I expected municipal candidates to take Beirut Governor’s ban seriously but instead the number of posters has drastically increased and they are all over the place (public walls, fences, bridges, traffic lights, poles, toilets etc ..)
Let’s see if anyone is going to remove them after the elections are done. I just wish the Interior Ministry and Beirut’s governor were more strict on these matters but then again sheep are getting slaughtered in broad day light on the streets without anyone intervening.
I just finished reading “The Eternal Magic of Beirut”, an article by Michael Specter published on the NY Times. It’s one of the best articles I’ve read on Beirut in a long time.
Here are some of my favorite passages from the article but I highly recommend you read the whole thing.
On Beirut as a whole:
There is something singular about Beirut. It has one foot planted in the Middle East and the other in Europe, but it doesn’t quite belong in either place. Nothing seems permanent there; it is a perpetual transit point.
Perhaps alone among great cities, Beirut has earned, and manages to maintain, reputations both for wanton licentiousness and for utter terror. “There it stands, with a toss of curls and a flounce of skirts, a Carmen among the cities,” Jan Morris wrote in her great love letter to what she described as “The Impossible City.”
No other place could serve so effortlessly as a luxurious pit stop for rich Europeans, Arab royalty and celebrities like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. The cafes were filled with radical intellectuals, oil sheikhs and every kind of huckster.
On the ongoing crisis-mode we live in Beirut
Today, more than a million Syrian refugees have swarmed into the region, having fled the 10th-century carnage little more than 100 miles away. It is this constant tension that makes the city so hard to understand — and such a fascinating place to visit.
On Leaving Beirut
I asked if she ever considered leaving the city where she has spent the bulk of her life. “Of course,” she said. “But I don’t, and I am pretty sure I never will. This kind of turmoil, this kind of volatility, this kind of precariousness … ” She let the thought drift for a while. “I don’t want to say that life in war zones forces us to be creative,” she continued. “I know that is banal. But Beirut is a demanding city, and that makes it vital and alive. And vitality produces greatness.”
Villa Clara’s French Chef Olivier Gougeon take on Beirut
“Here, there is total anarchy,” he explained, with a look of pleasure in his eyes. “Chaos. You have to fight on a daily basis for everything you get.” And like so many others I encountered, he regarded that daily struggle as a benefit rather than an obstacle. “In France everything is regimented,” he said. “There are hours and rules and long vacations. Here there are no days off. And very little rest. But we have something they no longer have: energy, desire and complete freedom.”
On Solidere and the new souks:
The (Beirut) souks today are filled with shiny objects and marble floors. It is a great place to buy moisturizer, a $10,000 handbag or a Patek Philippe watch. But the new souks have far more in common with the Mall of America than with the many Levantine bazaars that have dominated the Arab marketplace for thousands of years.
There are cleaners, banks, bakeries and restaurants threaded through the old residential blocks. The newest towers, many of which hover ominously above graceful old villas, are nothing but giant walls of glass. Many terraces have been replaced with windows that can’t even be opened. “Every one of these places is a gated community, a vertical gated community,” he said. “There are no shops, no public space, no place to chat.”
On the US travel warnings to Beirut
But on the alert went: “U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should keep a low profile, assess their personal security, and vary times and routes for all required travel.” I did none of those things — nor was any of it necessary. There are parts of Beirut that are clearly unsafe; but tourists don’t, as a rule, hang out in Hezbollah-controlled territory. The city I visited was peaceful, even serene, and nobody I spoke to suggested it wasn’t. The loudest noise usually came from the most energetic nightclubs.
Who is eligible to vote?
Every Lebanese individual who has attained the legal age stipulated in the constitution (21 years), whether or not resident on the Lebanese territory, shall be entitled to vote.
Who is not eligible to vote?
All the individuals listed under Article 4,5 and 6. [Source]
• Persons deprived by legal sentence of their civil rights
• Persons convicted to be permanently disqualified from public service at any grades or positions
• Persons disqualified from their grades or public service temporarily, until the end of the disqualification period
• Persons convicted of a felony etc ..
Non-retired military personnel (ISF, Public security, State Security, Customs Police, Lebanese Army etc ..) are not allowed to vote as well..
What is the legal age for voting?
The legal voting age is still 21 years in Lebanon. It should have been reduced to 18 years back in 2008 but the proposed law didn’t pass.
What are the documents needed to vote?
You need an identity card or a valid passport to vote. An individual civil registry extract or the old voting card are NOT valid.
Where can I get an ID?
