I just landed in Dubai and I’m here to attend the 2015 Dubai International Motor Show. I’m here with the Ford & Lincoln team and I’m looking forward to another exciting experience. This is my second trip with Ford and I love how professional and well organized these people are. Last year, the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang was a phenomenal event and I enjoyed every bit of it, especially going up to the 112th floor on Burj Khalifa to see the new Mustang.
I’m here till Wednesday and I’ll be posting daily updates about the Motor Show and my trip. You can follow me on Instagram [@LeNajib], Twitter [@LeNajib] and Facebook of course [BlogBaladi]. I’m also on Snapchat [LeNajib] but I still don’t see the point from using Snapchat so don’t expect many updates there.
As soon as it starts to rain, roads are flooded with water (and garbage recently) in Lebanon and open manholes are no longer visible to drivers and pedestrians. Open manholes pose serious threat to commuters and the concerned parties (Ministry of Public Works and Municipality) rarely work on closing them during storms or at least putting warning signs around them.
Of course we as citizens can help prevent painful incidents by closing down these open manholes when possible and that’s what this guy did today. However I advise you to be careful when closing manholes and watch out for reckless drivers.
I don’t think we need to compare stats between this year and the previous one to realize that the new traffic law, whose implementation started back in April, is no longer working. In fact, ever since I got fined for using my phone, which I insist I wasn’t, I haven’t seen a single cop on that same road. Moreover, I’m seeing more and more people use their phone while driving, as well as others driving recklessly, going the wrong way, parking illegally etc …
To make things worse, police officers and army men are still breaking the law without being punished. The other day on the Dbayyeh maritime road, I spotted an army man driving recklessly while talking on the phone and without the seat belt on, as well as a police officer driving the wrong way on a scooter without any helmet on.
In terms of numbers, Yasa confirmed back in August that the number of accidents decreased dramatically during the first two months (April & May) but then the numbers started increasing gradually. I looked up the stats per month that Kunhadi published (taken from ISF) and they surprisingly show that the number of crashes have significantly decreased this year but the number of fatalities didn’t change much. However, if you look at the Lebanese Red Cross numbers (August 2014 vs August 2015), you will notice that the numbers are very similar.
Another Failed Attempt?
Some people may argue that the new law needs time to be applied properly but I think the reasons why it’s not working are very clear and I’ve raised them already before:
– Policemen are still breaking the law and should be punished more severely when they do so as they are role models for others to follow.
– People are using wasta to remove the fines.
– The idea from the new traffic law should be to help people become aware of the traffic law and care about their own safety, not just fine them and send the money elsewhere.
– Lebanese should know that the fines they are paying are going somewhere to improve the infrastructure.
– The law is being applied in specific areas.
I once proposed an idea to help implement the new traffic law, stop Wasta and fix roads and I’m sure there are other ways to make this law work but it doesn’t look like anyone is interested in doing so.
Red Bull were hosting a Drifting and Motorbike Stunt Riding show today in the Raya Stadium in Beirut and they invited me for a ride with Abdo Feghali (Dado) before the show starts. This is my second ride with Abdo, who has the Guinness World Record holder for Longest Drift by the way, and this guy makes drifting look so easy!
I captured couple of shots and a video from inside the car and my friend and awesome photographer Akl Yazbeck sent me two awesome pictures that I’m sharing as well. I will add more pictures and videos tomorrow.
Four people were killed as a result of this collision that took place yesterday between a tanker and two cars: Michel Yaacoub, Hoda Majdalani and two that were still unidentified. The accident took place on a highly frequented road and the video clearly shows the truck driving at an insane speed and running over the car in front of him.
This is not the first time truck drivers lose control and cause horrific accident and definitely won’t be the last. who’s making sure that these tankers are properly maintained? Who’s checking if these truck drivers have proper licenses? Who will be fined and held responsible for this accident?
A month ago, I spotted a LaFerrari in Faqra and couldn’t help but share it on my Instagram. A week after, I get an email and a call from Ferrari Lebanon that there’s a LaFerrari ride coming up soon and that I’m invited to join. I didn’t even think twice before saying yes but I had to ask again if they meant a Ferrari or LaFerrari ride because going on a ride in this limited production hybrid supercar is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
What is LaFerrari?
LaFerrari is not just any super car, it’s a limited production hybrid sports car that costs over a 1 million dollars and “boasts the most extreme performance ever achieved by a Ferrari production car and features the most advanced and innovative technical solutions” as per Ferrari’s own words. Basically, it’s the closest Ferrari road cars ever got to Formula 1 engineering and I was lucky enough to ride in one of them. In fact, there were two LaFerraris in that ride, which doesn’t happen quite often as there are only 499 units around the world (3 in Lebanon).
Just to give you an idea on how this Ferrari compares to the Ferrari 458 Speciale that I drove a year ago, LaFerrari has a higher top speed (350 vs 325), a considerably larger engine (6.3l vs 4.5l), has 12 cylinders vs 8 for the Speciale, and 366 more hp (963hp vs 597hp) which is insane!
The ride was awesome!
We left Beirut around 5:30 am to avoid any traffic and headed towards Tripoli. Both drivers were going easy when there were cars around and speeding on specific roads. The car has an insane acceleration and can reach 100 in less than 3 seconds and 200 in around 7 seconds. The ride was so intense that I barely spoke to the driver the whole trip as I was enjoying the engine sounds and taking pictures and videos. Of course our roads are really bad and it would have been more enjoyable to drive around a proper track but there is no such thing in Lebanon yet. If you are wondering if I drove LaFerrari or not, I could have asked but I didn’t because I was too tired (had a wedding the night before) and was not prepared to take this responsibility. LaFerrari is closer to an F1 car than a road car and I’m hoping I will have the opportunity one day to drive it or any Ferrari for that sake on a proper track, or even better in Ferrari’s HQ in Maranello.
I’m grateful once again to Ferrari Lebanon, especially to Marie-Claire, for this opportunity and it was nice to meet Scuderia Lebanon’s CEO at last. Big thanks to Christine as well!
Enjoy the pictures and the video I shared inside Chekka’s tunnel. I will share more videos soon.
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.