Monthly Archives: August 2010

Lebanon wins Stankovic Asian Championship

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The Lebanese National Basketball team won the FIBA Asia Stanković Cup 2010, which is a qualifying event for the FIBA Asia Championship that will be held in Beirut in 2011.

Lebanon defeated Japan easily in the finals, in a game that was attended by the president of the republic Michel Sleiman, Interior minister Ziad Baroud and MP Sheikh Nadim Gemayel.

I attended the semi-finals against the Phillipines but stayed home to watch the final as it is too damn hot in the stadium and very chaotic.

Nevertheless, Mabrouk la Lebnen!

PS: Lebanon is ranked 24th worldwide according to the FIBA.

Airport Trolleys

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I think I figured out why the airport doesn’t have enough trolleys… they’re the same damn trolley’s from the old original airport! I didn’t have any issue finding trolleys since the airport was empty when my plane landed but I did have trouble finding one that didn’t have a broken basket or one that didn’t wobble so much that it made me look like I was having a seizure. We need new trolleys.

Mystery man

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I’ve seen this man countless times driving on his ATV on the highway. He seems handicapped and drives really slowly and his ATV makes a very loud noise. I wish we could know what’s his story so we can help him out or something. He always heads towards Tabarja or even further but i never followed him all the way to his place.

Bank loans: what to expect

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I recently put a down payment on an apartment and I would like to share my experience. Because of the crazy market prices, living in Beirut was already out of the question. I wanted to find an apartment that was close to Beirut somehow but didn’t want to go over budget.

After going through the traditional methods (newspaper ads, real estate agents, private brokers, personal contacts etc..) and visiting apartment after apartment, I was ready to give up. However I managed, through personal contacts, to find a really great apartment outside Beirut. The good thing is that the owner of the project is a bank, so I managed to obtain a loan from them fairly quickly.

I went into this “adventure” without any guidance. Every person I’d ask would give me a different answer. The following couple of paragraphs detail my experience and what to expect when buying an apartment / house

The contract: The owner of the project prepares a contract where the payment dates are mentioned. It is expected for the potential client to put 15-20% as a down payment and pay around 10 to 15% whenever a milestone is reached.

Examples of milestones:

– Completed excavation
– Finished the concrete structure
– Finished external and internal blockwork
– Finished electrical and sanitary works
– Completed the project
– etc…

The contract must stipulate a penalty clause in favor of the potential client and one in favor of the contractor. If you’re buying an apartment, make sure it exists in your contract.

This is the traditional payment method, but since not everyone has that much money in the bank, people take out loans. In this case, the agreement takes place between the contractor and the bank, and the potential client pays back the bank over the 15, 20 or 30 year period.

Some information about what to expect when dealing with the bank that could be useful to people who want to buy an apartment (I don’t have much info about Isken, but you can find out more through their website):

1- The bank will not give you a loan unless the building has been completed inside out and sub-divided officially into apartments.
2- The bank will not cover 100% of the price of the house, you will have to pay at least 20% down, sometimes more. In some cases the contractor might add 20% to the price of the house on paper to allow the buyer to obtain the full amount of the house as a loan without putting a down payment.
3- The monthly loan installment cannot exceed 1/3 of your monthly income. This can be played around with. If, for example, a couple is buying a house, they can combine their salaries to obtain a bigger loan.
4- You need to provide official papers such as your salary certificate, criminal record, passport photos, ID etc…
5- Along with your loan, you are obliged to purchase a compulsory life insurance, through the bank’s channels of course. e.g.: if you already have a life insurance policy with company ABC, the bank will not accept ABC’s terms but will force to purchase a life insurance policy from XYZ. It can range from anywhere between 200$/year up into the thousands depending on the price of the apartment.
6- Once you sign the contract, you have to pay LL155,000 to the bank in stamps.
7- The contract must be authenticated by the “Keteb 3adl”, to protect your interest. He/she takes around 20 dollars
8- You have to pay 0.3% of the price of the house to the Ministry of Finance to obtain an official version of the contract approved by the government
9- In some cases, you have to have your monthly salary transfered directly to the bank in question.
10- Registration: this is a big payment. It is 6.5% of the price of the house. e.g.: House price $200,000 then registration is $13,500. But contractors know “people” who can play around with the price of the house apparently. They lower the value of the house in paper in order to lower the registration fee

I hope this information helps in case someone is looking to buy an apartment soon!

