“These are things that I can’t forget. It’s very strange that all these memories of work are related to clashes and to sad memories.”

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Episode notes

Rabih Omar is a proud citizen of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city, and has worked there on humanitarian and peacebuilding challenges for his whole career.

We talk in depth about his experience working for different international organisations that have come to his city, what foreign “experts” tend to get wrong, and how he keeps his motivation up despite near-constant political destabilisation.

Topics discussed:

[04:45]  What it was like growing up in Tripoli, through the end of the Lebanese civil war.

[10:30]  How Rabih moved on from early traumas, and ended up working in the field of conflict resolution & local development.

[16:45]  What social cohesion and local development looks like in Tripoli, against a backdrop of inter-communal and inter-sectarian violence.

[26:15]  Experiences with international organisations misusing “national staff”, and getting some of the basics wrong.

[35:55]  What people coming into Tripoli tended to get wrong about local politics, Alawite-Shia tensions, and other issues.

[48:05]  Rabih’s proudest moment over his career, after the mosque bombings in 2013.

[59:30]  Planning for the long run, despite chronic instability re: Syria, Israel, and national politics.