I was born and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. My family comes from the small village of Benwati in the area of Jizzin in south Lebanon (you can see it in the upper middle of the photograph above). The area of Jizzin is famous for its pine-tree forests and olive groves which have sustained an average pine-nut and olive oil industries. The location of my village is protected from the Mediterranean Sea by a small mountain, called al-Nabi Misha (Prophet Micah), supposedly after a biblical prophet who it is believed was buried on top of it; his rather mediocre shrine is still there, and my village came into existence sometime in the eighteenth century as an effort by the local Ottoman administration to secure year-round maintenance of the land that, along with the shrine, belonged to the Sunni waqf (religiously endowed property). My family (first my grandfather and now my father) has been involved in the upkeep and administration of that waqf since the 1960s.
I am married to Rana Knio. We have a son named Jude and a daughter named Alya Jasmine.
Beside being slightly distracted by wife/son/daughter, and research/teaching/administrative duties, I love to cook Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food; a talent I learned from my mother who is a superb cook.