How Do You Punish A 15 Year Old Boy Who Assaulted & Killed His 9-year old friend?

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child 9 year old child Mahmoud Mohamad Khodr al-Assi was found murdered in Bchamoun – via MTV

Mahmoud Mohammad Khodr al-Assi is a 9 year old boy who went missing on Friday afternoon and was later on found dead at a construction site in Bchamoun and his body covered with sheets and dirt. This is probably one of the most shocking crimes I’ve heard of in Lebanon, not just because of the way the crime was perpetrated but because the killer is only 15 years of age.

Assi’s friend was arrested later on, and he confessed to killing Mahmoud over a dispute. Some reports are saying Mahmoud was sexually assaulted by his friend and wanted to tell his parents but this is not confirmed yet. Assi’s family has reacted to the incident by calling for the death penalty levied against the 15-year-old killer, which is quite harsh if you ask me.

Just to make myself clear here, I’ve always been against the death penalty as a punishment but what I’m debating right now is whether juveniles who commit crimes should get the same sentences as adults would. I’m not sure how the Lebanese law works but I know for a fact that some countries treat juveniles differently from adults as they consider that a juvenile’s brain is not fully developed, and that young people have less responsibility for their actions than adults and greater prospects for reform. I know it’s quite disturbing to think that a 15 year old is capable of such a thing, but at the same time asking for the death penalty also implies killing this 15 year old who’s just a kid, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

If anyone has any information on how the Lebanese law treats murderers under 18 years of age, please do share.

UBay: A Rooftop I Recommend In Jounieh

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It’s the summer and rooftops are the best place to enjoy an afternoon drink and watch the sunset with friends. I usually prefer going to rooftops in Beirut after work in order to avoid going back home (Jounieh) during rush hour but I always thought we need nice rooftops overlooking the Jounieh Bay. There was a rooftop on ATCL but I think it closed down and there’s another in the old Jounieh souks but it’s not on the beach. UBay on the other hand is the perfect rooftop for me in Jounieh, as it’s located right on the beach in the middle of the souks and you can enjoy the mountain view as well. We were planning on going there to watch the Jounieh fireworks last week but we headed to the hospital instead for my wife to deliver that same night :)

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Ubay is located in the old souks above Table Fine and is a rooftop lounge that offers drinks, serves Japanese food, offers a relaxing experience and plays a chill-out music while overlooking the Jounieh bay. Anywhere you sit at Ubay, you will enjoy a sea and mountain view. The staff is quite friendly, the cocktails are pretty good, the portions and the food are decent. I ordered Edamame, popcorn shrimps, smoked salmon roll, steamed shrimp dumplings and ubay rolls. The only thing I didn’t appreciate were the Ubay rolls as they were a bit too salty.

Price-wise, you will end up paying around 40-50$ per person if you have a couple of cocktails and a couple of dishes which is pretty decent. Here are some of the pictures I took of the place.

You can check out more info on their Facebook page [here].

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Review: 3.5/5

Week31: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Taanayel Gorgeous Taanayel – by AntonioHab

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

ananas Cheers to a great summer ahead – by Nathalieviel

Batroun Batroun underwater – by ChrisKabalan

Church Batroun St Stephan Church – Batroun – by Dany_111

fgreen The Cedars by Ryan

Kroom Ehden An escape from Beirut – Kroom Ehden by Buddcorp

Sail away Sail away – by Dany

Old Buildings Of Beirut On The Verge Of Extinction

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150317140645-beirut-old-building-super-169 via CNN

CNN featured Beirut’s old buildings as 1 of the 25 magnificent structures on the verge of extinction. Here’s what they said:

As if decades of civil war and bombardments weren’t enough, the remaining old buildings of Beirut are now under threat by property developers who are looking to create new luxury blocks on real estate currently occupied by traditional structures. Many have been hastily deemed unfit for living, pushing residents away: less than 350 heritage buildings remain.

Lebanon’s architectural heritage is one of a kind but it’s slowly disappearing and Beirut is quickly losing its traditional character as old houses, beautiful villas and Ottoman-style mansions are increasingly being destroyed and replaced with modern skyscrapers. I love Beirut’s old houses and I always feature them on Instagram because I know they won’t last long. There are around 350 heritage buildings right now in Beirut but a lot of them need some serious renovation and the authorities aren’t doing anything to maintain them. Moreover, not all owners are wealthy enough to maintain and renovate their houses as it’s quite costly and the law obliges them to pay higher taxes if I’m not mistaken.

