Category Archives: Lebanon

Happy In Lebanon: The Lebanese Version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy Song

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I was hoping to compile the entries I got and upload the video by this weekend but it seems someone has been working on it already. I wish they had seen the post and contacted me, at least I would have shared the stuff I got and compiled everything into one video.

Either way, it’s a pretty cool clip but I think I will still go ahead with our planned video since a lot of readers already emailed me. There’s no harm in coming up with more happy videos from Lebanon and by the Lebanese.

Hashem el Madani, Akram Zaatari and Saida’s Studio Shehrazade

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All Photos taken by Madani – via BBC

Lebanese Photographer Hashem el Madani has been taking pictures of Saida’s inhabitants over five decades and his archive contains some pretty unusual portraits like the one below. Apparently, it was common in Saida and probably in Lebanon in the 1950s to reenact movie scenes like a fight or a kiss, as long as it’s a kiss between two people from the same sex as the society was a conservative one. In the 1960s and 1970s and following the turbulent politics of the time, it became popular to pose with a gun. Madani even says that following Egyptian President Jamal Abdel Nasser’s death, it became fashionable to take pictures while acting sad. Baqari’s wife is one of the few pictures that caused Madani trouble.


This pretty awesome archive was picked up by Lebanese video artist and curator Akram Zaatari, who described Studio Shehrazade as a “trove of buried treasure” and decided to partner with Madani and show his photographs to the whole world. He feels that he’s writing history through Madani’s pictures. Zaatari is also a co-founder of The Arab Image Foundation who contains more than “600,000 historic images of daily life in the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora”.

Madani is now 86 years old but doesn’t believe in retirement.

“Staying at home makes you bored and tired,” he says. “During the day I go to my studio and reminisce about the past. I am nostalgic and I want to relive those days. I much preferred it back then. I used to sleep for about four hours a day, and the rest of the time I would be working”. He still occasionally takes photographs, now on a digital camera.

He is proud to have been chosen for Zaatari’s research and happy that his work continues to be seen. He has accompanied the artist to major international exhibitions, but the project that has meant most to him personally is the Hashem el Madani Walking Itinerary in the old city of Saida where framed portraits of shopkeepers taken in the 1950s were “returned” to the original shops. “I would have liked to photograph all the residents of Saida, because this is where I live,” he told Zaatari.

Two young men from Aadloun. Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, 1966. Hashem el Madani 2007 by Akram Zaatari born 1966

I am from a village near Saida yet I have never heard of this place. I will ask about it next time I visit and I hope they will turn Studio Shehrazade into a museum. If you are interested in checking out more pictures, click [Here].

You can check out the full BBC article on Madani and Zaatari [Here].

Baqari’s wife (Here’s the story behind it: She took pictures without her husband’s permission. As a result he asked Madani to destroy the negatives but he only scratched them. Sadly though, the wife killed herself few years later, and the husband came back asking for prints from the photo shoot)

Madani and Zaatari

Middle East Airlines Issues Clarification Regarding Roula el Helou’s incident

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From what I’ve just read, it looks like a big misunderstanding and I agree that people shouldn’t make use of one incident, even though it’s not the first, to attack and disrespect MEA as a whole. In all cases, I think it’s better if Roula settles this matter internally with MEA in order for it not to happen again.

May Chidiac also commented regarding this incident.

The Associate Press Removed The New Government’s (Altered) Protocol Photo From Its Archives

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After learning of the photograph’s manipulation on Sunday, the Associate Press decided to remove the new Lebanese government’s picture from their archives and advised their customers not to use it. They also called the Photoshop “unacceptable”.

AP recently fired Pulitzer Prize-winning Photographer Narciso Contreras for altering a picture of a Syrian opposition fighter. Here’s a [Link] to the picture if you are interested.

Asked to comment about it on Sunday, presidential media adviser Adib Abi Akl said: “So what?” He said the official photos were sent to the media and “it is your choice to use them or not.”

Earlier, he said that according to the Lebanese protocol all the top three leaders – the president, prime minister and parliament speaker – have to be in the group photo. The first shot was taken with Berri and the ministers present, after which Berri, who was headed for Kuwait, had to leave for the airport. When the missing ministers arrived, the group stood again for a new picture without Berri, who was then added by Photoshop.

After learning of the photograph’s manipulation on Sunday, the AP removed the image from its archives and issued an advisory to customers not to use it.

“Adding elements to a photograph is entirely unacceptable and is in clear violation of AP’s standards,” said AP vice president and director of photography Santiago Lyon.

How To Take Part In The #HappyFromLeb (Pharrell Williams’ Happy Song) Lebanon Version

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I already posted last week about this, so here’s a reminder for those who wish to take part in the Lebanon version of Pharrel William’s Happy Song. All you need to do is the following:

– Film yourself either alone or with your friends or anyway you want for at least 10-15 seconds dancing the Pharrell Williams’s Happy song. You could film yourself dancing at home, on a sidewalk, in the park, in the parking lot, on the roof, anywhere you like.

– Make sure the camera is fixed and set properly just like you can see it in the video clip above.

– Check that the video is a good quality one, save it as .mov or .mp4
& email me If you are filming using a smart phone, use it horizontally and avoid using the zoom.

I’ve already received few videos and am expecting more this week. Moreover, I was contacted by students from two different universities in Lebanon who are working on a similar project and are willing to help which is great. Having said that, I will set the coming Saturday February 22nd as a final deadline for receiving videos, so hurry up and email me at if you wish to take part.

FAIL: Only “Gad” Can Judge Me

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via LebaneseMemes

The driver could be a Gad el Maleh fan but he better be careful because Gad is not welcome in Lebanon. In fact, his show got cancelled few years back because someone decided to edit Gad’s Wikipedia page and circulate a false picture of him fighting with the Israeli Army. Needless to say, Gad has a lot of fans in Lebanon and a lot of them made the trip to watch him live in Dubai on the 13th and 14th of February.