Lebanese Event Planners Have Unique Challenges

Syria conflict cause for difficult hurdles to plan for

In an unpredictable climate like Lebanon due to the spillover from the Syrian civil war creates unique difficulties for business planning conferences, exhibitions, and luxury weddings in the area. Still, Lebanese organizers are finding ways to get the job done in order to keep the business sector afloat, and say they are determined to figure out ways to keep the businesses going.

Over the past two years, the Syria-linked bombings, clashes, and influx of refugees, has created a poor experience for most Lebanese. The situation is, at best, a sensitive one. At worst, it is terrifying and devastating.

“We’re waiting, we’re praying for a good season,” said Alain Hadife, whose company, Caractere, plans luxury events.

Extravagant weddings and corporate events within the country are down nearly 45% since the conflicts began, according to Hadife. With Gulf Arab clients who were once contracted for multi-day weddings with and other lavish affairs are now afraid to invest in events in the country.

“The Lebanese caterer isn’t working, the Lebanese waiter isn’t working, the Lebanese photographer isn’t working. No one is working,” Hadife told Reuters.

His own company stages events outside, and says international events are sustaining his own business. He plans local events to this day, but him and his company are held hostage but the cloud of uncertainty Syria casts.

“We cannot say we won’t do anything, and then next season everything goes well, but we didn’t have time to do it.”

The Syrian war that began in 2011 has hit business and travel hard in Lebanon on all levels. It has slowed the growth of the economy to lower than 2% from an average of 8% seen since 2007 to 2010.

Last year, the In Shape health and beauty fair that is held in Beirut was cut short due to a bombing across down that caused the death of eight individuals. The show was eventually continued but the incident caused the following years event to be postponed out of concern.

“We never just wait,” said Sophia Farghal, one of the organizers. “You never know. It might be calm from now on, then in two months something happens. What we do is always be prepared as if nothing is going on.”

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