On February 27th I wrote a post entitled: “Who wants to change the world?”, in which I criticised Minster Nicolas Sehnaoui’s competition for bloggers to change the world. Minister Sehnaoui made the effort to respond with a comment, which struck me as non-defensive and with a sincere effort at persuasion. To give a fair hearing to the Minister, I will republish his comment as its own post below.
Thanks Mustapha for this useful reminder to Lebanese entrepreneurs that nothing comes without hard work, sustained effort and perseverance. Of course the competition didn’t hint to the contrary. It is just intended to steer creativity and imagination. They have a virtue in themselves. I will mention three that come to my mind.
- To remind us of the power of ideas. I will refer you to my AUB speech which had the objective of unleashing the power of our youth’s minds.
- To force us to think beyond our borders, our physical limitations because a small country like ours can be one of the main beneficiary of this new geography where any point in the world can be its center.
- It will help us regain much needed assurance and self-confidence because contrary to what you said I do believe Lebanese have strong points in which they are better than other people. I do think that some of their promoted strong points which helps them succeed abroad are in fact some of the ingredients that destroy the country here at home. Their sense of trade, their ability to adapt, etc. All traits that diminish their national identity and their willingness to build a strong state. But what I am sure of, and more so since I took the helm of the telecom sector, is that they have a unique talent for creativity. Look around and notice: the best cloth designers if the Middle east are Lebanese, the best jewelry designers, most of creative in ad agencies are Lebanese, first cooks, hairdressers etc.
It could be a way of the universal balance to give us something positive out of the fact that it made us a crossroad of religions, sects, languages and invaders. Let’s not waste it. In the digital world, the digital village it could be a plus that can help us outshine others countries and we badly need this edge.
The other thing worth mentioning is that making Lebanon a digital hub has this fantastic benefit that instead of exporting our people we will be giving our local brains a chance to work from Lebanon and sell their products and services to the whole planet from right here. Dermandar (6 million downloads) and Pou (25 million downloads) are good examples that it is possible. It’s the fastest way to reverse the vicious cycle of emigration (economie de la rente).
Last, let me insist on the virtue of positive approach. I know it’s tough in a country like ours where things seem out of our control and where the disproportion of force between local will and international players seem impossible to beat because of a deeply divided political spectrum. It’s tough but it’s possible. Its more than possible it is necessary or else why would we stay? Where would hope lie. We have to believe it’s possible and we have to try and make it work. That’s the positive attitude. That’s what drives me every day in the morning to get out of bed and face the infinite dangers and minefields of the political and administrative arena.
For me it’s this or abandon our fate to the bad guys and accept that we cannot but move backwards. Although the country is at a halt in almost every aspect and the government have difficulty governing we leapfrogged in the telecommunication field. This is due to a resolute attitude, refusing to accept anything that would stop the necessary changes and the infrastructure improvements. Just remember that 2 years ago we use to wait half an hour to download 1Mega Bytes of emails. And there is much more to come. Of course it would be easier if all political parties and figures would accept to sideline telecommunications from the political struggle. It would also help if all citizen’s from all political or non-political sides would support the important infrastructure upgrades.
I believe we should have a willful pragmatic approach. Yes the country is unbelievably tough and intricate. But what are we going to do about it? Whine until it gets better or put our hands in the works, set achievable milestones and achieve them and then start again.