Category Archives: Lebanon

EU Sets 10 Conditions To Grant Lebanon Visa-free Travel in Schengen Zone Countries

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shenghen

As you all probably heard by now, UAE citizens will no longer require a visa to travel to Schengen Zone Countries, after the European Parliament approved their proposal back in June last year. Needless to say, the Lebanese weren’t very fond of this decision and filed an official complaint to the EU claiming that they deserve this more than other Arab countries, specially after a study proved that Lebanon is indeed the centre of the universe, and given that Beirut was once known as the “Paris of the Middle East”.

In order to calm things down, and given how crucial Lebanon’s economy and tourists are to the European Union, the EU held an emergency meeting and agreed to grant Lebanese a visa-free access to Schengen Zone Countries if its citizens agree to abide by the following 10 conditions:

1- Lebanese will stand in line while boarding an airplane.
2- Lebanese will not fake bank statements or 5 star hotel reservations in their Schengen application.
3- Lebanese will not attempt to bribe the security guard at embassies.
4- Lebanese will not apply to a different country than the one they are going to.
5- Lebanese will not change seats on the airplane and confuse the hostesses.
6- Lebanese will not attempt to carry a 50kg luggage into the airplane as a carry-on
7- Lebanese will no longer clap when the plane lands.
8- Lebanese will not play loud Arabic music (or sing a mouwwel) on the airplane.
9- Lebanese will not attempt to smuggle keshek or basterma.
10- Lebanese will not schedule five different appointments on the same day to avoid waiting in line.

(PS: Satire Disclaimer)

Lebanon Favourite To Qualify To The 2017 Rugby League World Cup

Posted By :

ready

14 teams will participate in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, out of which 7 automatically qualified and the 7 remaining will be determined after four regional qualification tournaments. Lebanon is playing in the Middle East/Africa region and needs to defeat South Africa to qualify. The Cedars team has already beaten Malta easily and is performing strongly at the moment.

We’ve already missed out on the last two World Cups but Lebanon seems well placed this year to make it to qualify so let’s keep our fingers crossed! Lebanon will play South Africa on 30 October 2015 in Dubai.

For Rugby fans, you can check out their game against Malta [here].

Thanks Mahmoud!

Who Offers Guided Walking Tours In Beirut?

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Update: WalkBeirut is not organizing walks at the moment.

One of my favorite things to do in Beirut is walk around and discover new streets, old houses and hidden spots. I always have people ask me about the location of some of the pictures I take while I’m walking around Achrafieh, Mar Mikhael or Gemmayze and I always thought it would be a nice idea to organize walks around Beirut and let tourists and locals discover the old parts of Beirut like they’ve never seen them before.

For those interested, there’s WalkBeirut, which is run by AUB graduates, and offers guided walking tours of Beirut, and there’s also Beirut Old City Walk which is run by Elie Karam who take tourists on walks and shows them Beirut’s old hidden gems. Elie’s next walk is scheduled for May 24. WalkBeirut is obviously the better choice if you want a professional well-guided tour, but I’ve read testimonials on Elie’s Facebook page and most of them loved the experience and found him funny so I think both of them are worth a try, specially that they cover different areas.

In fact, Beirut old city walk covers Achrafieh and Burj Hammoud areas while WalkBeirut‘s stops are mostly around DownTown Beirut and Kantari area. The ticket prices are respectively $15 and $20 excluding food.

If you know other people or organizations who offer walking tours, I will gladly share them.

A “Wasta” Shortcut Road To Cut Through Marina Dbayyeh’s Traffic

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dbayyeh

I posted back in 2010 about a shortcut road in Dbayyeh that might save you 20 minutes of morning traffic. The road (shown in red above) was accessible to everyone back then but they’d close it randomly sometimes. After a while, they closed it for good yet I’d notice army vehicles or convoys using it from time to time, but more and more cars have been using it in the past couple of weeks for some reason. I asked around and they told me you need some sort of “wasta” to have your name registered at the gate and they will let you in.

I can’t really confirm this info but the sure thing is that more and more cars are using it and I’ve been spending an extra 20 minutes in traffic because of this shortcut which is unacceptable. If they need the road, they can use it for emergencies or security reasons, but otherwise it should be kept as closed once and for all!

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Finally A Modern Hospital In Keserwan! The Keserwan Medical Center, An AUBMC Affiliate, Opening Soon

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KMC phase1

Even though Keserwan is one of the most populated districts in Lebanon, the hospitals there are all average or below average when compared to the ones in Beirut. I’ve been to most of them and they are all old and badly equipped, not to mention that some of them are dirty. I remember posting once about the unfortunate ski accident that killed Melanie Freiha and how the nearest hospital to Lebanon’s most popular ski resorts is 30 minutes away and is not prepared to welcome all sorts of injuries. Of course the hospital is not to blame here as the concerned ministries and the authorities should have considered long time ago opening emergency centers in popular touristic spots and ski resorts.

