On the occasions of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, observed annually on 6 and 8 June respectively, “Believe in Lebanon” NGO, represented by its founder Colette Haddad, launched two art exhibitions in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut), ATCL Club and Octopus Team that includes water divers. The exhibitions were held under the patronage of Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury, Minister of Tourism Avedis Guidanian, and Minister of Environment Tarek Al-Khatib.
The exhibitions included paintings, sculptures, mosaics and various artworks by 85 different artists that were displayed in ATCL’s hall as the main exhibition area for three days, while 150 were exhibited under water, with the purpose of breaking a new Guinness Record for the Greatest Under-Water Gallery. The underwater exhibition was filmed and screened at the opening ceremony. The record-winning figure so far was by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Center in 2014 in Dubai, which featured 100 photos under water. It is worth mentioning that the underwater exhibition will remain until the end of the summer.
On this occasion, UNIC Beirut’s Director Margo Helou said the United Nations has included conserving the oceans, seas and marine resources as main targets in the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, for their importance in sustaining the planet and preserving it for future generations. Helou added that this year’s World Environment Day and World Oceans Day adopted the same theme, “Beating Plastic Pollution” to raise the alarm over the tremendous harm caused by plastic pollution to our marine resources, considered to be the lungs of our planet. UNIC Beirut’s Director also commended Haddad’s efforts in shedding light on the importance of conserving and using environmental resources in a sustainable manner.
For her part, Haddad said that “Believe in Lebanon” has adopted SDG 14 and is working within its framework. “From here came our first activity to organize those two exhibitions, one at ATCL Club and the other underwater in the sea,” she said. Haddad added that these two exhibitions represented a call for all people to preserve the water environment. “We wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of pollution, because there is no life without clean water”.
The launch featured a poetic statement by artist Assaad Rechdan, who spoke on behalf of Octopus Team, being a professional diver himself. Rechdan said that art stands at the heart of life, nature, and humanity, “Fine arts tops the hierarchy; and diving beautifies sports. He added that those two art exhibitions indicate that “there still exist people who work to preserve the cleanliness and beauty of the country despite all odds, to re-surface Lebanon as the country of beauty, love and life.”
Attendees in the opening ceremony included Ali Al Samad representing Minister Khoury, Joseph Al Asmar representing Minister Al-Khatib, Cynthia Darrous Khoury, UNIC Beirut’s Public Information Officer, representing the Centre’s Director Margo Helou, Ambassador of Armenia to Lebanon Samvel Mkrtchian, Alfa Telecom Chairman and CEO Marwan Hayek, Head of the Civil Defense Regional Maritime Rescue Unit Samir Yazbeck representing the Director General of the Lebanese Civil Defense General Raymond Khattar, Head of Octopus Team Antranig Haddad, in addition to a crowd of politicians, diplomats, media professionals, athletes, artists, divers and other interested parties.
Haddad presented honorary awards to the Ministries of Culture, Environment and Tourism, UNIC Beirut, Alfa Telecom, Sannine mineral water plant, BMB Group for Information and Communication Technology, Global Auditing Enterprise, 3 diving clubs, and ATCL.
Collette Haddad had previously entered the Guinness Book of Records in 2015, for "The Largest Underwater Painting", spanning an area of 6 square meters.