Category Archives: Critiques

Gulf Agrees New Contract For Domestic Workers While Lebanon Refuses To Change Its Archaic Kafala System

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Domestic workers in the Gulf will be entitled to end of service indemnity and overtime pay for extra work. Employers won’t be allowed to confiscate their passports or documents, or forbid them from leaving the house. The new contracts also limits the working day to eight hours. Of course this is not the ideal contract yet, but it’s a major improvement from the previous one and the one we have in Lebanon.

It’s sad how we always brag about being a democratic country that respects human rights, yet we haven’t been able to change this pro-slavery Kafala system.

Read the full article [Here].

Gulf labour ministers have agreed on minimum terms to improve the contracts of more than two million domestic staff working in the region, a top official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The move comes as labour ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are to meet with their Asian counterparts in Kuwait this week to discuss the issue.
The new contract entitles domestic workers to a weekly day off, annual leave and the right to live outside their employer’s house, the director general of Kuwait’s Public Manpower Authority, Jamal Al Dossari, told AFP.

Thanks Mustapha!

Beirut And Tripoli Slaughterhouses Temporarily Closed

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I read in the past few days that slaughterhouses in Beirut and Tripoli were temporarily closed as they failed to meet health standards regarding the way animals are killed and how the facility is maintained. This is good news but it’s funny that they decided to examine the slaughterhouses after checking the restaurants and supermarkets. Usually you go after the source or the suppliers then you check the other end but let’s look at the bright side and hope they fix these slaughterhouses.

Speaking of Beirut’s Maslakh, I’ve shared a video a year ago on the malpractices being committed inside and LBCI even did a report on food safety back in May 2013. I even visited the place while looking for the Beirut crocodile earlier this year.

Why Are We Lebanese So Easily Offended?

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leb flag

Lebanese flag shoes are being sold at some mall apparently to celebrate Lebanon’s Independence day. I am pretty sure this happens everywhere around the world with all types of flags, whether it’s a national day, a sporting event or any occasion. I remember seeing flip flops and even boxers with flags all over them during the World Cup, so it’s not big deal and it’s definitely not insulting or disrespectful to sell Lebanese flag shoes.

And I beg everyone to stop asking the authorities to censor stuff because this is the last thing we need.

Haifa Wehbe’s Dress in Star Academy

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I don’t like Haifa but she can do whatever she wants and wear any dress she likes. Those who don’t like such dresses can switch to Tiji or the Disney channel. Claiming that Haifa crossed the line and disrespected women by wearing a sexy dress is pure ignorance. I wish Arabs (men and women) would react the same way to daily violations and malpractices against Arab women instead of focusing on Haifa’s ass (It looks better than Kim’s ass that’s for sure).

Moreover and like Dana said, I’ve seen girls wearing similar and even more provocative dresses at night clubs in Beirut and their pictures showing in magazines yet no one complained about it.

Dana Khairallah, a Lebanese lifestyle blogger, says that people kicked up a fuss about this outfit because of an ongoing struggle within Arab culture. “They think if women dress this way it would misrepresent our culture,” she says. “I find that hypocritical. I see Arab girls dressing more provocatively in clubs but no one cares because there are no cameras.”

“There’s also an element of social media meanness in what is happening that drives this bullying of celebrities.” she adds.

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Haifa Wehbe

Roadster Diner To Donate A Full Working Lab To The Health Ministry

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Roadster Diner has re-asserted its commitment to food safety and quality and has decided to donate a full working lab to the Ministry of Public Health to improve their capabilities. Of course this is a good move but I am honestly quite surprised that the full report hasn’t been issued yet by Minister Bou Faour. We know nothing about the nature of the violations, the standards applied etc …

Instead of announcing few names every now and then, he should do it all at once and follow up in a month and that’s it. If his results are scientific and prove wrongdoings we all want to see how and where. As for Roadster, and despite being ISO 22000 certified, I think they should release reports showing their chicken is safe from the same laboratories the government is using.

[YouTube]

What Could غير مطابق Mean?

