Category Archives: Events

14-Year-Old Lebanese Wins Apple’s WWDC 2015 Scholarship

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Jake  el Mir Jake al-Mir is only 14 years old and has developed two apps already – Picture from the DailyStar

Jake al-Mir is a remarkable 14-year old Lebanese high school student that taught himself how to code at age 12. He came up with an app called “Emoji Escape” two years ago and was invited this year by Apple to attend its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco thanks to his app on speeding and driving “NoSpeed”.

Jake is one of 350 students worldwide to qualify for a paid scholarship to the conference and presumably the only Arab participant at the event but I can’t confirm that. Some are claiming he is also the youngest developer to be awarded Apple’s WWDC 2015 scholarship, which is awesome news!

How does the “NoSpeed” app work?
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Jake Al-Mir developed the “NoSpeed” app to tackle the problem of speeding and try to decrease car accidents especially in his home country Lebanon. The app functions even when the mobile phone is locked by sending the driver a notification whenever he exceeds the speed limit, therefore also helping people avoid speeding tickets.

Here are the key functionalities:
• Track the speed of your car and when it surpasses the speed limit it will send you a voice notification to slow down. IT EVEN WORKS WHEN YOUR iPhone IS TURNED OFF (IN BACKGROUND)
• Customize your speedometer with your favorite color
• Track your altitude while driving
• Benefit from the included compass
• Switch between MPH or Km/h mode

It’s a smart idea to send notifications when the phone is locked but I think there are apps that do the same thing already. However Jake’s app is different as it sends a voice notification that plays without the driver’s intervention. Of course I know for a fact that new cars have smart systems that allow drivers to set thresholds and get alerts for almost anything but I don’t know if they are linked to a mobile app.

Nevertheless, Jake is only 14 and is obviously very talented. I studied Computer Science and I don’t even know how to start writing an app while he has two apps on iTunes already!

Thumbs up to Jake for this awesome achievement and I hope we will see him working for Apple one day.

“NoSpeed” is available on the Appstore for $ 0.99.

KOHAR: Celebrating Armenian Heritage Through An Outstanding & Magical Performance

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I’m sure you’ve all noticed how the Forum de Beyrouth was beautifully lit up and transformed in the past few weeks to accommodate KOHAR’s performances. KOHAR originally started as an independent musical and cultural institution by Lebanese-Armenian, Harout Khatchadourian, also known as The Armenian culture patron, and grew to become “an important cornerstone in the unique musical rendition of Armenian alphabet and culture”. KOHAR is famous for its recordings of All Time Armenian Favorites and for their visually and acoustically appealing concerts.

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I’m not very familiar with Armenian culture to be honest (except for the food part), and I wasn’t really sure that I would enjoy listening to Armenian songs for 2 hours especially that I don’t understand the language, but a friend of mine got me tickets and insisted that I should attend and that I would love the show and she was absolutely right!

To begin with, I don’t remember the last time I attended an event as organized as this one. I left home early expecting traffic before the Forum De Beyrouth but there were none and we easily went in and parked. Everyone was seated on time, doors were closed at 8:30 as stated on the tickets and the show kicked off right on time. Moreover, the 15-min intermission didn’t last an hour like most concerts in Lebanon and people went back to their seats on time.

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Moving on to the concert, the setup was magical, the performances were outstanding, songs were presented with an amazing choreography and visual effects (3D Projections) and there was a great attention to details! Throughout two hours, 165 musicians, 16 solo performers and 15 dancers entertained an enchanted crowd and kept us asking for more. The whole experience was truly one of a kind and is highly recommended for any music lover and you definitely don’t need to understand Armenian to enjoy the show.

The only part where I felt a bit weird was when we were all handed flags of The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and everyone stood and started singing and waving. I obviously couldn’t relate to the song or that part of Armenia’s history, but I did stand up and waved as well :)

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All in all, the story behind KOHAR is beautiful and inspiring and the concerts perfectly reflect the devotion and passion of the people behind it. The performances are over this year but I will make sure to spread the word and encourage everyone to go watch KOHAR next year.

KOHAR was founded in 1997 as an independent musical and cultural institution by the Armenian culture patron, Harout Khatchadourian of Lebanon, who along with his brothers, Shahe and Nar Khatchadourian, entirely sustain the activities of KOHAR and all its concerts in tribute to their parents; in memory of their late father Aram and in Honor of their mother KOHAR.

Here are few pictures and a couple of short videos from the show:

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Where To Spend Halloween [2015] In Lebanon?

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Here are my five favorite Halloween events for the weekend. You can check out the full list of Halloween events and parties in Beirut [here].

