Lebanese Abdallah Ghanem, 38, is no longer able to innovate in a country that now lacks the basic needs of life such as electricity, fuel and internet service. So he chose to travel to Georgia, as he tells Asharq Al-Awsat.
Hundreds of Lebanese have temporarily left the country in the past months, to escape the compounded crisis in Lebanon, where electricity has been cut off, and fuel and medicine are scarce.
A number of Lebanese employees chose to travel to work remotely in a less stressful environment. Destinations include Egypt, Turkey, Cyprus, Dubai and Georgia, where they can work and move to Beirut on monthly visits or every 15 days.
Ghanem, who works in 3D animation, said that his occupation depended primarily on electricity and the internet, which both became scarce over the past few months.
“I no longer have the ability to work... No electricity, no internet... I can no longer use the Zoom application in business meetings... I can no longer finish my work,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Ghanem, who works as a freelancer with companies abroad, left behind his fame in Lebanon in the second field in which he excels that is directing. He took the decision to leave and start from scratch in a country where he has no reputation or records.
“I no longer feel safe... The choice to travel did not come suddenly, especially since the Lebanese people’s money, including mine, is held by the banks. It required a lot of time, preparation and savings to be able to travel,” he stated.
Ghanem said he started to think seriously about leaving his homeland after the Beirut port explosion, on Aug. 4, 2020. He chose Georgia because it suited his economic condition.
The Lebanese are entitled for a one-year tourist visa in Georgia, where it is relatively easy to open a bank account and set up a company, enabling them to obtain residency.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the executive director of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH), Fadel Faqih, said that the center decided to establish another office in Turkey for its team of about 40 people, where about four staff members, would go on rotation for a period not exceeding a month with the aim of “taking a breath”, then return to the Beirut office.
“We thought about the psychological comfort of people. Our work is concerned with human rights in a country where those rights are harmed and violated. If workers in this field are not provided with a nurturing environment, and if they are not psychologically prepared and comfortable, it will be very difficult for them to carry out their duties,” Faqih said.