The electricity problem in Lebanon is a very serious one yet we haven’t seen any significant progress in recent years. We have over a million Syrian refugees now, which means more electricity consumption hence more power cuts. Ever since I moved to my new house, I’ve been paying around $130-150 monthly for 10 amperes which aren’t even close to what we consume on a normal day. Take for example a regular working day where you get home tired and hungry after 2 hours of traffic, and just wish to heat up some food in the microwave and wash some clothes before you sleep. Once you turn the washing machine or the dryer on, you can’t use any other home appliance. Moreover, I can’t use my microwave if the electricity is off as it needs around 8 amperes to start and I would have to turn off the whole house just to start it. These are two silly examples on how the lack of electricity affects our every day-life and are nothing compared to the families who don’t have heating systems and have to rely on electrical heaters to stay warm and heat up the water. Of course I’m assuming you’re getting 10 amperes and not less as all generator owners tend to trick you. I’m lucky to have a decent guy run the generator.
This being said, Zahle’s move to provide its residents with 24/7 electricity is a huge accomplishment and a brave move against the generator mafia. We’ve all seen how the generator gangs demonstrated against EDZ’s initiative and even fired and damaged four transformers a couple of weeks ago. As a result and until the transformers are repaired, many residents will only get 12 hours of electricity and will be forced to pay generator owners for the rest.
Of course the government is to blame for everything that’s happening and the generator gangs are just filling a vacuum but corruption runs so deep in this country that politicians assign generator owners for certain areas and get paid monthly fees. The Economist wrote a long article on the Zahle incident and how bad the situation is. I personally believe we need more initiatives like the EDZ one to weaken these gangs and let people rally against them.
If some politicians and ministers wish to truly fix the electricity problem, they should start with their towns, cities and areas before tackling this whole mess. We need to decentralize this problem and any other problem as nothing will ever be accomplished otherwise. Zahle residents will not let generator owners win this battle because it concerns them directly and will significantly improve their lives and the city’s economy.
The UN An organization has apparently appointed Zein el Atat as an ambassador of goodwill for human rights for the International Human Rights commission. This guy was banned at some point back in 2011 and how he’s selling his products in pharmacies and is a good will ambassador? How is that possible?
Update: The organization has no relation to the UN which is good news. I wonder how that entitles him to get a diplomatic passport though
Update 2: Organization is fake according to this article.
I think it’s about time Ziad el Rahbani stops talking about Fairouz or maybe stops giving interviews for good. I can’t believe he came out and said Fairouz is a fan of Qaddafi and Hitler! What’s wrong with this guy? Is he trying to tarnish his mother’s reputation? The sad part is that all media ignored most of the interview and put that statement in their headlines even though Fairouz clearly disapproves of it.
In fact, the interview says Fairouz is no longer talking to her son after he revealed that she supports Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. It also shows that Ziad doesn’t know what the hell he is doing anymore. He was supposed to move to Russia, wanted to put his plays online but then didn’t, and now he wants to make a Lebanese movie in Germany and is writing songs for Maya Diab. Anyway, we all know Fairouz likes to stay away from the public and doesn’t share her views much and we all love her the way she is.
Fairouz is a symbol of hope, peace and freedom. She’s a symbol all Lebanese and Arabs agree on and she will stay that way.
I saved a couple of articles I had read yesterday about MEA’s airline tickets dropping by 50% but when I woke up this morning to read the details, one of them had vanished and the other’s title had changed. I looked up a bit more and found Lea Fayad’s report which was much clearer and stated that the airline tickets dropped on average by 7% only. What was reduced by 50% is the cost of the fuel surcharge, which constitutes 14% of the ticket price.
The screenshot shown at the start and taken from LBCI’s report shows how much prices have dropped for specific countries like Ghana, Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Paris, London and Nigeria. The biggest drop is for Ghana and Nigeria by $100 but these numbers are not really significant as MEA should have made a small table showing prices before and after and how they compare to the average ticket price. My friend who lives in Ghana told me he usually pays $1000 for his ticket but I couldn’t even simulate the ticket price on the MEA website to know if it changed or not.
To sum things up, it’s always a good thing when ticket prices drop but my friends always complain that MEA prices are more expensive than other airlines, so it would be interesting to know where how the new MEA prices compare to others as I assume all airlines reduced their prices because of the fuel price drop.
I was checking the Red Bull Jump & Freeze event details on Facebook and saw a post done by a member of Kfardebian’s municipality asking the admin to change the location from Faraya Mzaar to Mzaar Ski Resort Kfardebian or else the event will be stopped. I wasn’t surprised to see that post as Kfardebian’s mayor and municipality have been monitoring Facebook (and other channels) for quite some time and asking people to correctly tag their town instead of Faraya, but what I didn’t appreciate was the approach and the tone they’re using.
