Category Archives: Critiques

What Is This Arab Tourism Award Jbeil (Byblos) Just Won?

Posted By :

byblos via Bank Audi FB page

I’m really happy that Byblos won the Arab Tourism Capital Title for 2016 but I am really confused about this award as I can’t find anything about it. There’s no doubt that Jbeil deserves to win such an award but who are we competing against and who’s coming up with these awards? What exactly is the Arab Council of Tourism?

I tried to look up the Arab Council of Tourism online and found a website called [arab-tourismorg.org] which didn’t help much. In fact, I realized Jbeil wasn’t the only winner as the Saudi city Abha also won the same award for the year 2016 and 2017. If this is true, then Jbeil won the award for two years not just one (yay?).

Jbeil was also chosen as the best Arab Tourist City by the World Tourism Organization in 2013 but I could barely find anything related to it as well. Don’t get me wrong as I am not trying to question the awards but if we are only hearing about them in Beirut then what’s the point?

I honestly think our primary focus should be on promoting tours and activities in Jbeil because these awards won’t help much if tourists don’t know how to get to Byblos. I just had a quick look at Livelovelebanon (where it’s still winter) and destinationlebanon where I found a very helpful pdf but not so user-friendly.

Otherwise, congrats to Jbeil which is one of my favorite cities in Lebanon and I’m going to dedicate a post very soon to Jbeil, how to get there, things to do, places to go, restaurants to visit etc …

cities

Where Is The Internet Police When You Need It In Lebanon?

Posted By :

dima-sadek

LBCI News Anchor Dima Sadek removed a post she wrote on Facebook few days ago after her mother received threats and insults on her phone. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a journalist is harassed in Lebanon whether online or through abusive phone calls and these people won’t stop even if you removed a controversial post or picture. May Chidiac was and is still being harassed on a daily basis and nothing is being done to track down these people. Moreover, there are a lot of people who have nothing to do with politics and get harassed on a daily basis and are unable to do anything about it, and I’ve already raised this issue two years ago when one of my friends was being harassed.

I think it’s time for the ISF and cyber crimes bureau to investigate this type of harassment and bullying and try to track down who’s behind it. We also need to track down all these apps that can get you someone’s personal information based on their license plate and that are still available for download. Cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying and online harassment are crimes that should be punishable by law and treated more seriously in Lebanon.

Dima

I Challenge MP Kabbani To Use Public Transportation For One Week

Posted By :

kabbani

Our Public Works, Transportation, and Water and Energy Parliamentary Committee Head MP Mohammad Kabbani told a journalist that he doesn’t need to buy a car in Lebanon if he doesn’t get paid much because, and I quote, “there are taxis everywhere and people use public transportation everywhere in the world”. When another reporter asked him if he had ever used public transportation, he replied that he used to take the train to college.

If we assume that Lebanon has a decent public transportation that connects all regions, then MP Kabbani is absolutely right but that’s not the case in Lebanon. For example, if I want to get from Jeita to Achrafieh using taxis and buses, I would need to either take a cab which would cost me at least 20,000 LL each way or take a “service” to the highway and from there take a bus and then take another “service” or bus to get to my work place, noting that there are no bus or taxi stops in Jeita (and almost anywhere else in Lebanon) and you basically have to stand on the highway and wait for a cab to pass by. Moreover, the majority of our buses and taxis are not equipped with air conditioners so it’s a nightmare for those who have to wear suits to work especially during summer.

Of course it’s a bit easier to take cabs if you live and work inside Beirut but our public transportation is terrible and advising people to take cabs because they have low salaries is utter nonsense, especially when they live outside the capital and cannot afford rental prices in Beirut. If MP Kabbani is so confident about our public transportation, I kindly ask him to move to Keserwan for a week and take cabs and buses to the parliament everyday. Once done, he should pay a visit to the Mecanique in Hadath and see what we go through every year there.

On another note, and knowing that our MPs are too busy extending for themselves to do such experiments, a good idea would be for local TVs to document what Lebanese are going through everyday and show it to the concerned ministers and MPs in their talk shows.

[YouTube]

Is This For Real? Domestic Workers In Lebanon Could Face Deportation If They Marry non-Lebanese

Posted By :

leb_housej

As if the situation wasn’t bad enough for domestic workers in Lebanon, the Lebanese authorities are in the process of passing a law that prohibits workers from having any type of relationships in Lebanon or marrying a non-Lebanese here. If they do so, the tenant can report them and have them deported as mentioned in the Legal-Agenda article and on Kafa’s Facebook page.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

خلال شهر تشرين الاول من العام 2014، تلقى كتاب العدل من وزارة العدل تعميما بشأن التعهد الذي يفترض بصاحب العمل توقيعه لديهم في اطار الحصول على اقامة للعاملة أو تجديدها. وبموجبه، يطلب من صاحب العمل أن يتعهد تجاه المديرية العامة بعدم وجود “أي علاقة زواج أو ارتباط من أي نوع كان تربط العاملة (…) باي شخص عربي او أجنبي مقيم على الاراضي اللبنانية”. كما يتعهد أنه “في حال تبين لاحقا وجود اي علاقة زواج حصلت بعددخول العاملة مراجعة الامن العام بعد تأمين تذكرة سفر بغية ترحيلها الى بلدها”

This is the first time I hear about this law and I can’t really confirm it yet. If it’s true, I don’t know what they are trying to achieve by implementing it as it’s against the most basic human rights and is wrong. We should be working on changing this rotten Kafala system instead of passing laws that enslave the workers even further.

