Uber Now Available In Jounieh

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After launching back in July in Beirut, Uber is now live in Jounieh and its coverage has extended to the following areas: Baabda, Mansourieh, Zalka, Jal El Dib, Cornet Chehwan, Aoukar, Mtaileb, Bayada, Zouk Mosbeh, Adonis, Kaslik, Jounieh, Adma, Tabarja etc …

I use Uber whenever I have plans in Beirut as it saves me the trouble of finding a parking spot because I will never give my car to the valet. The drivers are friendly and drive safely, the trips are smooth and the cost is the same as other taxi services if not less. I’m glad they finally extended their coverage to Jounieh because I live there and I sometimes don’t feel like driving all the way to Beirut, specially when I’m going to drink and party.

For those of you who didn’t try Uber yet, the app is available for [Android] and [iOS]. You can test out the service by entering promo code “HelloJOUNIEH” which grants you 2 FREE uberX rides up to $20 per trip.

I read on their blog as well that they are offering free rides valid through Sun, May 31st at 11:59pm on all trips beginning beyond Nahr El Kalb tunnel ONLY (Jounieh side).

PS: I will be doing soon a review of all online taxi services available in Lebanon. I’ve tried so far Allo Taxi, Uber. There’s still Careem on my list. If you know others, please do share the names.

Hitler’s Skybar Drama

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This is an old funny video from 2010 that shows Hitler’s reaction when he finds out he couldn’t get a table at Skybar. I am sharing it because it shows how popular Skybar was back then and how it managed to stay the hottest place in Beirut ever since it opened. Everyone wants to go to Skybar and its closure this summer is a huge loss to the nightlife scene and Lebanon as a whole.

I truly hope its owners have plans to relocate to a different spot until they repair the damages caused by the fire.

[YouTube]

Pictures Of The Skybar Beirut Fire

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A big fire broke out around 2am today at Skybar Beirut causing some major damages. I’m not really sure what happened as I was unable to get in touch with anyone yet but I read in the Daily Star that it could be due to an electrical short circuit.

Skybar was scheduled to open next week but I’m not sure they can fix all this mess in time. I will keep you posted as soon as I have updates but I’m sure we will be partying there this summer :)

PS: I’ve shared a status earlier on Facebook and I will repeat it here. Making jokes out of this sad incident is like shooting yourself in the foot. Even if we don’t like the place and think it’s for the fancy people (which is not the case), Skybar Beirut is an international touristic attraction that everyone wants to visit and enjoy. Skybar has shaped and revolutionized ‪#‎Beirut‬’s nightlife scene.
More importantly, tens if not hundreds of families will be affected by this fire not just the party goers so think about that before making silly jokes.

Update1: Skybar probably won’t be open this summer unfortunately. I am not sure yet if they will relocate to another place.

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PS: I don’t know who took the pictures above. MTV has more pictures [here].

What Does This Flag Remind You Of?

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This is the flag of the Trucial States, which were a group of sheikhdoms in the south eastern Persian Gulf and signatories to treaties with the British government and later on became the United Arab Emirates in 1971. As you can see, the flag is pretty much the Lebanese flag without the Cedar tree.

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I looked up the meaning of the flag, and while the red was a traditional color, the white was imposed by the British in order to distinguish friends from pirates in the sea and the seven-pointed star referred to the 7 sheikhdoms. I can’t really confirm if the flag was inspired from the Lebanese one but the star was added in the 1960s, which is around 20 years after the Lebanese flag was declared.

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via Sultan

10 Things That Don’t Make Any Sense On My Way To Work (Jounieh – Beirut)

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There are things you can get used to in Lebanon, like traffic and reckless driving but some things just don’t make any sense and no matter how many times I see them, I can’t get over them:

Here are some of the things that annoy me on my way from Jounieh to Achrafieh every day:
1- All of Jounieh’s intersections don’t make any sense. They just cause more traffic.
2- The military base in the highly touristic ATCL area. Why don’t they relocate to a calmer and less crowded area?
3- The small adjacent road to the Dbayyeh – Antelias highway.
4- The ISF headquarters on the main Dbayyeh maritime road: Every time a car is entering the base, recruiting new people or holding an event, they stop traffic and it’s hell. Even the army guys like to jog on that maritime road for some reason blocking one of the lanes. Military bases should be in remote areas in my opinion for their own safety and our convenience.
5- The 200 bumps at the end of the Marina Dbayyeh maritime road. I’m eager to meet the guy who decided to put 6 consecutive bumps there.
6- The wasta shortcut road: This is what I call a traffic booster in Lebanon.
7- The unfinished Nahr el Mot bridge portrayed in the picture above. I also want to meet the engineer who designed the bridge to end that way.
8- People crossing the highway underneath the pedestrian bridge.

