On 15-17 October, The Queen visited Lebanon and Mentor Arabia. The Mentor Foundation was established by The Queen and WHO 25 years ago.
On Tuesday 15 October, The Queen was welcomed by Lebanon's President and First Lady. During an audience, The Queen informed the Presidential couple about Mentor's work. The foundation's vision is a world where young people are empowered to make healthy decisions and live drug-free. In order to achieve this, the foundation works with mentoring for young people.
At the American University of Beirut, The Queen gave a speech in which she said:
"Today, we see a threatening decrease in physical and mental health. Mental health and substance use disorders are among the top public health concerns in many countries. One of our own recent surveys found that four out of ten suffer from anxiety about the future.
"If we want young people all over the world to live healthy and meaningful lives, we need to take these issues seriously – and respond to them forcefully."
Read the full speech here.
The visit to the university also included the launch of the Youth Mentoring Platform, a joint initiative between Mentor Arabia and the American University of Beirut. The programme aims to create a strengthening discussion forum for young people. The Youth Mentoring Platform is based on young people's own questions about the future and its challenges, as well as various themes to reinforce self-esteem, build faith in the future and contribute towards participants' positive development.
On the morning of Wednesday 16 October, The Queen visited René Moawad High School. There, The Queen learnt about Mentor's 4Z programme. The programme includes a strategy to reduce disruptive and aggressive classroom behaviour. During her visit, The Queen also spoke to the upper secondary school's pupils and teachers.
At lunchtime, The Queen attended Mentor Arabia's annual meeting. During the meeting, The Queen gave an address in which she said:
"Preventing harm to children and understanding the development needs of adolescents has been my life's work. Mentor Arabia was founded in 2006 in response to issues addressed at an Arab and international scientific forum in Dubai two years previously. And it makes me proud to stand here today together with my fellow Mentor colleagues. In our mission to empower youth globally, we are all part of the Mentor family."
Read the full speech here.
In the afternoon, The Queen visited the National Commission for Lebanese Women. The institution is headed up by Claudine Aoun, daughter of the Presidential couple. During her visit, The Queen attended a round table discussion where she listened to the stories of Lebanese women who have turned challenges and problems into opportunities and hope.
The Queen then travelled to the official residence of Ambassador Jörgen Lindström. There, The Queen met children from the organisation War Child. War Child's work gives children who have been affected by war the chance for a better future through psychosocial support, education and protection. The Queen's Care About the Children Foundation works with War Child, and has provided financial support for the organisation.
The day concluded with the ambassador hosting a dinner for The Queen and specially invited Lebanese guests.
On Thursday 17 October, The Queen began her final day in Lebanon with a visit to the Swedish Embassy in Beirut. There, The Queen had the opportunity to meet the staff of around 25 people, who are headed up by Ambassador Jörgen Lindström. Envoys from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Swedish Migration Agency work at the embassy, together with locally employed staff. They told The Queen about their various responsibilities within political reporting, aid work, migration issues and other areas. In addition to Sweden's interests in Lebanon, the embassy is also responsible for matters relating to Syria.
The Queen then travelled to Mentor Arabia's head office. Mentor Arabia's Executive Director Thuraya Ismail had invited a wide range of partners from ministries and civil society. During a meeting, the various Mentor programmes being carried out in the country and the region to support young people were discussed.
The journey to Lebanon was The Queen's first visit to the country, and on the Thursday afternoon she had the opportunity to see some of the country's sights. The Queen began by visiting the Jeita Grotto to see the spectacular limestone formations in the deep cave.
The Queen then visited Byblos, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
The programme in Lebanon ended on the Thursday evening with a dinner hosted by the Takreem Foundation in The Queen's honour. The Takreem Foundation works to highlight Arab organisations such as Mentor Arabia that carry out cutting-edge projects within society.