I was on my way to Beirut a week ago when a policeman stood in the middle of the road (next to the Canadian Embassy in Jal el Dib) and started asking few drivers to park on the side including myself. At first I thought they were checking “mecanique” papers and indeed the officer asked me for my driving license and “mecanique” papers which I gladly handed over. I still had no clue I was being fined for using my phone because I don’t recall taking any calls or texting anyone that morning. A few minutes later, I got bored from waiting so I asked the officer if I can go if my papers are good and that’s where he told me I’m getting a fine for using my phone. I told him but I wasn’t using my phone as far as I know but he was like “Yes you were there’s an officer standing on the side of the road a few hundred meters back who spotted you”. I was like “Spotting me doing what?” but all he said was that I was using the phone.
I was in a rush so I didn’t bother argue anymore and took the fine and drove away but I’m still not sure what “using my phone” meant to this officer and how random these fines are. In fact, ever since I got the fine I haven’t seen any officer standing on that road and I’ve spotted tens if not hundreds of drivers texting and answering their phones on the same road. I even wanted to go and file a complaint but to say what? I am sure I wasn’t using my phone to text or answer yet I could have been holding it to check the time (I don’t wear a watch and my car’s clock doesn’t work) or listen to music (plugged to the radio with an auxiliary cable) but again I didn’t have proof and neither the officer who fined me did. I ended up paying the fine but I wish the ISF would clarify what “using our phone” means and why they are still fining people randomly and during peak traffic hours?
What’s the point of fining drivers stuck in morning traffic for using their phones? How does that help promote road safety? How about those speeding on the highway while texting and driving? Can we take calls if we have a handset or on speaker? What if I’m holding my phone down and have the speaker mode on? Is that also a fine?
More importantly, why aren’t there regular checkpoints to fine drivers breaking the new traffic law? I spot hundreds of drivers breaking the law on a daily basis on the highway and main roads. This is where the real threat is, not on the Dbayyeh Jal el Dib maritime (jammed) road at 8:30am.
All in all, I gladly paid the fine because I may have been holding my phone but it’s quite frustrating to pay a 200,000 fine while everyone around you is clearly breaking the law (including police officers) and getting away with it, and while you’ve been promoting road safety for years on the blog.
This is quite an amazing old footage from 1974 back when we had a rally between Lebanon and Syria that looked a bit like the Paris Dakar. Lebanese Driver Joe Hindi won the rally that year against the likes of Hannu Mikkola who became World Champion in 1983, the famous Jean Todt who later became the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team manager and is currently the FIA president. I also spotted Sehnaoui (which I assume is Maurice “Bagheera” Sehnaoui) in that race. The rally was called “The Safari of the Middle East” and crossed most of the Lebanese and Syrian territories as you can see from the maps shown below.
It’s pretty amazing how things have changed from the 1970s between Syria and Lebanon, from the wars that opposed both countries, to the civil war, to the Syrian hegemony era and now war in Syria. I look at all these rally stages (Der Ezzor, Aleppo, Hassaka) and the first thing that comes to mind now are massacres and bombings unfortunately.
Let’s hope that we will get back to such peaceful times and we will have another Lebanese-Syrian rally one day. Until then, enjoy this amazing old footage!
Roger Feghali clocked a 2:00.42 on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI to beat his brother Abdo Feghali, who clocked a 2:01.35, by less than a second. Jalopnik described Feghali’s hill climb about a good as driving gets and shared his run in the same event last year.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen while watching both videos. For all rally fans, watch both videos, make sure you’ve got your volume up and enjoy one of the finest hill climbs ever!
The Abu Dhabi Police has apparently decided to add Lykan HyperSport to its fleet as part of “its efforts to reach out to residents, especially the youth, on traffic safety”. I’m not really sure how buying a 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-six engine with a 770 horsepower super-car and displaying it at touristic locations and malls will help promote road safety but it’s worth a try if they can afford (which they can) paying $3.4 million for the car.
Just to give you an idea on how exclusive the Lykan HyperSport, a supercar made by W-Motors a Lebanese-based company by the way, it is the first Middle Eastern supercar and one of the world’s fastest. Moreover, the super-car is one of only seven in the world and features “diamond-encrusted headlights and an interior straight out of Star Trek”. It was featured in the latest Fast & Furious 7 movie “flying” from one skyscraper to the other.
The Lykan is definitly not the first supercar to join Abu Dhabi’s police fleet as the Rolls-Royce Phantom was recently acquired. Dubai’s police fleet is as impressive and includes a Lexus RCF, a McLaren MP4-12C, Aston Martin One-77, Audi R8, Bugatti Veyron, Mercedes SLS, BMW M6, Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari FF, and a Bentley Continental GT.