1- Mix FM’s Decadeath: It’s hosted by DJ Rodge and is one of the biggest Halloween parties in Beirut every year. For tables reservations: Call 70999104.
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2- Halloween in the TIME OF CHOLERA at Gardenstate: You can always count on Gardenstate for the best themed parties in town. For more info call: 71 075575
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3- ARCADE APOCALYPSE at CosmoCity: Aliens have landed in Beirut to exterminate boredom and they’re already organizing parties.
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4- THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE Halloween Party at Villa Paradiso: Party this Halloween for a good cause and help raise money for the Lebanese Red Cross. Reserve on: 03-555722 / 03-291321
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5- Colonel Beer Halloween Party: Kick ass venue, great beer and awesome food. They are serving pumpkin beer for the occasion. More info: 03 743 543
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There are also parties planned at Junkyard in Mar Mikhail, The Angry Monkey in Gemmayze and Uruguay Street. Bar 360 at Le Gray Hotel which reopened last week is also organizing a Halloween night. If you like pumpkin carving, there’s an event at Alice Edde Shop in Jbeil on Saturday Oct 31 2015 from 04:00 pm until 07:00 pm.

A Blood Donation Campaign On Ashoura

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Who is Hussain? and Donner Sang Compter Lebanon in collaboration with AUB MC are organizing a blood donation campaign today in commemoration of Ashoura.

This special blood drive aims to encourage those who commemorate Ashoura to “give blood for those who need it most and be like Hussain”. It will take place at the Crowne Plaza Beirut between 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm and the units will be donated to the Children Cancer Center at AUB.

For those of you who are not familiar with Ashoura, it is commemorated by Shi’a Muslims as a mourning day for the martyrdom of Hussein, the son of Ali and grandson of Prophet Mohammad during the Battle of Karbala some 1300 years ago. Re-enacting the battle has been long a tradition among the Shiite communities and involves in few areas self-flagellation in order to remember the blood that Hussein shed for them. Abbas cookies are also made during this day and they are quite good!

#DafaCampaign On November 1 To Help Families In Need All Over Lebanon

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Winter is coming and a lot of families in Lebanon are unable to stay safe and warm. The #DafaCampaign is aimed at helping all those in need of heating, warm winter clothing, toys, electronics, food and others …

The campaign was kicked off by Journalist Paula Yacoubian and is taking place on Sunday November 1 from 10 am till 6 pm at Martyrs Square and donations will be distributed to organizations and families in need all over Lebanon.

What I like about this campaign is that it’s aimed at helping all families and is not restricted to refugees or Lebanese. Just to give you an idea, 3.3 million people are in need in Lebanon, half of them are Lebanese. Moreover, we had 61% more POOR inside Lebanon since 2011 and 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line.

#DafaCampaign is taking place in 8 days so there’s plenty of time for everyone to gather the stuff that they don’t need and drop them. Hope to see you all there!

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All You Need To Know About The Sursock Museum Before Its Re-opening

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sursock Nicolas Sursock Museum – Credit-Jacques-Abou-Khaled

The Sursock Museum is finally reopening tomorrow after 7 years of renovation and expansion works. The project was initiated in 2000 by the President of the Museum’s Committee at the time, Ghassan Tueni, who, along with the Committee, commissioned the architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Jacques Aboukhaled to undertake the expansion project. The museum’s total surface area was increased from 1,500 square meters to 8,500 square meters and works were completed last year.

The Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum is a modern and contemporary art museum in the center of Beirut first opened in 1961, with a mission to collect, preserve, and exhibit local and international art. The mansion in which the Museum is housed was the former residence of Nicolas Sursock, a Lebanese collector and philanthropist. Recognizing the need for institutional support of artists in Lebanon, Sursock left his mansion to the city of Beirut as an art museum upon his death in 1952. The Museum opened its doors in 1961 with the Salon d’Automne, an open call exhibition showcasing new art of the time. The Salon was held on an annual—and occasionally biennial—basis, showcasing the work of such artists as Shafic Abboud, Etel Adnan, Michel Basbous, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Paul Guiragossian, Aref el Rayess, and Adel Saghir. Alongside the Salon d’Automne, the Museum organized diverse exhibitions showcasing art from all over the world. As such, the Museum played a key role in the development of the cultural scene in Beirut, especially in the 1960s and 1970s.

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I visited the museum a couple of months back and went back yesterday for a sneak peek before the official opening on October 8th. Here are few exclusive pictures and an overview of the Museum’s new premises:

The Special Exhibitions Hall: an 800-square meter hall with double ceilings that can accommodate works and installations that are over two meters high. The Special Exhibitions Hall will host three exhibitions a year, from thematic group shows to guest-curated exhibitions.