If you don’t have an ID, it’s probably too late for the upcoming elections in Beirut but you should do it anyway. Go to the mayor or the registration office in your district and fill an ID Request Form. You will need individual civil registry extract and two passport photos. You can track your application [here].
Where can I vote?
The first municipal elections will take place on May 8th in Beirut, Bekaa, Baalbeck and Hermel. Polling stations are open from 7 AM to 7 PM. If you want to know where is the nearest polling station to you, check out this [link].
When are the elections taking place?
The first municipal elections will take place on May 8th in Beirut, Bekaa, Baalbeck and Hermel.
Mount Lebanon will follow on May 15th, then South Lebanon & Nabatieh on May 22nd and finally North Lebanon and Akkar on May 29.
Guidelines to follow when you’re voting:
– Make sure you check the names properly before voting.
– If you are making your own list, write down the names neatly.
– The voting booth is mandatory and you have to enter it by yourself.
I highly recommend you watch the below video for further details:
If you want more information, you can also call the Minister of Interior and Municipalities’ hotline 1766 or visit [elections.gov.lb].
The picture above has gone viral yesterday and shows the lighthouse in the Beirutis List logo versus the authentic lighthouse in Manara. I can’t confirm if Beirut-Madinati is behind it (couldn’t find it on their page) but I looked up old pictures of Beirut’s famous lighthouse, which dates back to the 1800s, and it’s very different from the one in the logo indeed. Even the new one that was built in late 90s doesn’t resemble the one shown in the Beirutis List. Assuming the curved stripes are meant to show a tie, the upper shape of the lighthouse has nothing to do with the two lighthouses we have in Beirut.
I know that this is a minor detail and the slogan in the “Beirutis List” is the real problem for me to be honest, but still it’s funny how no one paid attention to this detail, especially if their whole campaign is about giving Beirut back to the Beirutis (whatever that means). If there’s something I’m missing here, please do share but this is the only lighthouse I know about.
ASHEKMAN put the final touches yesterday to their latest #calligraffiti portraying Ziad Rahbani with his famous quote “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?”, or in English “What about tomorrow?”. The graffiti is strategically located at the center of a previous war zone a.k.a خط تماس at the Basta/Bechara el Khoury/Sodeco intersection.
I love the quote, the location and of course the artwork. It’s another masterpiece by ASHEKMAN. Thank you for covering and replacing ugly political slogans with beautiful graffiti murals!
Here are a couple of exclusive shots from ASHEKMAN and Jad Ghorayeb.
Chi.N.N’s host and producer Salam el Zaatari just posted on Facebook that the show got cancelled following his appearance on MTV’s Menna W Jerr show. I watched his segment on Menna W Jerr and I felt like he wanted to end the show not Al Jadeed. I don’t know what’s happening between them but I wouldn’t have brought the matter live on another TV’s show.
In all cases, that’s too bad. I wasn’t a big fan of Chi.N.N as the hosts were witty and smart but a bit too vulgar. Still, some of their episodes were quite hilarious and they had the only decent political satire show in town.
Two years ago, I was driving from Kobayat to Andkit and we ended up somewhere where I got a message welcoming me to Syria and telling me to enjoy roaming with Syria’s operators. I thought that was normal given how close we were to the Syrian borders but apparently this also happens in the Bekaa and a lot of Syrians have figured out ideal spots to get coverage from Syrian mobile phone carriers and make calls to their home country at half the cost of Lebanese tariffs.
Ideal locations for Syrian coverage stretch between Hosh al-Harimeh and Ghazze in the West Bekaa, as well as the areas between the towns of Jdita and Chtaura, as well as the Kroum area in Zahle sometimes.
Needless to say, and given the current circumstances, a lot of Syrians cannot afford getting a Lebanese line to call and check up on their relatives but this is a security compromise as well and the signals should be jammed in my opinion. My friend got the message shown above right before an army checkpoint so this is inadmissible.
The authorities can easily set up special call centers for Syrian refugees to check on their relatives at reduced costs or even for free but this needs to stop. The worst part is that you could be charged for data roaming if you’re spending the whole day there.
Lebanon celebrates Labor day on May 1, which happened to be on Sunday this year. We usually get the next working day instead but since we are celebrating Easter today, Prime Minister Salam decided to just ignore that holiday that we are all entitled to.
The idea from Labor day is to give all this country’s workers a break to honor their contributions to Lebanon’s well-being and prosperity, or whatever is left of that. I just got back from Rome and nearly all stores were closing on that day, except few ones in tourist areas.
