Lebanon will be present at Expo Milan 2015 in the Bio-mediterraneum Cluster. Through its 125 square meter pavilion, Lebanon will showcase its passion for life and its love for food. Commissioner General Simon Jabbour tells us about the central role that food plays in Lebanese culture and how the pavilion will engage visitors in the Lebanese way of life.
The theme you have chosen is "Lebanese art and soul." Could you tell us how food is at the heart of Lebanese culture?
Simon Jabbour: When asked about their most memorable experience in Lebanon, nine out of 10 visitors would respond by "it's food". It is a cuisine that brings the east and west together and is a true component of Lebaneese cultural identity with its Hummus, Tabbouleh, Kibbeh, Fattoush, Baba Ghanouj, Grape leaves, and Fatayer, together with the world-renowned Arak, and incredibly mouth-watering sweets.
Try to visit a Lebanese friend, you can't but notice their generosity and friendly welcome. Whether you are a local or a tourist, the visit is not complete until you are invited to dine there and try their homemade food. You will be surprised by how culturally important this is to the Lebanese people, and how delighted the hosts would be when you taste their food and enjoy the Lebanese culture on a dining table.
The pavilion of Lebanon will be very lively with workshops and shows. What will be the main activities visitors will be able to participate in or assist to?
The pavilion aims at offering visitors an interactive platform where they can get to learn more about Lebanese culture and cuisine. Visitors will be able to take cooking lessons, meet Lebanese chefs and taste Lebanon's finest cuisine. Thematic weeks will be organized to show visitors different aspects of Lebanese culture. There will be a wine week where the art of wine making and arak making will be showcased, a cultural dance week where Dbkeh teaching lesson will take place and a sweets week, among many other events. Shows will also be held with Lebanese celebrities and artists.
Lebanon will participate to the Biomediterraneum cluster. What are the advantages of participating to a Cluster?
Clusters aim at bringing together a variety of countries that shave similar grographies and challenges. The advantage is double: the Bio-Mediterranean Cluster will ensure good exposure of the lebanese participation and it will allow us to benefit from the flow of people visiting other pavilions of Cluster.
Dr Alain Hakim, Minister of Economy and Trade of Lebanon, has said the country's participation to the Expo would "bolster its entry into the European Market". In what way do you hope the Expo will serve as a springboard for economic relations of Lebanon with Europe and what activities will serve this objective during the Expo?
Offering Lebanese producers the chance to be present in such an event, is a great opportunity for them to enter, re-enter, or strengthen their presence in the European market as well as the international markets. They will be able to showcase and promote new products, meet potential partners and decision makers, capture new data for their customer database, and optimize their sphere of trading contacts.
You have said the Expo will be a "Tribute to Lebanese soul". What image of Lebanon do you hope to leave in the minds of the visitors?
In Expo 2015, we are committed to showing the world how Lebanon is still the Switzerland of the East, how it is still the Paris of the Middle East. Be it in its culture, arts, music, cuisine, personality, or passion for life.
It is vital to us to present the Lebanese beliefs and exhibit the generosity of the Lebanese culture, through its cuisine, people, soul, and hospitality.
We aim at showing the world how joyful and entertaining Lebanon is, and that there truly is a Lebanese way of life.