Beirut: Most Secure City in the World

So I was watching a documentary film about security threats imposed by hackers in this digital age, and one of the biggest concerns of all the “good” people was this, and I paraphrase: Can you imagine what would happen to any city if hackers messed up with the city infrastructure digital system?

– Niam thinks of Beirut and hmmm…”Nothing?” I suspect there is an infrastructure in the first place.

And then the “good” person goes on:

“Can you think of the huge losses that any city in the world would go through if Electricity is shut off for one single day?”

– Niam thinks of Beirut and, hmmm…. “None?” The electricity is shut off every single day.

Moral of the story: Beirut is the most secure city in the whole world. In your face, Technology! IN YOUR FACE!


Lebanese Heroes

A small idea pops to my head out of the blue. But it needs collaboration with a higher power in the Lebanese media industry. I directly think, “Let’s find out who is the Minister of Information in Lebanon.” Bibi, my sister, says his name is Walid Daouk. Okay! Is he “alive” online? She doesn’t know but she remembers that he has a twitter account. Go to twitter, look for Walid Daouk. Gotcha!

No. He is not active. Check facebook. Nope. LinkedIn? Can’t find the guy. Way to go for our minister of information. But I say to myself, “That’s okay. One of our ministers, Nicola Sehnaoui, is very active online and maybe I can get him to carry the message to somebody.”

So here we go.

I am a screenwriter. As I sit down writing few scenes one day, a need arises to show the extreme wealth of one of my characters. He has to drive an expensive car. He has to drive the MOST expensive car in the world. I set out (on Google) to discover the most expensive car in the world. To my satisfaction -that is one thing usually Google supplies easily- one of the hits leads me to an article with the top ten most expensive cars in the world. I browse from the tenth most expensive to the extremely most expensive. And guess what? On this list, the second most expensive car in the world is from a “Beirut, Lebanon-based automaker”. Seriously? Who knew?

Anyway, these two guys, Ralph R Debbas and Sari El Khalil, are now on my list of Lebanese Heroes.

Another Lebanese Hero on my short list (I need help to make it longer) is Ziad Azarr. No, you don’t know him -not yet. Ziad is a young man I met while giving a screenwriting workshop at Al Balamand University in North Lebanon. The students I met at this university deserve a separate blog entry for their beautiful spirit. But today I write about Ziad, who just graduated with a BA in Mass Communication. He is 21 years young, a very talented and passionate photographer and cinema lover, an admirer of life and an advocate for change. The future and his life are all ahead of him. But Ziad didn’t apply for a job in the media industry. He will not be freelancing on film sets or Ad shoots either. Nope.  Against all expectations in his family, and to the surprise (and dismay) of many people around him, Ziad chose to be a teacher.

When I was curious to know more, Ziad wrote, “There is an NGO in Lebanon called Teach for Lebanon, it works with fresh graduate students from different majors. You apply there, and if you are accepted, you go teach in remote rural villages and schools in Lebanon to improve education there, where education inequality exists. I applied and thank God I was accepted. I am going for it. You might think why would a student so passionate about the field of cinema and shooting be interested in such thing? It’s something really interesting and I really want to be a part of. I want to change something in my country, even the smallest things count. It’s only for two years and I will pursue everything I want to do. What do you think?”

What I wanted to ask of our Minister of Information, Mr. Daouk, was to kindly request (or if necessary to beg) of TV stations and other Lebanese media outlets to include lots of positive stories in their news bulletins. Instead of spreading hatred and sectarianism and providing reasons for the citizens’ blood pressures to rise collectively every evening, maybe the media could narrate stories of positive change, of hope, of strong will and determination, intelligence, smart initiatives, and other good things that young and old Lebanese citizens are doing all over the country. If one story instills hope in one new person every day, we can slowly restore people’s faith in the nation and its future. And, guess what? As a trained storyteller I can tell you: Stories of success and journeys of hope always SELL more.