My story begins in my homeland, Lebanon, a country known for its small but vibrant and diverse population. Lebanon encompasses 18 different religious sects, and while at one point that did serve as a symbol of peaceful co-existence, it eventually came to also symbolize the harsh realities of sectarian conflict and how it can break a nation apart.
Lebanon’s 15-year civil war was the backdrop of my childhood. I will never forget the long nights I spent in our bomb shelter, trying to remain focused on any goal or plan when the uncertainty of tomorrow was the only certainty we had.
When the war was over – at least the one fought with bombs and tanks – the country began to flourish anew and I had the courage to dream again. With Lebanon’s once-vibrant media sector rising from the ashes, I decided to enter the biggest TV talent competition in the Middle East and won! Overnight I was thrust into the national spotlight and I was able to realize the power of media and its ability to inspire. Even though the war had made me skeptical of achieving my dreams, against all odds I did.
As both a field reporter and the host of several talk shows, I went on to work in television for more than 10 years for some of the leading channels in the region and in the world. Lebanon was emerging from the shadows of war, and the nation – traumatized in every aspect – was yearning to regain its faith in government, its trust in media and its enjoyment in the arts and culture. I interviewed everyone from heads of state and celebrities, to world renown artists and cultural trendsetters and hosted talk shows that took on some of the most taboo topics of the time, with surprising support. I introduced Lebanon and the region at-large to artists, writers, thinkers and trendsetters from abroad. I realized that communicating was not only about informing, but also about inspiring.
Soon enough, I realized I had new questions and bigger concerns that went beyond the borders of one country or region. So in 2007, I combined my communication skills with my interest in international politics and policy, and moved to New York City to work with the United Nations in political communications. Throughout my career at the UN, I have had the great privilege of working on many of the most pressing global issues of the last 10+ years. In Yemen, I sat side by side with heads of state negotiating peace talks to end the civil war ravaging its population. I worked with government leaders in Syria to ban the use of chemical weapons. I interacted with refugee families in Turkey, Jordan and Libya during the ongoing refugee crisis. I traveled to countries like Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, France and Belgium to work on developing counter-terrorism initiatives and socio-economic strategies.
I have seen it all, from East to West, and there are many things I witnessed that I will never forget, even though at times I try. Social injustice, political conflicts, economic crisis, wars, pandemics, corruption, hunger, homelessness…these are issues I have come to know and examine intimately. But on the other side of those issues, I have also witnessed peace agreements, nation-building and reconstruction and the coming-up of an incredibly inspiring generation of socially aware men and women who are doing their utmost best to make this world a better place.
Today, I am putting my years of knowledge and experience in political affairs, crisis management and communications at your disposal. I started a consultancy boutique for consulting and trainings and started my own multimedia platforms. I truly hope that the empowerment workshops I provide and the videos and podcasts you will be watching will help you develop a greater awareness of yourselves and your skills, and enable you to bridge gaps between different cultures towards stronger compassion and connections.