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Michel Elefteriades (Μιχαήλ Ελευθεριάδης in Greek) is a Greekmarker-Lebanesemarker politician, artist, producer and businessman born on June 22, 1970 in Beirutmarker, Lebanonmarker. He is notorious around the Arab world for his eclectic style and creations, as well as for his unorthodox beliefs and opinions, which are known to generate controversy and ignite passionate responses from his supporters and detractors alike.

Education and Background

With a Lebanese mother and a father of Byzantine Greek descent who is the grandnephew of Saint Chrysostomos Kalafatis, Metropolitan of Smyrnamarker, Michel Elefteriades' multicultural origins were all the more reinforced as he lived in different countries and speaks six languages. He studied Fine Arts and Advertising in the city of Nantesmarker, Francemarker and holds a Masters degree in Graphic Design and Communication Arts from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA).

Music and Showbiz

Author and composer of more than 120 songs for such European and Arab artists as Tony Hanna, Demis Roussos, Jean Jacques Lafon, Nahawanad, Hanine y son cubano, El Chato, Galvez, Jose Fernandez, as well as a collective work including Saber el Ruba’i, Moen Shraif, Wadih El Safi, Mohamad el Mazem, he is also a pioneer of World Music fusion. As a music producer and arranger, his creations are known to count among the Arab world's most successful musical experiments of the last decade:

  • Hanine Y Son Cubano.
  • Wadih El Safi in duo with Jose Fernandez.
  • Demis Roussos & the Oriental Roots Orchestra.
  • Tony Hanna & the Yugoslavian Gipsy Brass Band.


Founder in 1999 of the “Mediterraneo Byblos International Festival” and its Director from 1999 to 2003, he also collaborated with the Middle East’s leading festivals and wrote, composed and directed in 2004 “The Journey of Four Songs”, a musical for the most prestigious celebration of performing arts in the Arab world, the Baalbeck International Festival.

He has already directed over 40 music videos, for such artists as Galvez, Demis Roussos, Tony Hanna, The Chehade Brothers, Hanine Y Son Cubano, Michel Elefteriades, Nahawand, Tania Saleh, José Fernandez, Abdel Karim Chaar, Yusra, Rom Bakhtale...

He is also the director of documentaries about Tony Hanna and on the life of Nahawand.

In 2003, he founded Beirut’s “MusicHall”, an 800-seat theatre venue specializing in cultural showbiz through a unique concept that made it one of the first nightlife-clubbing destinations in Lebanon and the Middle East.

Elefteriades is also the founder and co-owner of “Elef.Records”, a “Warner Music” label that already produced over 15 albums, of which:



Fine Arts

As a painter, his works were presented at several collective exhibitions in France, Germanymarker and Lebanon. In 1995, he presented The Wailing Wall, a 10x2 meters piece of art, at a special edition of the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs that took place in Beirut Central District instead of its customary location at Parismarker’ prestigious Grand Palaismarker. This oeuvre produced such controversy that it required special protection from security services. The reason for which Elefteriades decided to drop painting completely and never touch drawing tools again remains a mystery.

Writing

Elefteriades is also the author of poems and of two novels, one of which was banned in the Arab world.In 1994, he was editor for over a year of a weekly review on “crazy thoughts and ideas” in An-Nahar, Lebanon’s first newspaper.

Public Speaking

Charismatic public speaker, Elefteriades addressed audiences on different topics at a number of seminars and symposia (World Cultural Forum, World Music Expo, MECCAD, Mercado Cultural of Salvador do Bahia, Charles University in Prague,World Summit on Innovation…).

Politics and Resistance

Michel Elefteriades engaged in political activism at the age of 15. Back then, he was an extreme left-wing militant in the very hostile environment of East-Beirut, which was under the control of right-wing Christian militias during the Lebanese civil war.

He later committed himself, as of 1989, to the movement of then Prime Minister General Michel Aoun.

An M.U.R. poster
On October 13, 1990, with U.S. permission, Syrian forces launched a massive attack on the Lebanese army, defeated General Aoun and occupied what still remained of Lebanon’s free territory. Elefteriades spent a few months in France, then came back to Lebanon and founded, in 1991, the M.U.R. (Unified Movements of the Resistance), which he led until 1994 as a clandestine liberation armed group fighting Lebanon's occupation by foreign armies and organizing general strikes paralyzing the country’s activities. The M.U.R. was an illegal organization and all its activities were implemented secretively. Its main principles and objectives in that context were:

  • Freeing the Lebanese territory from all foreign military presence
  • Rejecting feudalism and political sectarianism in order to establish a secular democracy
  • Struggling to achieve social justice
  • Edifying a modern, independent and sovereign state within Lebanon’s internationally recognized boundaries
  • Respecting and implementing the Human Rights Charter
  • Fighting collaboration, treason and corruption


During this period, Elefteriades was victim of two unsuccessful assassination attempts: the first one when his car was destroyed by a booby-trap, while the second one targeted him through an armed ambush. Michel left Lebanon to live in France and Cuba from 1994 until 1997.

