A tale of two worlds

Executive Magazine - - Editorial -

Le­banon’s elec­tion sea­son has be­gun. With it comes ha­tred, spite, seg­re­ga­tion, an­i­mos

ity, and the most vi­cious de­cep­tion imag­in­able. Des­per­ate to sway votes in their fa­vor, our nar­row-minded politi­cians have one strat­egy in their play­book: iso­late and ma­nip­u­late. Play­ing on ig­no­rance and fear, they fur­ther di­vide our al­ready fraught com­mu­ni­ties. Last month we wit­nessed just how low these politi­cians are will­ing to go.

Blind clien­telism rules each po­lit­i­cal reshuf­fle in this coun­try, while or­di­nary Le­banese are trapped in con­stant fear over their se­cu­rity and liveli­hood.

Their con­cerns are left un­heard, and if heard, ig­nored. The only con­cern of our politi­cians is power and main­tain­ing it at any cost.

Mean­while, Le­banese cit­i­zens are in­creas­ingly re­moved from the re­al­ity of the street, living in­stead in a vir­tual world be­hind their tablets and smart­phones. On the one hand, these serve as gate­ways to new ways of think­ing and new tech­nolo­gies that are now em­bed­ded in how we are gov­erned, live, and in­ter­act. On the other hand, we must be care­ful not to lose our­selves in a dig­i­tal world while our self-serv­ing politi­cians gov­ern the real one.

This dig­i­tal realm is packed with new tech­nolo­gies and we’ve taken the op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate one: cryp­tocur­ren­cies. We’re un­cer­tain which cryp­tocur­rency will prevail, and we have not fath­omed the lim­it­less bound­aries of their util­ity nor how they will af­fect the way we trade. We don’t know how to reg­u­late them, and we should. All we know is we need to em­brace them, un­der­stand them, and learn how to in­te­grate them in our ever-chang­ing dig­i­tal realm.

But we can­not let this new or­der of things dis­tract us from the re­al­ity on the ground. Le­banon is on the brink of two fu­ture-shift­ing events: elec­tions and the pos­si­bil­ity of be­com­ing an oil and gas pro­duc­ing nation. We need to be care­ful. We need de­cent, tal­ented Le­banese on the boards and man­age­ment of our state-owned en­ter­prises that can pre­serve and grow our wealth. We de­serve a well-gov­erned sov­er­eign wealth fund to pro­tect, rein­vest, and grow our po­ten­tial wealth, to cre­ate a safety-net for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. We need it for a rainy day. God knows how many we’ve had. If our po­lit­i­cal class was able to squan­der $80 bil­lion, how can we trust them with this?

These com­ing elec­tions prom­ise to be dif­fer­ent. An in­creas­ing num­ber of re­formists are fi­nally stick­ing their necks out for all of us. Let us re­con­nect to re­al­ity, vote dif­fer­ently, and do our ut­most so that the 2018 elec­tions do not turn into fool’s gold.

Let us save our coun­try while we still have the op­por­tu­nity to be a part of both worlds.

Yasser Akkaoui


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