Category Archives: Information

First Hands-On Look At The Samsung #GalaxyS6 And #GalaxyS6Edge

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Yesterday was the first time I attend a Samsung #Unpacked event and I personally enjoyed it. The event took place at the Centre de Convencions Internacional in Barcelona and it felt really good to take part in it, share the excitement and interact with the crowds. #Unpacked introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6 as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge which comes with curved screens as well as other cool accessories like the Gear VR. The two new phones were announced by Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin who claimed that no other phone can match the new S6’s, and I have to say the phones have some pretty impressive specs.

20150301_193800 Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin announcing the two new phones

20150301_193233 The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

I will begin with the specs that are similar to both the S6 and S6 Edge:

1- Plastic covers were dropped and replaced by a metal frame and Gorilla glass back. The metal is supposedly 50% stronger metal than competing smartphones and shouldn’t bend :)
2- The battery is smaller and no longer removable (so no SD card slot). It should last longer however according to Samsung due to the new processor. 10 minutes of Fast Charging will allow you to use the phone for 4 hours. Both devices charge twice as fast as the iPhone6.
3- Display is 5.1″ Quad HD super AMOLED (577pi). Better colors more pixels and a gorgeous screen.
4- The processor (Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore ) is much better and uses less battery. The phones are equipped DDR4 3GB RAM.
5- The front camera is 5MP while the rear one is 16MP OIS equipped with f1.9 aperture for better low light results. Camera launch time is 0.7 seconds only. Here are some of the camera features: Quick Launch, Tracking AF, Auto Real-time HDR(Front & Rear) , F1.9, Low Light Video(Front & Rear), High Clear Zoom, IR Detect White Balance, Virtual Shot, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Pro Mode, Selective Focus.
6- The #GalaxyS6 and #GalaxyS6edge come in five colors: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
7- Galaxy S6 comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB, Galaxy S6 Edge in 64GB and 128GB.
8- There’s also Wireless charging which is a built-in feature.

As for the #GalaxyS6edge, it will be the world’s first dual-edge display smartphone, which means two curved side screens that will allow you to quickly check and answer call, messages or emails. The Clear View option will also allow you to determine who’s calling you based on the color .


Once the event was done, we got the chance to check out the new phones and try them out for few minutes. I held both phones to see if they were comfortable to hold given their ultra-slim design and I was pleasantly surprised by their grip and feel specially the S6 Edge. The camera on both phones is fantastic, they are very quick and responsive and the side screens on the S6 Edge are very easy to use.

As a first impression, I liked the new S6 but I’m honestly in love with the S6 Edge. What I didn’t appreciate was the fact that there are no SD card slots anymore and I am curious to see if the battery life will indeed improve with the new processor as this is a crucial feature. Otherwise, S6 is a huge improvement from the S5 and the S6 Edge might be the next big thing. Of course this is a very quick first impression post and I will definitely write a longer and more detailed post once I get my hands on the phone for a proper review.

The official release date is set for April 10th and prices are not yet out but I heard the S6 will start selling at around 800$. Here are some of the pictures I took at #Unpacked




Here are a couple of pictures showing the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 side by side:




Why Zahle Having 24/7 Electricity Is A Big Deal

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The electricity problem in Lebanon is a very serious one yet we haven’t seen any significant progress in recent years. We have over a million Syrian refugees now, which means more electricity consumption hence more power cuts. Ever since I moved to my new house, I’ve been paying around $130-150 monthly for 10 amperes which aren’t even close to what we consume on a normal day. Take for example a regular working day where you get home tired and hungry after 2 hours of traffic, and just wish to heat up some food in the microwave and wash some clothes before you sleep. Once you turn the washing machine or the dryer on, you can’t use any other home appliance. Moreover, I can’t use my microwave if the electricity is off as it needs around 8 amperes to start and I would have to turn off the whole house just to start it. These are two silly examples on how the lack of electricity affects our every day-life and are nothing compared to the families who don’t have heating systems and have to rely on electrical heaters to stay warm and heat up the water. Of course I’m assuming you’re getting 10 amperes and not less as all generator owners tend to trick you. I’m lucky to have a decent guy run the generator.

