January 24, 2017 Print

The Lebanese Institute for Market Studies reaches out to students on college campuses to share the ideas of liberty with “unconventional delivery methods” like games, debates, and focus groups.

“Lebanon is on the brink of a disaster,” warns Dr. Patrick Mardini, founder of new Atlas Network partner the Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (LIMS). “Debt has reached 144 percent of the GDP, and taxes and government borrowing are being spent on inefficient public administration.” Mardini, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Balamand, founded LIMS in 2015 as part of an effort to downsize the Lebanese government and restore economic freedom.

“We believe that a small government coupled with a free economy reduces the incentive for sectarian tensions and provides a solid base for long-lasting civil peace,” Mardini said. “LIMS offers robust education programs enabling participants to understand the way the market operates, the way competition restrains behavior, and the way government distorts incentives and leads to corruption. During training, participants are asked to analyse a Lebanese issue of their choice and suggest solutions from a market perspective.”

Only a fledgling organization when it participated in the first Arab Liberty Festival in 2015, LIMS had already developed such impressive new programs that it was awarded recognized with an award for the best think tank project within the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

“The institute is currently running a policy campaign aiming to promote opening the electricity market to competition,” Mardini reports. “We've been having a lot of traction: Newspaper coverage, TV reports during the prime-time news, and talk shows. Our Facebook video views are around half a million, which is huge for a small country like Lebanon.” Mardini developed the campaign in part during the Unconference session of Atlas Network’s 2016 Liberty Forum in Miami.

In addition to its ongoing research and media projects, LIMS reaches out to students on college campuses to share the ideas of liberty with “unconventional delivery methods” like games, debates, and focus groups. Each training provides a certificate of completion to students that they can use to bolster their curriculum vitae with documented extracurricular activities.

Mardini won the elevator pitch competition during the first Arab Liberty Festival, and in his speech he explained the rationale for founding LIMS.

“In Lebanon, the garbage is in the street, and the government forbids us from collecting garbage,” Mardini said during his award-winning speech. “We suffer from electricity shortages and the government forbids us from producing electricity. We pay the highest telecom bill in the world and the government forbids companies from entering the sector and selling us telecom services at a low price. This is theft. … The Lebanese Institute for Market Studies aims to restore economic liberties in order to allow anyone to open any business. And we won’t stop until we downsize this sectarian and corrupt government.”

Kristelle Mardini, marketing specialist for LIMS, was among those who participated in Atlas Leadership Academy at the 2016 Arab Liberty Festival.
Back row: Ahmet Arpa, Association for Liberal Thinking (Turkey); Hakan Sahin, Istanbul Network for Liberty (Turkey); Adel Dhari, Impact Foundation (Tunisia); Souade Adnane, Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (Morocco); and Abdourahmane Sarr, CEFDL (Senegal).
Front row: Elisa Martins, Atlas Network; Kristelle Mardini, Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (Lebanon); Mai Sami Mohamed Ahmed, the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies (Egypt); and Cindy Cerquitella, Atlas Network.