Back in 2010, it was Dr Michel Daher’s mission to create something better for Lebanon. He envisaged a platform upon which the most distinguished individuals could be honoured for their contribution to the nation. When he took the initiative to inaugurate the very first Beirut International Awards Festival, under the patronage of President Michel Sleiman, he could not have foreseen that over the course of a decade his initial idea would grow to symbolize distinction and progress across the whole Arab region.
Established to honour the achievements of Lebanon’s most distinguished individuals, BIAF has become an integral part of the Lebanese cultural calendar. Now in its 11th year, the awards ceremony is broadcast live across no less than ten television stations. Each edition is dedicated to a past Lebanese icon; among those who have been honored are former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and celebrated writer Kahlil Gibran.
The astounding success of BIAF garnered international recognition and the attention of the GCC. Dr Daher was thus approached to deliver an event celebrating the entire Arab region, and so the Distinctive International Arab Festivals Awards were born. Since 2017, DIAFA has been taking place annually at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, honoring the achievements of distinguished individuals in the fields of art, humanitarian services, business, and beyond. With a Jury Committee comprised of renowned international experts, academics, and entertainers, DIAFA has come to represent the best of the Middle East, conveying it with befitting grandeur to the world.
Amidst the challenges of a worldwide pandemic and the tragic explosion which shook Beirut last August, events such as BIAF and DIAFA are more important than ever to re-energize and inspire communities. The Together for a Better Tomorrow charitable initiative has been run in conjunction with both awards since their inception. Delivering programs in aid of community progress are at the heart of this endeavour. In 2019, the program awarded 200 scholarships to Lebanese students. This year, Together for a Better Tomorrow is dedicated to the people of Beirut. The Beirut Anbar 12 project, named after the section of the port where the explosion took place, was created to provide aid to individuals severely injured in the tragedy.
Dr Daher has always striven to promote peace, prosperity, and happiness through his work. Despite the region being hard hit in recent months, there is still much to showcase, and nothing more so than the distinguished achievements of the people themselves. It is with the long-term goal of restoring peace to the region that preparations for the 4th DIAFA are well underway. The awards, set to return in Dubai this November, are indeed inspiring hopes for new beginnings.