What I Told The National About The New Traffic Law In Lebanon

Posted By :

national1

The new traffic law is still the hottest topic in Lebanon right now and is even being mentioned in foreign media outlets. The Financial Times shared an article on the traffic law (classified under “Syria crisis” for some reason) last week and The National shared a story entitled “Lebanon attempts to impose order on its traffic jungle” on the same topic today .

I got interviewed by Josh Wood from the National and here are the key points I mentioned regarding the new traffic law:

– All previous attempts of implementing the traffic law started almost identically and all failed.
– People are driving more slowly and carefully at night and wearing their seat belts because the fines are huge, or simply because there are fines just like in previous attempts.
– 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.
– I’m worried about bribes and recommend we automate the whole process by setting up a platform like this [one].
– 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.

hahaha

On a last note, we have to stay optimistic every time someone tries to implement traffic laws and the current minister of interior is a rather pragmatic person so let’s hope for the best! You can check out the full article [here].

asas via Mustapha

PS: Thank you Josh for considering me and for mentioning almost everything I shared during the interview!

Posters Against The Zouk Power Plant Pollution Are Now Polluting The Streets

Posted By :

20150503_104301

I was actually surprised to see all parties sitting on one table to protest against the Zouk power plant on April 25 but I soon realized it was all nonsense when they started talking about forming committees. I know it’s too early to judge but no one had a serious proposal to end the Zouk Power Plant problem and it doesn’t look like we will get rid of it that soon.

What’s even worse is that the posters that they hung on every street and road are all still there and one of them almost fell on my car on the highway. So now the posters against the pollution in Keserwan are effectively polluting the city as well, noting that most of the area’s municipalities were involved in the protest. Cheghel ndeef wou 3al lebnené!

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A “Wasta” Shortcut Road To Cut Through Marina Dbayyeh’s Traffic

Posted By :

dbayyeh

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!

20150423_082319

What Happens When You Are Wrongly Fined In Lebanon?

Posted By :

n2 via elNashra

Update: A friend told me that he faced the same problem once and that they told him that he doesn’t need to pay any fines if the fine is older than the car registration date.

I’ve been supportive of the new traffic law ever since it came out, but there are 4 issues that I’ve stated in a previous post and that I believe need to be tackled ASAP:
1- Political and security convoys: Is the police allowed to stop them? What happens when they are driving dangerously and cutting off people?
2- Fake License plates: This is unfortunately becoming a trend whereas crooks use fake car plate numbers and cause other drivers to get fined.
3- Settling the fines: Fines always used to come late (sometimes a year late), which is unacceptable. The ISF needs to figure out a way to automate the process.
4- Valet parking companies: Valet guys park everywhere illegally and throw away fines sometimes. They need to be severely penalized and banned if needed.

To be honest, I don’t believe anything can be done in regards to convoys, but the other issues are easy to tackle and should be done the soonest, specially the part related to fake license plates. Yesterday, everyone was sharing the story of a young lady who had just bought her 2015 Nissan X-trail only to find out she has a fine from 2013!! This is not the first time I hear about such a thing and it won’t be the last for sure, as there are a lot of criminals and thugs who put fake license plates on their cars and get other people fined. However, what’s alarming this time is that the car was newly registered and no one noticed the fine somehow, which means that the authorities did something wrong in the first place here.

This being said, something needs to be done to handle these cases because the fines are serious now and no one should be wrongly fined and forced to pay for a violation he didn’t commit. A year ago, I shared an idea about an app that could help detect stolen cars and fake license plates in the process and I still believe it is relatively easy to implement it. Moreover, and based on what I’ve been hearing from people who got wrongly fined, the ISF should make the whole process of submitting complaints and following up on them easier and smoother to the people. The last thing we need is people using “wasta” to resolve such problems.

n1

It’s Time To Put An End To Illegal Cable Providers In Lebanon

Posted By :

20150502_084004

The union of Cable providers in Lebanon (I didn’t know they had a union) decided to take down LBCI yesterday as a sign of protest against the decision taken by 8 local TVs to make them pay a fee for broadcasting their shows. LBCI, Future TV, Tele Liban, NBN, Al Jadeed, Manar, OTV and MTV all set new broadcasting rules by asking cable providers to pay 4 dollars for each subscriber, and asking all cable providers to sign official documents that grant them broadcasting rights.

Honestly speaking, I think it’s about time someone regulated this whole process and put an end to illegal cable providers in Lebanon. I rarely watch TV but I remember I had to call the cable guy almost every Sunday when I was at my parents to be able to watch Formula 1 or some football game. The quality of the image is bad, they control what you’re watching and rarely answer the phone when needed. Moreover, the fact that they are able to randomly shut down LBCI just to protest is quite absurd and unheard of.

Some may argue that we shouldn’t have to pay to watch local TVs but they need to monetize to survive in this market and having illegal cable providers rebroadcast all their shows for free doesn’t make sense, specially when there are affordable and legal providers like Econet and Cable Vision.