Legally and geographically speaking, the ski slopes are all located in Kfardebian not Faraya, but we’ve been saying Faraya since ever maybe because the name is shorter and easier to say. Nevertheless, Kfardebian’s municipality has every right to clarify this misconception but they should do it in a way that doesn’t backfire on them. After all, everyone who’s going to ski in Faraya is practically going to Kfardebian as there are no ski slopes in Faraya so there’s not really a competition between the two towns. This being said, I don’t think they should threaten to cancel events in public and the comments on that post show exactly what I mean. If all Lebanese start saying Faraya just to upset the municipality and they are already doing so, then all this work would go in vain. Ironically, when Yves Nawfal was killed in Kfardebian and one of the media outlets mentioned Faraya, it was Faraya’s municipality asking to correct the location.
Speaking of this unfortunate event, Kfardebian witnessed three tragic incidents this year that I believe need more attention from the municipality than wrongly tagged photos or events:
1- Yves Nawfal‘s murder highlighted the need for further security in Kfardebian-Mzaar. Police or municipality patrols should be scheduled maybe and I think the Lebanese Army checkpoint should be put back at the town’s entrance.
2- Melanie Freiha‘s ski accident and the imminent need of setting up medical Centers and clinics (or a helicopter) near ski resorts in Lebanon.
3- The unfortunate story of a young man who got beaten up for trying to clear the road for an ambulance. There should be better traffic management specially during weekends and an emergency plan to clear the way for ambulances.
All in all, I understand and support the Kfardebian municipality’s aim to clarify this misconception we all have, and I’ve learned to tag Kfardebian in my pictures, but I don’t think they need to be that aggressive about it and I urge them to look into more serious issues (with the authorities and concerned parties) to avoid tragic events like the ones that took place during the past few months.
Update: I added this old report that Zaven did on this matter and that explains where the Faraya-Mzaar name comes from.
The picture above is a school diploma given to a Syrian student enrolled in a Lebanese school by the temporary Syrian government’s Ministry of Education. You’d think this is a fake diploma at first, specially that it mentions Lebanon as a province (in Syria?), but the truth is these exams were done by the Syrian Opposition back in 2013 (under the supervision of the Lebanese Army) and financed by USAID according to Al-Akhbar. Having said that, Education Minister Bou Saab had declared that these exams are illegal of course and that there’s a procedure set for Syrian students in Lebanon whereas they can apply for official exams and send the diplomas to the Syrian Embassy in Beirut for validation.
So to sum things up:
– If you are a pro-regime Syrian refugee in Lebanon, your diploma will be certified by the Syrian Embassy that may not be recognized by certain institutions and countries outside.
– If you are against the regime, your diploma will be issued and certified by a temporary government that the Lebanese authorities don’t recognize yet but that is acknowledged by some countries abroad.
In both cases, the real victims are refugee children who are trying to continue their education in Lebanon yet are facing all sorts of obstacles. Just to give you a glimpse of how bad the situation is, it is estimated that 50% of Syrian refugee children aged between 5 and 17 are out of any form of education. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of children who are either forced to work or being abused or end up begging on the street. On top of all that, those who are lucky enough to enroll in a school are graduating with illegal and unofficial diplomas.
Update: Speaking of Syrian Children in Lebanon, check out this article from The Guardian on how those forced to work on streets of Beirut face severe exploitation.
When I first shared the horrible Banana song, a friend told me that she knew the girl and that she’s studying theater at the Lebanese University so I had a feeling that this could be a joke but couldn’t prove it. A week later, the girl shows up with Adel Karam on Hayda 7aki and claims the whole thing was a publicity stunt organized by MTV, Impact BBDO and Sa2afetna aimed at bringing back our true culture and encouraging people to make a difference and share the stories that matter most.
While Sa2afetna is a good initiative which I’ve supported in a previous post, I think Hayda 7ake was the wrong show to organize this stunt with because some of Adel’s guests are even worse than ZeeZee M and Melissa who was his guest last week is one example. Don’t get me wrong as I am not criticizing Adel here as it’s part of his show to host such singers and indirectly make fun of them, which is the reason why ZeeZee M should have revealed herself in a more serious way (maybe by uploading a second video?).
Moreover, and I’ve stated this previously, the real problem in Lebanon is not people sharing fun videos from time to time, but media relying solely on such videos and clickbaits to promote themselves and get more clicks.
On a last note, should the banana clip stay online if it’s a stunt?
