Category Archives: Food

Things To Do In Jbeil (Byblos) During The Summer

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Jbeil, one of the world’s oldest cities, has always been one of my favorite cities in Lebanon and I tend to visit it quite often. There are so many things to do there and you can spend a whole weekend touring the city and having fun, especially during summer. A couple of months back, I criticized these unheard of awards that Jbeil is being awarded every year and mentioned that our primary focus should be on promoting tours and activities in Jbeil because these awards won’t help much if tourists don’t know how to get to Byblos. In fact, most of the tourists and a lot of Lebanese want to go to Jbeil but they have no idea what to do there or what to expect, so here’s a small post to highlight some of the things that you can do there:

Spend the day at the beach:
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Most people know Edde Sands in Jbeil and it’s a beautiful resort but there are others like Santa Prairie, Ocean Blue, Bay 183 and Byblos Sud. You can also find a couple of public beaches, especially one near the Crusader Castle called Al Ba7ssa.

Visiting the Old Souks:
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The old souks connect the centre of the city to the sea side and are packed with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. There are also beautiful churches and a mosque to visit. You can either take a calm walk during the day or wait till the souks get really packed at night. If you are looking for Arabic places to try out, I recommend Bab El Mina, Beit Nezha, La Locanda (especially the desserts), 1188 lounge and bar resto or Feniqia (Lebanese food with a twist). If you are looking for international cuisine, ecafé is a good option even though I was rather disappointed by the food and service during my last two visits. There’s also a small place called éBaladi that serves breakfast (manakish, eggs, etc ..) and is worth a try if you want to grab a quick bite. If you head out of the souks, there are plenty of fast food chains and restaurants to check out (Roadster, Zaatar W Zeit, Crepaway, Ksar, Mon Maki A Moi and others). There’s also one of the first ever Mexican restaurants in Lebanon El Molino that you can check out.

PS: You can also rent bicycles and tour the city but bike tours and tracks are not well organized.

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Take a boat trip and have lunch by the sea
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For those who enjoy the sea, you can head down to the Byblos port and go on a boat trip for 1 hour or more. It’s a fun ride and if you are lucky enough, you might spot dolphins. Once you are back to the shore, you can enjoy lunch at one of the many fish restaurants by the sea. Pépé Abed (Byblos Fishing Club) is a must-visit.

During the summer, you can also enjoy the Byblos International Festival which takes places right by the sea.

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Public gardens, churches, ruins, museums and a lot of sightseeing:
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Byblos is one of the World’s 20 oldest continually-inhabited places on earth, and there are plenty of archaeological sites and attractions to visit there. There are several old churches, mainly St. John the Baptist Church and the ancient Our Lady of Deliverance Church, the Sultan Abdel Majid Mosque, the iconic El-Houssami Old Lebanese House and the archaeological site around it, the Crusader Castle, the Roman Theater, Roman columns and others …

The best part is that most of these sites are nearby and you can walk around the city discovering them one by one. There’s also a wax museum worth checking out and a public library.

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Jbeil by night:
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The souks are usually crowded at night and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to visit. I sometimes used to go there just to walk around and enjoy the city by night. The harbor is a great spot to grab a beer and just watch the sunset. Some of the places worth checking out are Garten, Backdoor, Barbacane, Oasis and 1188. If you are looking for the real nightlife experience, you can head to Publicity, a large venue with many pubs and restaurants 5 minutes away from the souks.

Unknown parts of Jbeil:
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If you like Shawarma, there’s a popular place called Rock. There’s also another place called Kaddoum that has all sorts of sandwiches and has great cocktails. Sub-Omelette or Chicken Sub at Mike Snack are also worth a try. Ice cream (Achta) at Nashawati comes highly recommended as well.

All in all, Jbeil is a beautiful city that can easily become a tourist attraction if it’s promoted properly. If you feel like I’ve missed something worth mentioning, please email me (nmitri@gmail.com) and I will gladly add it to the post. Until then, spread the word and Live Love Jbeil!

