A State of Confusion

I have disappeared for a while from my blog, been really caught up with other things in my life, yet I’ve recently been in touch with lots of interesting information regarding the Middle East region and the level of technological advancement in it. Just the other day, a friend of mine forwarded me an email of some news about how Qtel is the first ISP in Qatar and (one of the first in) the region to reach Internet trial speeds of 100 Mbps for consumers, and then another link here about how superfast broadband may help make Qatar the new “tech hub”… seriously?? Qatar??

It’s no surprise or conspiracy that the Lebanese workforce has been one of the major driving forces behind flourishing businesses in the whole of the Gulf region; it is actually not debatable. From the boom in Dubai that was experienced by the whole world in the early 2000’s, right up until the world financial crisis took its toll back in 2007. And now we see the emerging technology hub materializing as the state of Qatar begins to pour more ‘mula’ into their telecommunications sector than Gates ever made in his prime years… I can’t but ask myself, why isn’t the ultimate merchant state of trade not commercializing on this opportunity?

You may be wondering, which state that is… Lebanon!

Throughout history, Lebanon is notoriously known for being one of the core coastal trading cities in the area; it was the gateway of trade, the hub of mercantilism, all the way back from Phoenician times. Lebanon was, back then, a civilized nation with large urban centers… the Lebanese were known to be the “venturers” of the Mediterranean; they even set up colonies in what is current-day Cadiz and Carthage. From historical findings, you will come to realize that Lebanon was the center of all commerce, the metropolis of the whole Middle East; the most advanced society of its time.

Geographically speaking, Lebanon has always been a prime location for any sort of transit, as it happens to be situated right about the center of all the commotion. This country does have the best weather in the region, taking just enough attributes from its neighbors to the West and to the East.

Interestingly enough, the same idea applies for the common mentality; at least in the greater Beirut area… westernized to a certain extent, “easternized” to another; it really does manage to fall in the middle on most balance scales… a truly polarized state.

As proof of this, we can see all these start-up venture companies popping up all over the place in Lebanon, however we’re not seeing any huge multi-million dollar firms coming up, we’re not seeing substantial local GROWTH; there are a whole lot of start-ups, but at some point they all just saturate and decide to grow outside Lebanon.

My question(s), “Why?”

Why do they hit this saturation point in Lebanon so early and choose to grow outside and where is all this money coming from to fund them for the execution?

Why are the talents of the Lebanese being used to fuel other economies, especially when our economy isn’t doing well at all and could use the extra help?

Why are the GCC countries growing the greatest tech foundations and becoming the tech centers of the Middle East, when the potential for all these facilities can be easily more available in Lebanon than ever?

Why can’t Lebanon revive its ancestral pride and once again become the leader of the region, the center of trade, the technology hub of the Middle East?

Personally, I have been planning to start-up business in Lebanon, hopefully one day even going 100% mobile and not being bound by any geographical restrictions whatsoever, but that’s another story to venture into.


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