Posted by: sean | June 13, 2007

Would the last one out please turn off the lights?

Lately it seems like everyone is leaving Lebanon. Some have decided to go to grad school in Europe or the US; others are frantically searching for a job in Dubai or Saudi Arabia; while others are finishing school here just to settle somewhere else. Sometimes, I feel somewhat strange signing a three-year contract, finding some professional stability in a country with almost no political stability.

I feel like Lebanon would be a better place if more of the country’s best and brightest stayed. But then again, who can blame them? Would I accept a job at an international magazine’s Beirut branch for $500 a month after earning a master’s degree at France’s most prestigious business school? Furthermore, one could make (and already has made) the argument that my own country needs me more than Europe or the Middle East. In any case, there isn’t much work, and what work there is doesn’t pay very well, particularly for a city that’s closer to Paris and Cairo in terms of its cost of living.

So where does that leave Lebanon? Many of its most promising young graduates and professionals are setting sail for safer waters. Bombs are still a rare occurrence in London, New York, Dubai and Paris.

Things are falling apart, and the center cannot hold. Until a time when it can, I suppose I’ll be here, keeping the light on for my Lebanese friends who are pulling up anchor and looking for normality in their own diaspora exile.

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