To Move or Not To Move?

The idea of moving to another country is always there. The opportunity to move to another country? Not necessarily. But what’s the difference between an idea and an opportunity? An idea is one that can forever exist in your mind. One that you do not act on. One that you have not created but rather created itself within you.

An opportunity is real. It exists within the external world: It is tangible. It has strings attached. It’s not perfect. In fact, its imperfection is what makes it both exciting and petrifying all at once.

Where will I live?
Who will I call when I need a friend?
How will I sustain myself?

London is my birthplace — my natural habitat. I navigate the city with a certain amount of wisdom, at ease with my ability to find my way home. At the same time, I maintain great respect for the city that made me, always acknowledging that I will never know every backstreet of such a vast network of buildings.

I can only imagine what it’s like to come from a small village. A place where you know everyone and they all know you. Perhaps I would have liked it more. And yet, the anonymity of big city life provides us all with an air of mystery. One that keeps me curious…

Who is that lady in the bright yellow jumpsuit?

When deciding whether to move to Beirut or stay in London, I could have written a list as long as life itself. Not only did I definitely not have time for that, but it felt superfluous. What was I going to write?

“I can visit my mother” on London’s side of the list.
“I can visit my grandmother” on Beirut’s side of the list.

How can I value being able to see my grandmother versus being able to see my mother? This isn’t a 1-for-1 kind of decision. Not everything can be so simply analysed. Mathematics can only take us so far…

No, this decision would be based on a feeling. It would be based on myself. I tried to externalise it for weeks. The opportunity that presented itself was for my business to join an accelerator program, and so the questions I asked myself were centred around:

What is best for my business? London or Beirut.
Is “the mental health scene” different here and there?
What about funding opportunities?

There are certainly differences between the two countries when it comes to business practices, but not as many as you might have thought.

Modern day Beirut has a burgeoning start-up ecosystem, and the Lebanese are renowned throughout history for their entrepreneurial endeavours. They exported ships around the world, provided Egyptian Pharaohs with the sturdiest of Cedar wood. They used these boats to travel and trade their wares. They are far from ignorant of what it means to be in business.

Things have changed over time. Yes, political instability plagues the country. Israel, Lebanon’s next-door neighbour, frequently knocks at the door with a variety of mind-blowing bargains on offer. But this concept that the Middle East is the only place in the world that exists within such uncertainty is preposterous.

Brexit has brought to the forefront of everyone’s consciousness what I have been saying for many years now: Instability exists everywhere in the world.

Governments have lost their purpose as a result of humanity losing sight of its common goal: Happiness. In the pursuit of economic gains, creativity and culture have fallen at the wayside, unable to survive in such a toxically capitalist climate.

But things are getting better. I am sure of that. The power structure’s time is running out. Drastic measures are being taken to hide the truth. Pitting people against their brothers and sisters has worked until now, but how much longer can we take the fighting? How much longer can we take the crime? The homelessness? The strife? The never-ending poverty that exists in Africa and around the world.

People are waking up to the facts. The ones that lies cannot continue to perpetuate.

But I digress. How would I make this decision: To move or not to move? If business opportunities and know-how were not the deciding factor, what would be?

Myself: My entire self. The one that existed before I ever started a business. Before I was let loose into the world, allowed to make my own choices without first consulting family and friends. The purest part of me…

Soon, it dawned upon me: I have always wanted to move to Lebanon. Not just because the opportunity for me to start my business there suddenly presented itself, but because it is my home.

A certain sense of belonging overwhelms me as I walk the streets of Beirut. The humidity that hits me as I exit the airport takes my breath away, before subsiding into relief and relaxation. “Stunning” just doesn’t cut it. This is where I’m from. I have to look twice before accidentally shouting out my brother’s name to someone I don’t know walking into the room. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, I am attached to this country.

As I exit my new home, avoiding a series of potential accidents — cars act like people here, able to traverse the Earth as they please — I can see the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis at each and every turn. I can smell the rubbish overflowing from the bins, bringing to mind the recent crisis faced here around trash collection and pollution. I can sense the togetherness of the old men sat on the side of the street, sipping their coffee and discussing the love they have for their country — a love that far surpasses anything Nigel Farage could surmise about Britain.

I realise that Beirut has nothing to hide….and neither do I.

I live my life with my heart on my sleeve, for better or for worse; you will know who I truly am. Lebanon is the same. For all the plastic surgery, the fancy cars and the ridiculous cost of living — it cannot help but reveal its true self.

“Hey, look what’s going on here!” Beirut says. Without a hint of shame, it provides the complete picture — whether you like it or not.

There are problems. Some big, some small. But at least they are recognised for what they are. In the West, we cannot help defending ourselves with our pounds and pence: “We must be happy, look how much money we have!”

But we are not.

If I am going to make a life for myself anywhere in the world, at the very least I would like it to be in a place that accepts its problems, instead of hiding them under the surface. Inequality, pollution and political instability exist in the UK too. Just as with any individual being, we must accept the presence of these problems before being able to truly move forward and deal with them accordingly.

Beirut, I don’t know how long I’ll be here for. But as an entrepreneur fighting for his business to succeed. As a human being, facing the internal challenges of worthiness and self-doubt. As a small part of the never-ending story of the universe, I know that…at least for now, Lebanon is the place for me.

Love,

G

I’ve decided to spill my guts across the internet. If you’re in for the rollercoaster ride of an entrepreneur with the ambition to change the world — all the highs and the lows — hit follow now! ❤