Category Archives: Lebanon

The Most Googled Products In Lebanon And The Middle East

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Wedding

Fixr.com put together a map of the world with the most-Googled for object in each country, using the auto-complete formula of “How much does * cost in [x country]”. Of course the results aren’t scientific but they are fun to look at.

Here are some of the findings from the Arab world:
– People want to know how much a wedding and a PS3 cost in Lebanon.
– People want to know how much a loaf of bread costs in Syria.
– People want to know how much a camel costs in Saudi Arabia.
– People want to know how much a Ferrari costs in the UAE.
– People want to know how much a Lamborghini costs in Kuwait.
– People want to know how much a kidney costs in Iran.

I don’t know why people are still looking for the PS3 in Lebanon but the wedding cost does make sense and I was actually planning to write few posts about it because it’s almost impossible to get any cost estimate for a wedding here and you can barely find any useful information online.

Check out what other countries are looking for [Here].

Asi

Waves ‘98: A Lebanese Short Movie Running For The “Palme d’Or” At Cannes Festival

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mea

The short movie Waves ’98 by 2012 cinema-grantee Ely Dagher was selected by the 2015 Short Films Competition of the Cannes Festival out of 4550 short films submitted. These films will all run for the 2015 Short Film Palme d’or, to be awarded by Abderrahmane Sissako, President of the Jury, at the official prize-giving ceremony of the 68th Festival de Cannes on 24th May. This will be the first Lebanese film in the official selection since Maroun Baghdadi’s film in 1982.

This is great news for Ely and Lebanon. I wish him all the best! I shared below the synopsis and the trailer:

Written and directed by Dagher (Lebanon), the 14-minute long Waves ’98 is about Omar, a high-school kid living in the northern suburb of Beirut, struggling in his social bubble. On a quiet afternoon, on a terrace looking over the city he notices something strange, a sort of Giant golden animal protruding from between the buildings that draws him and leads to his discovery of a special part of the city.

Lebanon Ship (Fatmagul) Seen As Savior To Power Starving Ghanaians

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The above screenshot is taken from the front page of the DailyGuideGhana and shows a picture of the Turkish power ship Fatmagul currently docked near the Zouk Power plant in Lebanon. Apparently Ghana has an electricity crisis and its Power Minister is seeking help from Turkey through emergency power barges.

I think it’s funny that the ship looks Lebanese because of the flag and that some people might think we are able to provide electricity to other countries. I just hope that Fatmagul won’t suffer from electricity blackouts just like it did in Lebanon! If it does, we will gladly send other some generator owners from Zahle since they are unemployed at the moment 😀

Some selected Ghanaian journalists have been touring Lebanon to see the power ship built by Karpowership of Turkey at the cost of $700 million. The trip, which will take them to Istanbul in Turkey, is being sponsored by the manufacturing company. Karpowership is the same company constructing the power barge for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). But the company says it is not an emergency power barge because it is not part of the programme.

The Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, had told journalists early this year that emergency power barges were expected from Turkey to cushion the crisis that is running down businesses and causing deaths. Mr O’Driscoll said the Karpowership has a power purchase agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana and is working within the time frame of the pact. The ECG signed the 10-year power deal with the Turkish company last year to deliver 450 megawatts of power to boost the ailing power sector which appears to defy all solutions. The barges are to bridge the gap of Ghana’s energy needs and bring to an end the power crisis which has come to be known and accepted as dumsor-dumsor.

Thanks Mustapha!

Lebanon Ranked 103rd (Down 6 Spots) In World Happiness Report 2015

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Lebanon

The first World Happiness Report was released in 2012 and ranked Lebanon in the 97th position worldwide and 8th position among Arab countries. In the 2015 World Happiness Report, Lebanon dropped 6 spots and was ranked 103rd, which makes sense given the stressful times we’ve been through in the past couple of years. The report also found that “GDP per capita was one of the most important explanatory variables in determining national happiness, along with social support (if you have someone in your life you can count on), healthy life expectancy, freedom (answer to the question “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?”), generosity (“Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?”), and government corruption”.

As far as Arab countries are concerned, UAE ranked first followed by Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The least happy country in the region and (almost) worldwide (156th out of 158) is the Syrian one. Worldwide, Switzerland came on top, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Finland.

Here’s the full list for Arab countries (Rank 2015):
UAE 20
Oman 22
Qatar 28
KSA 35
Kuwait 39
Bahrain 49
Libya 63
Algeria 68
Jordan 82
Morocco 92
Lebanon 103
Tunisia 107
Palestine 108
Iraq 112
Sudan 118
Egypt 135
Yemen 136
Syrian Arab Republic 156

You can check out the full report [here].

