How the Lebanese geek community has evolved over the past 10 years

by Ayman Farhat, July 22, 2014

On a recent Friday in Beirut, the evening streets are empty as everyone prepares for iftar. But the sundown meal is not the only meeting about to happen: gamers, developers, programmers, and IT professionals from the local community are gathering in the city’s Hamra neighborhood to celebrate the 10th birthday of the largest tech geek community in Lebanon, LebGeeks.

A group of early birds sits in a circle and starts discussing one of the latest tech related stories; when they come up for air more people have joined them in the room. What was one group half an hour ago is now five or six groups having different technical discussions and zealous debates. This spontaneous activity lasts for hours and is driven by just one thing: passion for technology.

Ten years ago, Samer Nakfour, computer engineer and entrepreneur started LebGeeks as a community for technology enthusiasts in Lebanon. “I started getting immersed in programming and tech culture in my early teens. Back then, it wasn’t easy to find people in Lebanon who shared my passion for technology as there were no tech-oriented communities. So I had to scratch my own itch and start a community for people who are passionate about technology.”

Since then, LebGeeks has grown from a forum with a couple of users and small meetups to a community of hundreds of people, encompassing a wide range of interests such as computer programming, gaming, networking, electronics, and design. LebGeeks now organizes several series of meetups and events in Beirut targeting the tech geek community:

  • The ‘In Real Life’ series, a celebration of the tech culture, is usually held once or twice a year. All members of the LebGeeks community are invited to attend, meet, and network with each other to discuss different topics and interests.

Throughout the years, the diversity of topics and community member interests has led to many different types of connections between the members: from friendships, projects, work opportunities, and even business partnerships. Fostering these types of connections is why the community was formed in the first place, as a place for geeks with different interests and skills to communicate and help each other.

Furthermore, a vibrant tech community has always had a leading role in the evolution of startups and innovation. The LebGeeks community is starting to draw startups and entrepreneurs who need help; according to Samer, the programming talks events often attract entrepreneurs scouting for talent.

LebGeeks is a growing community. Each event is bigger and better-attended than the last. As for the future, Samer plans to honor the LebGeeks name by expanding beyond the Lebanese capital: “Right now the community is fairly centralized in Beirut [but] there are more tech communities ready to be established in other cities like Tripoli, Byblos, and Tyre. It would be nice to see more people stepping up to consolidate and formalize these loose networks. The next step for LebGeeks would be to spread collaboration across these different micro-communities in Lebanon.”

I have been an active member in LebGeeks for five years now and it has been a wonderful experience on the level of friendships, work opportunities, and projects. I’m looking forward for the years to come.

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Ayman is Wamda's lead web developer. You can read more tech related stories on his blog The Code Ship or connect with him on Twitter via @aymanfarhat.

 
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