Lebanon/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.1 Organisational structure (organigram)

The Ministry of Culture is a young ministry in Lebanon and was created under the name "Ministry of Culture and Higher Education" by virtue of Law 215 of, 1993. This law was amended by virtue of article 11 of Law 247 of 2000 which gave the ministry its present name. The current organizational structure of the Ministry of Culture was approved under Law No. 35 in 16102008

The organizational structure of ministry of culture is completely different in the new law than the way it was in the last law; and this is exactly what we find in the chart below that shows the compatibility as well as solidity of the new structure.

However, before going through the structure, it is necessary to mention that the new law has identified new and modern definitions to keep pace with the development of cultural sector that Lebanese society had witnessed during the few last decades, and thus, the project has incorporated new concepts that has been totally absent in ancient texts for example:

Heritage: the various works of creativity emanating from society and are tradition-based reflecting the cultural and social identity of the Lebanese society with all its groups, regions and historic eras which are verbally circulated or through other forms of expressions including arts, crafts, culture, traditional architecture and the like.

Historic property: including movable as well as immovable property which have historic value and do not belong to the antiquities or heritage as specified above, including: constructions, buildings, monuments, edifices, artifacts, documents, sites, historic neighborhoods.

Arts: the various forms of expressions that result in the production of an artwork including: plastic arts, theater and performance arts, music, architecture.

Literature and intellectual creations: including all published and non-published works in the field of intellectthought which do not fall under other categories of cultural material identified in this article of the law.

Cultural industries: include all forms of expressions that fall under the following names: the art of cinema, the art of mass media, multi-techniques arts, activities of disseminating cultural productions, etc...

Back to the structure, the first characteristic of the new legislation lies in unification / integration of the legislation. The law No.382008 has become the only governing law for the bodies of the MoC, as article 31 of the aforementioned law has nullified all acts that violate its rules or are inconsistent with its content, after the organization of the Ministry was based on four different laws issued before 2008. Indeed, the unification of laws in one law doesn`t only ensures clarity, logical sequence and smoothness in terms of the form, it would further guarantee the minimum level of consistency and integration among its clauses and provisions; a feature the old legislations has lacked.

In addition to the unification of the legislation, the new law is characterized by a fully-integrated identification of the powers and functions of the different bodies in the Ministry, where the legislator followed a consistent and systematic approach to identify the purpose and powers of each Directorate separately (1), identify their function in details (2), identify the affiliated departments (3), as well as the functions of the latter (4).

This legislation contributes to ensure the standard of specialization in the work of the various bodies of the Ministry whose functions and powers– as described above – contradict with each other due to the multiplicity of legislations governing it. Table 1 below summarizes the most important powers and functions of the newly-created directorates, knowing that at this stage we restricted our focus on the functions of the directorates involved in cultural affairs, and excluded all matters relating to antiquities as this field exceeds the scope of the present study. The third characteristic we believe necessary to highlight is related to human resources and functions that have been introduced by the new law, as well as the qualifications it enjoined to assume these positions posts as described below in table 2. (The table is also restricted on the functions of departments and directorates exclusively concerned with cultural affairs).

Last but not the least, the law No.352008 created two funds in the Ministry called " Cultural Activities & Industries support funds" and " Antiquities & Historic and Heritage Establishments funds". The first Funds aims to support programs and activities on areas dealt with by the General Directorate of Cultural Affairs, contribute in financing the production of cultural industries, knowledge economy and its activities, and supports in particular the production and marketing of films, documents, audio-visual publications. The second Funds – on the other hand – specializes in financing public and private projects designed for prospection, excavation and detection of archeological, heritage and historical sites, groups and installations, as well as maintaining protection, reconditioning, development and preparation to be used by public, in addition to enhancing and restoration of the collection of movable archeological property, knowing that executive decrees leading to organizing them have not been issued yet."