The ideal scenario is for the government and the concerned ministries (Tourism & Culture) to protect this heritage but most of them are short-sighted and corrupt and would rather strike deals with real estate companies to make few bucks than preserve our heritage. Of course there are many organizations and NGOs working on preserving this heritage but the property developers they are up against are way too powerful and well connected. One of the initiatives that caught my attention a while ago was one by French Designer Benedicte de Vanssay de Blavous Moubarak and her husband Raja who “are collecting discarded old wrought iron balustrades, railings and window frames from all authentic Lebanese houses and turning them into design pieces, in an attempt to preserve Lebanon’s disappearing architectural heritage”.

Check out CNN’s full list [here]. It’s quite sad to see Al Khazneh in Petra on that list as it’s one of the most amazing structures you could ever visit.

Thanks Elie!

Fail Lebanese Headline Of The Week Goes To Al Jadeed

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elissa

Ever since #TweetLikeLebaneseMedia trended on Twitter, I’ve been thinking about coming up with “awards” for Lebanese Media tweets and headlines because they’ve been outdoing themselves lately. The latest was the above headline by Al Jadeed.

As you all know, going to a beach resort in Lebanon is a unique experience where you can find almost everything except people swimming. The sight of a couple or an individual swimming in a pool at a beach resort is so rare that it might become punishable by law one day. Who has time to enjoy the sea and swim by the pool when there’s a party happening at the bar, an arguile and a bottle of vin rosé right by your side and a housekeeper (who’s not allowed to swim of course) to take care of the kids?

In all cases, Lebanese media has been following up closely on this phenomenon and Al Jadeed published a ground breaking story yesterday on their social media channels, a Lebanese celebrity wearing a swimsuit at the beach!! I kid you not, Elissa was spotted wearing a “maillot” at the beach but it appears that she was so ashamed of herself that she cropped the swimsuit out of her Instagram picture. The story outraged other Lebanese media channels who promised to follow up closely on this story and reveal soon if she was wearing a “2 piece” or “1 piece”. They even lashed out at Al Jadeed for unprofessionally covering one part of the story and not revealing the whole truth.

Stay tuned as I reveal the full story as soon as it’s out.

Thanks Anthony ‪#‎2uw2‬

Two Men, Suspected Of Being Gay, Arrested And Tortured For 3 Weeks By The Lebanese Police

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If you thought the video of the Islamists who got tortured and beaten in Roumieh prison was outrageous, wait till you hear this story.

PS: The original story was published in French in L’Orient Le Jour

On June 9 2015, Omar was driving with his friend Samer to his house in the South when they were stopped at a checkpoint. Omar handed over his ID and other legal papers to one officer while another policeman was looking for illegal substances inside the car and found half a gram of weed with Samer. At this point, the officer confiscated and handcuffed Samer, and both men were taken to the police station for further investigation and ended up spending the night there.

The next day, Samer and his friend were dragged to an anti-drugs bureau in the South where they got humiliated and called all sorts of names. Then they were asked to perform a drug test which turned out to be negative. At this point, both men thought that the worst part was over, but one of the officers was looking through Samer’s phone conversations and all hell broke loose when he found someone called “Habibi”. Thinking that Samer was gay because he had a contact by the name of “Habibi”, he started throwing accusations and then two other officers brought Omar out of his cell, started beating him violently and torturing him by putting his head back and forth in cold water. Samer got his share of the torture and both were even electrocuted and forced to spill out names of homosexuals and drug dealers in Lebanon. After hours of torture, they called Omar and Samer’s parents and told them that their sons are gay. When Omar’s parents arrived at the bureau, the inspector refused to show them their son and re-assured them that he wasn’t tortured or beaten. “Walaw Madame, akid la2. Chou wen mfakra ne7na 3aysheen?” is what the officer said.

Both men spent the next 6 days in the South, where they got tortured on a daily basis and forced to reveal names of the gay community in Lebanon. They were later on transferred to Hobeiche police station in Beirut where they also got interrogated and detained for 5 days in a 20sqm cell that contained more than 20 prisoners. Afterwards, both were sent back to Saida and spent 8 additional days in prison with over 200 prisoners. The officer in charge there made sure to tell all the prisoners that Omar and Samer were gay. Omar’s nightmare ended 3 weeks later when he was allowed to see a judge for 2 minutes, and then signed a paper, paid a fee and got released. Samer on the other hand is still detained.

I honestly have nothing to say here. These men were jailed, tortured and humiliated for 3 weeks just because one of them had half a gram of weed and some dumbass officer thought they were gay because of a “habibi” contact. I heard Minister Machnouk is following up on this story and will punish those involved but this is not enough. This story is messed up beyond repair and the only thing Minister Machnouk can do issue a decree that forbids any ISF officer from arresting people for being homosexual and kick them out of the force if they do. It is no longer admissible to treat homosexuals as criminals and torture in Lebanese prisons needs to stop once and for all!