Special thanks to Sophie and Chadi!

I’m Taking Part In The Uber Food Drive To Help Families In Need This Ramadan

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Uber Beirut and LiveLoveBeirut are teaming up to launch a food drive in Beirut to provide food to families in need during Ramadan. The food drive took place today and was extended for an extra day tomorrow to give those who couldn’t donate today another chance. Over 200 bags full of food were collected today which is quite awesome.

I’m requesting the food drive tomorrow and I’m hoping everyone else will as well as it’s for a good cause and barely requires any effort.

Here’s what you need to do:
– Open your Uber app [Android] [iOS] tomorrow Friday July 10th between 11am and 4pm
– Request the FOOD DRIVE option in your app (Move the slider to the far right)
– Bring at least five canned goods / non-perishable food and hand them to the volunteers who will be in the FOOD DRIVE cars (For ex Tuna, Beetroot, Homos, Beans, Rice, Pasta, Lentils, Burgul, Jam, Halawa, Processed cheese, Sugar, Salt)

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You will then receive a thank you perk of $5, $10 or $200 worth of Uber credit automatically in your account at the end of the day and a complimentary Live Love Beirut bracelet. The food will be distributed to families in Beirut by Iftar time.

If you are taking part in the campaign, send me a picture of the goods or how you delivered the goods to the Uber car and I will gladly share it on the blog. The Food Drive is taking place in Hamra, Verdun, Downtown and Achrafieh only.

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How Do You Like Your Meghlé?

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Meghlé is a traditional dessert that is served when there is a new born in the family, but a lot of families prepare it often because it’s that good. Meghlé is basically a rice pudding prepared with sugar, caraway, cinnamon and other spices and then garnish it with coconut spread, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts and dried raisins.

Even though the list of ingredients to prepare this dessert is quite simple, adding more sugar or more spices makes a lot of difference in the taste and even the add-ons on top can drastically change the taste. Personally speaking, I absolutely love Meghlé but I can’t have it when it’s too sweet and a lot of people tend to prepare it that way. Moreover, I hate it when they add small dried raisins (Zbeeb) on top as I believe it ruins the whole thing. My favorite has always been my mom’s Meghlé because it’s not too sweet and the spices are not too strong, and because she hates Zbeeb as well. I will ask her for the recipe and share it later on today for those interested.

PS: It is important to soak the almonds, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts in separate bowls overnight and then peel them off the next day. It makes a world of a difference in terms of taste.

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Giveaway: Win An iPhone 6 With Zomato, My New Favorite Restaurant Guide In Lebanon

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Update: Deadline is extended till Tuesday 16th of June at noon as a lot of readers asked me for more time to write their reviews.

Update 2: And Our winner is Rita AS! We will contact you by email to inform on how to collect your prize. Thank you all for participating and I wish you the best of luck next time.

Zomato is going to offer the below 10 people (picked randomly) food vouchers as well to thank them for participating:
1- DanielaSK
2- Sam_LB
3- Fadi Bteich
4- Hala
5- Charbel Jammous
6- George Saliby
7- Michel Bseibes
8- Ralph Dagher
9- Roubz
10- Roy el Hachem

I’ve used many restaurant guide apps in Lebanon over the past years but nothing compares to Zomato in terms of user-friendliness, ease of use and the amount of information available. I was addicted to Four Square previously and I still use it from time to time, but ever since they came up with Swarm and messed up their whole layout, I lost interest in it. Zomato is a much simpler platform where you can browse places easily and find all the relevant information from updated menus, location, price range, reviews in seconds. You can also build your foodie profile by adding reviews and pictures and I like how you collect points for reviews and pictures and people get to see that.

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What I love most about Zomato is how simple and efficient the search is there. You can either perform quick searches, by cuisine or just switch to the Nearby feature and see what’s around you. For example since Ramadan is near now, they already have two categories up “Open During Ramadan” and ” Iftar & Suhoor”. I know some of these features are available in other apps but they are not as clear and easy to access and the information is quite relevant and accurate but that’s probably because Zomato has a team in Lebanon working on the app and on updates daily and did not just deploy here.

big foodie Follow me [Here].

