Arab Woman Mag was honored to interview Dr. Rana Abu Dahr and to put her among its inspirational women in this issue. She is a distinguished political writer and owner of the Lebanese Altawasul weekly magazine, earning several awards for her achievements from which are; award winner for dialogue between cultures and civilizations and their chosen spokesperson for 2015. She won an award for Unilever for maintaining peace in the Middle East, and a recognition award from the UN, plus from Beirut Heritage organization. She was also awarded recognition from the international Soufi conference in Egypt. She has been chosen as one of Lebanon’s pioneers to become one of the most influential personalities in Lebanon. To top it all she is also a media consultant to a number of prominent organizations.
Her love for reading and interest in politics started since she was a little girl especially during the civil war when she gathered around adults discussing the political situation and always in the back of her mind the question “why?” Why dreams and lives are being lost in her land while others elsewhere lived in peace? From there her passion to learn more about the political situation grew as well as reading on the topic and research. She found herself in a career in media and journalism within it she made lots of important connections and friendships. She used her knowledge to publish several political books. With more than ten years of experience and after earning her PHD she found herself in a new path as a media consultant to some of the most prominent organizations. Additionally she established a center for media studies and convention planning.
We asked Dr. Rana how she accomplished so much in such a short time, and how her family reacted to her career choice and what challenges faced her?
“Ever since I was a child I had a passion for reading and writing and as I grew older I realized the power of words and I took enlightenment in God’s verses from the Quran “Iqraa” (Read) and “Alqalam wa ma yasteroon” (the pencil and what they write). To me the power of a word and pen forms a wonderful dream of overcoming barriers expressing love and compassion to humanity. I envision a new intellectual mindset in the Arab world one that progresses with this day and age without compromising our heritage, culture and history. I dream that we become the link between our great history and the ambitious future ahead; that was what drove me to journalism hoping to accomplish these dreams and from there I found the motivation and faith to overcome obstacles in my way.”
Rana continues, “My father (May he rest in peace) raised me to believe that if you persevere you will reach your goals. He instilled in me the fire to keep moving forward, he is my role model in his successes, optimism and love for others. He taught me to love my work, and from there stems giving with passion. My mother on the other hand guided me to be balanced and instilled valued ethics and morals to live by. My brothers and sisters always have and continue to encourage me; being part of such a loving, supportive and positive family helped me reach the place I am today.
From experience I learned not to dwell on obstacles and learn from mistakes. I value the friendships I have with prominent intellectual people whom are known for their high work ethics and love for their country; I have learned a lot from them. Additionally having my only son Omar in my life pushed me even further to excel and make my dreams come true until I reached high ranks. I learned perseverance, courage and that the truth will always prevail. I encourage every person to be responsible and work on improving our country and keeping the hope alive especially for coming generations whom stopped believing in dreams due to struggles and oppressions in our time. As for me, I have shielded myself with faith and optimism and with God’s will I accomplished many of my goals and ambitions. Yet my dreams don’t have a limit especially when it comes to my homeland, my first dream is Lebanon and my biggest dream is the Arab world as a whole to be ideal in every sense of the word as from there branches societies, families, nations, economy, peace and a thriving future. One should never stop learning and growing to help improve not only himself but society as well”
How do you see the Arab women’s state in general, and Lebanese women more specifically? And what advice do you give any ambitious woman who finds herself held back by society?
“Unfortunately although women have come a long way yet we remain in a male dominant society. Working women face many challenges being her marital status, dealing with colleagues and work pressures, lack of opportunity to progress and self-improve even outside the work area, plus her role as a home keeper and care provider for her family. But even with all the obstacles today’s woman found a way to be a proactive member in society to benefit herself and her family as well as reaching some of the highest ranks and critical roles and positions in several fields. Women today learnt to be multi-tasking dealing with several workloads at home and outside at the same time fighting for rights and equality.
When a woman takes on any role, she has to take in consideration several factors; being moderate and balanced when it comes to her choices, being confident and have the willingness to corporate and not be dictatorial while delegating jobs, which in no means undermines her capabilities. At the same time she should always work on self-improvement and learning new skills. She has to be aware that to be a good leader one has to be patient, respectful, competent, and persevere these are all keys to becoming successful and creative in law abiding ways.
My advice which I personally live by is to set goals, and a plan on how to accomplish them in specific time lines and then actually putting the effort needed to follow through. I believe that ambition is life and there is no life without ambition.
As for my personal ambitions they will never cease till my last breath and my biggest dream will always be for a better tomorrow for our Arab world.”