9- The very illogical Nahr el Mot main bridge in the middle of the road.
10- The Beirut Saifi (Kataeb) intersection where cars are coming in every direction.

Believe It Or Not: There’s a Shortage Of Syrian Skilled Workers In Lebanon

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workers via Al-Akhbar

The number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon has surpassed the 1 million mark this year, and our country has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world with 257 refugees per per 1,000 inhabitants yet we’ve been having a major shortage of Syrian skilled workers ever since the Lebanese authorities decided to impose visa restrictions. Lebanon’s agricultural sector is among the most severely hit as the number of laborers dropped by nearly 80 percent and this shortage is becoming a serious issue for other sectors as well.

The reason for that shortage is that Syrian workers are now subject to a Kafala sponsorship system, which means that they need a Lebanese to sponsor their stay. Moreover, they have to pay $200 upon their entry into Lebanon and an extra $65 for the paper work required. As a result, Syrian workers are not willing (or are unable) to pay almost $300 to work for few months in Lebanon while Lebanese companies are struggling to find workers at affordable prices. A friend of mine, who owns a cleaning company, told me the Syrian worker’s average salary has gone up by some $200 in the past couple of months as the demand is really high and there aren’t that many Syrian workers left in the country. On another hand, Syrian workers are struggling to find Lebanese sponsors.

Personally speaking, I still think the visa restrictions were much needed but they probably need to be amended to facilitate things for seasonal workers coming from Syria as they need the money and we need them in Lebanon. Until then, I hope this will encourage Lebanese to replace the Syrian workers noting that we have 1.5 Million Lebanese below the poverty line. The argument that “Lebanese are not used to this type of work” is not valid because when you’re poor, you need to work and any work is better than staying home. There’s one thing that I’m worried about though, is that local businessmen might start recruiting Syrian kids to do the job.

I believe this is the first time we’ve ever had a shortage in Syrian workers ever since the Hariri assassination in 2005 and the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

My Favorite Ice-cream Shop Helado Is Finally Relocating To A Bigger Branch!

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Helado has been my all-time favorite ice-cream place for quite some time in Lebanon but its only inconvenient is that the shop is tiny, there’s no parking space around it and it gets really crowded during summer specially in the afternoon. I never really minded the wait but I always thought he should move into a bigger location given how popular the place is and it’s finally happening.

Helado is currently a small pink kiosk located in Sahel Alma in a tiny street but they are moving in a couple of weeks time to a bigger shop few hundred meters away next to Le Raclot and the big blue gas station in Sahel Alma. For those of you who are not familiar with the area, you take the Jounieh highway and go up before Crepaway and Caliprix on the main road, then you take your left on the roundabout and Helado will be there right after the gas station to the right.

I strongly recommend Helado to every ice-cream lover as it’s my favorite ice-cream place in Lebanon. The flavors are quite original and delicious, the cone is also good and the owners are extremely friendly. I will be visiting the new branch as soon as it opens.

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Mabrouk To Ely Dagher: Winner Of The Palme D’or For His Short Movie Waves’98 At The Cannes Film Festival

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I was watching Yasmine Hamdan, another highly talented Lebanese artist, when I read about Ely Dagher winning the Palme D’or at the 69th Cannes Film Festival for his short movie Waves ’98. Ely is the first Lebanese to make it to the official selection since Maroun Baghdadi’s film in 1982 and the 29-year old has become the first Lebanese to receive the Palme d’Or since Baghdadi.

Ely’s 14-minute long film is “about Omar, a high-school kid living in the northern suburb of Beirut, struggling in his social bubble”. I couldn’t find yet the full movie online but I will share it as soon as I do.

Congrats to Ely and I’m sure this is just the start for our young and talented director.