As far as food bloggers are concerned, it’s a great platform to get more exposure as you get to write your reviews and link back to your blog. I have already 28 reviews and 137 photos and I’ve already received almost 150,000 views for my reviews and pictures combined. You can check out my profile and follow me [here].

Moving on to the giveaway part, I met with the Zomato guys last week and decided to spice up my review to encourage people to use the app and understand why I like it so much, so we decided to come up with a small competition where one of the readers will win a brand new iPhone 6.

The conditions are quick simple:

1- Download, install and register on Zomato. [iOs] [Android]
2- Follow me [here] and update your Zomato profile with a picture and useful information and write at least 2 reviews (new reviews if you already have a user).
3- Write a comment on the blog post sharing your username and the names of two restaurants or places that you reviewed.

The Zomato team and myself will be going through every entry so please avoiding copy pasting reviews or creating several users as you will be instantly disqualified. I will draw a name by Sunday night and the winner will be awarded an iPhone 6.

NB: You need to put your proper email in the email field while commenting since winner will be contacted by email. You can only comment once, anyone caught commenting more than once will get disqualified.

The Best Chocolate Bars You Can Buy For 500 Lebanese Pounds Or Less

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I found this funny video of Shant and Elie trying out chocolate bars that cost 500 Lebanese Pounds or less and it made me crave a Tutti Frutti bar. I love how you can’t really tell what’s the flavor inside the Tutti Frutti bar but it’s amazing!

Here are some of the chocolate bars they tasted and my take on them:
– Tutti Frutti (My favorite)
– Pick One is indeed a fake Kitkat
– Metro sucks
– Apello (I never heard of that one) but it looks like the Halo. I never liked it.
– Break is ok.
– Flute & Kinder are quite amazing but we can’t really put them in the same category as others.
– Unica is awesome but I loved their description (layers of biscuit with a chocolate smell hahaha).
– Addicto is everything but addicto.

I would add Nouba, which I love, to the list, as a well as a coconut bar (fake bounty) but I can’t remember its name, and the Pick up as well which is not that bad.

[YouTube]

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My Favorite Ice-cream Shop Helado Is Finally Relocating To A Bigger Branch!

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Helado has been my all-time favorite ice-cream place for quite some time in Lebanon but its only inconvenient is that the shop is tiny, there’s no parking space around it and it gets really crowded during summer specially in the afternoon. I never really minded the wait but I always thought he should move into a bigger location given how popular the place is and it’s finally happening.

Helado is currently a small pink kiosk located in Sahel Alma in a tiny street but they are moving in a couple of weeks time to a bigger shop few hundred meters away next to Le Raclot and the big blue gas station in Sahel Alma. For those of you who are not familiar with the area, you take the Jounieh highway and go up before Crepaway and Caliprix on the main road, then you take your left on the roundabout and Helado will be there right after the gas station to the right.

I strongly recommend Helado to every ice-cream lover as it’s my favorite ice-cream place in Lebanon. The flavors are quite original and delicious, the cone is also good and the owners are extremely friendly. I will be visiting the new branch as soon as it opens.

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Smoking Bun Mar Mikhael: A Joy To Any Burger Lover

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Back when I was in Berlin a couple of years ago, a friend took me to a burger place called Burgermeister located in a tiny street underneath a bridge. The place, previously a public toilet, wasn’t very appealing but it had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life. The meat was perfectly cooked and juicy, the bun was a bit grilled and tasted great, the fries and toppings were amazing and the price was ridiculously low (7 Euros).

