Category Archives: Lebanon

#AuthenticShouf: Visit The Lebanese Shouf This Summer

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The Shouf is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful areas in Lebanon. It boasts the biggest Cedars forest in Lebanon, historical palaces built by the Emirs of Lebanon, most notably the magnificent Beiteddine palace, as well as beautiful old Lebanese houses, monasteries and attractions. There are many things to do in the Shouf, such as hiking in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, visiting the old town and doing some sightseeing, staying at the Mir Amin Palace and enjoying a good meal with the best view in town etc …

I will be writing soon a post dedicated to the Shouf area and things to do there. Until then, check out this nice campaign and share your experiences using #AuthenticShouf

[YouTube]

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Three Key Obstacles For Firms In Lebanon: Instability, Corruption & Electricity

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Business owners and top managers in 561 firms were interviewed from April 2013 through September 2014 and the top three obstacles for Lebanese companies willing to grow were identified as Political Instability, Electricity and Corruption. In terms of corruption, 1/3 of Lebanon’s firms had requests for bribes, and 40% of them stated they were expected to give gifts to get a construction permit for example.

Bribery incidence (percent of firms experiencing at least one bribe payment request): 30.2 in Lebanon vs 27.2 in all countries.
Percent of firms identifying corruption as a major constraint: 61.4 in Lebanon vs 35.2 in all countries.
Percent of firms expected to give gifts to get a construction permit: 41.8 in Lebanon vs 23 in all countries.

I didn’t understand how 17.3% of firms in Lebanon said they had to bribe someone to get an electrical connection. What electricity lol?

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The survey conducted by The World Bank’s Enterprise Survey showed “that 14.6 percent of firms operating in Lebanon expect to give gifts or make informal payments during meetings with tax officials, the 48th highest percentage globally and the sixth highest regionally”. Overall, corruption and bribery are here to stay and the Lebanese government is working hard to improve on its 4th position in 2014 and become the least efficient government in the world in 2015.

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#YouStink Campaign Still Going Strong

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mia via StopCulturalTerrorism

Over 5000 people protested yesterday to call on Environment Minister Machnouk to resign and demand a sustainable solution to Lebanon’s garbage crisis. I honestly don’t know why our Environment Minister didn’t resign yet. He didn’t come up with any solution during the past months, he didn’t set up a contingency plan in case a solution isn’t reached and he didn’t try to promote recycling to reduce waste. If he’s incapable of resolving the garbage crisis because of politics, then let him resign and blame it on others. It’s as simple as that!

#طلعت_ريحتكم bi 2ouwwe!

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more via Ralph Aoun

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demo2 via ORoom

demo1 via Imad Bazzi

demo via Nadine Mazloum

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Lebanon’s Mymouné Has Won Two 2015 Great Taste Awards!

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Mymouné has been preserving excellence since 1989 and collecting awards since 2005. They recently just won two Great Taste Awards for the year 2015: the Pomegranate Molasses (Gold – 2 Stars) and the Apricot Preserve (Gold – 1 Star). Great Taste Awards are often considered as the “Oscars of the food world” where 400 judges including specially trained food writers come together from all corners of the food world, and blind-taste in teams of 4 or 5 ensuring they get a balance of expertise, age and gender.

Winning A Great Taste award is a big deal and Mymouné totally deserves it. Their products are made the old Lebanese traditional and all their ingredients are handpicked and individually selected for the best possible taste. I love their Zaatar, their rose water and the bitter orange peels in sugar the most.

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On a side note, I was at Mymoune’s 25th anniversary this year and I found out that you could mix Arak with شراب التوت (mulberry) and the outcome was quite amazing! I later on decided to have an Arak mixing session with my friend and talented cook Bethany Kehdy and she came up with 5 different Arak cocktails which I will be sharing soon.

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Five Reasons To Visit Kobayat (Akkar) This Summer

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Kobayat is a Lebanese town located northeast of Tripoli in Lebanon’s Akkar district and is 150km away from the capital Beirut. To be honest, I had never visited Kobayat or Akkar before 2010 as I wasn’t very familiar with the area and it was a bit too far, but I was really surprised when I went up the first time as I did not think such beauty and green scenery existed in Lebanon and I’ve been encouraging all my friends to visit Akkar and Kobayat ever since. Kobayat is a gorgeous town very rich in natural, historical, and religious pilgrimage sites and it’s an ideal weekend getaway with your family or friends.

Here are five reasons which you should visit Akkar and Kobayat this summer:

1- Eco-Tourism and Sightseeing: The largest green areas in Lebanon
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Kobayat is very green and very quiet. The forests in the Kobayat area and around it are the largest in Lebanon and the most bio-diverse in the region, there are at least three protected natural sites of forests including Karm-Chbat, one of the best naturally preserved Cedars forest reserve in Lebanon, Al-Chanbouq Reserve and Al Qammouaa (in Fnaidek) which are areas of rich biodiversity where you can find Cedar and pine trees as well as one of the largest Oak forests, characterized by its density & length, (غابة العزر) in the Middle East. If you head to Andkit which is 5 minutes away from Kobayat, you can visit the stunning Audeen Valley. Other natural attractions also include Ain Martmoura (Spring), Al Kobayat river & Ain al Sitt, a couple of springs and old caves in Fnaidek. There’s a lot of greenery everywhere you look and you can spend the whole day driving or walking around and enjoying the landscapes. Moreover, if you love trekking, hiking or mountain biking, you will find the most beautiful trails there.

