF is recognized as the first institution in the Middle East and North Africa region that enforces gender equity and democracy, and of this, I’m very proud,” she said.

In October 2012, El-Hajj was appointed as the head of the Cyber Crime and Intellectual Property Bureau in Lebanon, becoming the first woman in this position in Lebanon and the Middle East.

“There are female sergeants in this bureau who have been assigned to the same missions as the male sergeants, and they are doing very well,” she said.

WATCH an English interview with Suzanne El-Hajj:

Lebanese family become billionaires by opening Zara stores

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The Lebanese Daher family have become billionaires by opening 55 fashion and lifestyle brands in 14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Daher brothers — Wassim, Said, and Hasan — own Azadea Group, a Beirut-based company that own and manage 600 retail outlets, including Max Mara, Sunglass Hut, Massimo Dutti, and Zara, among others.

Azadea’s largest collection of stores are in mega malls in the United Arab Emirates, which is the company’s most profitable country, according to a former Azadea senior executive.

The company employs 11,000 people and the brothers are estimated to have a fortune of at least $1.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Wassim Daher founded the company in 1978 as a multi-brand clothing store in Hamra Beirut. His brother Hasan and Said later joined the company as managing director and chief executive, respectively.

Said Daher says the company grew rapidly when it began exclusively purchasing and opening “already-successful” franchises in the Middle East.

“You can grow much faster as a franchise than if you’re operating your own brand. With a franchise, you’re implementing already-successful business models,” he told Beirut-based Executive Magazine in a 2005 interview. “Why bother establishing a vertically integrated business model which will take you years and years to perfect when you can get involved at the end of the supply chain and start opening outlets in promising markets in a matter of months?”

Lebanese businessman Said Daher, the CEO of Azadea Group, signs with Mall of Arabia to open series of fashion outlets. (Photo ©  Rana Moghabghab)
Lebanese businessman Said Daher, the CEO of Azadea Group, signs with Mall of Arabia to open series of fashion outlets. (Photo © Rana Moghabghab)

In 2011, the Daher brothers opened the Azadea Foundation, an environmental NGO in Lebanon, which is financed exclusively by Azadea board members and employees.

The Azadea Foundation is credited with the restoration of the 107-year-old René Mouawad Sanayeh Garden, the city’s biggest 22,000 square meter public garden, which underwent a $2.5 million makeover.

Azadea Foundation also planted over 8,500 trees in three plantation projects in the woodlands of Lebanon. The group plans to spread environmental awareness in school workshops and “Green Booths” in Beirut malls.

Meanwhile, the Azadea Group continues to grow, and the brothers say they will remain committed to Lebanon.

In January, Bloomberg reported that two Dubai-based companies were reportedly set to bid for a 25 percent stake in Azadea Group. The bids by KKR & Co, Fajr Capital, and Majid Al Futtaim Holdings are currently in the second round of bidding for the Lebanese company.

Michigan’s newest county commissioner was born in Lebanon

(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese-American Abdul Haidous is one of Michigan’s newest county commissioners having carried a swift primary election and uncontested general election.

Haidous is the former mayor of Wayne, Mich., where he served for 13 years as the first Muslim of Arab descent to be elected mayor in the United States, according to his biography.

Haidous was born in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, where he spent his early years before moving to Senegal to work at a family business.

After deciding to immigrate to the United States, Haidous worked for a Monroe area restaurant and General Motors before opening “Al’s Friendly Market” in Wayne, which he ran from 1974 to 2007.10868096_10152574396346437_4345506690406031292_n

On January 21, Consul General of Lebanon in Detroit Bilal Kabalan and several community activists visited Haidous to congratulate him on his recent election.

“Commissioner Haidous is an American Lebanese success icon with more than two decades of regional political history,” Kabalan said in a statement. “His high ethical standards are an example to be followed.”

Haidous is the recipient of dozens of prestigious honors, including being named “Person of the Year” in 1991 by the Wayne Chamber of Commerce and receiving a “Service Award” from the Arab American and Chaldean Council in 2007, among others.