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Thanks Rami!

LOGI: An Initiative To Advocate For Transparency in Lebanon’s Oil & Gas Industry

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We all know by now that Lebanon’s oil and gas reserves off its coast might be the richest and best in the Mediterranean, and a lot of Lebanese are thrilled about this discovery and already started dreaming about a wealthy country with a solid infrastructure, prosperous economy and a strong army, but transparency and accountability are needed to make the best out of these resources and we are very far from that in Lebanon!

Corruption is at an all time high, Our MPs have extended their term, we don’t have a president and most of the parties handling the oil & gas file are not trustworthy. For that sake, I’ve been following up mostly on reports from [Executive Magazine] and [MESP], and other useful articles like HMA Tom Fletcher’s take on this matter and what George Sassine, who’s an energy policy expert, had to say about it.

George Sassine also happens to be one of the founders of LOGI, The Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative (LOGI), which is an independent NGO based in Beirut that aims to create a network of experts across the world to help Lebanon benefit from its oil and gas wealth, and avoid the resource curse. I was introduced to LOGI by a friend a week ago and I think what they are aiming to do is exactly what Lebanon needs to maximize the economic and social benefits of its oil and gas wealth. We need an expert’s point of view on these issues and we need competent individuals to inform us citizens on the key issues facing facing Lebanon’s oil and gas industry, and help us understand what’s happening around us and what’s being cooked behind our backs by corrupt parties. Once policies are set in motion and contracts are locked for decades, it will be impossible to change anything and we might fall into the resource curse forever!

Just in case you don’t know what the resource curse is, it is also known as the “paradox of plenty and refers to the paradox that countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, specifically point-source non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This is mainly due to governments mismanagement, corruption, instability and other factors”.

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LOGI is asking people to join their initiative and support them to kick off the initiative through a dedicated website and finance their first research projects. The website will include infographics, dynamic animations, videos, detailed reports and a database of all analyses and news articles on oil and gas in Lebanon both in Arabic and English, and the first research projects will include policy briefs on Lebanon’s export infrastructure strategy, and fiscal policy strategy. LOGI already secured a large part of the amount needed ($10,000), which is honestly nothing when compared to the billions at risk if the oil & gas goes into the wrong hands.

I’m not writing this post to ask readers to donate money as I’m sure they will secure it before the deadline, but to shed the light on this initiative and ask those interested to get engaged and contribute to driving change in Lebanon. I honestly believe we need similar initiatives for all our problems in Lebanon whereas experts join hands to inform the citizens of what’s really happening, put pressure on the government and concerned parties and offer solutions and reports. On the other hand, it is important for us as citizens to follow up on these NGOs and hold them accountable when they break their promises, the same way we should be doing with our politicians.

You can read more about LOGI [Here].

Georges Sassine is a Harvard University alum and an energy policy expert with a wide range of experience with several multinational companies. He has been widely published commenting on energy, transparency and public policy issues including the Financial Times, CNN, the Huffington Post, Annahar, L’Orient le Jour, the Daily Star and others.

Karen Ayat is a Partner and Contributor to Natural Gas Europe – a leading platform that provides information and analyses of natural gas developments. Karen emerged as a key expert on the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean and her work has been widely published, mainly by Natural Gas Europe and Energy Tribune. She holds an LLM in Commercial Law from City University London and reads International Relations and Contemporary War at King’s College London.

Jeremy Arbid is an energy and public affairs analyst focused on Lebanon’s oil and gas industry. He is currently a journalist covering economics and government policy for Executive Magazine in Beirut. He holds a Master in Public Administration from the American University of Beirut, and a bachelor in Political Science from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Research fellows: several research fellows are helping LOGI launch various research projects including 4 Harvard University master students, and an ESCP Europe Business School graduate.

LOGI’s Advisory Board is formed from several high level executives and experts spanning multinational energy companies, an international energy law firm, a world renowned think tank, academics from top universities, as well as experts from global NGOs focused on transparency in the oil and gas sector.

[YouTube]

#Achrafieh2020: I Want Every Sunday To Be Car-Free

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Every time Achrafieh 2020 organizes a car-free day, I get more convinced that Lebanon needs a car-free day at least once every month. On Sunday, thousands went down to Mar Mikhael to have fun, have a drink and grab a bite, walk their dogs, dance, play with their kids and enjoy the sun. More importantly, a wall of remembrance was placed in the middle of the street on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide where people shared their thoughts and showed support.

