Lebanon Is My Number One Passion

Interview with Emil J. Moawad, active Rotaractor and entrepreneur

Coming from a Rotarian family, Emil joined the organization at a young age. He has been very active ever since. A man of many interests and skills, Emil does not only support local clubs, but also the broader community and environment. Eager to provide the best to what he most cares about with a winning combination of passion, analytical approach, and an optimistic outlook on life.

You are an architect by profession but do not work in the field. However, what fascinates you in architecture and do you still somehow keep in touch with it?
What fascinates me the most about it is the ability to design and create something out of nothing, and making it last for decades and maybe centuries. I have a passion to make things happen, and this is what made me go into architecture.

It is a beautiful major, and perhaps some of my best life memories are those of the moments I had in university working on my architecture projects. Of course, I do keep in touch by reading about it and even practicing a bit from time to time. And even though I’m not working in architecture at the moment, I do live as an architect, think as an architect and see things as an architect.

How did you end up being an entrepreneur in a different field?

My passion for people and my experience in Hospitality is what made me shift fields. I started working in Hospitality at the age of 14, and I had the opportunity to try different things within my family business over the years. And with time, especially with hosting people from all over the world thanks to Rotaract, I developed a passion for tourism as well.

You have collaborated with many NGOs; were recognized as a Global Goodwill Ambassador by the GGA International organization … You are also trying to get one of your projects to become an NGO. Tell us more.

Another passion I had since I was a kid is public service and community development. This pushed me to become active in my school’s student life organization; then I joined Interact and later Rotaract, and co-founded my first NGO when I was in university. Now it is the biggest blood donation organization in Lebanon. After that, I co-founded a Sustainable Waste Management organization that provides waste management solutions, and so on.

Recently we started working on an initiative called TOGETHER FOR LEBANON, aiming to create positive, significant, and sustainable social impact in the Lebanese community through the unity and joint efforts of Lebanese citizens in Lebanon and all over the world.

One of the projects Rotaractors know you for most, is Show Me Lebanon. What is its story?

Well, every time we attended international conferences and events, the first impression I always got about Lebanon from people I met is that Lebanon is a country with no culture and no history in a Middle Eastern war zone area, with deserts, tents, and camels all over the place. That is why I really had the urge to find a way to break those stereotypes.

In addition to that, whenever international Rotaractors came to visit, I used to always be one of the people showing them around. Lebanon always exceeded their expectations and because of all that, I was confident that Lebanon is my number one passion, and showing people Lebanon is my mission. So why not do it on a professional level?

During those roundtrips, I found an amazing friend and Rotaractor who actually shares this same passion. And then together, we started discussing creating an initiative aiming to change the wrong perception people have about our beautiful country. And that’s how Show Me Lebanon was born.

Today, Show me Lebanon is a travel social enterprise that organizes authentic and immersive travel experiences all over Lebanon, while promoting the Lebanese culture and supporting the social and economic development of local communities.

To how many Rotaractors have you shown Lebanon so far? What do they usually enjoy the most? What should one definitely not miss in Lebanon?
Well, I definitely cannot give an exact number, but I have been showing Lebanon to our fellow Rotaractors for the past 14 years.  And the worst moment every single time is when we drop them back at the airport with tears in their eyes not willing to leave.

The reason for this is that when they visit Lebanon, they don’t only tour around sightseeing, but they get to experience a beautiful culture, a rich history, hospitable people and most importantly they get to enjoy our mouthwatering worldwide famous cuisine as well as the beautiful beaches and the vibrant renowned nightlife.

In addition to that, Lebanon is filled with breathtaking landscapes and sceneries of green forest-covered mountains and valleys overlooking the Mediterranean Sea; and is home to many ancient historical sites of more than 19 civilizations, as well as natural wonders that are out of this world. Something not to be missed of course, is checking out our unique Lebanese cedar trees, which are the national emblem of our country and which you can see on our Lebanese flag.

You’ll be expanding the initiative to Cyprus (Show Me Cyprus). Any updates?
Yes indeed. The impact we’re having on travelers and locals in Lebanon on a daily basis pushed us to consider implementing this initiative with like-minded passionate locals in different countries.

We’re starting with Cyprus, and then willing to expand to countries with rich authentic cultures like Jordan, Armenia, and others. And we might even be in your country one day, so stay tuned!

You were DRR in year 2015–2016 when Lebanon also hosted the Medicon. What are your memories of your year as DRR?

To start with, I can truly say that this was one the best experiences in my life. Lebanon is part of a huge geographical District of 9 countries in 3 continents and being a DRR for such a District is truly an outstanding experience.

I will always cherish all the beautiful memories of that year, especially those of the great team I had the privilege of working with; those of the growth and development of our 46 clubs all over the District; and those of the beautiful national and district projects which had a big impact on the community and on us as Rotaractors.

However, I can surely say that the best memory I have of that year is the MEDICON itself. It was an experience that can never be forgotten. The biggest MEDICON organized so far with more than 300 attendees from almost 30 countries from every corner of the world, making it the biggest Rotaract event in Lebanon and our District with that much international attendance.

It is true what we’ve been told – one can talk with you about anything. In relation to that, we’ve got a question from another Med Times team member: how do you manage to win all the trivia quizzes of Rotaract Club of Sahel Metn?
Hahah. Well, you know what they say: A good reputation is always better than a bad reputation! However, I surely don’t know it all, and we are always in a continuous learning process. The thing is that in general, i’m curious for knowledge and curious for experiences. And usually, most of the questions asked in those quizzes, turn out to be of things I read or experienced when I travel (which is quite often), or even things I’ve seen in the many movies and documentaries I watch.

You are involved in many projects, are an active Rotaractor … What is your secret? Endless energy levels, superpowers, superhuman time management skills?

There is actually no secret behind it. However, and as you might have noticed, I have a big passion and love for every single thing I do. If I don’t love it, or if I don’t have passion for it, I simply don’t do it. And if I do, I really put to my heart to it.

In addition to that, I got the opportunity to acquire a lot of skills through my involvement in Rotaract and other initiatives, such as organizational skills and time-management skills, which are surely great factors to make things happen!

Connect with Emil on LinkedIn

Follow Show Me Lebanon on Instagram @showmeleb

This year, Medicon is taking place online! Register here and do not miss the eventful 2-day conference (June 12–13) with workshops, discussion panels, important announcements, and party.

Photo credits to the rightful owners.

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