Haidous and his wife Balassem celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on election day. They have five children and 10 grandchildren.

ELECTION: How did Lebanese-American candidates do?

(WASHINGTON, DC) — Eight Lebanese-American candidates campaigned for federal and statewide races in the 2014 midterm election, on Nov. 4, 2014.

In California, incumbent Congressman Darrell Issa retained his position as a U.S. representative in District 49, defeating Democratic challenger Dave Peiser.

In West Virigina, incumbent Congressman Nick Rahall, who has held his position as U.S. representative for 38 years, was defeated by Even Jenkins.

In Louisiana, incumbent Congressman Charles Boustany held on to his position as U.S. representative from District 3, defeating challenger Russell Richard by a 67% margin.

In Texas, David Alameel challenged incumbent U.S. Senator John Cornyn, but fell short of victory by a 27% margin.

In Oregon, Monica Wehby challenged incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, but fell short of victory by an 18% margin.

In Florida, Former Governor Charles Crist challenged incumbent Governor Rick Scott, but was defeated by only a 1% margin.

In South Carolina, Vincent Shaheen challenged incumbent Governor Nikki Haley, but was defeated by a 15% margin.

In Michigan, incumbent Justice David Viviano retained his seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, defeating Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas by a 33% margin.

 

Full Results:

Congressman Darrell Issa

CA, U.S. Congress District 49 – 100.00% reporting

Darrell Issa – 60.72%, 77,885 votes

Dave Peiser – 39.28%, 50,393 votes

 

Congressman Nick Rahall

WV, U.S. Congress District 3 – 100% reporting

Evan Jenkins – 55.33%, 77,170 votes

Nick Rahall – 44.67%, 62,309 votes

 

Congressman Charles Boustany

LA, U.S. Congress District 3 – 100.00% reporting

Charles Boustany – 78.67%, 185,835 votes

Russell Richard – 11.99%, 28,330 votes

 

Candidate David Alameel

TX, U.S. Senate – 100.00% reporting

John Cornyn – 61.57%, 2,855,068 votes

David Alameel – 34.38%, 1,594,252 votes

 

Candidate Monica Wehby

OR, U.S. Senate – 94.20% reporting

Jeff Merkley – 55.79%, 744,516 votes

Monica Wehby – 37.33%, 498,191 votes

 

Governor Charles Crist

FL, Governor – 100.00% reporting

Rick Scott – 48.16%, 2,861,390 votes

Charles Crist – 47.05%, 2,795,263 votes

 

Senator Vincent Shaheen

SC, Governor – 100.00% reporting

Nikki Haley – 55.96%, 689,319 votes

Vincent Sheheen – 41.42%, 510,230 votes

 

David Viviano

David Viviano – 62%, 1,509,875 votes

Deborah Thomas – 29%, 701,698 votes

Lebanese-American named dean of MIT School of Architecture and Planning

(CAMBRIDGE, MA) — Hashim Sarkis — a prominent scholar of architecture and urbanism, a practicing architect whose works have been built in the United States and the Middle East, and a leading expert on design in the Middle East — has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), effective in January.

Sarkis is currently the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). He has been on the Harvard faculty since 1998, and has been a full professor since 2002.

For the last dozen years, Sarkis has also served as director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the GSD. The Aga Khan Program is located jointly at Harvard and MIT, and is a leading program for the study of architecture, urban issues, and visual culture in Islamic societies. He has taught courses and design studios in architecture and urban design that emphasize the importance of design in its cultural context across a broad range of geographic locations.

“As the longtime director of the Aga Khan Program at Harvard, Hashim Sarkis is well-known and widely admired in our School of Architecture and Planning community,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif says. “Through his collaborations at this end of Mass. Ave., he begins this new role with a strong sense of the culture, values, and aspirations of our School of Architecture and Planning and of MIT. In the best MIT tradition, he is a person of bold ideas who likes to test them in the real world of practice. I look forward to working with him to build upon the tremendous progress made by former dean Adele Naude Santos.”

