October 20, 2018

A Ceremony of Merit to Abir Ali

The time has come to say ‘until next time’ to a brilliant, dedicated and effective diplomat, who leaves behind many great accomplishments and a plethora of newfound friends.

Diplomat Magazine celebrated Ms. Abir Ali, Charge d’Affaires of Lebanon for her successful time in the Netherlands by awarding her a Certificate of Merit. The event was packed with colleagues, ambassadors, and personal friends. The room filled to the point of needing more chairs, hugs and gifts were exchanged, and many congratulated Ms. Ali for her wonderful work while in The Hague.

After the playing of the Dutch and Lebanese national anthems, H.E. Abdelouahab Bellouki, Ambassador of Morocco, took the floor to analyze the deeper meaning of Abir’s name in different cultures and her outstanding career. Additionally, he mentioned her exceptional performance in The Hague and emphasized their personal friendship.

“What a task?”, said Ambassador Bellouki “Definitely it is a bitter occasion. A painful event. It is not an easy moment, because we are here today to bid goodbye to a charming, nice and kind person. A person we do not wish to depart. As someone said in a similar occasion: “We started with a simple hello but ended with a complicated goodbye.”

For additional Roy Strik’s pictures, please open the following link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/121611753@N07/albums/72157687140778322


Ambassadors from more than 50 countries came to say goodbye to Ms Abir Ali. Some of then here on the picture.

“Abir is the personification of class and grace, of elegance and style and even glamor. Educated, wise and full of charm. She is the person you hope to be seated next to her at a dinner party. A distinguished representative of her country, the beautiful Lebanon. Abir is known for her dedication to her job and engagement for positive endeavors. Her sterling qualities force respect and consideration. She is gifted by humane and professional qualities. Even though she is one-person embassy, she succeeded in making the voice of Lebanon heard in the Netherlands on many fronts.”

Ms. Ali’s personal qualities and overextended network deemed worthy of a second speaker, this time the Cameroon Ambassador and dear friend of Abir, H.E. Odette Melono. Ms. Melono took to the floor to praise Ms. Ali’s contributions to the diplomatic community of the Hague. Ms. Melono stated,

“Well, what can I say about Abir? As soon as I met her when she arrived in February 2013, I realized how special she was. Abir is not only a friendly, elegant lady, she is someone who really connects to people on a personal level.”

“You have been a successful diplomat but also a wonderful representative of the Lebanese  culture, hospitality and cuisine. We are all going  to miss your warm and well organised parties.”

H.E. Abdelouahab Bellouki, Ambassador of Morocco, H.E. Odette Melono, Ambassador of Cameroon, Ms Abir Ali and the Ambassador of Korea, H.E. Yun Young Lee.

Ms. Abir Ali’s farewell words were dedicated to her colleagues, the Hague’s international institutions including the ICC and the OPCW in which she played a powerful role, the Netherlands as a host country, and Diplomat Magazine.

“Four years and eight months later, I can say that we do have warmer relations and better knowledge of each other. Indeed, the last years witnessed a strengthening of the ties between our countries. For the past years, Lebanon has been facing an unprecedented burden caused by the Syrian refugee crisis.

Lebanon and the Lebanese did not shy away from their responsibilities and opened their homes and hearts to their (our) brothers the Syrians. But this did not come without a cost…

H.E. Odette Melono, Ambassador of Cameroon.

The values of tolerance, pluralism, openness, and acceptance of one another make Lebanon a model country where people of different religious denominations know that once they resort to dialogue and not war, all conflicts can be resolved and people can live peacefully together. The history, culture, art, and cuisine that give Lebanon its unique place in the Middle East, and the world.

With the limited means at my disposal, material and human, I tried to showcase the best of Lebanon and to introduce Lebanon to the Dutch by organizing business events, art exhibitions as well as wine tasting event, and everything in between. I would like to give special thanks to the Embassy staff and the Residence staff for their help and support.”

H.E. Fernando Arias, Ambassador of Spain and next OPCW Director General and his spouse Patricia van Oordt de Arias together with the Ambassador of Chile, H.E. Maria Teresa de Jesus Infante Caffi.

The reception was a tremendous manifestation of friendship among colleagues from every continent. A guest described the atmosphere as a ‘salon was full of love.’ To preserve the memory, group pictures with all ambassadors together were taken.

However, instead of lining up in U.N. order, the ambassadors simply gathered in enthusiasm wearing smiles on their faces.

The merriness continued as teary-eyed participants joined together to sing ‘Happy Birthday’

Apostolic Nuncio, H.E. Aldo Cavalli, who was completely taken by surprise. The music of Fayrouz and Paolo Conte, favourites of Ms Ali started, filled the room. Guests shared an enormous delicious cake made by Marta Orban, an exclusive creation for Ms Abir Ali.

It featured the Lebanon flag, pastel colors and enormous bouquet of sugar flowers representing her attachment and loyalty for her country, her joy and her beauty.

H.E. Aldo Cavalli, Apostolic Nuncio and Ms Abir Ali, cutting together a festive cake celebrating the meaningful occasion.

Many thanks to Diplomatic Card and Carlton Ambassador Hotel.


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