2014 has been a pretty messed up year on the Lebanese scale, but amidst all of it, there were a few Lebanese whose news served as a diversion from all the mayhem. Their accomplishments made us happy, even if they didn’t pertain to us directly. As we saw some of them make it big on an international level, we were maybe reminded of our own hidden potential over here. Others caused ripples right at home. To those Lebanese, I came up with this to salute them.
This list is without any order.
1 – Fadel Adib
This 25 year old from Tripoli made it to MIT’s list of 35 innovators under 35. His innovation? A system that uses wifi signals in order to track people, their vital signs and other important components. The applications are limitless: from tracking elderly who are prone to falls, to new radiology methods in medicine to police application in criminal activity monitoring….
2 – Hind Hobeika
Hind was one of the most influential women of 2014 according to the BBC. She invented the Instabeat Goggles, a swimming monitor that tracks heart rate to offer real-time feedback. The device mounts on the straps of any swimming goggles, and reads the heart rate from the temporal artery.
3 – Mohammad El Mir
This 11 year old from Tripoli won a competition in Germany earlier in the year that found him being named the world’s junior genius. He beat out participants from 40 other countries. He deserves more recognition than what he got, but the future looks bright for him either way.
4 – Amal Alamuddin
She was the most ubiquitous Lebanese around the globe this year. As far as the globe is concerned, it’s all because Amal now has Clooney as her last name. But Amal is one of the world’s most brilliant lawyers. Her list of client includes people like Julien Assange and former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko. She has also lately been chosen to represent Armenia in the European Court of Human Rights. She has charmed people across the world, standing not only as equal to Clooney, but sometimes being the more interesting of the two.
5 – Aya Bdeir
She was also on MIT’s 35 innovators under 35 list. Her invention is LittleBits, a library of modular electronic units that can be connected to build many different things ranging from a sound machine, a night light, or even a lifelike robotic hand. She has sold hundreds of thousands of units so far in over 80 countries. And I bet she’s not stopping anytime soon.
6 – Rand Hindi
He was named by MIT as one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 for his work in a company he founded called Snips, which analyzes data in hopes of making city living more efficient. To put that into effect, Snips partnered with the SNCF to create an app that predicts three days in advance how crowded trains would be on a certain day. In a world that’s increasingly built on algorithms, data, and numbers, analyzing such input is becoming not only essential, but vital.
7 – Jackie Chamoun
It all started when Jackie’s photoshoot for a calendar surfaced through a video that showed her nude. The news passed under the radar, until Sports Minister Karami saw her behavior as “insulting.” All online hell broke loose. From “I’m Not Naked,” to “#StripForJackie,” the country saw a tangible liberal movement rooting itself in the collective mindset of everyone. Debates about women, feminism, body image and sex became the talk of the moment. Jackie didn’t end up winning an Olympic medal, but she became a household name almost overnight.
8 – Yasmine Hamdan
She first became known with Soapkills. Today, however, Yasmine Hamdan is on a whole other trajectory of success, having made it to Hollywood all by herself through her music. On “Only Lovers Left Alive,” she sings the song “Hal.” That song is on a shortlist to the Oscars this year.
9 – The People Behind Sakker El Dekkene
They were the country’s first NGO to truly break into the mainstream when it the issue of corruption. For that, they devised an app that lets people pinpoint where they saw a corrupt act taking place and report it. They also set up base at various locations around the country to raise awareness. In a country where almost anything is at a price, shedding a light on this cancerous aspect of our society is very important.
10 – Bushra El Turk
This Lebanese composer was featured by the BBC as one of the 100 most influential women of 2014 for her music. Her compositions have been played by orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lorraine, among many others.
11 – Manale Daou
Most of you know her as the clerk that MP Nicolas Fattouch attacked for telling him to stand in line. Soon enough, she was spear-heading a campaign against Fattouch, who had managed to weasel his way out of every tough spot in his career. But not this time. The Beirut Law Syndicate decided to disbar him soon after he got caught up in another scandal. Daou filed a lawsuit against him. Who knows where all of this will lead, but at least she was able to do something.
12 – Bahia Chehab
She’s an associate professor of practice of art at The American University in Cairo, and was featured by the BBC as one of the 100 most influential women in the world for the past year. Her influence comes from her tangible work in the Egyptian revolution(s), by orchestrating the most widely used graffiti consisting of the Arabic word “No.” She explains it all in her widely popular Ted Talk.
13 – Wael Abou Faour
At a time when his predecessors did nothing of the sort, him doing his job becomes big news. His methods may be unorthodox – announcing restaurants in a weekly Star Academy-like nominee style is odd, and open to much criticism, but his work in the late months of 2014 on food safety in the country has shaken establishments.