On May 20, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri labeled Lebanon’s brain drain as a “transmitted disease among youth” and is Lebanon’s biggest problem. Well, former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora does not agree. In an interview with Arabian Business, he labels the ‘brain drain’ as Lebanon’s main resource to export to the world:

Siniora clearly believes that the country’s impressive history in building and developing human capital has undoubtedly played a vital role.
With a worldwide diaspora four times the size of the indigenous population, Lebanon sees human capital as its own natural resource. “Before people even started using the phrase [‘knowledge economy’], Lebanon was always known to be a knowledge economy,” Siniora explains. “No-one can really claim that Lebanon has the wealth that is present in some parts of the Arab world, or the developed infrastructure available elsewhere in the region. But we have a large number of high-level universities and a highly competitive environment sparked by the very open nature of Lebanese businesses and people.

Are we now being labeled as Lebanon’s main export? What’s the government’s policy, wreck the economy even more in order to boost its export? And I use the term “its export” very loosely as I don’t member receiving a single Lira from the government to develop “their export”.

Or is Siniora only saying what everyone knows – Lebanon’s  success begins abroad – and just as the Philippines benefits from their 12 million OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers), maybe its time the government worked with the trend than against it. Instead of reversing the tide, maybe they can use it to the benefit of the homeland.

Brain Drain or Brain Trade?

Brain Drain or Brain Trade? Is Lebanon's Human Capital its Key Export?

Update – July 15, 2010: CNN’s John Defterios seems to support the brain trade argument. But then he works for a news company that had their ‘credibility compromised’ when they fired Octavia Nasr.