Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

Unemployment in Lebanon: Highlight in crisis

Unemployment in Lebanon: Highlight in crisis

Lebanon has been historically exporting skilled workers to many regions in the world including Gulf, Africa, Europe, and North America. For more than 10 years, the Unemployment rate in Lebanon has been increasing to reach 11.35% in 2019 (from 6.35% in 2009). Since the Economic crisis in 2019, the rate has dramatically increased to reach 14.5% in 2021.

To dig deeper into unemployment in Lebanon we can see that the citizens with advanced education (holders of a university degree or above) are prone more to unemployment, in comparison to intermediate (secondary schooling) and basic education (primary schooling or below).

So what can we do to solve this?

It is worth mentioning that since the economic crisis in Lebanon in 2019 followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lebanese economy deteriorated severely leading to the closure of many companies and establishments or downsizing in the terms of employees and costs.

Note that among the 3 sectors (services, industry, and agriculture), the services sector was the most to hold the burden of this economical crisis, especially for the restaurants, hotels, banks, and retail traders,…

The employment breakdown as per sector shows that the service sector retained the most employment over years, in contrast to agriculture which only received 11.32% of total employment in 2019.

Therefore, we should try to shift the load of the employment to the other sectors in Lebanon (industry and agriculture) by encouraging the highly educated persons to start their own businesses in this area, which will then lead to more employment from the less educated in these 2 fields.

This will not be attainable unless the government and international entities start incentivizing the youth by providing the below:

  • Access to finance (through long-term small loans at a minimized rate of interest)
  • Access to knowledge (by providing proper training to the youth in management and technical expertise)
  • Access to market (by providing the connections to the youth to sell their products through)

To note that some initiatives from the public have been launched to provide one or more of the above-mentioned, however, the government hasn’t yet started any steps to help.

Addressing Multidimensional Poverty in Lebanon

Addressing Multidimensional Poverty in Lebanon

Authors: Tala Abdul Samad, Nour Al Bidewe, Basman Hariri, Sara Sadaka, Aziz Saliby, Jean-Pierre Sakr

Over the past two years, Lebanon has been witnessing compounded crises such as brain drain, poverty, unemployment, and inequality. On October 3rd, we wanted to listen to the factors that affected the Lebanese the most. Borhan, a 60-year-old man living in Beirut, was one of the people we met. We captured a video with him to show the suffering of the Lebanese since the start of the crisis where he comprehensively described the severe living conditions. As we all know, 2019 was a year of transformation for Lebanon, beginning with the October 17th revolution in 2019, following the global pandemic in 2020, and the rise of inflation. Borhan expressed the feelings of most Lebanese, where he identified the problems that we are facing as residents. Many people mentioned that specific sectors have been hit the most, therefore we would like to perform exploratory data analysis and surveys using different datasets to be able to identify inequalities. We are also interested in using a data-driven approach to identify gaps and inequalities that exist in the education, income, and health sectors. 


As a result, we have exploited the World Bank’s World Development Indicators and we have identified several indicators which we have used as proxies to measure multidimensional poverty in Lebanon. We chose to have a topic related to the multidimensional poverty index in Lebanon compared to the Arab region. Since the multidimensional poverty index is calculated using three different dimensions, namely education, living conditions, and health, we decided to divide the three different dimensions among us. 

Living Conditions:

Housing is a significant indicator of the multidimensional poverty (MDP), and based on ESCWA calculations, the main indicators to assume whether housing is counted as depreciation for a household or not are ‘Overcrowding rate’ – the percentage of the population living in an overcrowded household – ‘Housing type’ i.e. houses, apartments, row houses, townhouses and duplexes, ‘Sanitation quality’ – availability of handwashing facilities, toilet cleanliness.

Historical data related to housing utilities in Lebanon was gathered from the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), which contains significant indicators to measure MDP such as water, electricity, gas, actual rent, furnishings, household equipment and routine household, and others. Data is shown monthly from December 2007 till September 2022.

This data reported many indicators highlighting the increase in poverty on multiple sides. It is worth reporting that the consumer price index (CPI) Housing Utilities in Lebanon records the highest score this September 2022 (363.3) compared to October 2021 (215.9)

Looking at the nutrition level, food inflation was detected as the cost is more skewed to the right for the year 2021-2022; rising food prices reduce the purchasing power of food consumers. Another devaluation could be mentioned in the transportation sector, as the transportation sub-index of the CPI basket in Lebanon increased by 2339 points in September of 2022 (3,725), compared to August 2021 (1,386); the cost of transportation is significantly increasing, resulting in a limitation to access in the transportation sector.

It is worth mentioning that the CPI in Lebanon has more than doubled over the past year, peaking this September 2022 at a score of 1,611.4 against 714.8 in October 2021, and a higher CPI indicates higher inflation. This eventually leads to adjustments in the cost of living and income, which tends to worsen inequality or poverty as it hits income and savings harder for poorer or middle-income households than for wealthy households.