While Decree No. 622 has attempted, in particular, to organize units of the General Directorate for Cultural Affairs and the Joint Administrative Department and identify its functions, cadres, and conditions of appointments[1]. Being confined to only three Directorates, by virtue of Decree No. 35, two other Directorates have been added to the General Directorate for Cultural Affairs: 

  1. Arts and Literature Directorate (Law No. 35)
  2. Directorate of Cultural Manufacturing and Economy of Knowledge
  3. Directorate for Cooperation and National coordination
  4. The Diwan Department (updated Department by virtue of Decree 622; which is divided into a section for Administrative Affairs and a section for Financial Affairs, and a section for Foreign Relations).
  5. Regional Departments in each Governorate (updated Department by virtue of Decree 622). 

According to Decree No. 622, the Arts and Literature Directorate has been divided to the following: 

  1. Fine Arts Department
  2. Non-material Cultural Heritage
  3. Theatre and Scenes Arts Department
  4. Literary and Intellectual Production Department, Translation and Publishing
  5. Books and Reading Department 

Whereas the Directorate of Cultural Industries and Economy of knowledge has been divided according to Decree No. 622 to the followings:

  1. Cinema Department
  2. Audio-Visual Arts Department
  3. Multiple Technologies Arts Department
  4. Music Department
  5. Achieve and Restoration Department

The functions of each of the above mentioned Departments have been identified. In that context, we can notice that the Decree overlooked the importance of archiving and documenting of everything that is connected to the Arts and Literature Directorate, suggesting that Theatre and Scenes Arts Department or Fine Arts or Non-material Cultural Heritage need no documentation, archiving, nor restoration.

The Directorate of National Co-operation and Co-ordination was divided into:

  1. Exhibitions and Festivals Department
  2. Intellectual Property and International standard and Punctuation Department
  3. Professional Unions and Civil Associations Department
  4. UNESCO Palace Department
  5. National Co-operation and Cultural Centers Department.

While each of the four Directorates that are affiliated to the General Directorate for Cultural Affairs undergone detailed determination of its functions, the section of “Regional Departments” was limited to a simple and loose definition in one article which is Article 24: “establishes a regional department in each Governorate that holds the full range of tasks carried on by the Central Directorates that be linked to the latter in the respective area of competence”.

Here the question arises about the role of that Regional Departments in the presence of the National Cooperation and Coordination Directorate that includes National Cooperation Department, and why are they separate? The presence of the Joint Administrative Directorate also offers another chance to contain the service within its branches.

The Joint Administrative Directorate included:

  1. Administrative and Legal Department
  2. Personnel Department
  3. Finance and Supplies Department
  4. Informatics and Statistics Department
  5. Guardianship Department
  6. Public Relations Department

The purpose of creating this ministry, according to its website, is to establish a single reference authority capable of looking after all aspects of the country's cultural life.

Thus the Ministry of Culture is now in charge of all the administrations involved in cultural affairs after they were previously under the authority of various unrelated and uncoordinated official authorities.

This situation made the state unable to adopt a harmonious cultural policy in administrational and institutional levels. It is also known that other culture-related fields are still under the helm of other ministries.

The following ministries were in charge of the country's cultural affairs prior to 1993: Ministry of National Education and Fine Arts (currently Ministry of Education and Higher Education), Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Labor.

The persons in charge of the research set up the following structure pursuant to the Law pertaining to the organization of the Ministry of Culture and the Law pertaining to the public institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Culture. 

 Administratively independent public institutions under the authority of the Minister of Culture:

  • General Authority for Museums
  • National Library
  • National Higher Institute for Music

As for governorates, administrative districts and municipalities and its role in designing the cultural policies in Lebanon; it is necessary to clarify that municipalities enjoy legal personality and administrative and financial autonomy. The administrative organization in Lebanon depends on governorates and districts as the country is divided into six governorates and each one, except Beirut, includes a number of districts.

Governorates are merely administrative divisions by the state and don’t enjoy legal personality. The governorate is managed by a civil servant appointed pursuant to a decision issued by the Prime Ministry and represents different ministries except for the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of National Defense. The mayor is considered the head of the state employees in the governorate as well as the administrative districts. Therefore, the mayor manages the ministry’s affiliated bodies in the governorate and different communications between the central administration at the nation’s capital and directorates in the governorate center or the districts shall be conducted through his office.