Jounieh 2015 Fireworks In Pictures

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Jounieh we arelebanon via WeAreLebanon

The Jounieh fireworks were as impressive as every year yesterday and the traffic to Jounieh in the evening was even worse than last year unfortunately. I was enjoying last year’s fireworks from a prime location, on the rooftop of Monte Cassino but I couldn’t watch them this year so I regrouped some of the best pictures I saw online and on the Jounieh International Festival Facebook page.

I will keep updating the post with new pictures and videos once they come out. If you have any cool pics or vids, I will be more than glad to feature them. Here’s the full schedule for the Jounieh 2015 festivals that kicked off last night with 7 minutes of Synchronized Fireworks along the coastal of Jounieh bay.

Update: Here’s a 30 second time-lapse of the fireworks.

Saturday July 4
Magida El Roumi Concert at Fouad Chehab Stadium

Monday July 6
The Voice Tour Concert at Fouad Chehab Stadium

Wednesday July 8
Jamel Debbouze Stand Up Comedy Show at Fouad Chehab Stadium

Thursday July 9
Johnny Hallyday Concert at Fouad Chehab Stadium

Friday July 10, Saturday July 11 & Sunday July 12
Kids & Family Day
• Street Show Parade, kids playground and special entertainment, bicycles, roller blades, skateboards, for all the family and youth along the coastal area of the city

Wednesday July 15
Jessy J Concert at Fouad Chehab Stadium

Haig1 via Haig Adventures

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10390051_10100144608820832_8883972551943793764_n via Bassam Karam

11692650_10100144608955562_4625178854343332181_n via Bassam Karam

And this is how the roads looked like yesterday.

10492318_10152851787067096_866265389576570606_n Thank you Sophie!

Support DSC Lebanon To Eliminate Blood Shortage In Lebanon!

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People rush to Donner Sang Compter when they need blood for a friend or relative but they seem to forget that such a service comes with a financial tag. Donner Sang Compter is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that links volunteer donors to patients in need of blood since 2010. DSC was able to recruit more than 15,000 blood donors, 250+ committed volunteers and was able to save more 50,000 lives in the past 5 years, which is quite remarkable!

DSC introduced the mobile blood bank in 2014, a bus equipped with world-class technologies and specialized in receiving people who want to donate blood. The bus teams up with a medical team from one of Lebanon’s hospitals and goes around different areas, universities and companies to encourage people to donate in a safe, healthy, confidential and comfortable way. That way, hospitals meet their blood demands until it is their turn again to take the bus.

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The bus that DSC is using is old and needs a lot of rehabilitation from the inside such as new donation chairs, new equipment, maintenance, electricity, lighting and other stuff. For this purpose, Donner Sang Compter are crowdfunding the renovation of the mobile blood bank to organize more drives and eliminate blood shortage in hospitals!

DSC are in need of $30,000 and they’ve collected so far $5000. They still have 32 days left to crowdfund the remaining amount and need everyone’s support. If you can’t support with money, share the news on all social media networks and reach out to your friends and family for help. If you know any organizations or corporations that are willing to donate the whole amount or donate a bus, please let me know and I will hook them up with Donner Sang Compter.

DSC is one of the very few NGOs in Lebanon that’s doing things right and making a change. They are always there when we need them so let’s show some support this time and make this happen!

Spread the message and donate as little as 5$ to make a difference!

[Donate] here.

[YouTube]

I’m Now Officially A Father And It Feels Awesome!

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My wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy at 9:17am this morning weighing 2.87 kilos. I’m not sure I can describe how it felt to see the baby popping out but it was an intense and amazing feeling. Having a child was always on the top of my list and as cliché as this may sound, holding our baby Brian today was the happiest (and scariest) moment of my life. People told me some guys cry when they see their baby for the first time but I didn’t, probably because I watched the whole operation and was still a bit shocked from what I saw.

I know a baby is a huge responsibility and that life will change for me now but I don’t know in what sense. People said the same thing when I got married but things got much better for me back then so I’m hoping the same will happen. Things will get busier I’m sure, and I will have less time to do things but you can always manage. Funnily enough, the long post I wrote on Fiber Optics in Lebanon was between 10pm and 3am while waiting for the contractions to come so I might end up blogging more during these long sleepless nights.

Many thanks to everyone for their wishes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Rest assured I won’t be flooding your timeline with baby pictures because I don’t like people who do that and I think too much of anything is bad.

20150702_073845 Thank you Joelle for this most useful gift :)

20150702_074019 Thank you Roy, Jenny, Rachel, Nadine, Cynthia, Nadim, Wajid, Nicola, my colleagues at work and all the friends and family who showed up yesterday or sent flowers.

