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.