“The energy and forward-looking attitude I have encountered at one of the oldest schools of architecture and planning in the country makes it feel like the youngest,” Sarkis says. “Educators of architects and planners worldwide are emulating the MIT research-based model, and it is a true honor to build on Adele’s legacy and to guide this model forward. MIT at large provides an ideal setting for such an undertaking, especially as it invests in the future of education and in initiatives like energy, environment, and innovation that are at the core of SA+P. It is especially invigorating to see the scientists and engineers reach out to the designers and to see how much they value their contribution to the One Community.”

Cross-disciplinary work

As a scholar and designer, Sarkis has moved across boundaries and disciplines: He has published works on architecture and urbanism in Lebanon, in addition to writing about leading 20th-century modernist architects. His architectural practice, Hashim Sarkis Studios, has won numerous competitions and designed now-completed civic and commercial projects, as well as private houses, from Massachusetts to Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

Sarkis’ publications include “Circa 1958: Lebanon in the Pictures and Plans of Constantinos Doxiadis” (2003). He has edited or co-edited volumes about several leaders of modernism, including “CASE: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital” (2001) and “Josep Lluis Sert: The Architect of Urban Design” (2008). Sarkis also co-edited “Projecting Beirut” (1998), about the modern development and more recent reconstruction of Beirut.

Completed or under-construction buildings designed by Hashim Sarkis Studios include the new town hall of Byblos, Lebanon; a housing project in Tyre, Lebanon; a park in downtown Beirut; urban design guidelines for several Middle Eastern cities; and a variety of residential and commercial buildings in the metropolitan Boston area.

Sarkis’ architectural work has been published extensively and has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as at Biennale exhibitions in Venice, Rotterdam, and Shenzhen/Hong Kong.

SA+P’s 10th dean

As SA+P’s new permanent dean, Sarkis succeeds Santos, who served from 2004 until this year, announcing in January that she would step down. Santos remains on the faculty as a professor of architecture, and is also a practicing architect.

Architectural historian, critic, and theorist Mark Jarzombek, a professor of the history and theory of architecture, has served as SA+P’s interim dean since July 1. Sarkis will become the 10th permanent dean of the school.

SA+P encompasses five departments, programs, and centers: the Department of Architecture, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the MIT Media Lab, the Center for Real Estate, and the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology.

Some 40 percent of the current SA+P faculty has been hired within the past decade; during the same time, graduate applications to many programs have soared. The school has also consolidated and renewed the physical spaces in which its scholars and practitioners work, in part to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Sarkis received his BArch and BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1987, his MArch from Harvard in 1989, and his PhD in architecture from Harvard in 1995.

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office

SUCCESS STORY: Lebanese recipes passed down through generations

By Charlie Kadado, Lebanese Examiner

(TROY, MI) — There’s something special about Lebanese moms. Besides their strange obsession with television soap operas and making sure you’re wearing a jacket, they seem to always have a noteworthy interest in feeding you.Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 10.20.11 PM

Just ask Camilia Saleh, owner of Cedar Grille in Troy, Michigan. Her mother Sadie Fares is now 90 years old, and still strongly hails as the matriarch of the family recipe book.

“I remember growing up and watching my mom make homemade meals everyday,” Saleh said. “She never let me touch anything. She used to tell me to stay away and that one day I’ll learn.”

Saleh says her mother had a passion for preparing the finest authentic meals from the finest organic ingredients.

“Every morning I would look out my window and see my mom picking fresh vegetables and beans from our land.”

These memories of watching her mother refine her already perfect recipes inspired Saleh to open Cedar Grille, on Crooks Road in Troy, in 2010.

“I wanted to share our culture and cuisine with my community right here in Troy. I wanted to show them what I was so proud of,” she said.

IMG_1415Saleh immigrated to the United States during the brutal Lebanese civil war, hoping to establish a better life for herself and her family.

“I used to work as a stock-keeper and hear the businessmen talk about America and Canada and how you could do things we could never dream of. I used to say that this is where we should be,” she said.