I think Smoking Bun is the closest thing to Burgermeister in Beirut, and it is by far the best street burger place that I’ve been to in Beirut, and in Mar Mikhail more specifically. Smoking Bun is located underneath Secteur in the middle of Mar Mikhail and is a small shop that only offers one burger. It’s small, simple, relatively cheap but its burger is fantastic and the fries are great as well. The meat is cooked medium (medium rare if you want to) and is covered with aged cheddar, the bun is tender and holds up nicely to the burger’s juices and it’s all topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles. The fries are not-too-crispy not-too-soft and come with a house sauce.

Smoking Bun is street food done right and my favorite burger in Mar Mikhael right now (and I’ve tried most of them there). The burger costs 12,000LL, the fries 5,000LL, beer is for 7,500LL and soda for 3,000LL.

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Rating 4.5/5

La Crêperie Kaslik Is Back!

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Ever since I posted sneak peek pictures of the newly renovated La Crêperie, a lot of people have been asking me about La Crêperie’s official opening date, and whether the menu and venue have changed drastically. Luckily enough, I was among the few invited to check out La Crêperie last Sunday and taste the new menu before the official opening which is scheduled for April 28th, so I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know in this post and show you how awesome the new restaurant is.

For those of you who don’t know La Creperie yet, it’s is one of Lebanon’s most authentic and beautiful restaurants and has been serving great food since 1968. The restaurant is an 18th Century Picturesque Ottoman House that offers a breathtaking view across the Jounieh bay and has welcomed several celebrities, presidents, ministers and diplomats. It’s an ideal place for family gatherings, couples, first dates, romantic dinners and events.

So what’s new at La Crêperie?
La Crêperie’s renovation kicked off almost two years ago and was completed a few weeks back. The main purpose was to ensure authenticity of the architecture and to keep the spirit of the place while reinforcing the worn out walls and foundations. Add to that the beautiful landscaping. To begin with, the restaurant’s entrance and parking lot were both enhanced to fit more cars and you are now greeted by a 1000-year old olive tree set right before La Creperie’s entrance. As you walk into the restaurant, you are surrounded by walls of hanging jasmine flowers that lead right to the restaurant’s terrace and main door.

As soon as you step inside, you notice how spacious the new place has become. The big old wooden bar is now gone and was replaced by an open bar in the middle of the restaurant. The paintings on the ceiling were also removed but the tiles as well as the tables and chairs look almost the same as before. The main room is now connected to all others and there are preserved butterflies displayed in glass frames are all the walls. The old chimney room kept its warm feel and looks amazing now.

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As far as the balcony is concerned, it’s much wider now and extends to the outdoor terrace and the chimney room on the other end of the house. The old railings were replaced by glass ones and the small tables and chairs by comfy couches and low tables. I have to admit I’m gonna miss the simpler tiny balcony with the small chairs and tables but at least this way, more people will get to enjoy the splendid views across the Jounieh bay. The caves were also revamped and I had a quick look at them but I’m not sure if they will be open next week as well.

Moving on to the most important part which is the food, the menu has few additional items but is very similar to the old one and still has some of the restaurant’s popular dishes (like the poussin desossé, crepe fait maison etc). Speaking of crepes, and this is great news, the same old women who were at Creperie are back and they’re doing the same amazing crepes!

What’s in the menu?
The menu consists of Salads and Appetizers, Pastas, Meat & Chicken, Fish and desserts.

The salads and appetizers include: a nicoise salad, goat-cheese salad, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, Quinoa halloumi, Chicken Caesar salad, grilled calamari, smoked salmon, frogs a la provencale and bresaola with parmesan. There are 3 types of pastas, the Tagliatelle Alfredo, the Linguine Fruit de Mer and Penne Sauce Tomate. Steaks and Chicken platters include a filet de boeuf, steak frites, cote de boeuf, entrecote, escalope, tartate de boeuf, home-made burger, chicken escalope a la milanaise and a grilled chicken platter. For the sea-food lovers, there’s a seabass platter, grilled salmon, prawns and two mérou platters. Last but not least, the long list of desserts includes the traditional Baba au rhum, Tarte tatin with vanilla icecream, a cheese cake, tiramisu, chocolat fondant, creme brulee, tarte au chocolate, eclair au chocolat, poire belle Helene, salade de fruits, mille-feuille, icecream and sorbets, and the pain perdu.

