Chance of a life­time

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE - Hanna An­bar

Since the ad­vent of the 197590 Civil War, Le­banon has had a rep­u­ta­tion as a caul­dron of con­flict for much of the world that doesn’t truly know the coun­try.

Yet even West­ern­ers to­day ad­mit that Le­banon is cur­rently an oa­sis of peace in a re­gion rife with con­flict and vi­o­lence. How the ta­bles have turned. More­over, with the pos­si­bil­ity of size­able off­shore oil and gas re­serves, we stand on the precipice of a po­ten­tially mas­sive wind­fall from en­ergy ex­trac­tion, funds that can not only prop up our econ­omy but also help re­duce our fuel im­port costs, the drain on the Trea­sury from sub­si­dies and, most im­por­tantly, the mas­sive pub­lic debt.

Fur­ther­more, $11 bil­lion in pledges from last year’s CEDRE con­fer­ence is just wait­ing for us to tap so we can over­haul our in­fra­struc­ture and im­ple­ment re­forms in nu­mer­ous sec­tors that can help cat­a­pult Le­banon into the fu­ture.

We even have some of the most im­pres­sive moun­tain snows­capes that are sure to draw tourism dur­ing this ski sea­son.

Yes, our coun­try finds it­self in an en­vi­able sit­u­a­tion that al­most no one could have pre­dicted. By all rights we should be cel­e­brat­ing our good for­tune, while the coun­try’s youth should be thank­ing their lucky stars that these de­vel­op­ments man­i­fested dur­ing their prime.

In­stead, the brain drain con­tin­ues, mer­chants lament the lack of com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity, busi­nesses con­tinue shut­ting down and politi­cians still bicker among them­selves over seats, port­fo­lios and ego.

For decades we prayed for an op­por­tu­nity that would turn things around for us, and now that the uni­verse has con­spired for ev­ery­thing to fall into place, we are squan­der­ing the chance to truly make Le­banon a bea­con of hope in this trou­bled re­gion.

This op­por­tu­nity will not last for­ever, and while it’s here we should grab it with both hands and trans­form our coun­try into a model of pros­per­ity, a demon­stra­tion of what can be achieved when all in­volved co­op­er­ate and col­lab­o­rate for mu­tual suc­cess.

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