If we look back at 2013, there were 11,552 injuries according to the Lebanese Red Cross so the number has increased by almost 3000 this year which is huge! As far as the kills and accidents are concerned, I couldn’t find the full 2013 report but I assume the numbers are up this year as well.
I tried to compare the LRC statistics to the ones published by Kunhadi (via the ISF), but they don’t match at all. In fact, Kunhadi registered lower crashes (3420) and injuries (4690) this year, but 537 fatalities which is twice as much as the number reported by the Red Cross.
I don’t know which numbers are more accurate, but the sure thing is that road safety is still a major problem in Lebanon and the Lebanese authorities as well as all the NGOs concerned should be taking further measures. In fact, I think NGOs should cut down a bit on the awareness campaigns and take further practical measures on the roads, like installing safety barriers, fixing potholes or covering them, or even setting up checkpoints with the help of the ISF or municipalities on dangerous roads.
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]
Lebanese wine industry legend Serge Hochar and the owner of world-renowed Chateau Musar has died in a swimming accident on New Year’s Eve in Mexico. Hochar is considered as the father of Lebanese wine and has helped Lebanon’s wine industry reach international acclaim.
Hochar studied the wine business in France and took over his father’s vineyard in 1959. In 1967, Château Musar’s reds won international approval and helped put Lebanon’s modern-day wine-making on the map. He was named Decanter magazine’s Man of the Year in 1984 for continuing to produce wine during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, mostly from vineyards in the Bekaa Valley.
Here’s a beautiful tribute by Cathy Huyghe:
Ms Gilbert wrote about what you did, at 11 o’clock one morning in 1990 when Beirut (and your own apartment building) began to shake from shells dropped during a Syrian assault. You should have run to the bomb shelter. Instead you slowly poured a whole bottle of your 1972 Château Musar into a decanter, walked to the bedroom of your apartment, and closed the door behind you. For twelve hours you sat, and you listened. To the shelling, of course. And to the wine.
“What do you have to say to me now?” you asked your wine, hour after hour, sip after sip.
And you survived that day. Somehow. Your winery did too, on the land of Lebanon and in the marketplace of the world.
You and your Château Musar have been the standard-bearer of wine from Lebanon, and from nearly the entire region, for a generation. You have inspired people you weren’t supposed to inspire. You have resisted others. You have persevered. You have relished life.
What’s better is that you have toasted it.
In some ways the current generation of winemakers in Lebanon operate with a different agenda than you did, and that too is as it should be. Times have changed, as you knew, and so have motivations, and politics, and even war. But there is no arguing that you have shaped the landscape of wine in the Middle East, and the concentric circles of influence that emanate outward from it.
For that I toast you, M. Hochar.
I toast your perseverance.
And I toast the lesson of listening – to the land, and especially to the wine.
I was reading an article about the 5 ancient acts of war that changed the face of the earth and the Great Alexander’s siege of Tyre was mentioned among them, so I decided to dig deeper into it and it’s a mind blowing story to say the least! In fact, I am surprised they haven’t done a movie about that siege alone.
So how did Alexander turn an Island Into a Peninsula?
Tyre was one of the largest and most important Phoenician city states and was a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean. The city had a nearby island with walls extending directly into the water, which meant that it’s impossible to attack the fortification by land and you couldn’t attack the city with a navy (which Alexander didn’t have anyway). As a result, Alexander decided to do the unthinkable and started building a long land bridge to link Tyre back to land, and he did so while his army was attacked with arrows and bombarded by Tyre’s navy.
Once the water became much deeper, Alexander constructed two towers 50 meter long each and moved them to the end of the causeway. This wasn’t enough yet as the Tyre defense and navy were still able to counter all the attacks. Once Alexander was convinced he couldn’t conquer the city without a navy, over 200 galleys sent by the King of Cyprus and Greece came to his rescue. The Tyre navy was able to hold the attacks for a while but Alexander was finally able to make a small breach in the south end of the Island, and then launched a final attack and conquered the island.
