Lebanese citizens are consumed by culminating challenges at all levels. Internal Lebanese drama
concurred with the consequences of craterous oil prices (reduced remittances, lower non-resident
deposits, lower employment and remuneration of the Lebanese in oil-countries, etc.), the global
pandemic, and geopolitical tensions. Nevertheless, the resilience of the Lebanese and their ability to
adapt have reached an unprecedented limit in their perpetual search for safety, excellence, and growth.
While world economies are looking for ways to manage the impact of Covid-19 and to accelerate their
digitalization agenda, Lebanon is seemingly being left behind. The Lebanese economic recovery is still
possible by investing in strategic sectors and trusting the Lebanese to reinvent themselves.
The invitation to invest in agriculture and manufacturing is not salvaging as it requires time for benefit
realization. The fastest and most rewarding route to recover the economy is through the Information,
Communication, and Technology (ICT) sector, which has played a promising role in Lebanon. For
instance, between 2000 and 2004, the ICT sector in Lebanon grew at 15% Compound Annual Growth
Rate (CAGR) based on the data provided by the Professional Computer Association (PCA) – Lebanon.
Although we warned from the misleading World Economic Forum (WEF) figures in 2018 drawing a rosy
picture of Lebanon and dressing up its global competitiveness ranking (Lebanon jumped 25 places in a
single year and became the 80 th country out of 140), nobody took things seriously.
These insights demonstrate the untapped capabilities of the ICT sector in specific and the digital
knowledge economy at large as defined by The University of Oxford: the inter-dependency of education,
innovation, and ICT in creating value.
The primary competitive advantage of the Lebanese ICT sector lies in the cultural wealth of professionals
demonstrated by their creativity and their solid academic credentials. There is an urgency to maintain this
competitive advantage and to nurture it by investing in the youth who can lead the digital knowledge
There is a sizable risk in destroying Lebanon’s ICT competitive advantage considering the odds that the
digital knowledge economy has been facing with the lack of access to capital (worsened by the unofficial
capital control and the collapse of the banking sector), the frail education system, the outdated legal
framework, and the deteriorating physical infrastructure. Nowadays, there are additional and more basic
concerns such as power cuts, unstable internet services, and impossible wire transfers.
How can Lebanon not prioritize the digital knowledge economy at a time when it is the only effective way
to bring in remote jobs to the Lebanese talent, create jobs, bring into the country fresh money the country
is in dire need for?
The political class is doing nothing but forcing the country into an embargo and isolating the Lebanese
from the world.
The current situation refrains Lebanese students from learning efficiently at an age blended learning is
here to stay. While there are countries giving away laptops for students attending classes from home in
addition to all needed facilities, the Lebanese students are struggling with a basic Maslow need: the
internet services and electricity.
Lebanese businesses struggle with the sub-par infrastructure and are now facing new hurdles related to
internet services and electricity to name a few. As such, Lebanon is no longer leading the digital
knowledge economy locally and regionally. Instead, the Lebanese workforce is trying to accommodate
and will soon be surpassed by other countries where enabled talent delivers faster services.
These are peculiar times to prepare for the future. However, in the face of uncertainty, there is a pressing
responsibility towards the youth and future generations to design and activate a strategy for the digital
knowledge economy. There are some recommendations in sight that Lebanon could engage in. These
recommendations prepare organizations to navigate emergencies that seem to be dictating the new
The Lebanese workforce is now cheaper and remains high-
performing. This could be a great source of talent for companies
outside Lebanon and expatriates leveraging the country as an
The government is urged to remove all corporate taxes (and
rethink the overall taxation strategy!). Some other “good taxes”
may be introduced e.g. carbon tax.
Companies in Lebanon must formulate a business continuity plan
to mitigate surging operational risks. The plan includes data back-
ups, high availability of infrastructure and services, and disaster
Unipole sign (2017) in line with Rethinking Lebanon Conference
The digital knowledge economy is the main gateway to prevent a besieged Lebanon. The Lebanese
might have no other time to innovate and create value. They either innovate or die. They either create
value or lose their value.