Mr. Cook. I heard you are visiting Beirut.
Beirut Spring -
Apple’s Fictitious Middle East consultant advises Apple’s CEO about his Lebanon trip.

Dear Mr. Cook.

I heard you are visiting Beirut as part of a drive to improve education for little girls in some parts of the world. This is admirable work, but you need some advice about navigating Lebanon’s famous minefields (the metaphorical kind. The real ones are fortunately far in the Lebanese south and good work is being done to find and disable them. )

Thankfully, my advice can be summed up in one phrase:

Stay away from the politicians

Listen Tim. You gotta trust me on this one. It may be difficult for you to understand this, but Lebanon has a weird way about its confessional politics. You can’t just visit the President and call it a day. In Lebanon you also have to visit the Prime Minister and the head of Parliament. You will then be asked to see religious leaders, and before you know it, you will be booked for 17 pointless meetings, and as we all know, your time is very precious.

I’m serious. Any photo op with any of the leaders will be promoted by his (never her) supporters as an endorsement for the leader’s tech vision. Some politicians in Lebanon are so deluded that they actually believe that this tiny country with little electricity and expensive internet is about to become a regional tech hub.

Another, final reason why you should stay away from the politicians: Your mission is to show Apple’s support for women and their empowerment. Imagine the optics of shaking hands with politicians in a government where the Minister for Women’s affairs is a man. In Lebanon, only 4 members of parliament are female, who are mostly there because they are related to an important man.

To sum it up, Mr cook. Enjoy the food. You can find your favorite Turkey bacon and egg white omelette in many restaurants in Beirut. I also suggest you try out some of the healthy local specialties for lunch. But make sure you stay away from the politicians.

Yours truly,

Fictitious Apple Middle East Expert

Mr. Cook. I heard you are visiting Beirut. was originally published in Beirut Spring on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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