During the “Lebanese Diaspora Energy”
meeting in Beirut, Mr Ricardo Karam was the master of ceremony of the event, his diplomatic approach, beautiful presentation, direct questions, make you enjoy his questions and feel like you share a lot with this intellectual person, born in the Diaspora (Venezuela), and works from Lebanon, and all over the globe.
A natural man of the media, Ricardo Karam knew exactly how to capture the spectators’ attention since his early career years. His straight-to-the-point yet diplomatic approach when hosting his guests, has allowed him to leave a definite mark in the communication and media field.
Born in Caracas to Lebanese parents, Ricardo Karam carried both South-American and Middle-Eastern cultures. This mix shaped his character and led him to look for wider horizons and touch the unreachable on the international scene.
He founded RK Productions, a production and consulting company with production expertise, business and marketing strategies specializing in television format creation across local and global television and media markets, helping clients target their audience and deliver their message. Almost two decades of successful series, interspersed with documentaries and Talk Shows presented by Ricardo Karam on all the leading Lebanese and Arab television stations, have combined to establish Ricardo as one of the most sought after media personalities in the region featuring the Dalai Lama, Farah Pahlavi, Noor Al Hussein, Kofi Annan, the Abbe Pierre, Luciano Pavarotti, Charles Aznavour, Celine Dion, Andre Agassi, Jacques Chirac, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Zaha Hadid, Philippe Stark, Ivo Pitanguy, Paolo Coelho and many others.
In 2008, Karam conceived “TAKREEM” foundation, an exceptional initiative aiming at celebrating Arab achievements around the globe. The latter originally stemmed from his determination to stand against negative stereotypes of Arabs, often perceived as terrorists, extremists or buffoons as well as to inspire youth. Every year, TAKREEM culminates in a colossal ceremony hosting more than 600 guests of international scale, whereby 8 Arab figures or institutions are awarded for making a difference in 8 different fields of action.
An accomplished writer, Ricardo Karam published two main books: “Privileged Encounters”-2000, where he encompassed the best and most important of his exclusive interviews; and “The Lebanese Paris”-2005, a book that dwelled on 30 of the life years the Lebanese community spent in Paris with hints to the civil war and the Lebanese conflict.
Receiving several distinctions, Ricardo Karam has been an active speaker and mediator in key economic, cultural and media forums whether in the region or the world. He currently serves on the board of several academic institutions, associations and NGOs.
“The Lebanese heritage” had the privilege to interview him.
Interview with Nick Kahwaji
1-What was your role in the preparation and conduct of this Conference?
I was abroad when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigration contacted me a couple of weeks prior to the Conference. I only met with the organizers upon my return a few days before the event. Of course, in order to contribute to the initiative, I suggested a list of people likely to be interesting speakers. However, it was a short notice and most of the people contacted were unable to attend. Accordingly, I somehow “put all my soul” in my mission as the Master of Ceremony to give this Forum its fair and best value.
2-On the spot, the first day of the event, what were your initial feelings in front of Lebanese emigrants coming from all over the world?
Having been a pioneer in the field of ” Success Stories ” of Lebanese emigrants, I had the satisfaction of having somehow reached my goals. Finally, the Lebanese Diaspora will not only serve as an example to those in Lebanon, but maybe they will be able to help each other. I saw in the eyes of each participant, from all parts of the world, a true desire to build a Lebanese lobby that will allow our country to regain its place on the international scene.
3-What were the stronger and weaker elements of the course of two days?
On one hand, I would have preferred to have a younger crowd involved both from the emigrant’s side and the native’s one. Secondly, the intervention of panellists generally seems more interesting than the speakers involved individually. Nevertheless, I must admit that the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigration all along the two-day Conference is something never seen, a rare occurrence! It shows a real desire to lay the groundwork for this ambitious Lebanese lobby.
4-What personality or speech impressed you the most?
As in any forum, whether local or international, the speakers are not all equal. Some impact and subjugate you and others fail to captivate their audience. At this forum, the most interesting speakers took an outspoken stand and created a real communion of mind projecting the vision of a bright future for Lebanon and the Lebanese of all countries. However, the highlight of the forum was the presentation of Dr. Paul Serhal.
5 – Upon hearing the speakers, what did you like most?
Undoubtedly, the introductory speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigration was the fieriest of all. It attracted the attention of all attendees as its expressed real desire to see the materialisation of the Lebanese lobby. But the important thing is continuity, and that leads to a permanent action in this Ministry beyond a change of staff.
6 – Have you had meetings (interesting) with an impact?
Certainly, I did meet a lot of interesting people. It is true that lack of time- my schedule being more than busy continuously- did not allow me to attend lunches or dinners organized in the framework of the forum, but I still initiated contacts and hopefully will build strong relationships in order to invigorate the Lebanese lobby.
7 – Have you liked the proposed economic project?
The main focus of the forum is to cross the know-how of local Lebanese entrepreneurs with investments from the Lebanese diaspora, as well as to cross the know-how of the Lebanese immigrants with the benefits of the Lebanese productive tool. The goal is to share experiences, foster relationships and investment, and open fields of new possibilities. The ultimate goal is to change the Lebanese economic system from a rentier state (that emphasizes savings to investment and expects donations) to a production economy.
8 – What do believe about the project of building a memorial for the dead Lebanese aboard the Titanic?
When I think of Lebanese deceased in difficult conditions, I refer of course to the Lebanese war. But if one looks more closely, it is true that the Lebanese deceased aboard the Titanic were third class passengers for the most. Travelers bound for the Americas to begin a new life away from the Lebanese Mountain fratricidal struggle, the Ottoman despotism and famine that eventually killed a third of the Lebanese population in the early 1900s. Finally, when one thinks about it, their suffering and sad endings are worth being commemorated by a memorial.
9-Did you take decisions in relation to your attitude or commitment to your country?
My commitment to my country is a vocation! It is the common thread of all my activity: my TV shows), my documentaries, my books (www.ricardokaram.com)… TAKREEM (www.takreem.net), were born of the desire to motivate our youth to believe in themselves and their future, following the example of the people TAKREEM highlights.
9-Do you have some things to say to the Diaspora?
You are the children of Lebanon and Lebanon awaits you with arms wide open. And it is together that we shall build bridges between the land of the ancestors and its scattered children around the world.
10 – Will you attend the conference, which will take place in February?
I will surely do.