Almost done with my loan, only 14.5 years to go! lol

Betamax

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Anyone know where I can buy a working Betamax player? I’ve got a bunch of old tapes I want to convert and don’t have time to go and look for places that might still be selling a player. I thought about Souk Alahad but I doubt I would find it there and if I did there wouldn’t be a way to try it out to make sure it’s working before I buy it.

Dog hunting season is now open

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I’m a HUGE fan of Bourj Hammoud and I’ve mentioned it a number of times before but I have to say this is just horrible. The Bourj Hammoud municipality has put up flyers around the area telling residents if they hear sounds of gun shots not to worry they’re just hunting down stray dogs!

BETA (Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) contacted the mayor of Burj Hammoud telling him there are other more humane methods of capturing the strays and solving the problem for the long run and that they would be willing to help but the reply they got from the mayor was that bullets are cheaper.

So if you can please politely contact Mr. Antranig Missirian, the head of the Burj Hammoud Municipality on 01 260155 ext 147 or send him a fax to 01 260156 and let him know that you are against the shooting of animals.

Beirut #10 most expensive city in terms of rent for expatriates

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There’s something really wrong with the real estate system in Lebanon.

If you wanna buy a house through a bank loan, then by law your monthly installment can’t be over 1/3 of your base salary.

We are all aware that salaries in Lebanon are not that high with the majority of employees earning between $500 and $2,000. So, most Lebanese who have grown up in or around Beirut and who want to purchase an apartment in their areas, can’t really afford it.

Example: if you make $1,500 / month then you could only buy something with an installment of $500/month. So if your bank loan is for 20 years, this means you would have paid by the end $120,000, including interest. This means that with the rates offered by today’s banks your initial loan amount would be approximately 60 to 70K, depending on which institution grants you the loan.

What can you get for 70K you ask? Well, nothing, or nothing livable in I guess, unless you have enough cash to fork over for a sizable down payment.

So an alternative would be to rent an apartment, but according to this recent article (it’s in French btw), Beirut is the # 10 most expensive city in terms of rent for expatriates. If you check out real estate websites, you’d find that renting a decent apartment in or around Beirut would cost you $750+ (expatriate or non-expatriate). This is not a problem if the renters are single people who can share an accommodation. It is an issue for people with kids.

The rent / buy process is not very well thought out to be honest:
Buying a house is related to your salary but renting one isn’t… So the same person who makes $1,500, by law, can only pay $500/month but is allowed to pay astronomical sums to rent a place

I was watching “Kalem El Ness” with Marcel Ghanem last Thursday. The show was dedicated to the real estate boom in Lebanon. They had invited normal citizens on the show to share their stories. One of the women was saying that with her salary, she can’t really afford to buy a house according to the 1/3 rule, but then again she pays 60% of it in rent. The only piece of advice that the people on the show (ministers, real estate agency heads etc..) gave her was: “Alla yise3dik” (God help you).

Great advice… I’m sure it’ll come in handy when the money runs out…

Rami Chemali was not driving the car?

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A month ago, Rami Chemali, a Lebanese national and Star Academy participant, was killed in a car accident in Egypt. Mahmoud Shukri, Rami’s friend and also part of Star Academy was severely injured.

Rumors spread that Rami was the one driving and a week ago, Rami’s mother pledged to sue Shukri’s family for falsely accusing her son of being the one responsible of the accident.

Now the question is why don’t the Lebanese authorities bother to investigate the issue further? And how come no updates on the accident were heard since then? Is someone trying to hide the truth?

On a final note, i found more pictures of Rami Chemali on an Israeli site than on all other Arab websites. Now why would Israeli websites be interested that much in a Lebanese star? And how did they get “Copyright” pictures of his funeral?

10 Wounded in Fight at Wedding

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More than 10 people were wounded in an overnight fight during a wedding in the southern city of Tyre.
State-run National News Agency said the clash pitted the bride’s family against the groom’s, both from al-Zein clan.
NNA said sticks, knives and empty bottles were used in the fight.
[Naharnet]

Lol, now we need army backups for weddings in Lebanon as well.