Category Archives: Information

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:









Benedicte & Raja Mubarak – Salvaging Lebanon’s Disappearing Architectural Heritage

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Ben-and-Raja-Uncommon-Bostonian Via 2bdesign

Lebanon’s architectural heritage is slowly disappearing and Beirut is quickly losing its traditional character as old houses, beautiful villas and Ottoman-style mansions are increasingly being destroyed and replaced with modern skyscrapers. Activists have been campaigning for years to preserve some of that heritage but time is not on their side as historical buildings are not being preserved by the authorities and will become beyond repair at some point.

Having said that, French Designer Benedicte de Vanssay de Blavous Moubarak and her husband Raja moved to Beirut few years ago and became immediately drawn to the unique style of traditional Levantine houses. In an attempt to salvage whatever is left of Lebanon’s disappearing architectural heritage, they began collecting discarded old wrought iron balustrades, railings and window frames from all over Lebanon and turning them into design pieces.

The couple created in 2006 2b design with the mission of “restoring the unseen beauty of the broken” and the name Beyt (House/Home in Hebrew and Arabic) was chosen as the flagship brand name. Their creations are now found in several countries and are sold through different retailers. Moreover, the company hires people with disabilities as well as those marginalized from society in order to transform their lives as well.

Of course the ideal would be to preserve these houses and restore them but unfortunately there are no serious plans to do so and there are many obstacles on the way. BBC made a nice report on 2b design which you can watch [Here]. You can also check out their [website] for further information.



How Russia Responded To The Kidnapping of Four Soviet Diplomats In Beirut In 1985

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A friend was showing me a post on 9gag about kidnapped Soviets in Beirut and how Russia’s counter-terrorism Alpha Group handled the situation. I’ve read a lot about kidnappings, specially from the PLO, in the 1980s but I’ve never heard this part of the story.

Here’s what happened:
Four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped in September 1985 by a fundamentalist group called the Islamic Liberation Organization. Russia quickly dispatched its Alpha group, tasked with counter-terrorism hostage-rescue operations, to Beirut. Once the team learned that Arkady Katkov, a consular attaché and one of the four hostages, was killed, they responded quickly by tracking down and locating one of the kidnappers’ leaders (or relative it’s not clear). In order to send a clear message to the terrorists, Alpha group members castrated the hostage, cut him down into pieces and sent him to the hostage takers. They also threatened to kill more of the kidnappers’ relatives if the Soviet diplomats were not free.

As a result, the 3 hostages were released and dropped off near the Soviet Embassy and no Russian officials were ever taken captive since then. Some say that the release of the Soviet hostages was the result of extensive diplomatic negotiations with the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.

It’s not surprising to see the Russians react that way to hostage situations specially after what they’ve done during the Moscow theater and the Beslan school hostage crisis.

Speaking of hostages, would you support approaches similar to the Russian one to free our kidnapped soldiers?

New “Lebanon High School” In Texas Causing Controversy

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There’s a new high school set to open next year in a town called Frisco in Texas and some parents are upset with the name and want it changed. The school is expected to be named Lebanon High School because the building currently under construction sits in the middle of what was once an old farming town called Lebanon, but some parents are not convinced and believe that the name doesn’t fit the community and that Lebanon reminds them of wars and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.

I thought the story was a joke at first but BBC and Washington Post reported it as well and a meeting was scheduled to discuss the school name this month but I am not sure when. Personally speaking, I think the parents are making a big deal out of nothing as Lebanon is not an uncommon name in the US as there are at least 5 or 6 cities that share the same name. So far the school board has no intention to remove the word Lebanon.

The sad truth is that we are in need of new schools here in Lebanon to accommodate the ever growing flux of Syrian refugees while parents are arguing over the name of a school in Texas. I say let them ship the school to Lebanon and build a new one in a different location and a different name.

_80559350_middle-eastern-towns there’s a history Middle Eastern named towns in the US

lebaanon Lebanon High School plan – Source

Beirut River Solar Snake Project To Start Generating Electricity Soon!

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Phase 1 of The Beirut River Solar Snake (BRSS) is almost complete and the photovoltaic (PV) farm currently set will generate 1.08 MWp and help light up around 1000 houses by Q1 2015. The BRSS is expected to generate up to 10 MW to support the EDL (Electricité du Liban) once done and will feature high-level security, with a 3-meter fencing around the plant and CCTV cameras, in addition to around the clock security personnel.

Even though the 1 MW of electricity produced won’t do much to meet Lebanon’s growing energy requirements, I think this is a great step forward as we need to rely on renewable energies to compensate for our energy problems. If we sponsor hundreds of similar renewable energy projects across Lebanon, we will be able to stop relying solely on generators as an alternative and cut down on pollution as well.

You can read more about BRSS [here].