In 2005, Elefteriades was very active in Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution and co-organized, in April, the National Unity Festival’s mega-concert that took place downtown Beirut with hundreds of thousands celebrating “Independence 05”.

In May of the same year, he co-organized the celebration of Lebanese leader Michel Aoun’s acclaimed return to Lebanon, after 15 years of exile.

On October 8, 2007, during a press conference held in one of his Beirut restaurants shut down due to a severe sociopolitical conjuncture, and on a date commemorating Che Guevara's capture 40 years earlier, Elefteriades launched a public campaign called "We Won’t Pay Lebanon’s Odious Debts". The campaign is meant to exercise pressure on the state to take action on Lebanon’s unprecedented public debt of about 40 billion US Dollars, which made its ratio over GDP, at the time of the press conference, the highest in the world, as published in the CIA’s world fact book. The main objective of the campaign is to raise awareness inside and outside the country about the unfair nature of Lebanon's loans with the end goal of abolishing its debt, qualified by campaigners as an odious debt incurred mainly between 1993 and 2005, while Lebanon was under foreign occupation and illegitimate governance. As an immediate consequence, the Association of Banks in Lebanon and many other voices have called for the prosecution of Elefteriades, viewing him as a threat to Lebanon's financial stability.

Social Commitments

In spring 2005, Michel Elefteriades co-organized a mega concert in Beirut, bringing on stage the biggest names of the Arab song: Nancy Ajram, Wadih El Safi, Myriam Fares, Ramy Ayach, Marwan Khoury, Amal Hijazi… The proceeds of the event were entirely forwarded, through the United Nations, to the South East Asia Tsunami victimsmarker.

On the same year, in order to celebrate the International Day of Peace, he organized a free concert by the National Orchestra of Nowheristan at the UNESCO Palace, in collaboration with the United Nations.

In 2005, Elefteriades was notified by the Lebanese Presidency’s Protocol and Public Relations Department of the decision to award him the Lebanese Order of the Cedar with the grade of Commander, which made him the youngest person ever to have it. However, due to the current development of the general situation in Lebanon, the ceremony is continuously postponed.

In 2006, he was a founding member of Pan-Arab Cultural Icons/WAYYAK, a pan-Arab NGO whose primary mission is to build bridges with disadvantaged Arab neighborhoods through the gathering, commitment efforts, and exposure of Arab celebrities.

Gypsy Passion

Michel Elefteriades is known to believe he belongs "nowhere and everywhere". With his notable passion for the peoples and ethnic communities of the world and as a tziganologist who wrote a study about Arab Gipsies published by Charles University in Prague, he always felt very close to Roma people. He started learning their language and gained the trust of the Arab Gipsy communities, for whom he worked on establishing contacts with Roma activists from around the world and hence met Dr. Emil Ščuka, the then president of the International Romani Union. He is also known for launching the career of Bilal, the Gipsy Prince, the only notable Dom singer. Ever since then, he has done lots of advocacy work with Arab leaders to contribute to the improvement of the life conditions of Arab Gypsies, the Dom people. He is always briefed when clashes occur between Gypsies and Gadjos (non-Gypsies) in Lebanonmarker and Syriamarker and works on alerting the media and lobbying politicians to act quickly on crisis management.

Nowheristan

Emperor Michel I of Nowheristan
In his search for a just and better world where the notions of justice, liberation, equality… prevail, Michel Elefteriades decided to set the foundations of a new social, philosophical, as well as political and cultural approach to a new nation he named “Nowheristan”.

The ceremony of proclamation of the Great Empire of Nowheristan received the United Nations' encouraging support by the presence of UN Secretary General’s personal representative and the Lebanese Minister of Culture. Numerous intellectuals have joined the concept of Nowheristan and thousands of candidates from around the world have already requested applications for citizenship.

The promotion of the Great Empire continues, using most of the time of His Imperial Highness Michel I of Nowheristan, with articles, interviews and reports in numerous international media, inter alia: CNN, BBC, TV5, Al-Jazeera, Los Angeles Times, Der Spiegel, El Mundo, Paris-Match, L'Orient-Le-Jour, Daily Star, Hurriyet, Al-Ahram...

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