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Toula: the humble village, setting new horizons in new times

4. Business

Business is a major occupation of many members of the village.  Since many members of the village live elsewhere during the winter months, other cities and towns are important places where business is conducted, especially Tripoli, the second largest city in Lebanon. An example was Mikhail Farah who established there the largest book shop and library in north Lebanon, whose name was Maktabat Al-Thakafa Al-Jadidah or The New Culture BookshopSource: Monzer Farah

In Australia, Lebanese have formed part of the business community from when they first arrived in the 19th century.  Since the only professional skill of many of the early migrants was farming, and because they spoke little English and found it difficult to integrate into Australian society, they became entrepreneurs and established businesses and factories.  Early businesses included shop-keepers and hawkers and more latterly restaurant owners.  Source: www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/objectsthroughtime/maronites/

In recent years, Toulanians have been prominent in businesses, such as jewellery managed by Edmond Lahoud, Touring managed by the Farah family, Building and/or Engineering managed by Farah family, petrol stations in Sydney and Greater Sydney, which are managed by the Dagher Group, the Dagher family.  There are many other persons of Toulanian heritage that operate many successful business lines in Australia and which have not been listed here.  Source: Peter Zada

Phoenicians generally have been successful in business in countries to which they have migrated.  A significant example is the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helú, who was born in Mexico in 1940, but who is of Lebanese background and is a Maronite, emigrating to Mexico in 1902.  Carlos Slim Helú lives in Mexico and made his fortune in telecommunications, starting from a basis of some family wealth.  He has considerable interests in the arts and has established an art museum the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City in memory of his first wife, Soumaya Domit de Slim, who died in 1999.  Sponsored by the Carlos Slim Foundation, the Museo Soumaya has strengths in modern art, with the largest Rodin and Dalí collection in Latin America and one of the most significant in the world, as well as important examples of religious art from the region in colonial times.

Source: www.carlosslim.com/biografia_ing.html

There are extensive records for finance and business of the village and the region from the 19th century when Lebanon was under the control of the Ottoman Empire, which was the empire of the Turkish people which covered the region.  It was interested in the detailed recording of financial and business activities for the purpose of taxation.  These records are important because the village is likely to have been very similar in the preceding centuries, only changing with modernisation during the 20th century.  Thus, the detailed records of the 19th century are likely to give us a reasonable idea of the possible business, social and financial structure of the village for earlier centuries since the mediaeval period. Source: Barakat, 139-73.