Healthcare System:

As stated by Joao Martins, MSF Head of Mission in Lebanon, “The crisis in Lebanon has been driven by years of corruption and now we are seeing that this can contribute to the destruction of an entire health system just as effectively as war or a natural disaster”. As a result, it is important to conduct a deep dive analysis on the healthcare system in Lebanon which is a dimension that measures multidimensional poverty.

First we will look at the current health expenditure (%of GDP) which takes into account the public and private health expenditure. By comparing Lebanon to the Arab World, we can notice that the current health expenditure is higher along the mid 2000 with Lebanon having 11% in 2000 while the Arab World having 4%. After that, Lebanon witnessed a decrease and the Arab World an increase reaching a value of 9% and 5%, respectively. The decrease in the expenditure in Lebanon has negatively affected the healthcare system as medication and vaccines are becoming scarce. Looking more closely, we can see in the next graph that the access to immunization has tremendously decreased in Lebanon. On average the access to vaccines (such as DPT, HepB3, and measles) has decreased from 83% (2000) to 67% (2021). 

On another hand, we evaluated the demand for private insurance in Lebanon. As we can see, the demand has decreased from 70% (2000) to 45% (2021). This decrease is due to all private insurance companies converting their payment method to fresh U.S. dollars and since the NSSF benefits have diminished due to the economic crisis, most Lebanese people are now left with no proper access to health assistance.  


We also conducted a survey on school and university students to analyze access to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic which was also identified as the new normal.

You can be part of our project by filling this online survey. Your answers are highly valuable to the development of our dashboard since the larger the sample size, the more accurate our results would be. 

At a later stage, we would like to present our results to our target audience which are UN agencies, local NGOs, and Lebanese ministries. We got a total of 135 responses from all over Lebanon where the survey was populated via social media platforms. The majority of the respondents were university students or graduates. Most of them were unemployed or employed in a full time position. 

We asked the respondents about their evaluation to their online experience; the answers rated their  experience as poor or fair. On a scale from 1 being a very bad experience and 5 being a very good experience, most of the respondents rated the effectiveness of online learning as 3. In addition, we asked about the preferred type of education; the majority answered the traditional physical method as the most preferred following the hybrid method as second preferred. These answers make us conclude that the online learning experience was not that good in Lebanon. This might be due to the lack of training from the government and the teachers. 

To further explore the facilities that were available to ease the online learning experience, we asked the people about their access to devices, electricity and internet. For the devices, the majority had access to devices that were mainly Mobile phones or laptops. Most of the respondents have access to electricity but not all the time while almost all the respondents have access to internet but the variance changed between access all the time and access but not all the time.  Most of the respondents reflected that they couldn’t focus and they weren’t serious about their studies during online learning. Furthermore, on a scale from 1 being not at all to 5 being for sure, we asked the people about their willingness to retake the online experience. The answers varied between 1 and 2 mainly. 

Finally, we asked the people about the disadvantages of online learning. Some of the responses include poor network, electricity cuttage, procrastination, weak communication, lack of motivation to study, more distraction, professors are not equipped with the resources, challenging experience for both students and professors. From this survey, we can conclude that Lebanon wasn’t prepared well for such a situation, especially its basic infrastructure which includes bad electricity and network services.

Lebanon: The Crisis & The Opportunities

Lebanon: The Crisis & The Opportunities

Rafic Srouji, Lara Zbibo, Anas Sidani, Dima Daouk, Ziad Moghabghab, Celine Kabbara


As MSBA students, we are used to working with data daily, we are accustomed to hearing about its importance and how it holds the answers to any question we might have. We didn’t really understand how powerful data was until we were asked a question we didn’t have the answer to, and with the use of data we were able to unearth the answers to our question.

It was Monday February 22, directly after our Data visualization class, we were walking from OSB to Zaituna Bay and we were discussing different potential ideas for our upcoming visualization course when suddenly we were stopped by a SkyNews reporter. He asked us if we were students and then proceeded with asking us the one question that captured our curiosity:


Luckily, they included MSBA’s one and only Rafic Srouji in the news report the next day. His answer was:

This whole interaction got us thinking and sparked our curiosity; we wanted to find out why is the cost of consumer goods drastically increasing and what can we do about it.

As residents of Lebanon, we experienced first-hand the dramatic rise of prices every time the Lira devalues with an average inflation rate of 132.98%, so we joined the monthly inflation rate data in Lebanon with the monthly Lira rate data from 2019 till 2022. After plotting the timeseries data, we found that when the lira rate increases the inflation rate increases substantially. With further research, we found that the price of consumer goods changes substantially with the fluctuation of the lira because most consumer goods are imported, thus being purchased with the USD.

In order to get more insights about the nature of the trade deficit (exports and imports), we analyzed the Lebanese exports and imports data. This enabled us to create charts that compare the import and export values in Lebanon, and to divide them by sector.