I went down to Mar Mikhael around noon when things were still relatively calm, sat at Radio Beirut and enjoyed a couple of drinks with friends. Around 2, the streets were already packed and you could barely walk among the crowds. The atmosphere was amazing, the pubs and restaurants were packed, kids were having fun and there’s music everywhere you go. I walked around for a couple of hours checking out the different stands, tasting all kinds of foods specially the Armenian ones and greeting friends and random people I meet. I even shared a Nutella crepe with a Sukleen worker who was taking a break.

I’m not sure why I enjoyed this car-free day more than others, but the crowds were amazing, the streets were packed and the day was just perfect! I really believe we need more car-free days like this one and I hope every Sunday will become a car-free day in Beirut and everywhere else in Lebanon.

Here are some of the pictures I took and you can find plenty on Achrafieh 2020’s Facebook page.

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Salma Hayek Is In Beirut For The Prophet’s World Premiere

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Salma via LiveLoveBeirut

Hollywood star Salma Hayek arrived to Beirut a couple of days ago and visited yesterday the museum of Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Gebran Khalil Gebran in Bcharreh. Salma is here for her movie “The Prophet” world premiere which will be held at Cinemacity in Beirut Souks.

The premiere will be a private event and few people were invited to attend. If L’Orient Le Jour’s info is accurate, the projection of the movie will be followed by a private dinner for 300 people at La villa Rose at ESA. I was actually eager to watch the movie tonight but I guess we will have to wait till Thursday when it’s officially released. The Prophet is based on Gebran Khalil Gebran’s masterpiece and will feature a voice cast including Salma Hayek as Kamila, Liam Neeson as Mustafa, John Krasinski as Halim, Alfred Molina as Sergeant, Quvenzhané Wallis as Almitra and Frank Langella as Pasha.

PS: Salma Hayek will be with Marcel Ghanem on Tuesday.

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In Pictures: More Than 100 Lebanese Men Walked In Heels Against Violence

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More than 100 men, including myself, wore heels today and walked a mile in support of #Kafa and in an attempt to raise awareness on violence against women. LBCI, Future TV, OTV, Al Jadeed, Al Arabiyya, Al Hurra, Skynews Arabia, Reuters, MBC.net and other media outlets were there to cover the event which is pretty cool. MTV didn’t show up which is weird.

One of the TV reporters asked me if I was worried that the Lebanese society would make fun of me or other men for wearing heels. I told them that I couldn’t care less and don’t mind it as I’m doing this for a good cause, and if wearing heels would help raise further awareness on violence against women, then maybe we should do this more often. By the way the heels weren’t as annoying as I thought they’d be lol!

Here are some of the pictures I took and more will be added tomorrow on Walk A mile Beirut Facebook page.

PS: For those who didn’t understand the point of the event and started a hashtag against it (#المراه_مش_كعب_سكربينه), the idea is to put yourself in her shoes by literally wearing heels, not representing women by heels. I never thought I would need to explain the idea, that’s just absurd! In all cases, instead of wasting your time by trending a silly and pointless tweet, a good idea would be show up at demonstrations that promote women rights and raise awareness the way you see it fit instead of criticizing positive movements and initiatives.

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Lebanese Basketball Player Wael Arakji Has Declared For The 2015 NBA Draft!

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Wael

Lebanese point guard and Riyadi (Sporting Beirut) player Wael Arakji has reportedly entered the 2015 NBA draft after his performances caught one of the NBA scouts’ attention. The news came after @DraftExpress tweeted the news and stated that Wael’s stats aren’t super impressive, but he looks interesting on film as he’s big for a point guard and very quick.

Arakji is only 20. He’s 6’4 and has been playing with Riyadi for 4 years now. Arakji is averaging 7.5 points and 3 assists per game. This is great news for Wael and I hope we will see him next year in the NBA League!

Check out more info [here].

Arakji

PS: Someone did a video comparing Wael’s moves to Goran Dragic, Miami Heat’s Point guard.

[YouTube]

#RealityCheck: Are You Armenian? Do You Eat Basterma?

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pierre

Are you Armenian? Do you eat a lot of spices? Do you live in Bourj Hammoud? Do you eat Basterma a lot? Bto2rabak Kim Kardashian?

These are all real life questions that are often asked to Lebanese-Armenians based on stereotypes that are generally untrue and are not as funny as some people think they are. The below video is meant to spread a message against stereotyping in a funny way and includes several known Lebanese-Armenian personalities such as Pierre Chammassian (this guy is hilarious), Roy Malakian, Paula Yacoubian, Sandra Arslanian, Shant Kababian, Guy Manoukian and others …

[YouTube]

Thanks Bouchra!