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For those of you who like museums, Kobayat has an amazing scientific museum for birds, butterflies and animals that served once as a school for Carmelite priests back in 1908. The museum has over 400 species of birds and animals found in Lebanon and up to 4000 species of butterflies from all over the world.

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2- History: Kobayat is one of Lebanon’s most ancient towns
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Kobayat is a very old town and was considered a major trading route on the Silk Road. You will find artifacts dating back to the Phoenicians, Greek and Roman Empires and others. Here’s a list of monuments that you can visit in Kobayat and its vicinity that include:
– An old silk plant and remains of old mills (also found in nearby Andkit).
– An old olive press with caves and engraved rocks in Akroum.
– A 13th century citadel in Akkar Al-Atika.
– Old citadels and mosques dating from the 19th century in Al Bireh and Bourj village.
– Al Hosn citadel and Nebuchadnezzar Rock in Kfarnoun.

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3- Religious Tourism: Over 25 Churches,
Convents & 
Monasteries
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A lot of people visit Kobayat for faith reasons. There are tens of ancient churches, convents and monasteries in Kobayat and its vicinity and most of them are located in the most amazing spots all surrounded by greenery. Some of the popular religious sites in Kobayat are:

– Saydet (Our Lady) Al-Ghisseleh Ancient Church
– Mar Doumit Ancient Monastery for Carmelite Fathers
– Mar Challita Ancient Monastery (Andkit)
– Saint Joseph and Mar Saba Ancient Monasteries (Andkit)
– Mar Gerges (Saint Georges) Ancient Monastery and Church, near an Old Well
– Saydet Ghezrata Ancient Church
– Old Church in Al-Chanbouq Area
– Saydet Chahlo Church
– Mar Eliane Monastery within Al-Bat’aneh Valley buried underground (Andkit)
– Our Lady of the Fort (Saydet el Qalaa) in Mounjez
– Mar Elias in Oudine.

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There’s also a huge cross in Kobayat worth visiting.

4- Kobayat is the starting point of the LMT (Lebanon Mountain Trail)

The Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) is the longest hiking trail in Lebanon as it pretty much covers the whole country. It extends from Kobayat in the north of Lebanon to Marjaayoun in the south, a 440 km path that transects more than 75 towns and villages at altitudes ranging from 600 to 2,000 meters above sea level. For more information, check their website [here].

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The LMT is probably the best way to experience the natural beauty and cultural wealth of Lebanon’s mountains. Here’s a small video worth checking:

[YouTube]

5- Entertainement: Kobayat Summer Festivals:
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I had the chance to meet the head of the Kobayat Festivals committee Cynthia Karkafi Hobeiche few months back during a reforestation campaign in Kobayat and she briefed me on the hard work they’ve been pulling to promote Kobayat and Akkar as a summer destination. The Kobayat festivals is the biggest event for the town during the summer as it occurs on the same weekend as Eid el Saydeh (Assumption of Mary holiday). Kobayat is always packed during this time of year, as most of the families go back to their hometown to enjoy the festivities and spend time with their families.

Wael Kfoury and Assi el Hellani are performing this year at the Kobayat festival. You can buy your tickets at [Virgin Ticketing Box office]. Bus lifts are available for $10 only. For more info, check out [Kobayat Festival on Facebook] or call 09 934 921.

brochure Kobayat Festival Committee is also organizing an eco-tourism and sightseeing day. Call 09 934 921 for further details

Where to eat in Kobayat?

The first thing that you need to try if you are visiting Kobayat is the Tannour and (Tlamé) bread for breakfast. There’s a Tannour place at the entrance of Kobayat called Hatbe w Nara and an old Tlamé place in Andkit that I posted about previously. If you want to have lunch or dinner, there’s Kobayat Country Club, Karam Cafe, Chellel el Samak and Al Wadi (next to Mar Challita) restaurants. There’s also the traditional Kebbe that locals do but I don’t think you can find it in restaurants.

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All in all, Kobayat is a beautiful town that I recommend you all visit this summer. You get to enjoy the beautiful nature, the trails, trees and forest and more importantly escape from the city and all the noise and pollution.

[YouTube]

Some of the pictures are taken from Dr. Antoine Daher with his permission of course. I use several resources for the post, including [Ebaladiyat], [MOT], this [document] and of course the Kobayat festival committee and its esteemed president.

Roadster Diner Unveils The Black Burger

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Roadster Diner is taking bizarre fast food in Lebanon to new heights with their latest burger “The Black Burger”. For a limited time starting tomorrow, Roadster will offer a burger with a black bun. Of course black burgers is not a new thing worldwide as they were introduced a couple of years back in Japan by Burger King and McDonald’s but it’s the first time a restaurant serves it here in Lebanon and I had the chance to try it out this afternoon before its launch tomorrow.

I didn’t really know what to expect honestly and I have to admit the burger wasn’t very appealing when I first got it but it was actually quite good and the black bun was softer and tastier than the original one. The bun also looked like a cake or a brownie from the inside which was pretty weird. The patty was soft and juicy with the melted cheddar on top, the sauce was quite good even though it had onions, which I don’t like and I didn’t think the tomato was needed inside. I will probably add fresh mushrooms next time.

Of course you are all wondering how did they manage to get a black bun? Well I asked RD and they told me its natural coloring that’s totally harmless or as Minister Bou Faour would say مطابق lol! Overall, I think it’s a nice idea and I love the slogans they chose for this campaign. The “Because You Can’t Enjoy Black Ops mission with an innocent burger” is quite hilarious and there’s one slogan that’s GOT-related that will be revealed tomorrow.

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