This being said, Zahle’s move to provide its residents with 24/7 electricity is a huge accomplishment and a brave move against the generator mafia. We’ve all seen how the generator gangs demonstrated against EDZ’s initiative and even fired and damaged four transformers a couple of weeks ago. As a result and until the transformers are repaired, many residents will only get 12 hours of electricity and will be forced to pay generator owners for the rest.

Of course the government is to blame for everything that’s happening and the generator gangs are just filling a vacuum but corruption runs so deep in this country that politicians assign generator owners for certain areas and get paid monthly fees. The Economist wrote a long article on the Zahle incident and how bad the situation is. I personally believe we need more initiatives like the EDZ one to weaken these gangs and let people rally against them.

If some politicians and ministers wish to truly fix the electricity problem, they should start with their towns, cities and areas before tackling this whole mess. We need to decentralize this problem and any other problem as nothing will ever be accomplished otherwise. Zahle residents will not let generator owners win this battle because it concerns them directly and will significantly improve their lives and the city’s economy.

It’s Like Beirut. It’s Absolutely Disgraceful

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Isabel Roberts, who has lived in the area for 38 years, added: “These were lovely houses. People wanted these houses. They were lovely and clean. I mean you can see a house there in the middle of it. It’s like Beirut. It’s absolutely disgraceful.”

This is an excerpt from an article on a UK town called Country Durham, which was once a thriving mining community and is now a deserted town. Over 150 homes were left empty and the town now “looks like Beirut”. People have been unfortunately using this slogan for quite some time to refer to abandoned, destroyed or insecure places.

The use of the “Looks like Beirut” cliché was documented by a Lebanese blogger called Jad Aoun, who used to track down all articles and reports that used this worn-out slogan and send the authors “Looks Like Beirut” certificates “in recognition of the work done to keep the overused, worn-out, tired cliché “Looks like Beirut” alive” and where he’d thank them for their dedication to unoriginal comments.

map Looks Like Beirut – Google Map

A lot of people answered back and apologized to Jad but as you can see, the cliché is still alive and people are still using it in 2015 even though the civil war was over some 25 years ago.

Ex-Prime Minister Najib Mikati First Lebanese To Speak At The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

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mikati Picture via Lebanon24

The Oxford Center for Islamic Studies was established in 1985 to encourage the scholarly study of Islam and the Islamic world and is headed by HRH The Prince of Wales. Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandella, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, The Prince of Wales and other distinguished statesmen and scholars have given lectures in the past years at the center. This year, former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati gave lecture on ‘Islam and the Challenges of Modernization’ which is quite an interesting topic to be honest.

I couldn’t find the full text yet but I spotted these tweets PM Mikati posted in the past few hours and that were part of his lecture apparently. I do agree that moderates should be taking the lead and become more proactive and I think Lebanon is in need of such moderates to contain extremist groups, specially in Mikati’s hometown Tripoli. I’ve always believed that Lebanon’s real problem is not just politics, but the lack of dialogue between different parties and the extremist views most Lebanese have in almost every topic (I’m finalizing a post on this topic).

I will update the post with the full text once available.


There’s An Israeli With Hiba Tawaji On Mika’s Team

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An Israeli singer called Sharon Laloum has recently joined Mika’s team on the Voice France just like Hiba Tawaji did a week before. We’ve all seen how people made a fuss out of Miss Lebanon’s picture so let’s hope Hiba won’t face such problems during the competition.

Legally speaking, and as per the rules of Lebanese-Israeli engagement, we can’t chat, interact or even become FB friends with any Israeli. Personally speaking, I think it is important to differentiate between politics and cultural events or competitions. It’s wrong to deny a talented Lebanese artist or athlete the right to compete and win a medal of his country just because he’s opposed to an Israeli.

In all cases, I think Hiba is smart enough to avoid any controversies and focus on winning this edition of the Voice!


Six Lebanese Among The Top 100 Powerful Arabs 2015 List

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It’s great to see Karl Sharro on that list! Congrats man!

