Meet the “communicator 2.0” and Arabic voice of diplomacy at the French Foreign Ministry

Special Meet the “communicator 2.0” and Arabic voice of diplomacy at the French Foreign Ministry
“My mission is to develop a social media presence through which French officials can talk to the Arab world about politics as well as culture, history, literature and sport,” said Patrice Paoli Ambassador. (AFP)
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Updated 28 March 2023

Meet the “communicator 2.0” and Arabic voice of diplomacy at the French Foreign Ministry

Meet the “communicator 2.0” and Arabic voice of diplomacy at the French Foreign Ministry
  • In the twilight of a long and distinguished career, Patrice Paoli is working to define the future of ministry’s interaction with the Arab world
  • He said his mission is to develop a social media presence through which French officials can talk to the Arab world about politics as well as culture, history, literature and sport

PARIS: Since his appointment on Jan. 23 as ambassador in charge of communication in Arabic for the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Patrice Paoli has been the Arab voice of French diplomacy in the media and on social networks.

He regularly posts messages and videos in Arabic on his official Twitter account, for example, and engages with users in discussions about the topics they cover.

This might not seem out of the ordinary in the internet age but it marks a significant development for a ministry previously known for its more conservative and persistently traditional approach to media and public relations.

Paoli, a former ambassador to Lebanon and several other countries, said his mission is to express France’s positions in more modern ways, far removed from the well-beaten path of formal press releases and written statements. He is, in a way, the “communicator 2.0” of the Quai d’Orsay, the home of the French Foreign Office, tasked with being the voice of France in the Arab media on issues related to foreign policy.

His post will develop over time, Paoli told Arab News en Francais, adding: “We’ll see how it evolves. My mission is to see if this means of communication is useful and what is its added value.

“The idea took shape last autumn when someone proposed this post to me after I returned from my post (as ambassador) in Cuba.”

The goal, he explained, is a more personalized form of communication and “to express ourselves about different topics in plain language by putting words to situations in a different way from a press release.” There is also a desire to share “a little of what France is and (break) the stereotypes people may have of the diplomat.”

The most important goal for Paoli is to set a template for the future by creating more empathy, and humanizing and putting a real face on institutional communications.

“I’m going to retire soon, so I’m working to define the post and establish it in the time I have left and to pass the baton to someone else next autumn,” he explained.

His mission is, above all, to develop a social media presence through which French officials can talk to the Arab world about political issues as well as culture, history, even literature and sport.

HIGHLIGHT

The most important goal for Paoli is to set a template for the future by creating more empathy, and humanizing and putting a real face on institutional communications.

He describes it as “a work of passion that I’m taking with the direction of communication and the press. It’s a complement to the remarkable work of this direction, in a world of communication that’s more and more complicated, where it’s necessary to go very quickly and take everything that’s happening into account.”

During a personal trip to Marseille a few days ago, Paoli posted several messages on Twitter touting the plurality of this Mediterranean city: A place of blended culture and the entry point to France in the south of the country.

While on a recent trip to Cairo to participate in a meeting of French ambassadors to the Middle East, he tweeted about his visit to the Pyramids of Giza, the recently renovated Blue Mosque, and his general impressions of returning to the large Arab capital after many years away.

As a specialist in the Arab world, Paoli was immersed in Arab culture during his youth as a result of the posts that his diplomat father held, and then as his own diplomatic career developed. This took him to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon, and he was also director of the Foreign Ministry’s North Africa and Middle East Department from 2008 to 2012.

His love for the Arabic language, among several other languages, dates back to his childhood. At the age of four, while his family lived in Washington, he learned English. Later, in Libya, he learned German and Russian.

He was introduced to Arabic when he attended a French high school in Tripoli, where it was a required class. He recalled that it was difficult to begin with but, such was his admiration for his Arabist diplomat father, in whose footsteps he dreamed of following, he persevered and won a prize for his ability in the language.

Paoli pursued his studies in classical Arabic at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris, then passed the Concours d’Orient to join the ranks of diplomats. It was therefore with great enthusiasm that, in the twilight of a long and distinguished career, he accepted his current post.

