Omar Mouallem had a stop in Edmonton on the way to Lebanon. 12 years later he's still here

By Michelle Ferguson April 5, 2018

Omar Mouallem is a freelance writer and editor based out of Edmonton. -- (Shayne Woodsmith/EEDC)

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Omar Mouallem

Freelance writer

Omar Mouallem was headed to Lebanon when war broke over the country.

Disillusioned by the Vancouver film industry, the aspiring screenwriter planned to purchase a one-way ticket to his parents’ homeland after a quick layover in Edmonton to visit family.

“I wasn’t really going anywhere and needed some direction,” the High Prairie native says. “So what do you do when you need direction? You travel.”

But the conflict made it unsafe to do so. Determined to make the most of his time in Edmonton, Mouallem began pitching local publications, having turned to film and music reviews as a creative outlet while still on the West Coast.

Edmonton for Omar Mouallem

  • How long have you lived in Edmonton? 12 years
  • What is Edmonton’s best hidden gem? Does it get any more hidden and gem-y than Accidental Beach?
  • Favourite Edmonton hangout? Red Star Pub
  • What’s one thing from Edmonton you think the world should know about? There have been societies, trade and culture here for 10,000 years.
  • Describe Edmonton in one word. Industrious

“I went [to school] to write movies and two years later I found myself doing production stuff — editing and directing. I wasn’t writing,” he explains. “So, I started writing these magazine stories on the side.”

He was picked up by Vue Weekly, and eventually landed a job at Avenue Edmonton in 2008, first as an intern, then as an editor. Now a celebrated freelance writer, Mouallem has been published in Buzzfeed, NewYorker.com, WIREDThe Globe and MailThe Walrus and RollingStone.com, to name a few.

From troubled wrestlers to one of AI’s brightest minds, Mouallem’s writing has helped put Edmonton on the map for the past five years.

“Being a freelancer in Alberta — a province that was sort of underestimated and painted with this broad stroke of being a blue-collar province or oil hub — really worked to my advantage” he says. “It meant that the real stories weren’t being told.”

There’s a great creative spirit here, and a great entrepreneurial spirit too. Of course it comes from Edmonton.

Mouallem too shared these misconceptions. A small-town boy, he wanted nothing more than to escape the prairies, and his first year in Edmonton was spent trying to leave it.

Though still guilty of dropping the occasional “of all places” into his articles, Mouallem is happy to see the perception of Edmonton is shifting.

“It used to be that when there was success in Edmonton design it was seen as an anomaly,” he says. “Whereas now it’s like ‘Why not?’… There’s a great creative spirit here, and a great entrepreneurial spirit too. Of course it comes from Edmonton.”

Omar Mouallem -- (Shayne Woodsmith/EEDC)

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