Tyre view from an airplane, 1934
The article shows a picture of Tyre before Alexander’s attack and how it looks like now. As you can see, it’s no longer an island anymore. If you are interested in reading the whole story, check it out [Here]. There’s also this french article that I found and this short [video].
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:
While we were all drinking and singing yesterday, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces were running alcohol breath tests in almost every region in Lebanon. Those who were driving and failed the test were arrested while those walking in the street and found drunk were sent home in a cab.
The aim was to keep New Year’s Eve accident-free but unfortunately and despite all the measures taken, two people were killed and four others injured due to car accidents yesterday. Nevertheless, I think the campaign was a very successful one as everyone was tweeting at the ISF and praising their efforts. Of course one may argue that it is their job after all, but no one does his job properly in Lebanon so there’s no harm in thanking them and hoping that they stay at this level of professionalism throughout the whole year. Lebanese need to have more trust in their police, just like they trust their army and it’s a difficult task to achieve but not impossible.
On a last note, another well deserved thank you note for all the brave Red Cross and Civil Defense volunteers who were on duty on New Year’s Eve.
PS: The hotline you should call is 1720.
We all enjoy drinking on New Year’s Eve and we tend to overdo it which is fine but it’s never okay to drink and drive, even if you’ve only had one drink. You should always have a designated driver in case you need to go back home, but it’s preferable to stay home (or wherever you are) tomorrow night or take a taxi. If you can’t afford a taxi, the Ministry Of Interior and The Traffic Management Center, with the help of Alfa and the cooperation of The General Syndicate of Lebanon’s Taxi Drivers, launched the «ما تشرب و تسوق…ارجع بتاكسي مجاناً» to make sure everyone gets home safely.
This being said, “ما تكون بلا راس السنة” and take a taxi if you must. Otherwise, enjoy your night and happy new year everyone!
Update2: Carfax is not blocked in Lebanon as it’s giving the same message in other countries. It’s probably an internal technical issue or something related to their servers.
Update: Carfax.eu is still working
A friend asked me yesterday night if I was able to open carfax and it didn’t open but I thought it was down or something.
As it turns out and as reported by Ralph From BlogOfTheBoss and Rami, the Lebanese Authorities may have blocked carfax for some reason as it is not accessible on all ISPs.
If you are still undecided on where to celebrate the new year tomorrow, our friends at Lebtivity compiled a list of over 200 events that you can choose from with all the details needed. Check them out [Here].
Moreover, if you want to dig deeper and check events per area and even per budget, check out this great website [newyearlebanon.tel] that my friend Elie set up few years back. It shows parties in Beirut and outside Beirut and you can even look by budget.
Personally speaking, I hate going out to a restaurant or club on New Year’s Eve. I always prefer to rent a small chalet or an apartment in the mountains or go to some friend’s house and celebrate. This year we will be welcoming 2015 in Zahle!
This is the first time that a price was put on the damages done by Israel during the 2006 war. Unfortunately, the General Assesmbly resolutions are not legally binding and even if they are, I don’t expect Israel to pay anything. Israeli had bombed on July 14 and 15 in 2006 the Jiyyeh power station, causing a huge oil spill and an environmental disaster along the Mediterranean sea. I personally stopped going to beaches in the Jiyyeh area after that oil spill.
The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution asking Israel to pay Lebanon more than $850m in damages for an oil spill caused by an Israeli air force attack in its war against Hezbollah in 2006. The resolution, which passed late on Friday, said “the environmental disaster” resulted in an oil slick that covered the entire Lebanese coastline and extended to the Syrian coastline, causing extensive pollution. Israel, the US, Canada, Australia, Micronesia and Marshall Islands voted “no”.
Israel’s UN mission said in a statement that the resolution was biased against Israel. “Israel immediately responded to the oil slick incident by cooperating closely with the United Nations Environment Programme, as well as other UN agencies and NGOs, addressing the environmental situation along the coast of Lebanon,” the statement reads. “This resolution has long outlived the effects of the oil slick, and serves no purpose other than to contribute to institutionalising an anti-Israel agenda at the UN.” [Jazeera]