Category Archives: Lebanon

The Lebanese Government Among The 10 Least Efficient Governments In The World

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The World Economic Forum’s 2014-2015 Annual Global Competitiveness Report is out and it placed Lebanon among the 10 least efficient governments in the world. Lebanon is in fourth position behind Venezuela, Italy and Argentina. The report “evaluates the efficiency of 144 of the world’s governments on measures including the wastefulness of government spending, burden of regulation and transparency of policymaking, to produce an overall global ranking”. I’m quite surprised we are not in the top rank but I am sure we can pull it off next year so let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that our government will make things even worse for all of us next year.

If you look more closely at the report, you will notice we ranked before last or last in the following categories:
– Quality of electricity supply.
– Ethics and Corruption.
– Public trust in politicians.
– Wastefulness of government spending.
– 3rd pillar: Macroeconomic environment

Mabrouk la Lebnen 😀

On the other hand, Qatar & the UAE were ranked among the top 10 most efficient governments in the world. You can check out the full report [here].

Nobel Winner Malala Opens School For Syrian Refugees In Lebanon On Her 18th Bday

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malala via NPR

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani education activist and the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was in Lebanon on her 18th birthday to open a school for Syrian refugee girls. The school was inaugurated in the Bekaa close to the Syrian borders and will welcome up to 200 girls aged between 14 and 18.

Here’s what she said during her visit:

“I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria. I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them,” Malala said. “On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world — you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy — the world’s worst refugee crisis in decades.”

It’s great to see Malala visit Lebanon and I hope we will see more schools open for Syrian refugees in order to keep them away from the streets and the hands of terrorists. Only few days ago, I posted about Fares the little Syrian boy who used to sell flowers in Hamra and died in Syria and I got a couple of comments telling me that he didn’t die from an airstrike but he was a suicide bomber for Da’esh. I can’t confirm the story yet but it only proves that these children are the real victims of war and that they are being brainwashed and exploited by political and religious groups, which is why we need to keep them in schools and give them the proper education.

Let’s All Remember Women Rights In Lebanon Because Of Chris Brown

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Ever since I posted about the Chris Brown giveaway, I’ve been receiving comments from people telling me that I shouldn’t promote him because he beat his ex-gf Rihana and that would send a wrong message to all those who are attending the concert. Added to that, Beirut.com surprisingly shared an article on why (and I quote) “attending Chris Brown’s concert would be another slap in the face to all the woman who have suffered at the hands of husbands, boyfriends and fathers in this country? And a slap in the face to all the hard work that KAFA has been doing to combat these societal problems?”, then asked to boycott Brown’s concert and make “this disgusting guy “khalas” in Lebanon “Forever”.” (I have no idea what this last sentence means by the way).

I’m at loss for words to be honest. It’s as if we got bored of boycotting artists because they’ve been to Israel so we started coming up with new reasons to boycott them. In fact, maybe they are right, maybe we should no longer tolerate the likes of Chris Brown and pressure the Lebanese authorities to halt all concerts this summer and stop all artists who may pose a threat to our society or could negatively influence the young and innocent generations, even if this means harming our economy and causing major financial losses to Lebanese companies. Maybe we should start a new movement and make Rihanna’s insightful song “Bitch Better Have My Money” its anthem.

I say we should boycott any artist who at some point in his life:
– Drank too much alcohol and got drunk.
– Used illegal substances.
– Cheated on his wife or gf/bf.
– Posed naked in front of the camera.
– Didn’t properly use hashtags on Instagram.
– Used the F*** word in a concert or during an interview.
– Was fined for speeding or parking illegally.
– Answered his cellphone at the theaters.
– Didn’t call his mother on her birthday.
– Didn’t visit his grandma on Christmas.
– Burned $100 dollar bills to light up his cigar.
– Smoked an Arguile.
– Had a Chicken Shawarma without garlic.
– Claimed that Hummus is not Lebanese.
– Denied the fact that Lebanon is the center of the Universe.

And the list goes on and on …

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In all cases, I heard rumors that Riri will join the movement soon but she’s currently too busy partying with Chris Brown and helping him out with his new house.

Note: I am in no way trying to compare what Chris Brown did to speeding or shawarma. He s a terrible human being who served time for what he did but that’s not the point here. What I’m referring to is how we barely make any effort when women are abused in Lebanon but get all excited when it’s about Rihanna. Our government has been refusing to pass a law to protect women for years yet we don’t boycott them or hold them accountable. When NGOs call for demonstrations to stop domestic violence hundreds only show up. Let’s set our priorities straight once and for all.

Review + Giveaway: Sony QX10 Lens-Camera A Great Smartphone Companion

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The black plastic cylinder shown above is not just a lens but a camera that features a 18.2 million pixel 1/2.3 inch sensor and a 10x optical zoom. The Sony QX10 doesn’t have a screen, mounts directly on your smartphone and is paired to Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app through WiFi. This pocket-friendly compact camera is meant to complement just about any smartphone and enables users to take high quality and more versatile photos and instantly share them on Facebook or Instagram.

I’ve been using the QX10 for 3 weeks now and I’m quite impressed by the ease of use, the image quality and the performance of the camera as a whole. The setup is quite easy, the camera options are simple and straight to the point yet the most appealing thing is the size and weight (around 100g) of the QX10 and the ability to place it anywhere you like and control it remotely. It’s something that you can really have fun experimenting with at gatherings, outdoor events, parties, street photography and I’m giving away one to one lucky reader :)

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I prepared a brief review of the QX10 to help you understand how to set it up, how it works, how good is the image quality and other useful information. Enjoy it and make sure to check the competition details at the end of the post:

Ease of Use, Performance & Battery Life:
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The QX10 is very easy to set up and start using. You will find in the box the lens camera, a detachable smartphone mount with an extending arm, a wrist strap, a battery pack and a micro-USB cable for charging and transferring images. You will only need to buy a microSD card but you can already start using the camera without it. The QX10 has three main controls, the power (on/off) button, a zoom and a shutter button. There’s also a small screen that shows you the battery life. I tried the small smartphone mount with an iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6, Galaxy Samsung Note 4 and LG G3 and it fit them all perfectly. Personally speaking, the ability to shoot without the lens attached to the smartphone is the QX10’s biggest advantage. You can hold it overhead, place it almost anywhere you like and take unique pictures. Moreover, and since the camera has a flat bottom surface (bottom also includes tripod socket), you can easily rest it for long exposures or videos.

Whether you wish to mount the lens on your smartphone or use it remotely, you will need to download the Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app to connect through WiFi to the camera. The application is also straightforward and gives you the option to automatically store pictures on your smartphone, which is very practical if you want to upload them right away on Instagram for example.

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In order to connect the camera to the app, you will need to turn the lens on, open the application from your smartphone and then wait around 5-6 seconds for the connection to be made between the two devices. If you don’t want to wait that long and wish to snap instant photos at a race or event, then you can always leave both devices on all the time but this will quickly drain the battery life of both the camera and the smartphone.

In terms of battery life, I’ve only recharged the camera 3 times in the past 3 weeks but I haven’t been using it heavily. From what I read, you can take up to 200 images before battery dies out, which is more than enough even for a full-day shoot. What you should worry about though is your smartphone’s battery as using the display for long hours will drain the battery even if you’re not using your smartphone’s camera, so keep a battery pack with you just in case.

Continue reading

Week32: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Hammana Hammana house by James al Achkar

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Harissa Overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral – by RiseAboveLebanon

Ehden A walk in Ehden – by GeorgioBassil

Ehden2 Gorgeous Ehden sunset – by Rayudi

Hasbaya Hasbaya – by TracyHelou

Taanayel Taanayel – by Nady83

Zahle Live Love Zahle – by Charbolography

beach Pearl Beach – by Giorgio

A Few Words On Lebanese Fancy Weddings & Lebanese Weddings Abroad

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It’s wedding season again and more and more couples in Lebanon are choosing to wed outside Lebanon for some reason. Last year I got a couple of invites for weddings abroad and this year I already have 3 weddings to attend but I probably won’t end up going to any because 1) my wife just delivered and it’s too soon to travel, 2) I’d rather get the couple an expensive wedding gift than pay for tickets and a hotel stay and visa fees of course to attend a wedding and 3) because none of the couples are close friends or family members. Some people might also argue that couples getting married outside should pay for our travel expenses if they really want us to be there, and a funny video on this matter went viral ten days ago but I don’t agree with it. To begin with, the fact that Lebanon is a Third World country doesn’t mean people can’t get married outside and I wish people would stop criticizing other people’s weddings. Whether it’s a fancy wedding, an average wedding in an outdoor venue, a wedding with a 45 minute zaffé or an indoor wedding with loud music and nasty food, a wedding is the happiest day in the life of a couple and we should respect that. If the couple decided to spend $10,000 or $2,000,000 on their wedding, this is their business and not ours. If you are too annoyed by weddings, simply don’t attend them.