Here’s what we ordered and some pictures:

Salads And Appetizers:
– Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc.
– Salade de chevre chaud, sauce balsamique au miel.
– Salade de tomates, Mozzarella fraiche.
– Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron.
– Saumon fume ecossais et son toast.

Steaks:
– Filet de boeuf, haricots verts et carottes, pommes puree.
– Cote de boeuf grille pour deux, pommes au four.
– Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.
– Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

Desserts:
– Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.
– Poire Belle Helene.
– 2 Crepe Marron.
– 1 Crepe Chocolat Noir.
– Baba au rhum

As for drinks, we had a Beaujolais-villages 2012 red wine bottle.

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20150419_220033 Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron

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20150419_221559 Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

20150419_223834 Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.

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20150419_230627 Crepes in the making.

20150419_231627 The famous Crepe Marron (sweet chestnut cream)

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I enjoyed the salads and loved the quinoa. The salmon and mozzarellah were fresh, the steak and vegetables were great, the crepe fait maison was ok, the salmon was good and the desserts were all amazing! I ordered twice the crepe marron (topped with jam) and I highly recommend the Poire Belle Helene! The pain perdu wasn’t available yet so I will try it next time hopefully. All in all, it was a pleasant experience and I loved how simple the food presentation is and how much the new place reminded me of the old one. The new Crêperie has managed to keep the authenticity and originality of the old one with few changes and brought back a lot of memories from the old times.

Price-wise, the menu didn’t have any prices yet but from what I’ve been told, they haven’t change much and the price range will be around 35-50$ per person. La Crêperie will officially open on Tuesday 28th of April 2015. You can contact them on +96171202022. Here’s a link to their [website] and [Instagram] page.

Rating: 4.5/5

Maamoul Sticks: The Best Thing I Ate This Easter

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The most important food for me during Easter is maamoul and I always look forward to my mum’s home-made maamoul. I like the ones filled with date and walnuts fillings the most but I’ve never really appreciated mixing chocolate with the original filling because the outcome would be too sweet up until I tried Casper and Gambini’s half dipped in chocolate maamoul sticks today. The sticks were just perfect and soft, not too sweet not too heavy and rich in flavor and I have to thank Mustapha for telling me about them before Easter was over. The last time I enjoyed a new maamoul creation was few years back when my dad got us honey-filled maamoul.

PS: I’m not sure though if I should be thanking Casper for sending me a whole box of maamoul sticks because I’ve already had 6 today. For those of you who asked me if they are still available, I don’t think Casper is doing them anymore as Easter is over, but you can always ask (I’m not sharing mine :p).

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On The Issue of Child Beggars In Beirut And What Happened At Dunkin Donuts Hamra

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Almost 2 million people have fled Syria to Lebanon since the start of the conflict in 2011, out of which hundreds of thousands of children deprived of education, food and their most basic needs. As a result, a lot of them had to resort to begging in order to provide for their families, or were recruited and exploited by organized mobs (or sometimes their own families) to make revenues. These gangs usually distribute children at different strategic points and threaten them to collect a minimum amount of money or suffer dire consequences. This is why a lot of children beggars refuse to take food when offered and ask for money instead, and they follow you every where out of fear that they might get beaten up when they go back home. As a result, most of them end up working long hours in detrimental conditions and leading a catastrophic lifestyle which poses many risks on their physical and mental well-being. To make things even worse, some gangs are sexually exploiting these children or even selling their kidneys.

Should we help street children or not?
Child beggars have been present since ever in Lebanon, but their situation has worsened with the Syrian crisis as more families are inhabiting the streets and more children are being forced out of school to beg for their families, or are being exploited by child beggar networks, and this is quite noticeable in many streets in Beirut specially in Hamra where there are tens of families living on the side walks and child beggars all over the place.