The mayor enjoys wide authorities within the governorate such as security, health and education affairs, protecting personal freedoms and preserving private property. The role of the mayor isn’t limited to the departments referring to the central administration and goes beyond to the independent interests by practicing a custodian authority and the local administrations, i.e. municipalities, by practicing a supervisory authority. 

On the ground, the mayor has never practiced any instinctive developmental role or distinguished activity where everything is decided by the central administration level while the mayor simply implements such decisions. The governorate council establishment decree had never seen the light in any governorate despite the fact that the establishment law was issued 40 years ago except for the case of Mount Lebanon governorate as the council was established last year to undertake studying different issues concerning the improvement of the developmental, economic, agricultural, health and social sides in the governorate and to ensure the preparation of the needed credit projects to revive villages with no municipalities and supervise the implementation of the approved works and projects.

On the other hand, districts are considered to be the smaller circles which don’t enjoy legal personality or any financial or administrative autonomy. It remains, similar to the governorates, as administrative divisions by the state managed by a civil servant, the district commissioner, who enjoys similar authorities and refers to the mayor. All reports and correspondence of the district commissioner shall go through the mayor’s office.

As regards the administrative organization, Lebanon relied on the one level decentralized system represented in the municipality; the only elected body which enjoys legal personality and financial and administrative autonomy in addition to its connection with the central authority represented in ministers, mayors and district commissioners through the control authority they practice.

Thus, municipalities may assume a very important role in designing local cultural policies. Many municipalities, even relatively small ones, are well aware of their responsibility in this regard and are designing development plans. Large municipalities such as Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon are more capable, since there income is considerable, to contribute in developing and implementing cultural policies. Some municipalities are aware of the role they should assume in this regard but their contribution is more linked to sponsorships and not based on intermediate and long term plans.

It should be noted here that the Municipality of Beirut enjoys a special status where the executive powers fall directly under the control of the Mayor of Beirut. The Council makes decisions to be implemented by the Municipality staff after being approved by the Mayor; and this exactly what cripples the Municipality of Beirut since there is no department specifically dedicated for cultural affairs. The cultural aspect has never been an essential concern. On several occasions, the Municipality organizes cultural activities with associations of civil society, offering them intangible care i.e. its presence in such activities, as well as financial support whenever affordable. Consequently, these activities are held exclusively on specific occasions without having a clear cultural plan.

There are some projects supported by the Municipality on a clear and annual basis including exhibitions, public libraries and museums. These are considered steady lists for the budget to build on; such as the Independence Festival $100,0002013, City Theater and Shams Festival.

The Municipality of Beirut also provides annual support for activities related to book fairs, such as the support provided for Assabil Association that participates annually with Region ile de France (RIF)in the French Book Fair, in addition to the 2,000,000 LL annual financial support to finance its expenditures on managing public libraries. The Municipality also provides the Outdoor Reading Festival with the Wood of Beirut as a logistic support as well as a grant of 50,000$. In regard of public libraries (also included within the steady list), the Municipality has developed a plan to establish 7 libraries in the city of Beirut – 3 of them have been constructed and being used, the other 4 have been under construction at the beginning of 2014. The designs are submitted free of charges by Region ile de France. The Municipality of Beirut also provides support for the Annual Festival of Science Days held by the Committee of Science under the Ministry of Culture through providing the hippodrome to display science projects undertaken by school and university students, in addition to a grant of 50,000$. The city of Geneva offers the same grant.

In order to achieve all these mega projects, the Municipality of Beirut – in addition to its budget – usually receives financial support from the Italian and French embassies, the city of Paris and other European cities, depending on the events it undertakes.

There are also large-scale projects related to museums where the Municipality sees itself as the only authority to have a clear annual plan. For example, projects that the Municipality is working on in 2013. Some of which has been launched before this date and others are under construction but the implementation is more likely to be delayed due to several reasons; most importantly is the bureaucracy even within the Municipality`s administrative body, and other reasons related to pending a financial plan that may not see the light unless some grants from private entities are offered – as already mentioned – for festival-centered projects for example.

