Category Archives: Critiques

Lebanon To Impose Visa Restrictions On Syrians For The First Time

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refugees Picture via UNRWA

Syrians were able to stay in Lebanon for up to six months previously, but this will no longer be possible as any Syrian who wishes to enter Lebanon will have to obtain a visa at the borders. This measure should have been implemented long time ago in order to control the flow of refugees trying to escape the war but it’s better late than never.

The new regulations will come into effect on January 5 as mentioned on the General Security website. This is the first time that such measures are taken ever since Lebanon’s independence. Hopefully, the borders will be secured soon as well in order to stop illegal entries as well.

Will Solidere Really End In 2019?

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solidere

Update: Solidere’s term was actually extended to 35 years in 2005, so its term ends in 2029 not 2019 as is being said, open to extension. via Karl

We all know that the St Georges Club in Beirut and Solidere are not friends, and it seems the St Georges is optimistic that Solidere will come to an end in 2019. The reason why they are saying so is because Solidere was created in 1994 and its life span was limited to 25 years and cannot be renewed legally. Honestly, I am pretty sure they will figure out a way to renew Solidere’s contract or replace it with a similar company under a different name. Nevertheless, I wonder who will take over Solidere’s tasks if the company ceased to exist.

solidere2

Thanks Hadi!

Amal Alamuddin Clooney Risking Arrest In Egypt

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amal-alamuddin

The newly wed Lebanese born human rights barrister was told by Egyptian officials that she risks arrest over a document criticising the country’s judicial system. Alameddine has identifies flaws in Egypt’s judiciary which led to the conviction of the journalists over a year ago. Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were sentenced in June to seven to 10 years in jail for spreading lies to help a “terrorist organization” – a reference to Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Honestly speaking, I am not surprised by the Egyptian authorities’ reaction but I wouldn’t go as far as call Alamuddin the regime’s number one enemy as Annahar did. Let’s see how this situation evolves and let’s hope we won’t be needing Clooney to stand for Lebanese journalists anytime soon. In fact in terms of Freedom of the Press, Egypt was ranked as not free last year while Lebanon is still partly not free but hasn’t improved in years.

“When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo,” Clooney told The Guardian. “They said: ‘Does the report criticise the army, the judiciary, or the government?’ We said: ‘Well, yes.’ They said: ‘Well then, you’re risking arrest.’ [Independent]

The Lebanese Police Should Arrest This Guy And Destroy His Bike

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bike idiot

I saw this video yesterday on NekatLebanese18‘s instagram account then I remembered I had posted about him already before when he pulled a similar stunt on the Dora highway. However this time, he apparently made there’s a policeman looking at him.

Since he’s not only an idiot but an arrogant one, the ISF should arrest him, destroy his bike and forbid him from driving any bikes or cars for a long time. Check out the video [here].

4 Reasons Why Everyone Is Sharing Dubai, Not Beirut’s NYE Fireworks

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fireworks

I always enjoy watching NYE fireworks from around the world mainly in London, Sydney and New York. As far as the Middle East is concerned, Dubai has been impressing the world with a spectacular show around Burj Khalifa every year and yesterday’s show was even more impressive than last year. Of course we also had fireworks planned in Beirut but most Lebanese I know are sharing Dubai’s fireworks for 4 main reasons:

1- Dubai’s fireworks were the most expensive in the world ($6M) and Dubai broke the Guinness record for the world’s largest pyrotechnic display, setting off 500,000 fireworks in six minutes. It’s very hard, even for New York, Sydney and London, to compete with a city that has something as big as Burj Khalifa.

2- Christmas decoration was poor this year in Beirut and NYE celebrations were also shy. I don’t know why the Beirut municipality is not spending much this year (money is not an issue though) but we barely heard about the fireworks and I haven’t seen any videos and only a couple of pictures online and Instagram. I think it’s quite shameful as we had some really cool fireworks few years ago in Beirut and it would have been nice to keep this tradition going and let people look forward to this spectacle.

3- Celebratory gunfire is still very common in most areas in Lebanon, even in Beirut. A lot of Lebanese don’t like fireworks and would rather fire their guns and even machine guns to welcome the new year. It’s stupid and dangerous but a lot of people still do it. Check out this [video] taken yesterday at midnight.

4- Cities like Jounieh and Jbeil are becoming more popular every year and are organizing cool fireworks and shows. Of course this is a positive thing but Beirut is the capital and NYE celebrations should be special there. Moreover, a lot of Lebanese love to spend New Year’s Eve in the mountains, like Faraya, Mzaar, The Cedars, Broummana, Zahle, Ehden as it’s far from the city’s traffic and it’s nicer and cosier specially when there’s snow.

So until we have cool fireworks in Beirut, enjoy Dubai’s stunning NYE spectacle:

[YouTube]

Down Town Beirut Has Got Everything Except People

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Sousk

The Washington Post shared an article today on Down Town Beirut and how it was rebuilt after the civil war and now has everything except people. This is not the first time that this issue is raised and it is true that DT is without a soul but I disagree with some of the stuff mentioned by those interviewed in the article.

1- Rich people are going more often to DT Beirut and specifically to Beirut Souks as all the fancy shops are there. Businesses in the square were mostly hurt by the political tensions after 2006 when Beirut was fully closed for months and then due to the explosions and the security situation. Moreover, the widespread of the Arguile cafe trend, the tight security measures and lack of parking lots, as well as the overpriced lousy food served in some Beirut restaurants, are also responsible for the closure of some businesses.

“Even the rich people don’t bother coming anymore,” Mohammed Younnes, 27, said on a recent Saturday evening as he gazed at the empty tables of Grand Café, an eatery he manages in downtown Nejmeh Square. Businesses in the square, distinctive for an art-deco clock tower with “Rolex” written on its dial, are relocating or going bankrupt.