Saleh admits experiencing culture shock upon arriving to the States, but was eager to work and adjust to what she called “a wonderful opportunity.”

After years of working in the school system, Saleh decided to follow her husband’s footsteps in opening her own business.

“My husband asked me what I’d like to do best and I told him I loved our culture and our cooking. My mom worked hard all these years providing for us and I felt the love in all that. I wanted to share what my mom taught me with my community after sharing it with my family all these years,” she said.

Saleh’s husband, Antoine, owns Antoine Salon, which is also located in Troy.

“I contribute the success of this place to my husband, for being supportive and working behind the scenes. He’s the outside manager and he manages me too. IMG_1418He helps me a lot with his business experience,” she said.

After one year of planning, Camilia decided to finally follow her dreams and open the restaurant in honor of her mother. She hired a head chef, who used to cook for the former president of Lebanon, and several hand-picked employees to lead the operation.

“If you can manage people, you can manage anything. I’m a homemaker by nature, and I started this business hard and quickly, so I needed to get my game together to manage people fast,” she recalls.

It’s this sense of strength that follows a seemingly universal trait of Lebanese mothers. She says future immigrants should be prepared to face obstacles, but push through in the face of adversity.

“Don’t ever be afraid. If you can imagine it, go for it. With the support of family and believing in yourself, you can do anything you want.”

For more information about Cedar Grille, visit cedargrille.com.

SUCCESS STORY: Lebanese-American educates and mentors youth

(DEARBORN, MI) — Dearborn resident Hussein Hachem immigrated to the United States from Ain El Tineh, West Bekka in 2007 to pursue his college education.

Coming with fresh eyes, Hachem looked at Dearborn’s Lebanese-American community as a strong and influential collective of immigrants, but a place that was missing the perspective of Lebanese-American youth.

In 2009, after two years of observing community activity from a distance, he joined the Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC) in Dearborn to interact with other local Lebanese-Americans.

“I wanted to start something founded by the youth and led by the youth,” he recalls.

(Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman Photography)
(Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman Photography)

Hachem launched the LAHC Youth Leadership Committee, which has grown into one of the group’s most important projects.

“Youth now have a more important role in our community. They are initiating programs, taking care of events from A to Z, coming up with innovative ideas, and making those ideas happen,” he said.

But Hachem wasn’t satisfied with sticking to weekly and monthly meetings to connect with local youth. He says he wanted to do something “more meaningful.”

“From my job at LAHC I was able to interact with many families and I saw that there were two problems — number one: parents didn’t have time to see their kids and keep up with their education and number two: prices were outrageous so it was hard for them to afford tutoring payments.”

After graduating from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and chemical biology, Hachem started a business he called, “Educare Student Services, LLC” to solve those problems.

The company began as an after school tutoring program, but has since expanded into mentoring, college preparation, and ACT skills learning center on Mason Street in Dearborn.

The company has over 15 tutors and growing, added locations in Dearborn Heights and Canton, and daily tutoring hours in their learning center.

“Anybody that is studying they need a little help, even if you’re the smartest student. Sometimes you need a little hint so you can take the lead,” Hachem said.

He added that many of the students are of Lebanese descent and he frequently reminds them of their rich cultural history.

“The Lebanese people since the beginning of history have been people of history and education. Wherever we go, we the Lebanese people should reflect the beautiful image that love, education, and freedom are part of our roots. I hope to spread that message to the students I mentor,” he said.

Although United States culture was entirely different than what he was used to back home, Hachem recognized the importance of maintaining and promoting a cultural identity and ensuring that Lebanese-American youth follow suit.

He also says the United States has provided him with limitless opportunities for personal growth.

“When it comes to the opportunities, they are very limited in Lebanon in terms of what you can give and how you can grow. Even if you are the smartest students with many great ideas, resources are still very limited. In the United States, you have this opportunity to build, to grow, and to give back.”

