Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The radio silence the past months has not been because I did not write or come up with new ideas, on the contrary, I think it was the most productive and instructive period of my life so far. Working with the Lebanese partners in the consultancy firm; apprehending what happened around me; meeting all the interesting people in Beirut, left me little time to update the blog.

Foremost, over the past months I came to realize how exciting working in an office can be. The consultancy firm, Beyond Reform & Development, that I assisted in, is engaged in numerous projects throughout the Middle East. Projects initiated by Arabs, for Arabs and hence with the consent and drive of the people that hopefully will benefit from those projects.

At the moment I have just returned to the Netherlands and in the coming weeks I will reflect on the situation in the Middle East from the perspective of my position as an intern in Beirut. These are insights I realized the value of after, for example, I read the label on a beer bottle or tried to understand the behaviour of the cat in my flat.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Three pictures taken from my balcony. 

Friday, April 5, 2013
Alexandria is my home, if that is where I am From the Maqāma of al-Hamadhānithe acclaimed poet from the 10th century, that wrote with a dazzling rhetorical flow.
Monday, April 1, 2013

The past three months I have spend in Beirut without posting anything. Not that I had nothing to write about, but this only dawned upon me when I booked a return flight to Cyprus. Why fly?! Because the General Security in Lebanon makes it virtually impossible to extend your visa, for foreign journalists, students or interns like me alike.

Lebanon, located in between the closed border of Israel due to a ceasefire, war torn Syria and the Mediterranean sea, is almost impossible to leave and return to Lebanon over land in order to renew ones visa. But still there is quite some cross-boarder traffic to Syria, and that could have been an option too, as someone pointed out to me yesterday. But, then again, myself not very familiar with the security situation on the boarder, chose to fly back and forth. Going to Syria would have cost me a little less than 200USD (including visa hassle), while flying back-and-forth to Cyprus is a little over 200USD.

Although not really in line with my ethical standards I will take two flights in 24 hours, so I will not miss much time in office of my internship at Beyond Reform and Development, a consultancy firm that operates MENA wide. There is a lot of progress in the region and projects move one, every hour is precious and it is happening now!

"You considered going to Syria?!" you may be thinking. Yes, indeed I did. In line with this I am often bothered with the short-sighted and limited idea that a lot of people have about security and safety. For example, did Saddam Hussein really threat the west more than 10 years back? Although not trying to defend a murderous tyrant like Saddam Hussein in any sense, anyone besides Dick Cheney should know by now that Iraq did not threat the west in any way (except with a disrupted oil-flow maybe). So was this worth 100.000 deceased?

I will not get into that, I just hope it is pretty clear to you too. More posts coming up, as well as one about our distorted idea about ‘Security’ and ‘safety’. Every week I meet people that go back and forth between Lebanon and Syria. One distinctive feature of a civil war is that it does not take place along conventional frontiers, as is it almost impossible to tell where front-lines are.

Every day I come across some of the hundred of thousands of Syrian refugees within (about 10% of the people in Lebanon now) as well, most of them have left all behind, because moving battlegrounds appeared around them. 10% is a huge burden for a country that is still recovering itself from multiple armed conflicts and a operates with a resigned (and most of the time hardly operative anyway) government. 

So not knowing about the exact security situation I chose my safety over the environment for just a few dollars more.