In a sense, his career has come full circle and it represents a most harmonious end to a professional life and a love of Arabic that began with the first book he read in the language, Tambo le Petit Lion — and he still treasures his copy, which has pride of place on a shelf in his office at the Quai d’Orsay.
 


Iran frees one Danish, two Austrian-Iranian citizens

Iran frees one Danish, two Austrian-Iranian citizens
Updated 02 June 2023

Iran frees one Danish, two Austrian-Iranian citizens

Iran frees one Danish, two Austrian-Iranian citizens
  • Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo informed the governments of Denmark and Austria of the release

BRUSSELS: Iran on Friday released one Danish and two Austrian-Iranian citizens it had been holding after mediation by Oman, and they are being flown to Belgium, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
He added that he had informed the governments of Denmark and Austria of the release, which came a week after Tehran freed a Belgian aid worker in exchange for an Iranian diplomat who was convicted on terrorism charges.


NATO chief to visit Turkiye for Erdogan inauguration

NATO chief to visit Turkiye for Erdogan inauguration
Updated 02 June 2023

NATO chief to visit Turkiye for Erdogan inauguration

NATO chief to visit Turkiye for Erdogan inauguration
  • Trip comes as pressure builds on Recep Tayyip Erdogan to drop his opposition to Sweden joining NATO
  • Turkiye and Hungary are the only two member countries yet to ratify Sweden’s membership bid

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will visit Turkiye at the weekend to attend the inauguration of re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and hold talks with him, the alliance said Friday.
The trip comes as pressure builds on Erdogan to drop his opposition to Sweden joining NATO.
Stoltenberg on Thursday said during a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Norway that he would soon visit Ankara to work toward Sweden joining “as early as possible,” after speaking with Erdogan by phone earlier this week.
The NATO statement said Stoltenberg would attend Erdogan’s inauguration on Saturday. The Turkish president was last week re-elected to serve another five-year term.
The statement said the visit would extend into Sunday and Stoltenberg would “have bilateral meetings with President Erdogan and with senior Turkish officials.”
NATO member Turkiye has dragged its feet over admitting Sweden to the military alliance. It and Hungary are the only two member countries yet to ratify Sweden’s membership bid.
Finland formally joined the alliance in April.
Erdogan has accused Sweden of being a haven for “terrorists,” especially members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom on Thursday said his country has fulfilled all its commitments to join, and “it is time for Turkiye and Hungary to start the ratification of the Swedish membership to NATO.”
Many of the ministers who attended the Oslo meeting said they wanted to see Sweden join before a NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius on July 11-12.
Stoltenberg has said that goal is “absolutely possible.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose country is the dominant member of NATO, also said on Thursday that “we fully anticipate” Sweden joining by the Vilnius summit.


From Jordan, Jill Biden arrives in Cairo as part of Mideast tour aiming to empower women, youth

From Jordan, Jill Biden arrives in Cairo as part of Mideast tour aiming to empower women, youth
Updated 02 June 2023

From Jordan, Jill Biden arrives in Cairo as part of Mideast tour aiming to empower women, youth

From Jordan, Jill Biden arrives in Cairo as part of Mideast tour aiming to empower women, youth
  • The tour marks Biden’s first visit to the Middle East as first lady
  • Her six-day trip across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe seeks to empower women and promote education for young people

CAIRO: Jill Biden arrived in Cairo on Friday, on the second leg of her six-day trip across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe that seeks to empower women and promote education for young people.
The first lady arrived in the Egyptian capital from Amman, Jordan, where she attended the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein and Saudi architect Rajwa Alsei f on Thursday. She is traveling to Morocco on Saturday before heading to Portugal, the final stop of her tour, on Monday.
The nuptials in Jordan drew a star-studded list — headlined by Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate — but also held deep significance for the region, emphasizing continuity in an Arab state prized for its long standing stability.
Egypt is one of the largest recipients in the Mideast of American economic and military aid and a longstanding US ally. However, in recent years, US lawmakers have sought to condition that aid on human rights improvements and reforms.
Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Entissar Amer, Egypt’s first lady, and was later to meet with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi before visiting a technical school in the capital.
Biden’s spokesperson, Vanessa Valdivia, told The Associated Press last week that the first lady’s visit to Egypt will also focus on US investments that support education programs.
Since coming to power in 2013, El-Sisi’s government has overseen a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands. The government have targeted not only Islamist political opponents but also pro-democracy activists, journalists and online critics.
The tour marks Biden’s first visit to the Middle East as first lady. She traveled to Namibia and Kenya in February.


