What’s wonderful about the Lebanese diaspora is that anywhere in the world you travel, you’re likely to meet a Lebanese-descended person. For such a small country, the community living outside of Lebanon is massive. As diasporic communities go–and there are many examples in history–keeping in touch with one another and to their homeland of origin remains tantamount. This resulted in the formation of intricate networks of communication among families, those hailing from the same village or town, those of similar religions, or language groups, to name a few.
Because even with the tightest communication, the fact remains: a diaspora is a dispersal; it means that Lebanese-descended people no longer have close proximity in their favor.
Technology has aided in keeping people in touch with one another. And that is exactly what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants had in mind when it launched a new initiative aiming to connect Lebanese around the world called Lebanon Connect. As part of this initiative, the Ministry collaborated on an app that enables users to “search for and chat with nearby Lebanese nationals in any country in the world.” Developed in English by Red-Lines, a mobile development and social media management company, the app has a simple goal: connecting the Lebanese community.
At its best, Lebanon Connect will empower the Lebanese community to strengthen ties that may already exist; sharing experiences, stories, images and more. But, even with a clear mission, iTunes and Android reviews of the app suggest it could use revision of both its implementation and design format. Since July 2014, the app had about 5,000 downloads.
This first iteration may not be received with the warmest welcome by the tech-heads in the community, but the goal of this initiative is one that has spanned centuries, over many generations, cultures, and continents: people want to connect with others of a shared past and experience. With that in mind, Lebanon Connect as an initiative and its corresponding app, can only get better from here.
If you’re interested in diaspora from a scholarly perspective especially on migration from, to, and within the ‘Middle East,’ check out Mashriq & Mahjar, a peer-reviewed journal under the Center’s purview. If you’ve downloaded the app, let us know what you think!