There are 15 domestic and inter-country rivers in Lebanon, yet we have an annual water deficit of 425 million cubic meters and Lebanese pay hundreds of millions of dollars yearly to cover their water needs. Ending this water-scarcity problem requires building dams and having a better water management policy, but this should not be done by wiping out green areas and destroying tens of thousands of trees unless there’s no other alternative.
What’s happening now?
The Janna dam has been causing controversy since day 1 and was already stopped back in 2013 after a report showed that building the dam might affect the Jeita Grotto. The report was challenged back then by Minister Bassil whose studies (Khatib & Alami, Artelia and Safege) reveal that Jeita’s water does not originate from Nahr Ibrahim. A week ago, Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb stated that works will be halted until the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Environment Ministry conduct new studies to assess the dam’s environmental impact.
The Pros and Cons:
In regards to the environment, building the Janna dam is a disaster as it will result in cutting down over 51,000 trees, killing millions of shrubs and herbs depending on these trees for nourishment, as well as endangering millions of species and destroying a whole ecosystem. On the other hand, completing the Janna dam will benefit around 700,000 people as it will provide additional water and energy to the northern part of Mount Lebanon and a section of the outskirts of the capital Beirut. Moreover, the dam is expected to create job opportunities for 400 workers and boost tourism and water sports in the area.
What to do:
I think the real problem here is that there are many conflicting studies about the dam and no one has a clear answer on its environment impact. This being said, the Ministry of Energy & Water is expected to ask several parties to conduct the necessary studies, then sit down with experts and activists, as well as residents of the area and take into consideration their remarks. More importantly, the authorities should set up a plan to compensate for the thousands of trees cut in order to minimize the environmental impact, knowing that it will takes probably 100 years to rebuild what they’re willing to destroy.
Once all these steps are implemented and the dam construction is approved by all concerned parties, then we can go ahead with it. Until then, I am against building the Janna dam and any dam. While Lebanon needs infrastructure projects to resolve the water-scarcity problem, I’d rather pay for my water needs than see green areas being wiped out just because the government is not willing to take more seriously the impact of a project.
The Tripoli Nour Square with a sign saying “Allah, Tripoli the Muslims fortress” and a Merry Christmas banner underneath it
I woke up today and noticed that some of my friends had replaced their Facebook profile picture with Yassou3 el Malak (Jesus Christ shrine) in Keserwan, and one of them was cursing and bashing MP Khaled el Daher. I looked up what MP Daher had said in the news and found the below video where he’s opposing the removal of the Allah sign and partisan flags in Tripoli and comparing them to Our Lady of Harissa and Jesus Christ shrines in Keserwan. I won’t bother reply to MP Daher as he’s delusional and known for his sectarian and hatred-filled speeches but here’s how the Allah square (Known as Nour square) came to be in Tripoli:
The Nour or Allah square at Tripoli’s entrance was originally known as Abdel-Hamid Karami square, with a statue for Karami who was Tripoli’s mufti at one point and part of the movement that led to Lebanon’s independence in 1943. He was praised an independence hero and later on served as a prime minister in the mid 1940s. The civil war witnessed the rise of Salafist movements in Tripoli and in the mid 1980s, the Tawheed movement decided to take down Abdel-Hamid Karami’s statue and replace it with a huge Allah sign with a slogan underneath it that says “Tripoli the Muslims fortress”.
This being said, the Allah sign is technically a political slogan and can’t be compared to religious statues and shrines but I don’t think it should be part of the recent campaign to remove political slogans that was launched by the authorities in Beirut and all over Lebanon. The sign has been there for over 30 years and is no longer perceived as belonging to a specific party or group. I was never intimidated by it but I’d want the authorities to replace it back one day with Abdel-Hamid Karami statue. However this initiative should be handled separately and managed by Tripoli’s key figures. As for the partisan and ISIS flags in Tripoli, they should be removed ASAP.
Funnily enough, I was tweeting the other day that this whole campaign is pretty much useless and this is a clear proof of it. The authorities need to address the root causes of this sectarian speech instead of wasting their time by removing flyers and banners.
PS: Check out Pierre Hachache’s funny take on this.
Apparently there’s an old Lebanese law (1971) that is still applicable and that requires women applying for certain job openings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lebanon to be single. I tried asking around to see why this requirement is there but no one had an answer and it doesn’t make any sense. Why would it matter if the woman is single or married? Are they worried her husband might be spying on us? What if she lives with her bf? Why should the woman be single and not the man? That’s a completely absurd law but the good news is that Minister Bassil is working on changing it and that it should be abolished soon.
It would be fun if someone should compile all these archaic Lebanese laws and publish them somewhere. I remember once reading about an old Ottoman law from 1941 that prohibited women from wearing a two-piece swimsuit and hitting the beach and fined them 250 Lebanese-Syrian pounds.