Crunching OpenSesame BarCamp-Lebanon

7 Mar, 2009


As you can tell I did not post updates for the past few days, well because I was in Lebanon for OpenSesame BarCamp- event there.

OpenSesame BarCamp-Lebanon was initiated by RootSpace and Naharnet 

 and Co-Organizered by Youth Shadow Government (IT/Telecom emphasis) and Creative Commons.

According to the organizers the event was held to help promote “openness in various contexts social, innovation, politics, business, education, and more.” The event was held in  in Beirut on February 28, 10am-4pm, at American University of Beriut (AUB).

As all worldwide BarCamps events this event content was provided by the participants in a collaborative manner.

Around 65 people came to discuss open source technology initiatives, collaborative problem solving, Creative Commons and intellectual property in Lebanon and the region, tech tools for promoting transparency and good governance, open business models, Arabic on the web and collaborative sites (like Wikipedia, etc), and more.

OpenSesame-BarCamp-Lebanon was interesting effort, by RootSpace and Naharnet, we had great sessions and networked with great tech savvy people. Special thanks to David Munir Nabti and Sami Tueni for organizing such an event. Also many thanks for Microsoft for sponsoring the event, and for Dr. Tony Feghali, and AUB/Olayan School of Business for providing the venue.

As the sessions were divided across 4 time slots, I managed to attend  only 3 sessions where I was a speaker at one, here is the 3 sessions summary: Writing a How To Statup For Dummies Session, Social Media Marketing session, Arabic web typography/Arabizing the web session. More..

Writing a How To Statup For Dummies Session:

 This session Discussed what makes a startup successful. Here is the quick bulletin of the discussion lead by Samer N. K:

The Idea:

Google was successful not because they had a new idea but because of the implementation of the idea, and the marketing.

All startup started with an idea that they had passion for,

Key factors for successful ideas: implementation, different, unique, innovative and focus.


If you have a new idea, start looking at people who might share your interest.

If you want to do something in the region you need people to help you in all other aspects. 

Look for the right people to take the idea forward.

Trust and team: 

Look for people who are willing to work in the garage, work for low pay, or no pay, and those who have passion for it.

Make your team feel they have ownership.

You cannot build a startup in your own.

Most startups succeeded through collaboration.

Finding talent:

It is hard to find competent people in Lebanon, and if you find them you cannot control them.

If you want to start a company with someone you have to be welling to marry them.


free time or shared time.

Shared time: ties in with the  available funding. If I make money from fulltime job I put some of my free time into my startup. The people who put time after work need to have some since of reward.

If you manage to get people to work full time, then you get in to a different game, where you have to control your team and idea.

8 hours/day -5days my full time job —> 5 hours-7days= I see the developers!

If you have a major idea you need people to put at least5 hours a day.


FFF: family and Friends.

VC and angle: They do not need a business model they will invest in a potential. They will help you in relationship and marketing. They care more in the product. (That is for US VCs)

VC: will drive your startup to the direction they wana go to.

Standard investors: Looks for profit, he needs a detailed business plan that lead to profitability in 2 years, they are the Arab VCs. These are hard type of investors and do not add much value.

Infrastructure tools:

Open source or property?

Samer form Microsoft Lebanon commented: Bizpark  is an initiative from Microsoft that gives the startup all the software for free for 3 years, for up 25 people. Worth of 25,000 dollars for free. But if you make profit after 3 years you have to start paying Microsoft for using their tools..


In open source it is all free, but you have to learn it yourself, the releases are not really well documented, you do not get the support you get from MS. But with Open-Source you get free community support. (with open source you can change the source code.)


There is no political reason to start or not start a startup, but I said you have to take the political lows in where you gona operate.

Legal component:

Be documented have agreement and copies, everything is should be written, make everything clear for everyone.

If you do not do that, look at facebook the person stole the idea and built an empire.

Social Media Marketing session:

I led this session, where I introduced social media tools and applications and discussed how to use them in marketing and in creating relationships. The three key steps in social media marketing are:1- find your audience, 2- engage them and build relationship 3- measurement and modify strategy.  (I ‘ll write a separate post about social media here on AC later.)

Arabic web typography/Arabizing the web session:

This was the last session I attended: where a great initiative was born: 

As the amounts of Arabic fonts that are available on PC: windows, Linux, and the web are very few.  So the participants in this session agreed to move forward and create a body to back the development and distribution of a screen-readable Arabic font as good as what is available for Latin scripts.

We started with a group on Google (here), and I‘ll be working with this group to form an official body that would involve bringing together developers, typographers, calligraphists and eventually OS vendors. 

If you’d like to contribute to the effort, join our Google group: and I would report here in the progress of this initiative.

For full sessions notes go here, for flickr photos go here:


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  1. Samer  |  March 7th, 2009 at 5:05 PM #

    >> In open source it is all free, but you have to learn it yourself, the releases are not really well documented

    I beg to differ. The documentation for Ubuntu Linux is way more helpful that the “Help Topics” shipped with Microsoft Windows.

    >> You do not get the support you get from MS. But with Open-Source you get free community support.

    Again, Open source does not mean no support. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, offers high-quality (paid) support for its OS.

    I wish I had attended that session! I was in another one 🙂

  2. Ahmad Fahad  |  March 9th, 2009 at 1:33 PM #

    Thanks for the good coverage, I enjoyed the read.

    Despite loving the idea of having a BarCamp in Lebanon, I am highly disappointed you guys at didn’t alert us of it happening in advance. Some of us here in Syria would have possibly attended.

  3. Amad  |  March 9th, 2009 at 11:58 PM #

    Real good stuff.. thanks AC

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