Raya Daouk first Lebanese woman elected to head a prestigious institution

Mrs. Raya Daouk won the Ivo Andrič European Cultural Prize as part of the activities of Italia è cultura, a prize honoring her work in the preservation and enhancement of Lebanese heritage and the protection of ancient sites and houses in Lebanon. As a result, Raya Daouk was elected president of the International University of the Mediterranean during a grand ceremony that took place in Palermo, Italy. 

The creation of the International University of the Mediterranean is the first stage of an international cooperation project in the fields of culture, science, civil society and new technologies. It is indeed the first time that high representatives of institutes, the academic world, civil society, scientific and industrial research in Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Ireland, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, whose Ministry of Culture was represented by two emissaries, decided to create a scientific, educational and multicentric structure which would have centers in several countries around the Mediterranean. 

During the ceremony which was attended by Archbishop Michele Pennisi as a representing of His Holiness Pope Francis, Ms. Daouk gave a speech that will be taught in the field of cultural communication, in which she stressed that « we have come from afar to celebrate together in this magical city steeped in history, a hymn to culture. Culture is very strongly linked to the beauty of the soul, and our culture has no dimension or price, it is there or it is not! » And she added: “All our people have dreams, the same dreams of happiness. We will be able to help them realize some of these dreams through culture with loyalty and pride,” adding, “Put aside our differences and use them to compose a sublime mosaic that would serve as an example for future generations. » Daouk underlined that “Our countries, so enchanting with the strength of contrasts, the violence of worries and the sweetness of the art of living, mutilated by wars, are not made to die, but rather to reinvent life. We don’t forget our tragedies, we reintegrate them into our memory”. She reiterated that “through culture, we could think, fight together to act better. We have come to sow this seed which will become the grand tree of our future”, adding: “We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children”. Ms. Raya Daouk, President of APSAD, an organization which for years has done valuable work restoring and enhancing ancient sites and houses in Lebanon, is a woman who has made culture a vehicle for peace and prosperity throughout the Middle East. 

The honorary president of the new organization is Professor Mounir Bouchenaki, former director of the division of culture and the list of cultural heritage, former deputy director general for culture of UNESCO and former director general of ICCROM, and who also received an honorary degree from the Jean Monnet University of European Studies in Gorazde for his excellent work in these fields. The lawyer Renzo Persico, president of the Costa Smeralda Consortium, a tourist destination that has represented for more than twenty years, excellence in world tourism and is a true point of reference on how to reconcile modern perception with natural and cultural heritage  of  territory, was elected vice-president of the international organization. The board also includes Dr. Gihane Zaki, world renowned Egyptologist, former director of the Egyptian Academy in Rome and parliamentarian, Professor Antonio Palma from the University of Palermo, and Professor Salvatore Messina, Rector of the Jean Monnet University of European Studies in Gorazdi. 

It is worth noting that this is the first time that a Lebanese woman has been called upon to lead an institution of such high level which encompasses the cultural, touristic and educational aspects of technological innovation, business and new jobs creation in this vast territory.