It is all in the delivery

Lebanese democracy, which the international media had long lauded as a rarity in the Middle East, is now being mourned in the aftermath of the decision to extend the Parliament’s mandate last month.

With an already five point decline in our ranking on the Democracy Index and a regression in our score on freedom in the Freedom in the World index over the past year, this comes as yet another blow that foretells more backsliding in international indices, and this will carry ramifications for economic growth.

This article does not aim to dwell on any of the political calculations...

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Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

Seeking a fourth estate

Whether the Parliamentary elections do take place on time or in several months, we are most certainly entering “election season”. This will mean an even bigger flurry of political programming with politicians vying for airtime and media exposure. After all, it is through media that they can reach out to their constituencies and state their case.

This would normally mean that politicians would revere journalists or at least show them some respect, as media figures and reporters can play a huge role in helping these politicians come across in a favorable light, convey their messages,...

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Line Tabet, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

A strategy to legalize civil marriage

Khouloud Sukkariyeh and Nidal Darwish, two seemingly ordinary people in love, became overnight the poster children for the fight to legalize civil marriage in Lebanon, an uphill fight the positive outcome of which is still far from assured.

Travel agencies, the clergy and even the municipalities of Nicosia and Larnaca can feel safe knowing that Lebanese of different religious denominations, persons of limited financial means and agnostics and atheists will still need to take the 40-minute flight to Cyprus (or alternatively the slightly longer flight to Turkey) to get married in a...

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Rany Kassab, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

Real deal or fake zeal?

As we finish the season of giving and head into the new year, perhaps it is time for the business world to consider its own commitments to society and take so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) more seriously.

The Arab world has jumped on the CSR bandwagon in recent years, with countless conferences, summits and publications being dedicated to the topic. Though it is an omnipresent acronym, reflecting on it one sees that CSR sometimes fails to address important concerns. Indeed, closer scrutiny of such schemes leaves one with questions over how sincere companies are in...

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Zeina G. Najjar, Zeina Loutfi, Ramsay G. Najjar

Journey to the opening bell

Facebook recently announced that it is going public, in a move which would constitute one of the biggest offerings and tech initial public offerings in history, estimated to reach $5 billion. While dwarfing the $1.67 billion raised by Google in 2004, this news can only remind us of the buzz that surrounded Google, turning it into one of the fastest growing companies and most attractive places to work at.

All this ado about Facebook cannot but get us thinking about IPOs in our region, which have been relatively few and far between compared to most developed and emerging economies....

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Line Tabet, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

Constituent responsibility to demand political accountability

Flying insults, throwing water, swinging chairs — spectacles more befitting a wrestling match or an episode of Jerry Springer than a political talk show.

While arguably no longer a novelty, the scene that unfolded live in front of thousands of viewers on a Lebanese television channel is symptomatic of the level of discourse (or lack of it) between politicians, not only in Lebanon but across the region as well. Indeed, a similar fistfight erupted on Jordanian television in the same week over opposing views regarding the situation in Syria.

In developed countries around the...

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Rany Kassab, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

Western media flaws only highlight our own

The attacks perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway on July 22 had the unintended effect of unveiling bias and prejudice in the Western media, and sparked worldwide debates about the role and responsibility of the press. The incident also raises important questions about the lessons that we can extract in our bid to harness our regional media’s power as an agent of positive change and a reflection of the aspirations and values of the people.

In the hours immediately following the massacre, the false assumptions and speculation as to the perpetrator revealed a significant...

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Youmna el Asmar, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

Post-revolution communication

The sweeping social changes and revolutions rocking the Middle East and North Africa in recent months have indeed taken the world by surprise. Although many analysts and experts agree that these movements will result in a lasting change that will drastically modify the region’s geo-political landscape, no one knows yet in which direction this change might head. As the French philosopher and political scientist Raymond Aron said, “Men make history without knowing the history that they are making.”

Will these revolts give rise to true democracies or give birth to new authoritarian...

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Mark Helou, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

The style and substance of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is being mourned the world over, not just as a revolutionary inventor and talismanic chief executive officer, but also as an iconic personal brand and a globally-recognized leader who touched the lives of everyone, not simply the Apple fan or the tech community. Jobs is praised for his creative genius, for changing the way we communicate and interact and for turning Apple from a fruit into an international brand spoken in all languages across the globe. If we scour through the deluge of articles and blogs recently written in tribute to Jobs, we see recurring references to him as...

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Line Tabet, Zeina Loutfi and Ramsay G. Najjar

A how-to guide for good country branding

Where are you taking your summer vacation this year? Chances are you’ve booked a trip to a country that passes the test of a strong “country brand.” This might sound strange given that people usually choose their destination of choice based on attractions, culture, food, shopping and other offerings, but all of these elements merely fall under the brand image that a country has created for itself and how successful it has been at capitalizing on these assets.

It also may seem as though many countries that are tourist and investment destinations sell themselves, while the image of a...

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Ramsay G. Najjar