2- The reconstruction project did not demolish all historical buildings and Beirut was booming with tourists and Lebanese even when there were no parks or public spaces. In fact, it was the only decent place to walk between restaurants and shops and have a good time before 2006 so I disagree here.

But many Lebanese say that there is another problem: the reconstruction project demolished historical buildings and filled the area with upscale condos and shops. There are few parks or other public spaces.

3- Swarovski? Really?? If there’s anything the average Lebanese can afford, it’s Swarovski.

But the average Lebanese worker earns less than $10,000 a year and can’t afford the new multimillion-dollar residences or the swank offerings from the boutiques of Ermenegildo Zegna or Swarovski.

4- I blame Solidere for a lot of things but DT Beirut was booming and alive before 2006. Tourists and Lebanese loved eating, partying and just walking in DT Beirut but it all changed after the 2006 war and the endless political tensions. Nevertheless, Solidere has been doing a lot of wrong things and should take part of the blame.

After the civil war, Hariri founded a state-affiliated company, Solidere, which led the rebuilding effort and now manages downtown like a virtual municipality. The company, which declined to comment for this article, has been accused by architects, heritage-preservation organizations and everyday Lebanese of driving out the area’s original property owners and unnecessarily demolishing historical buildings.

5- I honestly don’t think parks are the answer here. Uruguay street is booming because it’s a cozy street where people can go and have few drinks. The real problem nowadays is that Beirut Souks and the lower part of Down Town Beirut are attracting everyone while the upper part is dead because it only has restaurants and there are no parking lots around it anymore. Add to that the fact that the road is closed every time there’s a parliament session or a demonstration. Maybe restaurants should try reopen in the lower part and see how things work out. Uruguary street is doing great and more pubs are opening every month.

Preservation activists and many Beirut residents say a rethinking of the center is badly needed. Hallak, the architect, said business would benefit from more cultural projects and public spaces. This would mean creating parks to attract families and sacrificing some profit for preservation, she said. For example, the building that once housed the famed Opera Cinema could become a cultural center, she said. Currently, it is a Virgin Megastore.

All in all, the fact that only millionaires can afford buying apartments in Beirut is not why the city is without a soul. Residential and commercial prices were always high but the city was alive and kicking. I used to spend hours in traffic just to go party at Buddha part and walk in the streets of Beirut. I think what this city needs is for the municipality to drop its rent prices to encourage businesses to reopen and create more parking spaces. Moreover, and some people are going to laugh here, but relocating the parliament to another remote location would most definitely bring back some life to Beirut and make a lot of Lebanese happy.

Thanks Mustapha for the article!

Fares Karam Offers Adel Karam A Gun On Hayda 7aki’s Show

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fares karamj

I was actually enjoying Fares Karam’s interview on Hayda 7aki yesterday until he pulled a fully loaded pistol, emptied it and handed it to Adel Karam as a gift. I know that Fares Karam loves guns and all but I think it’s a very bad idea to let him carry a gun (and a loaded one) during the show.

PS: Skip to Minute 36:59 if you wanna see it.

Mohammad Chatah Did Not Get Killed To Get A Square Named After Him

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Moahmmad Chate7 via Sara Assaf

Former Minister of Finance and Saad Hariri Senior Advisor Mohamad Chatah was killed along with 6 others in a car explosion exactly one year ago yet we haven’t figured out who assassinated him in the heart of Beirut and we probably never will. Meanwhile, he got a square named after him in Beirut. Every martyr that fell since 2005 got a street, a garden or a square named after him but we still don’t know who’s behind these assassinations. More importantly, the families of innocent civilians who died during these explosions still have no explanation as to why they lost their loved ones.

It is one thing to become immune to explosions and assassinations, yet another to undermine the value of one’s life. These people getting killed weren’t armed and fighting but were politicians, statesmen and journalists, and these innocent civilians killed as a result of these bombings had nothing to do with all that. Their families and all of us Lebanese deserve to know who killed them and why and the Lebanese authorities have a responsibility to figure that out, even if it takes them 20 years. Mohammad Chatah was a brilliant statesman, an economist and a diplomat and he also had a family that loved him and cherished him, his bodyguard Mohammad Tarek Badr may not be well know but he also had a loving mother and family and the two teens that were taking a harmless selfie and survived the explosion, unlike their friend, will be scarred for life by this incident.

We have enough squares and streets named after martyrs. What we need is to do is preserve this sacred freedom of expression that this country was built upon, remember the importance of one’s life and remind the authorities of that.

Gebran Tueni’s TV spot is probably the best example to give in that case. This man represented at one point the voice of almost every free and young Lebanese yet his assassination was not even investigated and then ignored by the authorities, a crime even worse than the one that took him away from us.

[YouTube]

Justice Minister Rifi To Take Legal Action Against The Convoy In Achrafieh But What’s The Point?

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body

Minister Rifi asked Judge Hammoud to investigate the incident that took place in Achrafieh a couple of days ago where security guards stepped down from a convoy to assault a driver and damage his car. He also asked to bring those wrongdoers to justice but we all know that’s not going anywhere specially if the rumors are right about who was in the convoy.

In all cases, I am pretty sure the driver himself wouldn’t want to get himself involved in this mess because he’s powerless and may be harassed in the future. I believe the best Rifi can do is get the security guards or the official in question to issue a public apology for what happened, but just like everything else in this country, the case will be forgotten in a couple of weeks and won’t be raised until another convoy harasses an innocent civilian.

Here are the two [videos] showing the convoy guards assaulting the car and the helpless driver.