The #1 Rule To Get a Job in Lebanon: Have a Religiously-Appropriate Name

Hassan is the name. Let’s play a game of guess his religion in front of an imaginary crowd. I’m not psychotic I swear, although I guess that’s what a psychotic person would say as well.

100% of my fictive crowd say he’s Muslim. Is he Shiite or Sunni? Let’s say our lovely crowd goes 70-30 for Shiite. All are educated guesses, all are well-reasoned choices. I wouldn’t call such thought process sectarian – after all, they were primed to answer. Our imaginary crowd is 100% wrong.

Hassan is not Muslim. Hassan goes to Church every sunday. He is as religious as they go. He is not eccentric enough to have had a name change. You can say he was born that way.

And yet Hassan is sitting around at home, nearing his 30s, unable to find a job just because of the name his parents decided to give him.

The areas he’s searching in, close to home and familiar, are all Christian. But they don’t believe him when they ask about his religion during job interviews, a question that is getting increasingly popular lately. Companies would definitely not admit to this, obviously.

The #1 rule to get a job in Lebanon is, therefore, to have a name that is appropriate religiously to the region you’re applying to. If you’re a Hassan in Jounieh, odds are you will have a terrible time in getting to the point of receiving a paycheck. Of course, other areas in the country are not exactly better.

It wasn’t enough that most of the jobs in the market today are being taken by highly trained and much less salary demanding Syrian incomers.  Lebanese people are having another hurdle develop in front of them lately, apart from all the wastas. Instead of having Lebanese judged by their capacities and qualifications, they are being increasingly judged by the way they pray and, lately, by where they live. And to think I was doubting my friends from Tripoli who were getting increasingly wary of putting up their city of residence on their CVs.

Bass fi a7la men lebnen? 


An Economic Boom Coming Batroun’s Way?

I was sent this report, saying that the Maronite League is bringing an economic zone to Batroun, which will help in creating over 3000 jobs for the region.

The Maronite League will announce next week a plan to establish a new special economic district in Batroun. A primary feasibility study has been performed for the project.

The location of the new district will be defined through a draft law already sent to Parliament, said a senior member of the Maronite League. The project will include businesses involved in soft industries, including ICT firms.

Businesses located within the zone will benefit from special services, facilities, and incentives, such as tax exemptions and discounts on NSSF subscriptions for employees.

“We aim at creating incentives for local and foreign companies to come and invest here, instead of taking their investments to other countries, such as Dubai or Qatar,” the Maronite League member said.

The district is expected to generate some 3,000 job opportunities. According to the source, businessmen involved in the Maronite League have expressed their willingness to move their offices into Batroun. “Over 100 companies are expected to have offices in the Batroun special economic district.”

A similar special economic zone has been announced earlier this year for Tripoli.

If this news turns out true, it would drive one of Lebanon’s more needy areas lightyears forward and would help its citizens stay home instead of moving to other Lebanese areas or even abroad in order to find jobs. This might signal a hidden demographic motive for the Maronite League in one of Lebanon’s biggest Maronite regions. Personally, I don’t really care seeing as this is such a positive sign for the region and they should be commended for doing something that very few, including the Lebanese state, have even considered before.

I’m pleased that this project won’t have a political stamp on it. We won’t get MPs or MP wannabes telling us how we should be eternally grateful for them bringing 3000 jobs to the district when they ask for our votes next year.

Another positive attribute is the fact that this is the first time such a massive project has been undertaken outside Beirut and its suburbs, which might help shift the way things are done in this country away from the deep conviction of: “Beirut & neighbors first and foremost. Almost everywhere else in Lebanon doesn’t matter.”  And with relatively short commute times for the regions around Batroun, the project’s reach will extend beyond Batroun.

I’m interested in knowing where the project will be built and I hope it’ll take environmental factors into consideration in keeping the pristine aspect of the region relatively intact or at least let it not turn into another disaster like Chekka. But pristine doesn’t bring food to the table.

Some other non-Maronite League projects involving the area include turning the Tobacco control headquarters into a branch for the Lebanese University as well as building a centralized Official High School for the entire caza in Ebrine, which seems to have been buried in a bureaucratic mess, the Batroun-Tannourine highway which seems to have stalled in its final stretch, not to mention the sewage and water networks project which has basically made our driving a living a hell with the serious lack of efficiency in the contractor the Lebanese government hired.

Add to all of this studies indicating that some of the highest amounts of oil and petrol may be found off of Batroun’s shores, the area will witness a lot of development in a short period of time. Well, it’s about time.