Hachem has been recognized by President Barack Obama with the Call to Service Award, recognizing over 4,000 hours of community service. He has also received a leadership award from Dearborn’s Forum and Link newspaper and the 2011 Distinguished Student Leader Award from Henry Ford Community College.

For more information about Educare Student Services, LLC., visit educaremi.com.

Lebanese-American crowned “Miss Arab USA”

(SCOTTSDALE, AZ) — Lebanese-American Guinwa Zeineddine was crowned as Miss Arab USA at the Talking Stick Resort & Casino in Scottsdale, Arizona on September 6.

The 22-year-old was born in Canada and raised in the United Arab Emirates before moving to the United States at 16 years old. She is of Lebanese descent.

Zeineddine is currently pursuing two degrees in pre-pharmacy and communications, while maintaining a competitive GPA. She has remained on the Dean’s list and has been inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Zeineddine is an advocate for community involvement and female empowerment. She has served in several community organizations including the Boys & Girls Club, Center for the Blind, Operation Christmas Child, the Salvation Army and adopting needy families for the holidays.

Zeineddine honorably became the first Arab American president of a Latina-based sorority at her university.

She believes that The Miss Arab USA crown serves as an opportunity for her to receive new and greater heights in her life.

“As your Miss Arab USA, I am committed to be the best representation of what a Miss Arab USA should be.” she said.

The Annual Miss Arab USA Pageant was founded on the basis of advancing the cause for young ladies of Arab descent. The Pageant is a charity event for the community, uniting Arab Americans and their friends in celebrating the Arab cultural heritage in the United States.

“This was one of the most exciting pageants we’ve witnessed” said Egyptian singing sensation Mohamed Hamaki. “Every year The Miss Arab USA Pageant continues to grow and improve.”

Watch the moment Zeineddine was crowned Miss Arab USA:

14102118576Congrats Guinwa!

Lebanese architect becomes first female dean at Columbia University

(NEW YORK, NY) — Lebanese architect Amale Andraos was appointed as the new dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning at Columbia University in New York City.

Andraos, who was born in Beirut and has practiced in Montrael, Paris, and Rotterdam, is the first woman to become a dean at the school, according to a statement released by the university on Tuesday.amale-andraos-dan-wood

Before joining Columbia University in 2011, Andraos, who is 41, taught at Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, and at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

She also operates the New York design firm WorkAC with her husband, Dan Wood, who she met in Dutch City. They have designed the crystalline Diane von Furstenberg headquarters as well as the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York and a new library in Kew Gardens, Queens.

“The university is very focused on global questions and global issues, and Amale’s background sort of bespeaks globalization,” Lee Bollinger, the university president, said in an interview. “It’s not a theory or buzz word, it’s who she is, and that’s very important.”

Andraos, who succeeds Mark Wigley, is said to be an accidental dean of sorts. She had been selected to the search committee for a new dean but was not on the short list of candidates.

After watching her work on the committee, Mr. Bollinger said, “we realized our next dean was sitting right in front of us.”

Lebanese-American becomes Good Morning America anchor

(NEW YORK, NY) — Lebanese-American journalist Paula Faris was promoted to become Good Morning America‘s weekend anchor for ABC News, effective August 8 in New York, replacing outgoing anchor Bianca Golodryga.

Paula-Faris-FamilyFaris, whose father is of Lebanese descent, recently gained exposure as ABC’s reporter at the World Cup in Brazil. Prior to that, she was the network’s World News Now anchor, after joining ABC from NBC Chicago in 2012.

ABC News President James Goldston called Faris “a terrific broadcaster” in his announcement in late July.

Faris will join current co-anchor Dan Harris every Saturday and Sunday morning.

The granddaughter of Lebanese immigrants, Faris met her husband John Krueger while at Cedarville University. They married in 2000 and currently have three children.

Faris, who is 36 years old, was born and raised in Jackson, Michigan. Her family still resides in the area.

“We are just so proud and excited for her,” her mother, Carol Faris, told MLive. “When she told my husband and myself the news of her offer, we were speechless.”

Send your congratulations to Paula Faris on her official Facebook page.

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