What strikes you most, when you first meet Ms Alice Eddé: she is one of the most elegant ladies in Lebanon, combined with the laugh of a young girl. Besides that, she is always happy and cares about others. The last time I saw her I also realized that she spoke perfect German (with a way better accent than I have…), next to French and English. So today, I am going to find out – entre autre- about the secret of her happiness and why she is fluent in German. Alice receives me at the restaurant in her resort and we talk over “wellness water” (mental note to self to spice up my otherwise boring bottled water by adding some strawberries, lime and mint)
Alice, please tell me a little about your life
I was born in St. Louis Missouri in the United States and grew up with a brother and a sister. My father was American Military and we were stationed in Germany after the 2ndWorld War. So I learnt German from my “Kindermädchen” (nanny). I later went to Gymnasium (Lycée, High School) in Bonn and studied at the Dolmetscherschule (translator studies) in Zurich (!). We also lived in Italy and Holland, so I also speak Italian. After my studies – I was always very adventurous and a little crazy – I saw this job opportunity in Iran at the time of Shah Pahlavi and went for a job interview in Bern (!). A Swiss Tourism Company Tourist Consult) was looking for a French-English translator to submit their project for the masterplan for the development of tourism for Imperial Iran. So I worked and travelled for the Tourist Consult company in Teheran for the next 2 years. After that I asked myself, “what’s next”? I looked at a map and wondered, what’s between Iran and Bonn, Germany where my parents were still living at the time? Enters Lebanon. My plan was to go there first and travel all over the Mediterranean from there. I wanted to discover all the islands, Cyprus, Rhodes, Corfu and especially Malta was my dream. However, as soon as I met Roger Eddé (my husband) my plans changed. I simply stayed in Lebanon. That was in 1973. Roger was a prestigious young lawyer. His law office in Beirut operated all over the Middle East. As he only spoke French at the time, we communicated in French and still do to this day!
An American architect friend of my father, George Hellmuth, wanted to expand his business to the Middle East, which was a very popular thing back then. He came here to discover the region, together with his wife. And they asked me if I could help them with their project, the University of Riyadh. The most prestigious project of the 80’s. Roger was their link to the Middle East. Turns out, that architect’s company HOK got the huge contract to design and build the University of Riyadh, the Riyadh airport and many other projects in Saudi Arabia These projects made him and his company a huge name as an architect. Another of his masterpieces is the airport in Doha (that just got voted 3rdbest in the world). My husband was originally an international business lawyer, and between 1975 (the year we married) to 2000 we were living abroad. We had homes in Cairo, Riyadh, in Antibes, South of France, Paris, and a townhouse in Washington D.C, where during 20 years we regularly hosted diplomats, politicians, think tanks, heads of state and businessmen from around the world. Our home was the home of the political activist Roger Eddé, determined to defend the cause of a free Lebanon. To protect it from endless wars. I was always by his side, and still am... more