Category Archives: Lebanon

How Did Zein El Atat Become A Goodwill Ambassador? WTF Did I Miss?

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zein

The UN An organization has apparently appointed Zein el Atat as an ambassador of goodwill for human rights for the International Human Rights commission. This guy was banned at some point back in 2011 and how he’s selling his products in pharmacies and is a good will ambassador? How is that possible?

Update: The organization has no relation to the UN which is good news. I wonder how that entitles him to get a diplomatic passport though

Update 2: Organization is fake according to this article.

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What’s Wrong With Ziad El Rahbani?

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I think it’s about time Ziad el Rahbani stops talking about Fairouz or maybe stops giving interviews for good. I can’t believe he came out and said Fairouz is a fan of Qaddafi and Hitler! What’s wrong with this guy? Is he trying to tarnish his mother’s reputation? The sad part is that all media ignored most of the interview and put that statement in their headlines even though Fairouz clearly disapproves of it.

In fact, the interview says Fairouz is no longer talking to her son after he revealed that she supports Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. It also shows that Ziad doesn’t know what the hell he is doing anymore. He was supposed to move to Russia, wanted to put his plays online but then didn’t, and now he wants to make a Lebanese movie in Germany and is writing songs for Maya Diab. Anyway, we all know Fairouz likes to stay away from the public and doesn’t share her views much and we all love her the way she is.

Fairouz is a symbol of hope, peace and freedom. She’s a symbol all Lebanese and Arabs agree on and she will stay that way.

ziad snob

MEA Airline Tickets Did Not Drop By 50%

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airline tickets

I saved a couple of articles I had read yesterday about MEA’s airline tickets dropping by 50% but when I woke up this morning to read the details, one of them had vanished and the other’s title had changed. I looked up a bit more and found Lea Fayad’s report which was much clearer and stated that the airline tickets dropped on average by 7% only. What was reduced by 50% is the cost of the fuel surcharge, which constitutes 14% of the ticket price.

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The screenshot shown at the start and taken from LBCI’s report shows how much prices have dropped for specific countries like Ghana, Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Paris, London and Nigeria. The biggest drop is for Ghana and Nigeria by $100 but these numbers are not really significant as MEA should have made a small table showing prices before and after and how they compare to the average ticket price. My friend who lives in Ghana told me he usually pays $1000 for his ticket but I couldn’t even simulate the ticket price on the MEA website to know if it changed or not.

To sum things up, it’s always a good thing when ticket prices drop but my friends always complain that MEA prices are more expensive than other airlines, so it would be interesting to know where how the new MEA prices compare to others as I assume all airlines reduced their prices because of the fuel price drop.

[YouTube]

Does It Really Matter If We Say Faraya Instead Of Kfardebian?

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ski Picture via Ralph Saade

I was checking the Red Bull Jump & Freeze event details on Facebook and saw a post done by a member of Kfardebian’s municipality asking the admin to change the location from Faraya Mzaar to Mzaar Ski Resort Kfardebian or else the event will be stopped. I wasn’t surprised to see that post as Kfardebian’s mayor and municipality have been monitoring Facebook (and other channels) for quite some time and asking people to correctly tag their town instead of Faraya, but what I didn’t appreciate was the approach and the tone they’re using.

Legally and geographically speaking, the ski slopes are all located in Kfardebian not Faraya, but we’ve been saying Faraya since ever maybe because the name is shorter and easier to say. Nevertheless, Kfardebian’s municipality has every right to clarify this misconception but they should do it in a way that doesn’t backfire on them. After all, everyone who’s going to ski in Faraya is practically going to Kfardebian as there are no ski slopes in Faraya so there’s not really a competition between the two towns. This being said, I don’t think they should threaten to cancel events in public and the comments on that post show exactly what I mean. If all Lebanese start saying Faraya just to upset the municipality and they are already doing so, then all this work would go in vain. Ironically, when Yves Nawfal was killed in Kfardebian and one of the media outlets mentioned Faraya, it was Faraya’s municipality asking to correct the location.

Speaking of this unfortunate event, Kfardebian witnessed three tragic incidents this year that I believe need more attention from the municipality than wrongly tagged photos or events:

1- Yves Nawfal‘s murder highlighted the need for further security in Kfardebian-Mzaar. Police or municipality patrols should be scheduled maybe and I think the Lebanese Army checkpoint should be put back at the town’s entrance.
2- Melanie Freiha‘s ski accident and the imminent need of setting up medical Centers and clinics (or a helicopter) near ski resorts in Lebanon.
3- The unfortunate story of a young man who got beaten up for trying to clear the road for an ambulance. There should be better traffic management specially during weekends and an emergency plan to clear the way for ambulances.

All in all, I understand and support the Kfardebian municipality’s aim to clarify this misconception we all have, and I’ve learned to tag Kfardebian in my pictures, but I don’t think they need to be that aggressive about it and I urge them to look into more serious issues (with the authorities and concerned parties) to avoid tragic events like the ones that took place during the past few months.

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Update: I added this old report that Zaven did on this matter and that explains where the Faraya-Mzaar name comes from.

[YouTube]

Red Bull Jump & Freeze Finally Happening In Lebanon!

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ballerina

I’ve been asking Red Bull for years to organize a Jump & Freeze or a Flugtag event in Lebanon and now that it’s finally happening, I won’t be here to participate in it! I’ve watched Jump & Freeze from all over the world and it’s a lot of fun. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, it’s as simple as that:
1- Form a team of 3 and dress up in the most creative costume you can find.
2- Make yourself a crazy little vehicle.
3- Slide down the Mzaar slope as fast as you can and pull a cool trick while jumping into the freezing pool.

Red Bull will be choosing 20 of the best teams to participate. You can read more about the rules [here] and apply using this [form]. Red Bull Jump & Freeze will be hitting the slopes of Mzaar Ski Resort in Kfardebian on the 1st of March 2015.

I will be in Barcelona that weekend so I won’t be able to make it, but I am trying to convince my brother to join in with a couple of friends and form the “Baladi team”. I already have few ideas for the vehicle and costumes.

[YouTube]

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 family 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:

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