As we can see in the dashboard’s charts, Lebanon has a large trade deficit of $12.81 Billion with most consumer goods being imported, this definitely plays a huge role in the increase of prices. If Lebanon was more self-sufficient when it comes to consumer goods and other basic products, the price of said products could potentially decrease and would be less volatile to changes in the lira rate.

Lebanon imports 20% of its total imports from the Agriculture sector, as well as 20% from the Minerals sector, which both constitutes to its highest imports. Our focus as to evaluate whether this amount could be reduced.

A big discovery was found! Lebanon has opportunities all over its area, hidden in its chaos; the country has at least one available factory that can produce goods from any tradeable sector. Lebanon has more than enough factories to reach the dream of putting a dent in the trade deficit. The country has 1,616 factories in the food industry that can dramatically decrease the high prices of food and beverages, if properly exploited.

A comparison between Turkey and Lebanon was found to be a great validation to our proposed solution. Turkey’s Lira has lost more than 70% of its value since 2021, but it was found that the inflation rate didn’t follow as aggressively as that of Lebanon. The weaker correlation between the Turkish Lira rate and the Turkish inflation rate is a direct result of the strong local production in Turkey. Turkey has a negligible trade deficit of $29 million which is negligible in comparison to its population (85 million), in opposite to Lebanon who has a trade deficit of $12.82 billion with a population of 6.83 million.

Local production is a key player in decreasing Turkey’s yearly trade deficit. Improving local production is seen to be effective in decreasing the country’s trade deficit, and decreasing the prices of goods.

From here, our findings demonstrate that there is a crucial need for local production. To do so, the government must allocate resources towards these factories and exploit them, especially in times we need them the most. This would potentially increase tourism, increase local jobs, and decrease prices all together.

National Debt & Population Income

National Debt & Population Income

Does a Country’s Borrowing Policy Affect its Population’s Income level?

The Case of Lebanon


DOLLAR? LBP?       



WHAT????     20%????




This has unfortunately been the sad reality that
theLebanese people have been living for since
October of 2019.




Because a Banking | Financial | Currency | Crisis

Made a Huge Bubble Burst!                                             




Lebanon has had a budget deficit for over 20 years
and has been borrowing from external parties
for as long as we can remember.

So, as Lebanese citizens, we are born indebted.


A country’s national debt affects its population’s income level:

  • Growing debt has a direct effect on economic opportunities

  • If high levels of debt crowd out private investments, workers would have less to jobs do and therefore earn lower wages

Countries with LOWER DEBT exhibit HIGHER INCOME levels per capita.





Potential Solutions include but are not limited to:

  • Supporting Production and Services Sectors leading to more Job Creation and eventually More Wages

  • Improving Trade Agreements leads to more exports which would Reduce Budget Deficits and make the country economically healthier

  • Attracting Foreign Direct Investments by providing a healthy capital market (ex: improving Reporting Practices) which leads to More Investments & More economic opportunities, More Jobs and eventually More wages




Countries with Open Trade Policies seem to have higher income levels


Countries with Updated Reporting Practices also have higher income levels


STOP borrowing from international Agencies

CONTROL High National Debt Levels


Implement Policies to boost the economy

The Lebanese Economic Crisis, 2022

The Lebanese Economic Crisis, 2022

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

Lebanon, a Small Country with Huge Worries

If you’re reading this blog, you are more privileged than 78% of the Lebanese population! The United Nations stated that 78% live under the line of poverty in 2021. Let me walk you through all the evidences and solution. GDP per capita is a perfect metric to measure the economic conditions of a country’s citizens: Lebanon’s GDP per capita plunged to a negative 21% growth in 2020. However, a bigger problem looms over Lebanon: It is far from being able to meet the UN’s 2030 Agenda, more specifically, section 8 related to economic factors. Section 8.1.1 in the 2030 Agenda requires all countries to sustain a 7% GDP per capita growth.

How can Lebanon Catch Up?

The answer is straightforward: Secure Foreign Funds! To secure such funds from international institutions like the IMF or World Bank, the Lebanese Government should implement quick local economic reforms.

The secured funds will then be used to transform Lebanon from a major importer to a major exporter. The funds must be invested in local production, tourism and domestic spending (infrastructure). This can definitely boost Lebanon’s GDP among several other reforms in different sectors.

Is it Really a Good Idea?

Many people are skeptical on borrowing from international institutions like the IMF due to the severity of their rules. However, let’s take Egypt as an example: Egypt increased IMF borrowings by 1,500% from 2015 till 2020 (yup, you read right, no additional zeros). The Egyptian government spent the funds on enforcing its local production and improving the tourism sector. As a result, Egypt met the UN’s Agenda 2030 economic goals and especially goal 8.1.1 (GDP per capita growth > 7%).


The one and only recommendation is for the Lebanese government: Implement the needed reforms, secure the foreign funds, invest them wisely and save Lebanon from the catastrophe!