Life in Dubai blogger, Seabee, sent me a link to a recent teaser article in The Australian which describes a visit to Beirut. In a nutshell, the short excerpt provides readers with the history of Beirut as well as the Solidere-St. George issue. However, there’s one part that I found interesting:
In true Lebanese style, its grim airport abuts the picturesque coast. A visitor’s first shock is passport control. No sullen, rotund gatekeepers. Instead a horizon of uniformed beauties with long hair and bosoms of brass buttons.
This got me thinking – Lebanon is really a country of contrast and you don’t have to leave the airport to see it. Which brings me to a recent post by Alexander McNabb that strengthens this point:
Back in the late nineties, I travelled to Beirut in the company of Microsoft’s Middle East marketing manager to manage the opening of the company’s office in Lebanon.
My marketing manager colleague was horrified* to see that there was a ledger on the visa desk, where issued visas were recorded manually. This despite the presence of a distinctly computery thing on the desk. Given MS was touting e-government pretty hard at the time, she seemed to find the presence of a totally manual, analogue thing in the middle of a process that everywhere else in the world had automated somewhat incongruous. That ledger is still there today, folks.
I too was surprised to see it when the guy at passport control entered my wife’s passport details as she obtained her visa. I understand that in Lebanon, government and IT don’t mix at all but there’s got to be something we can do to change that.