Since it’s not common for shops to close down on Sundays, labor day should be set on a working day (first Monday of May for example). If the government and parliament celebrate Labor day every day, that’s not the case for most hard-working Lebanese.
Let’s not forget also that domestic workers are also workers, and that they are still being treated as slaves in this country because our government still refuses to annul the Kafala system.
You might have visited every city in the country, but if you have not experienced Lebanon by bike then you have definitely been missing out. Three years ago, my friends got me a bike, they were certain that it was going to end up in the garage with layers of dust covering it. To everyone’s surprise, from that day, I have been biking every single weekend.
Sunday for me, has drastically changed from a lazy day (±200 calories) to the most active day of the week (+2000 calories). On an average, we cover around 60-70 Km per ride, taking anywhere between 3-5 hours, depending on the number of stops we do. Our rides are not competitive, we are not in it to win a championship, but rather escape, be active, enjoy the outdoors and Live Love Lebanon.
When is the best time to go biking?
My journey starts every Sunday at 6am. I wake up, grab a light breakfast (usually a small sandwich), pack my bike and gear and head out for my ritual ride. The ride usually starts at 8am and ends by 1pm, just in time for Sunday lunch. Before you start, find yourself a biking partner, it’s always more fun and a lot safer when you have someone with you. Every week we set out to discover a new location in the country.
What’s beautiful about bike rides, is that you get to see the places you usually miss out on by car. You can go into the narrow streets, stop and admire anything you find interesting along the way, enjoy the scenery, discover new places and take lots of amazing pictures.
What type of biker are you?
There are plenty of locations to enjoy different types of rides. City rides, sea side rides, mountain rides, uphill rides, and my personal favorites are the offroad rides.
If you are a beginner, haven’t been on a bike for a long time or panic around cars, I would advise you to stick to relatively closed circuits, where cars aren’t swarming around you, like the Dbayeh Marina, Raouche, Beirut Waterfront or Amchit seaside boulevards.
If you are an ok biker like most people, then you can venture a bit and hit the streets, the best place to ride is the on the old sea side road Jbeil – Amchit – Batroun – Anfeh. It’s relatively a straight path with few slopes, not many cars use that road on a Sunday morning, the scenery is breathtaking, and there are many places where you can stop and relax along the way. You can stop at the beach and have a swim, fuel up with a lemonade in the old Batroun souks or even get a glass of beer and chill at Colonel Beer.
If you are an advanced biker, you can burn few more more calories by riding uphill in the Metn area, starting in Baabdat and moving up to Ain El Sefsaf or even shoot for longer rides in the Bekaa valey from Taanayel to Qaraoun.
Thrill seekers can go into remote rocky areas in Wata El Joz, Keserwan and enjoy an offroad experience. Of course you need a mountain bike and some extra protection gear to endure the ride.
How much does it cost?
If you don’t have a bike, you can always purchase one, you don’t need an expensive bike. You can get a mountain bike that works both for city rides and offroad for $500-700. If you don’t want to invest in a bike just yet, there are plenty of bike rentals in Beirut, Gemmayze, Jbeil, Amchit and Batroun. You can rent a bike for as low as 7,000 L.L.
All in All:
In Lebanon, we have the perfect landscape and weather for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, our roads are in terrible conditions, there are no bike lanes and car drivers have no respect for bikers on the streets. This is the main reason why I bike very early on Sundays, to minimize as much as possible the risks of getting hit by a car and avoid heavy traffic.
With the upcoming municipal elections, electoral programs should focus more on making the cities open and fit for healthier outdoor life, encourage people to go out, be active and use less and less their cars. Of course we can always dream of having a bicycle highway, like the one Germany just opened. It’s a 62 miles bicycle road that connects 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities.
Less than 5% of the Lebanese Coast remains clean and untouched and there are at least two turtle reserves known, both in the South (Mansouri and Kolaila beaches). Both are recognized as being protected natural areas by the municipalities but they are still not protected by law and are often threatened by projects or simply fishermen.
In the past four months, four female sea turtles were killed by dynamite and lannate poisoning even though using these substances is forbidden by law. The Orange House Project, an NGO working for the protection and conservation of sea turtles in South Lebanon, shared pictures of the dead turtles and urged the authorities to do their job and stop these criminals.
Sea turtles travel from all over the world to lay their eggs and reproduce on our beaches. They are beautiful yet endangered turtles and something needs to be done to declare the Coastal area that stretches from the Naqura Cliffs (South of Tyre) to the Tyre Reserve a protected area and sea biosphere reserve!