Personally speaking, I can’t but help children I see on the street, no matter what their nationality is, but I always prefer to give them food instead of money because I know money is going to the wrong people. Some take the food you offer them while others only want cash and become annoying at some point, but giving them money will make them come back for more which is why I refuse to do so. Of course I wish I could get these children out of the street and put them back in school, but there’s little I can do about that and the only way to help is by spreading awareness on this matter and promoting the NGOs helping refugees and street children, or even doing small initiatives like the one LiveLoveBeirut and JouéClub did back in Christmas based on one of the pictures I took.

Who is to blame for this situation?
Both begging and child labor are illegal in Lebanon and the government is responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit exploiting children to finance illegal activities or for sexual purposes. Moreover, Lebanon is forced to abide by the Convention on the rights of the child that was agreed on in 1991. This being said, it is the responsibility of the authorities and mainly the ministry of social affairs to help get these children out of the street and back into school, and more importantly arrest the gangs that are playing a major role in keeping children on the street.

Sadly enough, this issue has long been neglected by the authorities and the only organization in Lebanon that offers a refuge to both Lebanese and non-Lebanese street children (Home of Hope) is not receiving enough funds to do its job. The organization, established by the Lebanese Evangelical Society (LES), is headed by Mr. John Eter, and offers kids a basic education, medical insurance and most importantly a loving environment.

What happened at Dunkin Donuts in Hamra?
A story has gone viral in the past few days about a Dunkin Donuts employee who “beat up” a Syrian child beggar and kicked him out of the coffee shop. The story spread before it even got confirmed and the picture of a DD employee that had nothing to do with the incident got shared somehow. Eventually, the employee who hit the child got suspended by Dunkin Donuts Lebanon and a police investigation is underway according to what they stated on Facebook, while Al Jadeed interviewed the employee and other eye witnesses who stated that the kid wasn’t beaten up as stated. Needless to say, what this employee did was wrong whether he slapped or beat up the kid and I think DD should have added an apology to their statement but I don’t understand people, specially Dima Sadek whom I respect, who are asking to boycott Dunkin Donuts because of that incident. How is boycotting Dunkin Donuts going to help with anything? When did boycotting ever achieve anything? And did they take into consideration the hundreds of families who are against such practices and working with Dunkin Donuts? What if the child beggar was a Lebanese or a Kurd? Why does it matter that he’s a Syrian?

Moreover, I can easily confirm that a similar incident has taken place in almost every coffee shop I’ve been to in Lebanon, and street children are humiliated, beaten up, slapped and pushed away almost everywhere in Lebanon. Shall we start boycotting all the shops? I think a smarter idea would be to mount the pressure on the authorities to do something about this growing phenomenon and help raise funds for concerned NGOs to help these children. I would also encourage journalists and influential people in the media to tackle this problem with the concerned ministries instead of focusing on an isolated incident.

Can we help Lebanon’s street children?
Lebanon has suffered the most from the flow of Syrian refugees, and the Syrian crisis has proven to be a huge burden socially economically and politically. The international help that we are getting is not enough to cope with the ever-growing influx of refugees and the biggest problem is that there’s a whole generation of children, victims of the Syrian war, that are forced to drop out of school and are destroying their future. This being said, the fact that there’s a single institution in Lebanon dealing with homeless children is unacceptable, and the work that the ministry of social affairs has been doing is less than pathetic. For that purpose, we need a new strategy to cope with this ever-growing problem and as it happens, one LAU student came up with a cool idea that “includes modified and improved methodologies of dealing with beggar children, collecting donations, recruiting street educators and volunteers, and educating the general populous about the situation, through the establishment of a non-governmental organization”. I’m sure there are other proposals and ideas that are as affordable and sustainable and can help provide a better living for all street children of all nationalities in Lebanon. Let’s not forget that 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line according to the UN and a lot of Lebanese child beggars originate from the Bekaa area so this is not just a problem related to the refugees and concerns a whole generation of Lebanese as well.