Here’s the list of all Lebanese who made it on that list with their corresponding ranking:

4- Carlos Slim, Honorary Chairman Ameirca Movil
10- Carlos Ghosn, Chairman And CEO Renault/Nissan
36- Elie Saab, Fashion Designer
53- Nayla Hayek, Chairwoman & CEO Swatch Group, Harry Winston
76- Zuhair Mrad, Fashion Designer
99- Karl Sharro, Commentator And Architect.

HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud topped the list.

A School Diploma Issued in Syria’s Province: Lebanon

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syria school via Al-Akhbar

The picture above is a school diploma given to a Syrian student enrolled in a Lebanese school by the temporary Syrian government’s Ministry of Education. You’d think this is a fake diploma at first, specially that it mentions Lebanon as a province (in Syria?), but the truth is these exams were done by the Syrian Opposition back in 2013 (under the supervision of the Lebanese Army) and financed by USAID according to Al-Akhbar. Having said that, Education Minister Bou Saab had declared that these exams are illegal of course and that there’s a procedure set for Syrian students in Lebanon whereas they can apply for official exams and send the diplomas to the Syrian Embassy in Beirut for validation.

So to sum things up:
– If you are a pro-regime Syrian refugee in Lebanon, your diploma will be certified by the Syrian Embassy that may not be recognized by certain institutions and countries outside.
– If you are against the regime, your diploma will be issued and certified by a temporary government that the Lebanese authorities don’t recognize yet but that is acknowledged by some countries abroad.

In both cases, the real victims are refugee children who are trying to continue their education in Lebanon yet are facing all sorts of obstacles. Just to give you a glimpse of how bad the situation is, it is estimated that 50% of Syrian refugee children aged between 5 and 17 are out of any form of education. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of children who are either forced to work or being abused or end up begging on the street. On top of all that, those who are lucky enough to enroll in a school are graduating with illegal and unofficial diplomas.

Update: Speaking of Syrian Children in Lebanon, check out this article from The Guardian on how those forced to work on streets of Beirut face severe exploitation.

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First Sneak Peek Pictures Of La Crêperie Restaurant Before Its Re-Opening

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creperie -lbci This is how La Creperie will finally look like – via LBCI

One of my favorite restaurants in Jounieh is set to reopen soon as renovation works are almost complete. La Crêperie 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 is owned and managed by the Khazen and Abou Khater families and has welcomed several celebrities, presidents, ministers and diplomats.

I’ve been going to La Crêperie for the past 15 years and I have a lot of fond memories there. I enjoyed sitting on the small balcony tables and enjoying the splendid view and the food has always been excellent there. I loved their chicken and seafood platters, the raclette during winter and of course the famous crepes and my favorite the crepe maron.

417670_10150615796274985_1728700178_n La Creperie is located on a small hill overlooking the Jounieh bay

The official opening date is not yet set for La Crêperie but I passed by a couple of weeks back and the venue is almost complete and has already hosted a private event so it shouldn’t take too long for it to open to the public. The house didn’t change much from inside as the owners made sure to keep its authenticity but renovated it in a way to make it more spacious. The entrance now looks much nicer with covered parking lots on the right, BBQ is still on the terrace and was renovated as well, the balcony is wider now and the small tables were replaced by comfier tables. The caves weren’t finished yet when I visited but they haven’t changed much. The menu will remain an international one and I was told crepes are still part of it.

Some people were questioning the legality of the renovation works and an article showed up few months ago stating that the municipality ordered the works to be halted but none of that is true according to my sources. The house is not labeled as a heritage one and is a private property (including the rocks), and the only additions done were to support and protect the house and avoid a disaster in case of an earthquake. In all cases, I don’t know much about this matter but what’s for sure is that the buildings that keep popping on that small mountain is what’s ruining the view, not few renovation works, not to mention the arguile places all over the maritime road undernearth La Crêperie.

All in all, I can’t wait to go try out the new Creperie and I will update the post with the opening date as soon as I have it (hopefully very soon). Until then, enjoy these exclusive pictures: