BEIRUT: David Frem isn’t a man who pays much attention to what is practical, especially when it gets in the way of what he wants.
In his last year as a student of interior design at the American University of Science and Technology in 2002, he shied away from traditional topics for his final project and decided that he wanted to go back to his childhood love and design a car.
With no technical knowledge, he spent a year and a half studying how to design and make cars using YouTube videos and software before finally, in 2008, launching the Frem F1 – the first Lebanese supercar.
Four years later 30-year-old Frem is working on his third car, Frem Immortal, which he hopes to launch in the summer of next year.
Building his Frem models wasn’t always an easy ride. Frem was committed to ensuring the cars were Lebanese created (he’s currently awaiting a declaration from Prime Minister Mikati that the Frem Beirut is the first car made in Lebanon), no mean feat in a country with no automotive industry.
“The whole body was made in Lebanon, from interior to exterior seats, to the dashboard,” he says. “We do not have the industry to execute a car, but thank God, we do have the brain power in Lebanon.”
But he also found political support for his endeavor to be lacking, which was what led to his decision seven months ago to run for Parliament in the 2013 elections for his home district of Kesrouan Haret Sakhr.
“I am like many of the Lebanese youth,” he says. “Nobody would help me in this country. Nobody would say, ‘David, I’m here to support you.’”
Frem’s decision to run as an independent on a youth-oriented agenda chimes with a broader sentiment currently circulating the country, one that is reflected in campaigns like Take Back Parliament, which aims to move modern Lebanese politics beyond the March 8/March 14 dichotomy and inject fresh blood into politics.
“Lebanon can’t wait anymore, we have to act,” Frem says. “If we want a new country we have to have new brains. Now, the Parliament is like a person of 80 years old. We need fresh ideas.”
This is something Frem believes he can offer. He has no political background, he says. His parents are not political, and although his father was once a member of the Lebanese Forces, “he was acting on his view of what Lebanon was facing [at the time]. But I’m different, even from my father.”
Aside from this foray into politics, Frem’s ambitions are automotive-based. He’d like to see an established automotive industry in Lebanon, but on a more personal level he has another dream.
“I am hoping that one day my car will be part of a Hollywood movie, like a Transformer or something,” he says.
He got a taste of that recently, when his second design – Frem Beirut – was chosen to feature in Maya Diab’s latest music video.
“It’s something very interesting,” Frem says of the project. “For the first time, true dreamers get closer and put their hands together to make something very special.”