Category Archives: Events

Meeting Sir Richard Branson

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As mentioned in previous posts, Virgin Radio Lebanon is set to open on the 15th of May officially and Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, is coming personally for the grand opening.

Having said that, I will be among the lucky few to meet Branson a day before and ask him few questions. I still haven’t prepared my questions yet as it’s not easy to address someone like Branson but I am looking forward to it.

If you don’t know who Richard Branson is, you can read more about him on [Wikipedia] and [Forbes].

Awesome shots of Abdo Feghali at the Red Bull Drift Car Park Drift in Riyadh

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Abdo Feghali drifting around Georges on the track. You can’t get closer than that!

My friend and Lebanese Photographer Georges Daya sent me these two exclusive pictures this morning from the Red Bull Car Park Drift qualifiers taking place in Riyadh. The Lebanon qualifiers will start on June 15th [More Info].

I’ve never missed a Red Bull Car Park Drift so far in Lebanon. It’s always a great event and a lot of fun. What I am hoping for one day is to live the experience from inside Feghali’s car.

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Georges and Abdo

Few words on the SMAs

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Picture taken by Nath Halawani

As you all know by now, the first edition of the Beirut Social Media Awards took place yesterday and I posted the list of winners earlier this morning. Needless to say, I am very happy that BlogBaladi won the Blog of the Year Award but that doesn’t mean the event was flawless.

In fact, there are few things that I felt I should comment on but not to the extent of trashing the event and labeling it a total failure. On the contrary, I thought it was relatively well organized and fun for a first time. I personally had a great time meeting face to face new and old members of the Lebanese online community, chatting with Minister Alistair Burt and British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, engaging in talks with fellow bloggers and tweeps and of course enjoying a fine glass of Ixsir white wine in the beautiful Phoenicia hotel. Mustapha from the Beirut Spring also came all the way from Ghana to attend the event. Too bad Gino was behind bars in Alcatraz and couldn’t make it.

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Picture taken by Nath Halawani

When the names of the winners were being announced, there were a lot of people disappointed with some results including myself in some categories, but you can’t possibly please everyone after all and even if the judges, who had a 50% say in the final vote, made the “wrong” call, you have to respect their decision and agree to disagree. After all, they are all highly respected individuals and some of them are more than qualified when it comes to social media. In fact, I believe the smartest decision taken by the SMA organizing committee was making the judges’ vote account for 50% of the final result.

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Moving on to Haifa Wehbe‘s arrival, I honestly thought it was cool enough for her to attend the event (even though I dislike her). What I did not appreciate though was her unprofessional and disrespectful behavior towards the organizers, the crowd and the other SMA candidates. She arrived 3 hours late, while the name of a winner was being announced, interrupted them and felt free to make a TV interview in the middle of the ceremony, and then made a meaningless comment (“Twitter is my Bodyguard”) when she was handed her award. But then again, this is Haifa, a celebrity in the Arab world and what happened was almost inevitable in any event or talent show or TV show or whatsoever. Like I said at first, she made an effort just like Ziad Baroud (Not to be compared though in terms of behavior) to show up while other less important media figures didn’t bother come and I don’t care if they had other plans because I am sure Haifa has a busier agenda.

The funny part is that I saw more people upset about Haifa’s appearance than myself even though half the crowd was lined up around her while the four final awards were being handed out, including the Blog of the Year award which BlogBaladi won. To be honest, I was more annoyed by Neeshan’s video than Haifa’s act.

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Picture taken by Nath Halawani

Moving on to food and organization, events like the SMAs cost a substantial amount of money and it’s normal for sponsors to offer location or food and request bigger exposure but that doesn’t mean they will win and we’ve seen how Roadster beat Crepaway, Almaza won two awards (With 961 being one of the sponsors) and Alfa ended up with 0 awards. Let us not forget that there’s nothing in it financially for the organizers, so it wouldn’t hurt to appreciate what they’ve done and point out constructively the mistakes and ways to avoid them in next year’s edition.

For example, I think the judges and celebrities should be seated in an isolated area next year so that we avoid what happened with Haifa’s arrival. Added to that, the most popular categories that don’t include celebrities should be announced in the middle of the ceremony as some people got bored after 2 hours and left. A third and more important point is to re-assess the categories and modify/remove/add some based on the online community’s feedback.

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Picture Courtesy of BeirutNightLife

As for the After Party, I have nothing to say except it was awesome! Rodge In The Mix is a great DJ and it was one heck of a party! To make things even better, we got the AfterParty CD in the RagMag goodies bag and I am playing it as we speak.

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On a last note, I attended the SMAs to have fun and hopefully win something and I ended up having a great time and winning a tremendous award. I could go on and on pointing out minor details that could have ruined it for me but I believe everyone agrees that we were all there to have fun and create a buzz online.