Examples of such projects are: Beit Beirut (The House of Beirut) or Beirut Memory Museum, originally Barakat Building, is now under restoration in order to return to its original shape and become "The Yellow House" in 2014. The project costs $20 million to be completed. The technical support and consultation has been provided by a specialized team from the Municipality of Paris, however, the project was designed by Lebanese architect Youssef Haidar.

Beirut National Museum[1]: to be implemented at the Martyrs` Square by virtue of a grant from the Kuwait Funds, but the project has not been initiated yet although considered a priority by the Municipality.

The Municipality will also renovate one of its buildings located in Dora Suburb to become a cultural house for the city of Beirut. The Municipal Council has formerly asked to acquire the municipal administration building rproposing to turn create a cultural center, theater, and training rooms for all art forms. The Council deemed it necessary that the city of Beirut should has a public cultural center to be available for all influencers and activists in the cultural field in order to take advantage of the different halls and to have a permanent exhibition hall. However, the Municipality has not submitted the Request for Proposal yet.

The Project of "Beit Fairouz”, located in Zuqaq el Blatt,aims to turn the house into permanent exhibition or into a boutique hotel. Actually, the acquisition Decree of this house is in the custody of the Council of Ministers and the Municipality is waiting for the decree to be issued in order to be able to buy the house. The acquisition decrees have been sitting in drawers since 2008, despite the absence of any compelling reason to delay the signing of the decree.

Beit Fairouz is on the properties No.565 and 567, with the first area rising to 430 square meters and the second to 290 square meters. They are spread between 17 owners of the following families: Tarazi, Jadaa, Nahkleh and Dagher. On 29 July 29 2010, the former Minister of Culture, Salim Warde, listed them under “the annual historic buildings inventory list” under resolution No. 74.

Three years ago operations of survey and audit ended; it asserts that the construction of the three properties in need to complete restoration work acts, that the maps of the real estate are completed and ready. It also stated that the properties appraisal study was finished, which was developed by the “sworn expert at courts” civil engineer who submitted them to the Mayor on 25 June 2012. There is no reason for delaying the signing of the decree of expropriation by the President and the Prime Minister and Ministers of finance and interior[2].

Beit Beshara El Khoury is a permanent museum owned by a rich Iraqi figure, in Msaytbeh area, Karakol Al Druze. A financial provision was allocated to purchase the house and the expropriation decr ee is under process and follow-up.

Nicolas Sursock Museum in Achrafie, Sursock street, where the family wanted - as per its will - that the museum remains as endowment to Beirut Municipality. The Municipality allocated 5% of construction license for expanding and inaugurating this new space in the spring of 2015. The head of Beirut Municipality Council is in charge of museum management, in addition to family members forming with Municipal Council the administrative committee for museum management.

This space will become a permanent museum, open all days of the year for artists and students. The new building includes two main exhibition rooms,  one permanent and one variable by subject. In addition to the cultural activities, there are equipped conference halls and movie theatres, painting restoration facilities, a library that will be available for researchers and artists interested in Lebanese art history, and a restaurant. The cost of the restoration is $13 million, which has been secured by the municipality of Beirut.[3]

The project of Fairouz` House located in Zuqaq el Blatt to turn it into a permanent exhibition or a boutique hotel. The expropriation decree of this house is in the custody of the Cabinet, and the Municipality is pending the issuance of this decree so the house can be purchased.

House of Bechara El Khoury: is a permanent museum owned by a rich Iraqi located at Msaytbeh area, Karakol el Druze. A fiscal appropriation has been allocated to purchase the house, and the expropriation decree is being followed-up.

Nicolas Sursock Museum, Surcock St. Ashrafieh district: the family has determined by a will that the house remains an endowment for the Municipality of Beirut. 5% of the construction license fees have been allocated from the Municipality`s fund for this new space to be expanded and inaugurated in 2014. The chairman of Beirut Municipality is personally assuming the management of the museum as well as family members who – with the Municipal Council – form the administrative committee for the management of the museum.



[1] http://jo.pcm.gov.lb/j2014/j41/default.htm
[3] http://newspaper.annahar.com/article/44456


Chapter published: 07-04-2016