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Global viewpoint from Beirut

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Political instability, war in neighbouring countries, explosions – succeeding in Lebanon requires a willingness to confront some hefty challenges posed by a deeply complex environment.

Many associate the Middle East with superlatives, conjured up by Dubai’s creation of the world’s largest fireworks display, sweet shop and shopping mall. Lebanon, however, is a country in debt, recovering from a civil war that cut its national output by half and welcoming refugees escaping the bloodshed in Syria.

As in the rest of the world, economic problems affect advertising budgets first. This is even more pronounced in a country where it’s impossible to know what tomorrow might bring, causing brands to lose faith and question whether they will achieve a strong ROI in a highly volatile market.

On top of this, there are practical disadvantages, such as poor internet infrastructure that is slow and expensive. In the digital age, not being able to connect with clients and colleagues around the world can be hugely frustrating.

Furthermore, Lebanon’s talented younger generation is increasingly choosing to take their talents elsewhere, seeking jobs in other countries in the Middle East where they will be offered a greater sense of financial stability.  

All of this might paint a depressing picture, but it doesn’t offer the full story. Despite these challenges, Lebanon is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

The younger generation has known nothing but war yet still has faith in a brighter future

It’s a country that has enjoyed strong GDP growth, with banks largely unscathed by the global financial crisis. It’s a country of rich culture, full of people from different religions with different ways of thinking, ranging from the very conservative residents of villages to more hedonistic city dwellers.

Lebanese people know how to survive wars and continue to look forward to a better tomorrow. Despite the political, social and economic turmoil Lebanon has been through, there is still huge motivation to fight for the potential of this incredible country.

Lebanon is a land of saints, seas and mountains, and has some of the finest wineries and cuisine in the world. A country whose younger generation has known nothing but war yet still has faith in a brighter future.

These are inspiring and diverse people for brands to reach and engage with. Of course, there are significant challenges in Lebanon – and we’re lucky that we work for an agency willing to accept these realities and continue to invest in our office, our people and our future.

Brands and agencies can succeed in the Lebanese market, but they need to love what they do, approaching each challenge with the same unfailing optimism of the Lebanese people.

Karen Hoyek is the general manager at Carat Middle East

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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