To know how you got to where you are, you probably need to look back at where you came from, is a motto that a group of young Lebanese entrepreneurs took to heart by launching the region’s first-ever corruption-simulator. Dubbed Machrou3 Ra2is, which means “plan to become leader” in English, the one-of-a-kind board game invites players to navigate Lebanon’s tense political atmosphere by taking control of specific neighborhoods and persuade opponents and nonaligned figures to place their trust in you to eventually sit on the Mediterranean nation’s presidential seat.
On shelves since December of last year, the role-playing game is set during Lebanon’s long-ended Golden age — a means for founders of the game to probe the effects of previous economic decisions and past political maneuvers that may have triggered and certainly at least molded to some extent the country’s current situation of strife today.
For the uninitiated, a severe economic crisis has left the country once-labeled the Switzerland of the Middle East reeling, with levels of inflation and poverty reaching all-time highs, not only by the region’s standards, but the entire world’s as well. With sectarianism, nepotism, corruption, and the aftermaths of both the pandemic and the 2020 Beirut port explosions weighing into the balance, it has never been as difficult as now for citizens of the Levantine State to keep their head above water as the situation is still yet to show any signs of improvement in the near or far future.
According to an interview with British daily newspaper The Guardian, Jean-Michel Chemaly, one of the co-developers of the board game, revealed that Machrou3 Ra2is was inspired by the 2019 protests that swept through the streets of Beirut. With the mist not getting any clearer, that spirit of revolt was captured and boxed by materializing into the concept the founders proudly brought to life and are now selling for others to enjoy.
“We have absolutely no say in the politics of the country. Creating the game was a way of bringing about some agency,” Rana Zaher, the game’s illustrator, told the publication. “I won’t name any names but the characters are modelled after real political figures,” she added.
Despite its ethnocentric nature by primarily focusing on the founder’s native homeland, the game’s ethos can still be transposed onto other countries in the world, honing a universal edge that always casts light on extortion and exploitation under its myriad of forms.
“It depicts the struggle of every country in the world, people trying to make sure that the good guys get to power,” Chemaly said.
Having reached the 500 sales benchmark just recently, Machrou3 Ra2is will undoubtedly provide just the refresh your next Ramadan game night needs. You can purchase the game online, where it retails for $39.