Lebanon's entrepreneurs find opportunity in turmoil

Smartphone applications and other digital products are cropping up to help Lebanese and others in the region that face high incidents of violence.

Jamal Saidi/Reuters/File
Men greet each other near sandbags, used as protection from future explosions, at a stronghold of Shiite group Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut January 30, 2014.

Growing insecurity in Lebanon and across the region has hit many businesses — from tourism to late-night shopping — hard. But entrepreneurs in the security sector are emerging with smart ideas to help residents get on with life. Their apps and products are proving popular not just in Lebanon, but in a broad swath of nations from Iraq to Egypt.

“Lebanon has this long history of conflict, and entrepreneurs are using this expertise to export to the region,” explains our Beirut correspondent, who recently followed several such businesses.

Take for example a new App called ‘I am Alive‘ – built to automatically tweet out that phrase when the user is near to an area where a bombing took place. Another new start-up app triangulates the sound of gunfire to help users avoid possibly dangerous areas. The idea for the latter emerged after a friend of its creator was hit by a stray bullet in Beirut’s shopping district of Hamra. The developer is creating the app in Lebanon, “but his plan to reach a bigger market is somewhere like the United States, where the incidence of gun deaths is actually higher,” our correspondent explains.

Established businesses are also getting into the game.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Global Outlook.

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