Nabil Bukhalid: Thank you. It said that many of the inductees were at the right place. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was in Beirut in 1998, a war-ridden city, where a rav­aging civ­il war was bring­ing destruc­tion and killings and dam­age to the assets. And I was a bio­med­ical engi­neer, hid­ing myself, actu­al­ly, in the hospital—practically liv­ing in there. And to iso­late myself from the crazi­ness out­side, I was play­ing with com­put­ers and local area networks. 

And despite all odds, with a group of friends at the uni­ver­si­ty, we were look­ing into solu­tions to break the iso­la­tion of AUB from the aca­d­e­m­ic envi­ron­ment in the US. So we start­ed to look into con­nec­tiv­i­ty. Being enthu­si­as­tic about that, I some­how found myself lead­ing the team into an enter­prise that seems to be quite impos­si­ble, I mean, a far-fetched dream. 

And after many tri­als to con­nect to uni­ver­si­ty to BITNET, to EARN, to the Internet, and fail­ures, being dis­il­lu­sioned by also the Taif Agreement that was sup­posed to bring peace to Lebanon but brought impuni­ty to those who were destroy­ing Lebanon, I immi­grat­ed with my wife and baby daugh­ters to Canada. 

In Montréal, I quick­ly real­ized that the urge to con­nect Lebanon to the Internet was burn­ing inside me. So I kept on seek­ing solu­tions, and I was one of the lucky peo­ple who was invit­ed George Sadowsky to INET 93, where I was on the tech­ni­cal truck and under the lead of Randy Bush, and that was real­ly a par­a­digm shift. 

During that sum­mer at Stanford, Randy Bush was instru­men­tal in help­ing me find a solu­tion for the chick­en or egg first puz­zle by host­ing the .lb ser­vices on psg​.com infra­struc­ture. And that way I was able to go around the monop­o­lis­tic prob­lems that we had with the… I mean, what looked like tele­com infra­struc­ture in Lebanon. And sec­ond I met won­der­ful peo­ple and I became engaged with the Internet Society. I mean, the most beau­ti­ful soci­ety that I’ve ever been and worked with. And that opened real­ly the hori­zons and per­mit­ted me to devel­op and copy the Society in Lebanon and cre­ates a large group of mem­bers. I mean, we have 650 mem­bers in the Internet Society in Lebanon, which is I believe quite large as a group. 

And we cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment that is…for many they believe it is an inva­sive envi­ron­ment. Because still the gov­ern­ment is a monop­oly. And while you man­age every­thing based on a mul­ti­stake­hold­er, bottom-up struc­ture, offer­ing most of our ser­vices pro bono to the com­mu­ni­ty. And by the way we’re evad­ing the reg­u­la­tions and the estab­lish­ment monop­o­lies. They don’t know what to do with us. I mean, we are peo­ple offer­ing pro bono ser­vices and some­how they don’t know how to treat us. And we estab­lished some sort of strong roots, because we have a very large com­mu­ni­ty. It became influential. 

And real­ly that’s my sto­ry. I would like to thank the Internet Society. I’m hum­bled and hon­ored to join the list of inductees that I’ve always admired and respect­ed. I would like to thank those who nom­i­nat­ed me and sup­port­ed my nom­i­na­tion. I would also like to…a spe­cial thanks to my fam­i­ly. To the American University of Beirut. To my team at CNS. To ISoc Lebanon found­ing mem­bers and LINC found­ing mem­bers. Thank you.