The Twin Galleries: two identical spaces that function as a single exhibition space. The Twin Galleries will host four exhibitions a year, featuring both local and international artists.

A specialized research library dedicated to collecting, preserving, and studying local and regional art historical resources.

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An auditorium of 168 seats, equipped with the latest audiovisual and presentation tools, in addition to simultaneous translation equipment.

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Two storage spaces with different climate control conditions for the Museum’s permanent collection: one for paintings and objects, and another for paper-based works, including photographs and manuscripts.

A state-of-the-art restoration workshop, equipped with all the necessary tools and chemicals to clean, dust, and treat works from different media.

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A store and restaurant housed in a glass-and-steel extension in the Museum’s esplanade. The store will offer a comprehensive selection of contemporary art books and gifts. The restaurant, headed by Joanna Debbas, will offer an eclectic range of Mediterranean dishes, as well as coffees and desserts.

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Donate Your Used Bags To Less Fortunate Children: 250 Bags Still Needed Before Oct 15

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Hayda Baytak are teaming up with Virgin Megastore to provide students in an underprivileged orphanage with over 300 bags before the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year. All you have to do is the following:

– Grab any used backpack you have and place it in the designated boxes at any Virgin Megastore branch! It’s as simple as that and you will get a discount on new bags as well.

The campaign will end in two weeks and they still need around 250 bags! I’m sure we all have school bags that we are not using anymore, so let’s try to make an extra effort and head to the nearest Virgin branch to drop them.

I think we can easily get the 250 bags and I’m more than willing to drop the bags for you if you don’t have time or don’t have any Virgin branch near you (They have branches in ABC Achrafieh, ABC Dbayeh, Beirut Souks, DownTown Beirut, City Mall, Tripoli and at the Beirut Airport).

Let’s make this happen!

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A Supermoon Lunar Eclipse Is Taking Place Tonight: Don’t Miss It!

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For those of you who are not working tomorrow or can be a bit late to work, a supermoon lunar eclipse is taking place on Monday morning between 3 a.m (Beirut local time) and 7 a.m. This is a very rare occurrence as the last supermoon lunar eclipse took place in 1982 and it won’t happen again before 2033. What happens is that the Sun will be directly behind us in respect to the Moon making the lunar surface appear red for around 60 minutes. The Moon will start entering Earth’s shadow at 3.11 a.m. (Beirut local time), reaching the center at 5.11 a.m. and exiting at 8.23 a.m.

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If you want further information, check out these three useful links [iflscience], [shadowandsubstance] and [telegraph].

NASA will be covering the Supermoon Eclipse live as well with a live feed from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. I added an informational video by NASA on the Supermoon Eclipse and a couple of useful maps to show where the Supermoon Eclipse is visible and what we will be able to observe in Lebanon.

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[YouTube]

Khod Nafas And Join The Beirut Yoga Festival This Weekend!

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I think you all remember the picture that went viral last year of a woman who was doing yoga in the middle of the street? Well that was Dalal Harb, the founder of the Beirut Yoga Festival but unlike what people thought (including myself), it wasn’t really a stunt as Dalal tends to roll out her yoga mat wherever she feels like (usually in nature). The picture did go viral though making the first Beirut yoga festival a success and encouraging the organizers to redo the same thing this year. The second edition will be taking place this weekend on the 19th and 20th of September at Pleine Nature in Mar Roukoz. The event is a non-profit event where proceeds will go to the Lebanese Red Cross.

I think we all need to unplug for a weekend with everything that’s been going on lately, so here’s a good opportunity to do so! I’ve never really tried yoga before so this will be my first time. See you all there!

There are classes for everyone, including parents and their kids. You can find more info on the event [here] and on the [website].

A New 50,000 LBP Banknote To Commemorate The Lebanese Army’s 70th Anniversary

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Lebanon’s Central Bank announced few days ago that they are launching a new 50,000 LBP banknote to commemorate the Lebanese Army’s 70th anniversary. The banknote will feature the Lebanese Army’s Slogan on the front side with a soldier holding the Lebanese flag and the Army Martyrs memorial as well as the number 70 on the back. The new banknote should already be available in banks. The BDL has already issued a special bill for Lebanon’s Independence Day (with the famous spelling mistake) and the bank’s 50th anniversary.

I love the new bill and I think the BDL should donate all the money from people exchanging their old bills with this new one to the Lebanese Army.

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