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kol via Al Jomhouria

Public Health Minister Wael Bou Faour published a new list of “bad” restaurants and supermarkets today but we have yet to see the full report upon which these checks were conducted. Just to make myself clear, I am fully supportive of this initiative but I don’t agree with the approach that the minister has taken. The businesses that were found guilty and the Lebanese have the right to know everything related to this scandal and what how severe is every violation. Stating that a specific item at a reputable chain or supermarket is “غير مطابق” could mean a million things and not giving further details could harm a restaurant’s reputation and scare away customers for the wrong reasons.

Moreover, I am very surprised that he hasn’t released the full list and is giving out few names every 2 or 3 days. What’s the point of that? Why focus on few names and leave the rest for later? If he wants his campaign to be successful, he should be scientific and professional about it. In all cases, everyone is still waiting for the full report if it will ever be released.

In order to illustrate better what I mean, check out Elyse Abdel Massih‘s take on this matter and the example she gave of what a “غير مطابق” chicken breast could mean:

To help better illustrate this, i’ll give a short example of how a simple chicken breast might be evaluated by the ministry and for the sake of argument lets forgo for now any potential responsibility of the suppliers who actually provide the chicken to their client restaurants and supermarkets.

1- Did the restaurant follow the right checklist for each item received to make sure that the received item is up to the health standard? (Expiry date, quantity, description of item, temperature, clean, odor, color, refrigerated…) ?
2- Did the restaurant have these sections available: cold section, dry stores, vegetable section, pastry lab, dishwashing, central kitchen?
3- If all sections are available are they also efficiently separated?
4- Was the refrigerator temperature the right one? Were the items in it separated properly? (The chicken always goes below the meat but never above)
5- Were the defrosting, cutting, knives clean and not used on other products? Separating chicken from meat? Water used to clean it also clean?
6- How about ambient room temperature, location, and the windows were they opened or closed? (They are not allowed to be open)
7- What about surrounding chemical hazards?( Strong perfumes , pesticides..)
8- Was there control of worker personal hygiene in place? (Health, hair, nails, shoes..)
9- Was there a risk of cross contamination? (It occurs when bacteria cross from food to food, hand to food or equipment to food)

Any point or all of them may have led to the stamp of “غير مطابق” or ”Not compliant” .

The ministry of health should publish the list of restaurants with explanation of what wasn’t up to the standard to avoid causing major reputation damage and mass panic.

If the mistake wasn’t a major one (transferring salmonella is way different than placing chicken above meat or forgetting a hairnet) the inspectors of ministry of health are obliged to take immediate actions on the spot before going public. Isn’t that what inspectors do?

PS: Elyse Abdel Massih is dietitian with experience and knowledge in food service

New Solar-Powered Lights On The Dora Highway But …

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I like the fact that they installed new solar-powered lights on the Dora highway but that’s not the right way to do it. They should install high safety barriers on each side of the road to prevent speeding cars from going from one way to the other or crashing into these concrete poles. Similarly, whenever there are public works, they should place safety barriers and lights which is not the case.

How Can You Possibly NOT Like The Beirut Marathon?

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I love the Beirut Marathon and everything it stands for. I look forward to it every year and I try to promote it in the best way possible as I truly believe it’s a great sporting event that all Lebanese should take part in. It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication to organize successful marathons one year after the other and to attract more people, and the Beirut Marathon Association has managed to do all that and more. Moreover, BMA’s president May El-Khalil is an inspiration to many in Lebanon and around the world and she is one of the key reasons behind Beirut Marathon’s success and I highly respect and admire this lady.

The Beirut Marathon is a peace run and running can have a positive impact on individuals and ultimately on communities and countries, which is why we should embrace it and fully support it.

If you are wondering why I am saying all that, it is because I’ve been hearing and reading some negative comments regarding the Beirut Marathon and how it’s a useless event that puts money in the BMA’s pockets which is completely wrong and absurd. I even overheard someone say in a cafe today that running for causes is stupid. It’s quite weird to hear people say such things, knowing that everything that the Beirut Marathon stands for and promotes is for the benefit of all the Lebanese. The participants are running for unity, fun, glory, achievement, promoting wellness and healthy living, for causes and charitable organizations and more importantly for the benefit of Lebanon and all the Lebanese. Every year, we have new causes to run for, inspiring runners to look up to and new challenges to overcome.

The Beirut Marathon is something we should be proud of and take part in or at least encourage if we don’t like to run or even walk.