Going back to the couples getting married abroad, I’ve had that discussion once with a friend of mine and we even did the financials and it actually makes a lot of sense for a Lebanese couple to go for that option especially when they are forced to have a big wedding (300+ people). Getting married in Greece or Cyprus or anywhere in Europe is much cheaper than having a big wedding in Lebanon, even if the couple is planning to cover trip expenses for the close family and few selected friends. Therefore, it’s not just about pretending to be fancy or cool abroad, but it’s a smart move financially speaking, and even if the couple just wants to sound cool, it’s their decision and we should respect it.

As far as fancy weddings are concerned, the amount of money a couple wishes to spend on their wedding is none of our business. If a bride wants to pay $100,000 for her wedding dress and have a 3-day wedding and can afford it, then good for her. If I were a millionaire, I would have probably invited all my friends and family to a weekend abroad and donated all the wedding gifts to charity.

All in all, what I’m trying to say is that a wedding is a very special day for a couple and we as friends or family members should be happy for the couple and make the best out of it, even if it’s the most horrible wedding ever. The only exception is when the couple is planning to destroy a Cedars forest to build their wedding venue, or set a forest on fire because of their fireworks.

PS: Aside from the wedding thing, the velfie guy has some hilarious videos, like the Kale/Quinoa one which is very true.

More Animal Cruelty in Lebanon: Screw Petitions! The Police Should Arrest This Guy ASAP

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N1ELLHII9z

The video below was shared by MTV and shows a man mistreating and severely abusing a puppy. The dog is tied up in the air and the man is enjoying beating him with his shoe and throwing him against the wall. As per MTV and the online comments, the video was shot in Zrariye, a village somewhere on the way to Tyre.

A petition was launched online and addressed to the local authorities but I think online petitions are quite useless. Everyone from the ISF to the Interior Minister are on social media and easily reachable, so let’s tweet at them and share this story until they take action and go arrest this guy.

I will never understand how people take pleasure in torturing animals or anyone for that sake. What a horrible human being!

[YouTube]

Things To Do In Jbeil (Byblos) During The Summer

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Jbeil, one of the world’s oldest cities, has always been one of my favorite cities in Lebanon and I tend to visit it quite often. There are so many things to do there and you can spend a whole weekend touring the city and having fun, especially during summer. A couple of months back, I criticized these unheard of awards that Jbeil is being awarded every year and mentioned that our primary focus should be on promoting tours and activities in Jbeil because these awards won’t help much if tourists don’t know how to get to Byblos. In fact, most of the tourists and a lot of Lebanese want to go to Jbeil but they have no idea what to do there or what to expect, so here’s a small post to highlight some of the things that you can do there:

Spend the day at the beach:
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Most people know Edde Sands in Jbeil and it’s a beautiful resort but there are others like Santa Prairie, Ocean Blue, Bay 183 and Byblos Sud. You can also find a couple of public beaches, especially one near the Crusader Castle called Al Ba7ssa.

Visiting the Old Souks:
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The old souks connect the centre of the city to the sea side and are packed with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. There are also beautiful churches and a mosque to visit. You can either take a calm walk during the day or wait till the souks get really packed at night. If you are looking for Arabic places to try out, I recommend Bab El Mina, Beit Nezha, La Locanda (especially the desserts), 1188 lounge and bar resto or Feniqia (Lebanese food with a twist). If you are looking for international cuisine, ecafé is a good option even though I was rather disappointed by the food and service during my last two visits. There’s also a small place called éBaladi that serves breakfast (manakish, eggs, etc ..) and is worth a try if you want to grab a quick bite. If you head out of the souks, there are plenty of fast food chains and restaurants to check out (Roadster, Zaatar W Zeit, Crepaway, Ksar, Mon Maki A Moi and others). There’s also one of the first ever Mexican restaurants in Lebanon El Molino that you can check out.

PS: You can also rent bicycles and tour the city but bike tours and tracks are not well organized.

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Take a boat trip and have lunch by the sea
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For those who enjoy the sea, you can head down to the Byblos port and go on a boat trip for 1 hour or more. It’s a fun ride and if you are lucky enough, you might spot dolphins. Once you are back to the shore, you can enjoy lunch at one of the many fish restaurants by the sea. Pépé Abed (Byblos Fishing Club) is a must-visit.

During the summer, you can also enjoy the Byblos International Festival which takes places right by the sea.