Lebanese Rally driver Roger Feghali has become the first Arab driver to win the famous Antibes Côte D’Azur in France after beating Jean-marie Cuoq, the Championship leader, in the final classification. Roger competed last year and was going strong before he had to retire, but he came back this year and dominated the event in his Ford Focus WRC.
Feghali and Matar beat Citroen C4 WRC driver Jean-Marie Cuoq by more than 2 minutes, which is a very comfortable margin. This marks Roger’s fourth rally victory of 2015, after dominant wins in Jordan and in Lebanon (31st Spring Rally and 4th Jezzine Rally). Feghali won’t score points from this rally as he’s Lebanese but it’s still quite an achievement to beat talented international rally drivers in a entry list that included 135 drivers.
I normally respect traffic laws and I’m not a reckless driver but I sometimes do check my phone when I’m stuck in traffic and the cars are not moving. I also don’t think it’s wrong to answer your phone (using speakers or ugly blue-tooth headsets) but I heard this is not even allowed in the new traffic law which doesn’t really make sense.
In all cases, I was driving from Adonis towards Kaslik last weekend and we were barely moving when I received a phone call that I had to take, so as I was about to pick up the phone and put it on speaker my wife notifies me that there’s a police officer on his bike passing right next to us, so I quickly gave her the phone hoping that he didn’t notice anything. As it turns out, there were two cops actually, the first one on the bike was texting or playing on his smartphone and the other was looking the other way. It’s definitely not the first time I spot cops breaking the law, but it would have been the first time that I am fined by a policeman breaking the law himself. I was wondering how I would have reacted to that if he truly had stopped me. Few hours later, I received the above picture via whatsapp.
Needless to say, we should still abide by the new traffic law and hope that everyone, including policemen and politicians, do the same. Things have improved drastically in the past couple of months but it’s still too early to judge success of this new law.
When I first read the title of this article, I checked the date to make sure it’s not an old post, then I read the whole thing 3 times just to make sure it’s not a satire post and I still can’t believe that someone, Robert Fisk in that case, would believe that “Beirut has the chance to revive its steam-age role as a key transit hub”, and that Syria’s relaunching is going to happen sometime soon and have a positive impact on Lebanon. I mean seriously? A Tunnel from Baabdat to Chtaura? A train from Beirut through the Bekaa, Syria and the Gulf and all the way to Europe? Who are we kidding here?
Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous, an Austrian politics professor at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and engineer by profession, told his Unesco audience that “railways are a regional, international issue because infrastructure development is one of the keys to the future of the Middle East”. Talking later, he was more specific. “The majority of the freight for re-launching Syria after the war will obviously go through Beirut. The Syrian port of Lattakia is too small. The reopening of the old Tripoli-Homs train line, which is still relatively intact, could be done quite quickly.
Now the funniest part is how Mr. Maalouf is “relying on the sheer frustration of the automobile-intoxicated Lebanese to bring back the trains”. Don’t get me wrong as I have the utmost respect for the Ecuador-born Lebanese filmmaker Elias Maalouf, but Lebanese have been cursing yet electing the same people for more than 20 years now, and they seem to be fine living without a president, without infrastructure, water, electricity or internet. They couldn’t care less about trains being renovated or turned into UN heritage sites and they are building houses and nightclubs all over them (unless the government paves a new road over the railway).
All in all, the poster below is the closest thing we will get to seeing trains in Lebanon again. Enjoy the [article] and keep dreaming Lebanon
This video was shot by a student for a school project and shows several violations (including one by an ISF officer) in Beirut. I’ve also been spotting many violations on a daily basis but I’ve also noticed Lebanese are not speeding anymore and driving safely which is a good sign. I think the ISF and Interior Ministry are doing the right thing by taking things slowly, but I still want them to punish officers who break the law more severely in order to further gain people’s trust.
There are three things that came to mind while watching this video:
1- Where are the cops on that road? It’s one of the busiest ones in all of Lebanon.
2- Why doesn’t he have a license plate on the bike?
3- Last but most importantly, who’s the guy filming all these stunts? Why doesn’t he try to film them as landscape?
I posted back in 2010 about a shortcut road in Dbayyeh that might save you 20 minutes of morning traffic. The road (shown in red above) was accessible to everyone back then but they’d close it randomly sometimes. After a while, they closed it for good yet I’d notice army vehicles or convoys using it from time to time, but more and more cars have been using it in the past couple of weeks for some reason. I asked around and they told me you need some sort of “wasta” to have your name registered at the gate and they will let you in.
I can’t really confirm this info but the sure thing is that more and more cars are using it and I’ve been spending an extra 20 minutes in traffic because of this shortcut which is unacceptable. If they need the road, they can use it for emergencies or security reasons, but otherwise it should be kept as closed once and for all!