Glamouria - Mariana Wehbe Bringing Beirut Back to Life By Hayat Ammouri

Mariana Wehbe Bringing Beirut Back to Life
May 26, 2024
Mariana Wehbé- We Design Beirut 2024

Mariana Wehbé: The Force Behind We Design Beirut

I think the first time I saw Mariana online was on instagram, immediately after the Beirut blast… I followed her because I could sense her honesty, integrity, her passion in everything she does, and mostly, her authenticity. Everyone who knows Mariana agrees that she is a woman like no other! A proud Lebanese woman!

After a while we connected more, until one day she asked me if I wanted to come for We Design Beirut. We? Us the people? We can actually do something that really helps our country? …. I was nervous. The last time I visited Lebanon was 5 years ago, before the biggest non-nuclear explosion in the world happened in my city. I am not sure my heart is strong enough to face my Beirut. I have not even cried yet after the explosion… All she had to say was “don’t worry. We got you”… The event of course got postponed, but not cancelled! And here we are today in Beirut, from all over the world, experiencing the love that this country puts in everyone’s heart! The passion, the energy, the love, the excitement are all feelings I can’t describe in words right now. You have to experience it! And the woman behind it is Mariana, our warrior, together with Samer Alalmeen, their team, and every single person participating! There will be more on the event in other posts, but now I want you to meet Mariana Wehbé.


We Design Beirut 

How was the idea of We Design Beirut born? 

We Design Beirut was really an instinctive reaction to all the design creativity that I am exposed to on a day-to-day basis. Lebanon is unique in this way, it is because of our many encounters with grief as a nation, that our coping mechanism has changed. With adversity comes innovation, original thought and ultimately new ideas that enrich our design scene. It was a meeting with the ladies behind Saccal Design House that finally pushed me to establish We Design Beirut. They said, “Mariana, we really need a design week.. You can do it.” I simply picked up the phone to my team, and said, “Are you on board?” And that is how We Design Beirut started. 

What are your goals from the event? 

Although the idea started in Beirut, the mission is more universal. It stems from a respect for authenticity and culture. Never have unique cultural perspectives on design been more important to the conversation. We live in a world where we talk at each other, but not to each other. Never has a community been more exposed to ideas and techniques from across the globe, but the conversation and engagement is almost non-existent. My dream is to take We Design to many cities both regionally and internationally, allowing us to celebrate cultural diversity, learn from it, engage with others and create a healthy eco- system of design thought and techniques. 

How does We Design Beirut help Lebanon in general and participants in particular? 

Like I said before, to be exposed to ideas doesn’t mean you understand them, or see them in the right light. At We Design Beirut we are welcoming people to our city, asking them to see us through a Lebanese lens. We want them to experience the magic of the city, the creativity of the people, the beauty of our culture. Which is precisely why we have activated the whole city. From monuments, to craftsmen and women, students and renowned designers, and even a cinema from the Sixties, Cinema Royale. The intention is to give our international guests a personal and authentic experience which we hope will kickstart conversations, collaborations and partnerships with the participants. It’s about dialogue and the sharing of knowledge and experiences that will bring benefits to all involved. 


What surprised you the most during the process? 

Well, there certainly were many surprises. As you know, the event was delayed twice due to the unfortunate situation in the region. A difficult, yet ethical decision that we felt reflected our ethos as a brand. It also reminded us of how fragile our design eco-system is, and reinforced the need for We Design Beirut as a platform. When there is turbulence of any kind; financial, political or even environmental, the design scene is directly affected, which is why we need to bolster the designers, the artisans and the future generations of designers with an event that can spotlight their talent and potential. 

Another surprise, this one is beautiful, is the power of WE. When I came up with the name, it was so easy and natural. WE the people, those that have stayed in Lebanon and others that have been forced into the diaspora. All of us with a single solid belief, which is the potential and unique qualities of the Lebanese design scene, and the stamina to make a difference to this sector. Knowing full well, that if we don’t do it, no one will. We unfortunately don’t have the infrastructure to support us, so we are adamant on doing it  ourselves. 

What are you most excited about? 

I can’t wait to see the positive repercussions, the partnerships, the grand ideas, the collaborations and conversations come to life. I genuinely believe that We Design Beirut brings something truly authentic to the world of Design Events, and I believe that this paradigm of focusing on what really matters will go far, I hope... 

What’s next? 

I have never done anything for the sake of it, it’s such a waste of time. It is only when there is opportunity or need, that something truly great arises, so let’s just say that I am on the lookout. 


Mariana - A Woman on Top!

How, when and why did you start your PR agency? 

My introduction to the world of PR was both totally unexpected, and completely natural. There is something great about starting something without being guided by the rules and regulations of the industry. I did not study PR, I fell into it. This allowed me to navigate my journey based on intuition and instinct. I utilized my many skills from my previous work at DHL, namely sales and logistics where after 16 years I was responsible for one of the largest sectors of the firm. These created the foundation of my practice. Also, because I didn’t enter the field in a traditional way, I never felt the competition, or perhaps never looked to anyone else. I established a PR firm that I believe serves me and my clients best. We’ve taken on a few clients but get involved in many facets of their operation. I genuinely believe that in order to get good results a brand or client needs to be addressed holistically. 

What do communicators need to succeed in this field? 

Counterintuitive perhaps, but they need to be good listeners. 

Do you choose your clients or do they choose you? 

Both. Given the way we do things at MWPR, there needs to be a synergy, and a chemistry that allows us to explore things in an open and honest way. 

Take me through a work day in your life from beginning to end. 

There is nothing uniform about my days. What I can say is that the common denominators of all my days are meeting people from all walks of life. I am a strong believer in diversity and I spend a lot of time discovering new talents, new service providers and in the process new friends. I love to engage with people, I meet them face-to-face, I pick up the phone instead of sending messages. There is just something about real-time communication. 

What motivates you? 

Truth. It plays a huge part in my life. From telling people about the best pasta place, to spotlighting an emerging talent that I believe has great potential, to having difficult yet honest conversations. They all stem from truth. 

What do you like the most about being a woman? 

My femininity. The ownership of my womanhood. My Raks Sharki passion that I do without any guilt. In a workplace full of men, who wants to be another man! 

How do you overcome obstacles? 

I need to distance myself from the problem, in order for me to see it clearly in a non- emotional state. It is then that the most sensible solution can be reached. I think that it’s also important to take time to consider the other side’s perspective. Communication is everything. 

Beirut or Abu Dhabi? 

Can you compare apples to oranges? Beirut is my home, and Abu Dhabi has welcomed me with open arms when I needed it most, I have utmost respect and gratitude to Abu Dhabi for their warm and gracious city. 

Life Mantra 

As humans, our similarities are greater than our differences.  

And of course... You can't talk about Mariana without asking her about her style...

How do you define your style? 

Old School.


Your Favourite places to shop? 

Would you believe me if I told you that I don’t have one!


What is your Power Outfit?  

A well cut dress, it’s always a dress for me. 

What Do You Think?
Go to top