Having said that, it looks like the wait is over as the Keserwan Medical Center will soon be opening in Kfarhbab, Keserwan. KMC will be a major academic affiliate of AUB Medical Center in the North and will allow AUBMC to cater to a different segment of the Lebanese population in the mountains and north of Lebanon. What’s great about this hospital is that it’s located on the highway and easily accessible, and of course that it’s modern, will provide state-of-the-art medical care to patients and most importantly healthcare delivery in the area. Speaking of AUB MC, the AUB faculty of Medicine was recently ranked no.1 among university medical facilities in the Arab world, according to the 2015 QS Rankigns by Subject.

I passed by the KMC 3 months ago and a couple of buildings were already completed. I was told that it’s already open but not officially but I can’t confirm that. A friend of mine told me that the hospital should be fully operational very soon. If you have further info on KMC, please do share.

Here’s a small brief I found online and few pictures taken from SY Architects:

The center is located in one of the most beautiful landscapes in Lebanon, with an amazing sea view and rapid access from the main highway in Jounieh. The individual buildings of the Medical Center are designed according to the latest international scientific standards, with the purpose of providing both efficient and safe care. K.M.C Hospital architecture creates a comfortable space for nursing and treatment, thus contributing to a patient’s positive mental attitude, in an atmosphere of a healing environment, for spaces designed can affect both the physiological well-being of the patient.

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Nara Ya Watan

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I didn’t want to share this picture before knowing if it’s and old or recent one, and it turned out to be an old one according to the ISF who stated that the police officer got reprimanded back then. However, the problem is that such officers are probably still breaking the law and I wouldn’t be surprised to see recent pictures of such incompetent policemen.

The good news though is that the ISF is listening and taking action from time to time, so let’s keep on reporting these corrupt officers and respecting the new traffic law.

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

Lebanon & Kuwait The Only Partly-Free Countries In The Region, Tunisia Ranked Free

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Lebanon

Despite everything that’s been happening in the past few years and despite having the worst ranked country in the world in terms of freedom as a neighbor (Syria), Lebanon was still ranked as a partly-free country in the 2015 Freedom House report. Kuwait was the only other partly free country in the Arab World while Tunisia “became the Arab world’s only Free country after holding democratic elections under a new constitution”, and the first Arab country to achieve the status of Free since Lebanon was gripped by civil war. Lebanon scored 4.5 out of 7 in Freedom Rating, 4 in Civil Liberties and 5 in political rights thereby earning the “partly free” status.

Unfortunately though, Lebanon was given a well deserved “downward trend arrow due to the parliament’s repeated failure to elect a president and its postponement of overdue legislative elections for another two and a half years, which left the country with a presidential void and a National Assembly whose mandate expired in 2013″. As far as Arab countries are concerned, Kuwait was also ranked as partly free, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen were ranked not-free, while Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria were ranked among the worst in the world.

Check out the full report [here] and more about Lebanon [here].

What Happens When You Are Wrongly Fined In Lebanon?

Posted By :

n2 via elNashra

Update: A friend told me that he faced the same problem once and that they told him that he doesn’t need to pay any fines if the fine is older than the car registration date.

I’ve been supportive of the new traffic law ever since it came out, but there are 4 issues that I’ve stated in a previous post and that I believe need to be tackled ASAP:
1- Political and security convoys: Is the police allowed to stop them? What happens when they are driving dangerously and cutting off people?
2- Fake License plates: This is unfortunately becoming a trend whereas crooks use fake car plate numbers and cause other drivers to get fined.
3- Settling the fines: Fines always used to come late (sometimes a year late), which is unacceptable. The ISF needs to figure out a way to automate the process.
4- Valet parking companies: Valet guys park everywhere illegally and throw away fines sometimes. They need to be severely penalized and banned if needed.

To be honest, I don’t believe anything can be done in regards to convoys, but the other issues are easy to tackle and should be done the soonest, specially the part related to fake license plates. Yesterday, everyone was sharing the story of a young lady who had just bought her 2015 Nissan X-trail only to find out she has a fine from 2013!! This is not the first time I hear about such a thing and it won’t be the last for sure, as there are a lot of criminals and thugs who put fake license plates on their cars and get other people fined. However, what’s alarming this time is that the car was newly registered and no one noticed the fine somehow, which means that the authorities did something wrong in the first place here.

This being said, something needs to be done to handle these cases because the fines are serious now and no one should be wrongly fined and forced to pay for a violation he didn’t commit. A year ago, I shared an idea about an app that could help detect stolen cars and fake license plates in the process and I still believe it is relatively easy to implement it. Moreover, and based on what I’ve been hearing from people who got wrongly fined, the ISF should make the whole process of submitting complaints and following up on them easier and smoother to the people. The last thing we need is people using “wasta” to resolve such problems.

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