Fiber Optics Finally Coming To Lebanon In 6 Months, Full LTE 4G Coverage Expected In 2 Years

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fiber optiocs

After years of false promises, it looks like we are finally getting fiber optics in Lebanon. That’s what Minister Harb announced today in a joint-press conference with Ogero CEO Abdul Moneim Youssef. I’ve been following up on this issue for quite some time and I even managed to meet with Minister Harb recently and with some people who are working closely on the project, and it looks like it’s the real deal this time. In fact, my friend who has been involved since Day1 told me he’s moving out of Lebanon if this project doesn’t come true so let’s hope it does work!

Before getting into details, the first question that comes to mind is who will be financing this project and will it stop once we get a new Telecom Minister? The cost of the project is in the hundreds of millions of dollars but the good part is that it will be auto-financed by the Telecom Ministry’s revenues which are set to increase year after year with the implementation of every phase. Moreover, the municipalities and all stakeholders will be encouraged to implement this project on time as they are getting more money out it. For example, 10% of the Telecom Ministry’s revenues are distributed to municipalities. More importantly, Ogero is committed to this 5-year plan so the administrative delays are no longer there.

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Moving on to the juicy stuff, here’s what happening in the next 5 years in Lebanon:
1- Lebanon will be fully connected through fiber optics.
2- DSL Services will be upgraded to VDSL2+ with 40Mbit/s .
3- DSL will be introduced to areas with no internet and exiting copper networks will be replaced by better ones temporarily.
4- 4G/LTE network will cover all of Lebanon within 2 years.
5- Launching the Internet support hotline 1516

Fiber Optics all over Lebanon!
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The fiber optic infrastructure is already there and most if not all internet stations in Lebanon are interconnected by fiber optics but the real challenge is in connecting these stations to organizations, businesses and households of course. This will be done in four different phases:

– 2015-2017: FTTO Organizations SME/SM
This phase will last 18 months between material request delivery, network design, implementation of work orders, testing of cables and putting customer in services. Organizations and Companies should start benefiting from fiber optics after 6 months.

– 2015-2020: FTTC (+VDSL) cabinets (& Houses)
Internet stations will be connected to the cabinets in this phase and current DSL connections will be upgraded to +VDSL. DSL will also be made available to areas without coverage.

– 2016-2020: FTTH1 (Houses)
– 2019-2022: FTTH2 (Houses)

In the last two phases, fiber optics will gradually become available in households and for end users. Just to give you an idea about the speeds that we will start getting at home hopefully, we’re talking about an upgrade from the current 1 MBPS (up to 20 MBPS but no one is getting this speed) to 25-50 MBPS and up to 100 MBPS on VDSL2 before we move to fiber optics and gets speeds between 100 and 1000 MBPS!

4G/LTE Coverage all over Lebanon
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Only 7% of mobile users in Lebanon are enjoying 4G/LTE connections and Alfa and Touch’s coverage is still limited. Moreover, 3G coverage is still poor in several areas. Given that the infrastructure is already there, both companies will commit throughout the next 18 months to install new sites and expand their coverage to all Lebanese territories.

Alfa is expected to install over 600 new sites in the next 18 months and cover 75.5% of the Lebanese territory and provide the 4G/LTE service to 95.2% of populated areas. Similarly, Touch will install over 1000 sites to cover all of Lebanon. The expansion plan will also include an upgrade of all hardware and software to meet the increasing demand and network usage.

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Launching the Internet support hotline 1516
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With the ever increasing number of internet users in Lebanon, the Telecom Ministry is introducing a new hotline (1516) that will consist of a dedicated team (a sort of emergency unit) aimed at helping customers with internet issues. I will be calling them this week to see how efficient they are. Just to give you an idea of the internet situation in Lebanon, there are 3,638,051 internet users in Lebanon, out of which 2,505,875 mobile internet users. The internet penetration is 86% which puts Lebanon in 4th position regionally after Bahrain, UAE and Qatar.

regional internet

All in all, I believe we all agree that we need to catch up with the rest of the world and that mobile internet is the only thing keeping us connected. This project is desperately needed to put Lebanon back on track and maybe turn it into a regional tech hub. We have the talents, we have the infrastructure and now there’s a will from our officials and Ogero (I’m still finding it hard to believe) to make this happen so let’s hope for the best. Needless to say, enhancing the internet connectivity has to be accompanied by a drop in prices and a considerable increase in the quotas, but I’m sure this will come as soon as the concerned parties start thinking out of the box and realize that they will make more money and improve the economy by making the internet cheaper and more abundant.