Lebanon’s Hezbollah says not linked to accused in UNIFIL peacekeeper killing

Lebanon’s Hezbollah says not linked to accused in UNIFIL peacekeeper killing
Updated 02 June 2023

Lebanon’s Hezbollah says not linked to accused in UNIFIL peacekeeper killing

Lebanon’s Hezbollah says not linked to accused in UNIFIL peacekeeper killing

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Friday denied that five men accused by a military tribunal of killing an Irish UN peacekeeper in 2022 were linked to the armed Shiite group.
A court document filed on Thursday had identified some of the five as members of Hezbollah and allied movement Amal, according to a senior Lebanese judicial source.
Hezbollah media official Mohammad Afif said the five accused were not members of the group, which controls the part of southern Lebanon where last year’s attack took place, and also denied that the indictment had described them as Hezbollah members.
Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed on Dec. 15 in the first fatal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.
Afif said Hezbollah had played a big role after the killing in reducing tensions and in local people’s cooperation with the army and judicial investigation.
His comments are the first by a Hezbollah official since Thursday’s reported indictment. The Amal Movement, which is headed by Lebanon’s parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, has so far declined to comment.
The judicial source had said evidence was drawn from camera recordings in which the accused refer to themselves as members of Hezbollah. A second judicial source confirmed that camera evidence was mentioned in the 30-page court document.
Hezbollah has previously denied involvement in the killing, calling it an “unintentional incident” that took place solely between the town’s residents and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force.


UAE’s mandatory midday work break starts June 15

UAE’s mandatory midday work break starts June 15
Updated 02 June 2023

UAE’s mandatory midday work break starts June 15

UAE’s mandatory midday work break starts June 15
  • Working in open spaces and under direct sunlight is not allowed from 12:30 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.
  • Companies are also required to provide shaded areas where workers can rest during the midday break

DUBAI: The UAE’s mandatory midday break for all outdoor workers will start on June 15, the 19th consecutive year the ban has been enforced to protect employees from the intense summer heat.

Working in open spaces and under direct sunlight is not allowed from 12:30 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. until Sept 15 this year, with daily working hours in both morning and evening shifts restricted to eight hours.

Any employee made to work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period will be considered to have worked overtime and must be compensated for it.

Companies are also required to provide shaded areas where workers can rest during the midday break.

Employers found flouting the regulations will be fined approximately $1,360 for each worker they require to work during required midday break, with a maximum of $13,614 penalty in case multiple workers are involved.

The implementation of the midday break is in line with Ministerial Resolution No. (44) of 2022 on Occupational Health and Safety and Labor Accommodation, which aims to provide adequate working environments that protect workers from occupational hazards and prevents work-related injuries or illnesses, a report from state news agency WAM said.

“We are confident that employers across the country will comply with the provisions of the ban. Over the past years, we have seen impressive compliance rates, which confirms the level of awareness in the market about the importance of this decision and its effective role in protecting workers from the hazards of direct exposure to sunlight or working in open spaces around naloon,” according to Mohsen Al-Nassi, assistant undersecretary for inspection affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

There are however exemptions to the midday break, particularly jobs that “require work to continue uninterrupted and they are exempted from implementing the midday work ban for technical reasons,” WAM reported.

These include laying asphalt or pouring concrete – when it is impractical to postpone these tasks – as well as works needed to contain hazards or repair damage that affects the community, such as interruptions to water supply or electricity, cutting off traffic, and other major issues.

“The exemptions also include works that require a permit from a relevant government authority to be implemented, given their impact on the flow of traffic and services. These tasks require non-stop work, including cutting or diverting main traffic routes, power lines, and communications,” WAM said.

Employers are also required to provide sufficient cold drinking water for workers exempted from the midday ban, as well as provide hydrating food, such as salts and/or other food items approved for use by the local authorities.