Mark Abouzeid & Cedars Productions Launch “My Lebanon” Initiative

My name is Mark Abouzeid and I am the Director of Growing Cedars in Air. I am Lebanese; I wasn’t brought up Lebanese, but I am beginning to understand just how Lebanese I am.

Last year, before my father died, I interviewed him about my own family heritage, something he had never spoken of before. That moment was the start of a personal discovery which became the basis for the upcoming film.

During the course of getting to know the Lebanese people, I came across this poem by Gibran at the same time as the people I met spoke with similar pride of their homeland. So I decided to start asking anyone, “What is your Lebanon?”

The results have been incredible and the impact overwhelming. The question reminded Lebanese to appreciate what matters, caused foreign viewers to question their view of Lebanon, and helped me find my own Lebanon.

The response has inspired us to launch My Lebanon as a social initiative through videos and with the help of social media. Anyone can contribute with a My Lebanon video. In this video, are just a few My Lebanon examples.

What does My Lebanon mean to you? Is it an album of photos, an object, a person, a song, a poem?

Share your Lebanon with us and you might find yourself in in our next My Lebanon video or in an international feature film. Send links, video files, or written submissions to cedars@markabouzeid.com, share your Lebanon with others and witness the impact of your statement.

Visit http://cedars.markabouzeid.com or on Facebook: Growing Cedars in Air for more information.

“Lebanon: A Day in the Life” video short by Mark Abouzeid & Cedars Productions

With original music by Rama’s Whisper, Growing Cedars in Air presents 24 hours in the lives of the People of Lebanon, a teaser for the upcoming short film, Finding Lebanon, and feature length documentary film, Growing Cedars in Air. Share this video with your family and friends, spread the word and let your curiosity guide you inside a new Lebanon.


”Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to go home. Not my parents’ house in whatever country they happened to be living in, at that time. But my ancestral home, the land of my dreams: burnt earth under olive trees and rocky hillsides shadowed by secular cedars, their roots reaching deep into the core of the earth….my earth…my roots.”

Mark Abouzeid, director of Growing Cedars in Air.


Ask anyone you meet what they know about Lebanon and you will invariably receive one or both of the following replies:

“Oh, yeah, Beirut! It was once the Riviera of the Middle East. Great place to party!” Or “A damn shame what war has done to that country, poor people.”

If Lebanon has seen nothing but war and parties for the last 40 years with no culture of its own, then how could it have provided so much to world culture in the sciences, arts, design, fashion, music, world politics, business and entertainment?

“Growing Cedars in Air” is an indie documentary video project about personal discovery of what it means to be Lebanese…about the living heritage and unique culture that has allowed Lebanese to flourish wherever they settle.

The films gather Lebanese people of all walks, local and abroad, to tell their own stories of Lebanon and their lives across recent history, including:

Edd Abbas, Lyricist / Producer; Rania Abouzeid, Award Winning Journalist; Aziza, Lebanese Singer and Songwriter; Michel Elefteriades, the Emperor of Nowheristan; Jennifer El Hage, fashion and graphic designer; Robert Fisk, Award Winning Journalist/Writer; Barbara Massaad, International Gourmand Cookbook Award recipient; Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Souk el Tayeb; Mohamad Rifaii, Art Director and Visual Artist; Laila Sarkis, aka Djette, female DJ in Beirut; Rania Tabbara, Artist and Art promoter; Rami Tibi of Rama’s Whisper.

Mark Abouzeid in Forbes

Quoted in Forbes!

“Mark Abouzeid, economist and cultural documentarian, who has followed Oman’s economy closely, agrees.

“People living and working in the area, possibly in countries with draconian laws on alcohol, who visit Oman regularly, and, yes, do like their drink, may choose other holiday destinations,” he says. “But the fastest growing sector in Oman is cultural and natural tourism. These tourists tend to accept local laws and adapt. They’re looking for something different and will be drawn to Oman’s parks, beaches, natural reserve, etc, and will willingly accept new laws.”

Even labor shouldn’t be affected, according to Abouzeid, who says petroleum businessmen and engineers would likely be put off by the changes, but will go regardless “since work requires them to, as they do in Saudi Arabia.”

“Overall, Oman may suffer slightly, but I don’t think it will do significant damage to hotels over the long-haul,” he says.

“It will require the Omani destinations to promote heavily on the cultural and natural aspects of the country and reinforce the cultural norms that make it a unique and wonderful destination.”

– See more at: http://www.forbesmiddleeast.com/…/will-oman…/articleid/7731

Quote/Unquote: Racism in Florence

In a scathing article about Italy’s behaviour towards the first black, african, female senator, the Florentine spoke with Mark Abouzeid about Racism in Italy:

“Italian natives are not the only ones with the race problem, however. Florence-based Lebanese-American photojournalist Mark Abouzeid, who has worked closely with immigrants here, says we’re all guilty. ‘Even we stranieri have a stratified view of the community,’ he argues. ‘Florentines and the majority of transplants to Florence are xenophobic, afraid of “different.” Continue reading

A Night at the Muscat Festival 2014, Oman

Discover the beauty of Muscat, meet the friendly Omani people and join in the celebrations at the 2014 Muscat Festival.  Dancers from India, Singapore, Mexico, Palestine and more.  See the colors, sounds and tastes of this marvelous event.

“Dubbed Oman’s biggest cultural and historical event, the Muscat Festival is the sultanate’s exhibition of local culture, art, consumer goods and services. The festival has a special flavour – a mixture of old and new, history and progression – from folk poetry and dance evenings, to lectures on solar energy, a chocolate festival and fashion shows. Some 1.5 million people from the region visit the month-long event, which can be seen at various venues around the city including the Omani Heritage Village, Seeb Beach and Al Qurum National Park where the most popular happenings take place.” WorldGuide.eu

Mark Abouzeid spent a week with performers and artisans participating in the 2014 Muscat International Folklore festival. Countries from around the globe and Omani tribesman from around the country mix at this important month long event exchanging aspects and knowledge of the unique cultural traditions and heritage. Join him in this ongoing series highlighting some of the key activities and personalities.

Rain in the desert | Flooding in Muscat, Oman

In a winter characterized by dramatic examples of the huge shifts in weather patterns to be expected as global warming increases, even tranquil Oman has not been spared. Following two months of unseasonably low temperatures, Muscat has been flooded by torrential rains lasting more than 12 hours.

This report by Mark Abouzeid highlights the current crisis as well as the impact to worldwide events, such as the Muscat Festival which was canceled until further notice.

copyright Mark Abouzeid 2014. All rights reserved.