Dubbo family welcomes Lebanon's Ambassador

IT IS not every day the Lebanese Ambassador comes to town, and the Letfallah family made sure he saw what Dubbo had to offer on his short visit.

Jean Daniel, the Lebanese Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, was invited to come to Dubbo by local resident George Letfallah and his family.

The two met about four years ago on Lebanese Independence Day in Canberra, an event Mr Letfallah was invited to attend including many other members of the Australian Lebanese community.

Mr Letfallah described the city of Dubbo to Mr Daniel and the ambassador liked what he heard, promising he and his wife would pay a visit to the hub of the central west this year.

Mr Daniel and his wife Mireille got quite the reception from the Letfallah family, who made it their duty to show the couple around Dubbo's hotspots to let them see why they called it home.

"We've enjoyed every minute of our time with Jean and Mireille," Mr Letfallah said.

"We went walking along the Macquarie River, we did a Christmas lights tour and went to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, and they absolutely loved it."

He said it was Mr Daniel's first visit to Dubbo and the couple were in awe of the city's scenery and 'quietness', which was much like Canberra.

"I'm so happy they came to Dubbo - it's like I won the Lotto."

Mr Daniel said Dubbo was a very nice place and he was glad he came.

"I'm very proud of the Lebanese community in Dubbo who have come to this city and worked hard and achieved a lot. It's a place where the children have been well educated," he said.

"I'm so pleased that Dubbo is very accepting of new cultures, as well as the rest of Australia."

Arriving on Christmas Day, Mr and Mrs Daniel said the Christmas spirit was spread throughout the community, amidst a time of civil war in Syria (a neighbouring country of Lebanon).

"As the Pope (Benedict XVI) said, we need peace. Not just in Syria but the whole region," he said.

"At each (Lebanese) Independence Day, we invite the Lebanese community to come and celebrate our culture, despite what is happening back home. It's also a great way for a few different cultures to come together."

He said a number of Australian politicians attended this year's Independence Day ceremony, including former Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock and member for Parramatta Julie Owens.

Lebanese Independence Day is celebrated on November 22 and is a national day celebrated in remembrance of the liberation from the French Mandate, which was exercised over Lebanese soil for more than 23 years.

The Embassy of Lebanon can be found in Red Hill, ACT.

anthony.cini@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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