I first met Badeeh Abla in 2009. I was actually applying for a freelance writing position at his company. At the time, I was cutting my teeth in this incredibly lucrative publishing field, as any other unassuming journalist would tell you, and was looking for some additional income. I instantly hated him. I remember stepping out of his offices in Downtown Beirut and calling up my closest friend to recount my sit-down with a ridiculously young man at the helm of his own design and branding firm in one of the city’s most posh neighborhoods. “That lazy, lucky bastard has probably milked daddy’s big bucks and contacts to get to where he is right now,” I told her. While I did get the job and I casually chatted with Abla at PR events in the years that ensued, it was much later that I realized I was dead wrong in passing on this quick, first judgment about him. Abla wasn’t born into supreme wealth, nor did he inherit a massive PR bank. He got those on his own, the good-old hard way.

In fact, Abla started out in 2006 with just $600 in one pocket, and raw, fierce ambition in the other. He rented out a 30-meter studio and just started doing what he loves the most: creating websites. It was not exactly the vocation his parents had planned out for him – they had spent an arm and a leg on his medical lab education. Their son was honing his graphic design skills behind their backs in the meantime. While still a student, in 2002, he landed his first major commission: Balamand University called upon him to revamp their website.

Word quickly got out about this kid with a great knack for graphic and animation design. A flurry of requests by NGOs and respected institutions followed.

Clearly, they were happy with Abla’s input, particularly his cutting-edge animation prowess. He became such a trusted name in the field that he was approached in 2004 to develop the Pan Arab Web Awards, drafting the competition’s guidelines and foundation. Abla’s star was rising, and things were happening at breakneck speed.

While many Lebanese reminisce on 2005 as a blood-soaked year that rocked the nation back into its civil strife days, Abla has slightly different memories of that period – for it was the year he exploded into the limelight. It was the year the single most successful Lebanese fashion designer of all time asked Abla to make over his website. We’re talking about Elie Saab of course.