The first time a mortar bomb narrowly missed Louai Al Roumani he froze for ten minutes and couldn’t say a word. The second time left him reeling for five minutes, but able to speak a word or two.
The gradual improvement in his ability to cope and the change of perspective each blast brought would be mirrored multiple times in multiple contexts during his personal and professional life running Syria’s largest independent retail bank during the country’s long civil war - an experience he has documented in his memoir Lessons from a Warzone.
Al Roumani was CFO at the Damascus-headquartered Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi (BBSF) when war broke out in 2011. The Syrian pound depreciated significantly, bank withdrawals skyrocketed and its main shareholder, fearing the worst, jumped ship.