Thank you all for the support, and see you next year!

Off to Mar Mikhael

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As posted earlier, Mar Mikhael area will be transformed into a pedestrian zone today from 10.00 am till 5.00 pm. Free entertainment involving, art, music, sports, and environmental activities, will be offered to adults and children. The weather is perfect today for a walk, biking or some fun with your friends and family so head out to Mar Mikhael if you can.

Here’s the full program:

10.00 am to 5.00 pm bike rentals with Beirut by Bikes.
- Photography Exhibition with Beirut Street Photography.
- Street Musicians.
- Children corner with arts crafts and cultural activities around themed around nature and the environment, with Le Club des 2 Clowns from11.00 am to 4.00 pm.
- Sports challenge track,
- 10.00 am to 5.00 pm Giant Banquet in collaboration with Souk El Tayeb
- 10.00 am to 5.00 pm Arts and Crafts exhibition with objects of all kinds.
- 10.00 am to 5.00 pm Sculpture: From clean waste, residents will be invited to create a sculpture together under the leadership of Imad Abdelnour. The sculpture will remain on display on the premises.
- Several painters scattered along the street and live painting Mar Mikhael landscapes.
- 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm the 149th Live painting show with Bernard Renno.
- 11.30 am to 3.00 pm street shows: Fanfares; stilt walkers; bike show; Roller show.
- Planting with the participation of residents in different locations – mainly on the stairs.
- Recycling project with ā€œGā€.
-Races on wheel Chairs with “LAUGH” association
- Graffitis event with a selection of artists on The abandoned buses in the train station to the sound of music mixed by Medea Azouri

You can follow me on Instagram [LeNajib] and Twitter [@LeNajib] for updates on the event.

Pictures and Video: Guns N’ Roses in Lebanon

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Check out tons of pictures from the Guns N’ Roses concert in Lebanon [Here] and a video uploaded by Francois on his blog below. There are other videos that will follow but the internet connection doesn’t allow more than one video per day. I still haven’t uploaded my ASOT600 videos because they are around 200mb each.

[YouTube]

Here’s the video clip of my favorite Guns N’ Roses song: November Rain.

A car-free day in Mar Mikhail

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A car-free day will be organized on April 7th 2013 as part of the Achrafieh2020 initiative. I missed the previous car-free days in Achrafieh, Rmeil and Geitawi but I will be there to have fun and cover the event next Sunday. Like I said on previous occasions, Achrafieh2020 is one of the best initiatives I’ve heard of in Lebanon and I truly hope it gets fully implemented. You can read more about it [Here].

You can follow updates on BlogBaladi‘s Facebook Page and pictures on my Instagram [LeNajib].

DevAppLB PitchFest

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There’s an increasing number of Lebanese coming up with new ideas and mobile apps but most of them lack the proper funding to execute their idea or develop and promote their app. PitchFest is an opportunity for startups to get support to develop and launch their apps using the touch Cloud. [What is Touch Cloud]

I think this is a nice idea to help developers and app startups get support to rapidly develop and have their ideas up and running, plus Touch’s 2 million customers would be a great start to promote your app. Some developers might not be comfortable using a tool set that is controlled by Touch but it could prove very helpful in my opinion.

Here’s some info on how to apply and the prizes offered:

In order to apply for the PitchFest you should already have a basic demo of your app or a solid markup/wireframe, and a basic business plan for your app. Your app should be built using some element of the touch Cloud BaaS (Backend-as-a-Service), or you must be willing to adapt your app during the acceleration period to use some element of touch Cloud, and be geared (at least partially) to serve the Lebanese mobile market. Bonus points for apps that somehow contribute to building a better Lebanon. Full details & apply [Here].

Prizes:
Top 3 Winning teams will EACH get:
- $5000 in cash to develop their app and startup business
- 3 months incubation at AltCity
- Technical support from touch Cloud and Apstrata
- 50% discounts to attend Cisco Entrepreneur Institute workshops
- Free job listings & media visibility/adverts at Bayt.com
- Free media visibility through T3 and Wamda
- Free T3 subscriptions (up to 3 per team)
In addition to all those awesome prizes, the team that ranks FIRST will win a Samsung Smartphone for each team-member! (up to 3)
First and second place winners get WamdaCards.

Deadline for applying to Pitchfest is March 29.
Key Dates:
Mar 29 (Fri): Deadline to apply to Pitchfest
Mar 30-April 5: Pitchfest selection, and light supports for Pitchfest applicants & finalists
Apr 6: Pitchfest! Pitching & Final Selection!
Mid-Apr to mid-July: Acceleration program

There will be other competitions like the DEVAPPLB Hackathon which you can also check [Here].

I honestly believe we need a lot more apps in Lebanon, specially useful ones and not just games and news/gun fires/bombings/accidents reporting apps.