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Public gardens, churches, ruins, museums and a lot of sightseeing:
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Byblos is one of the World’s 20 oldest continually-inhabited places on earth, and there are plenty of archaeological sites and attractions to visit there. There are several old churches, mainly St. John the Baptist Church and the ancient Our Lady of Deliverance Church, the Sultan Abdel Majid Mosque, the iconic El-Houssami Old Lebanese House and the archaeological site around it, the Crusader Castle, the Roman Theater, Roman columns and others …

The best part is that most of these sites are nearby and you can walk around the city discovering them one by one. There’s also a wax museum worth checking out and a public library.

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Jbeil by night:
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The souks are usually crowded at night and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to visit. I sometimes used to go there just to walk around and enjoy the city by night. The harbor is a great spot to grab a beer and just watch the sunset. Some of the places worth checking out are Garten, Backdoor, Barbacane, Oasis and 1188. If you are looking for the real nightlife experience, you can head to Publicity, a large venue with many pubs and restaurants 5 minutes away from the souks.

Unknown parts of Jbeil:
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If you like Shawarma, there’s a popular place called Rock. There’s also another place called Kaddoum that has all sorts of sandwiches and has great cocktails. Sub-Omelette or Chicken Sub at Mike Snack are also worth a try. Ice cream (Achta) at Nashawati comes highly recommended as well.

All in all, Jbeil is a beautiful city that can easily become a tourist attraction if it’s promoted properly. If you feel like I’ve missed something worth mentioning, please email me (nmitri@gmail.com) and I will gladly add it to the post. Until then, spread the word and Live Love Jbeil!

Special thanks to Sophie and Chadi!

Team Lebanon Impressing At The IMMAF 2015 World Championships: Two Fighters In The Semi-Finals!

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Updated & Final Results:
– Joeshwa Mortada and Imad hoayek got eliminated in the semi-finals of the IMMAF amateur world championship 2015 but secured two bronze medals.
– Wissam Abi Nader was officially elected as a new board member of the IMMAF – International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.

Congrats to Wissam, Joeshwa, Imad and everyone who made us proud at the tournament.

Team Lebanon is taking part in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World Championship in Last Vegas and our MMA fighters are impressing once again. Both fighters Joeshwa Mortada and Imad Hoayek have made it to the semi-finals after convincing wins. Imad “Caveman” Hoayek beat Germany’s Daniel Mullet Keith in the first round, then Dante Jackson from New Zealand and will face Brendan Allen from the US in the semi-finals. As for Joeshwa “The Baptist” Mortada cruised through the first two rounds easily before defeating the much experienced Polish opponent Kacper Formela by setting up a slick armbar through the third round.

Let’s show support for our athletes and coaches and hope they reach the final rounds and clinch a gold medal for Lebanon! I will update the post as soon as the fights are over.

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Here are a couple of videos from the tournament showing our Lebanese champions taking down their opponents. You can follow all updates on [ArabsMMA.com].

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

PS: Thumbs up to Tristar Gym Lebanon and my friend Wissam Abi Nader for these impressive results!

I’m Taking Part In The Uber Food Drive To Help Families In Need This Ramadan

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Uber Beirut and LiveLoveBeirut are teaming up to launch a food drive in Beirut to provide food to families in need during Ramadan. The food drive took place today and was extended for an extra day tomorrow to give those who couldn’t donate today another chance. Over 200 bags full of food were collected today which is quite awesome.

I’m requesting the food drive tomorrow and I’m hoping everyone else will as well as it’s for a good cause and barely requires any effort.

Here’s what you need to do:
– Open your Uber app [Android] [iOS] tomorrow Friday July 10th between 11am and 4pm
– Request the FOOD DRIVE option in your app (Move the slider to the far right)
– Bring at least five canned goods / non-perishable food and hand them to the volunteers who will be in the FOOD DRIVE cars (For ex Tuna, Beetroot, Homos, Beans, Rice, Pasta, Lentils, Burgul, Jam, Halawa, Processed cheese, Sugar, Salt)

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You will then receive a thank you perk of $5, $10 or $200 worth of Uber credit automatically in your account at the end of the day and a complimentary Live Love Beirut bracelet. The food will be distributed to families in Beirut by Iftar time.

If you are taking part in the campaign, send me a picture of the goods or how you delivered the goods to the Uber car and I will gladly share it on the blog. The Food Drive is taking place in Hamra, Verdun, Downtown and Achrafieh only.

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