Category Archives: Lebanon

Giveaway: Five Tickets To Watch The Amazing Yasmine Hamdan At O1NE Beirut On Sunday!

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Yasmine-HamdancJean-Baptiste-Millot Yasmine Hamdan – Source

Update: Winners of the Yasmine Hamdan tickets are:
Agnes Semaan
Amira Mourad

I will send you emails later on today on how to claim your tickets.

If you can feel the emotion, it’s for you. That’s what Yasmine Hamdan told Telegraph in one of her many interviews and she’s absolulty right. Her music is like nothing I’ve ever heard before as it mixes between traditional Arabic music and electro folk pop, add to that her wonderful voice and the playful use of various dialects of Arabic in her lyrics and you get music that is out of this world.

Who is Yasmine Hamdan?
Yasmine Hamdan is a Lebanese artist, singer and actress is now living in Paris. Hamdan spent her youth dodging wars between Beirut and Kuwait before she settled in Beirut, formed Soapkills with Zeid Hamdan, one of the first indie/electronic bands to appear in the Middle East and soon established herself as an underground icon throughout the Arab world. She was praised by the New York Times as “Arabic Music’s Modern Voice” (New York Times) and was described by NPR as “one of the most free-thinking and inventive artists singing in Arabic today”. Yasmine has been on stages all around the world, amongst them the Opera house in Australia, Olympia in France, Albert Hall in London, Haus Der Kulturen der Wel in Berlin, the Byblos Music Festival in Lebanon and she’s performing on Sunday 24th of May at O1NE Beirut: House of Entertainement.

yasmine

Who wants tickets to watch Yasmine Hamdan?

Yasmine’s concert is on Sunday at the exceptional O1NE Beirut and I have 5 tickets to give away. I will definitely be there with the winners and we might get the chance to meet Yasmine behind the scenes. All you need to win these tickets is answer the below questions:

1- How many albums did Yasmine produce with Soapkills?
2- Under which album is her song “Deny”?

I will draw 2 names (2 tickets each) by Wednesday night and announce the winners on Thursday morning. Another ticket will be given away on Facebook or Instagram so stay tuned. Tickets are available on Virgin TicketingBoxOffice for those interested.

Some of My Favorite Yasmine Hamdan songs:
1- Deny:
[YouTube]

2- Beirut:
[YouTube]

3- Yasmine Hamdan singing Mohammad Abdel Wahab
[YouTube]

Just to understand how complex Yasmine’s music is:

If it’s not really “world music”, it’s certainly not mainstream pop. “I don’t define my music geographically,” she says, “whether it’s Middle Eastern or international. If you can feel the emotion, the music’s for you.” While she feels proud of the changes wrought by the Arab Spring, she feels sceptical of the term itself. “Things happened and are happening very differently in Cairo, Tunis, Libya and Syria. The Arab world isn’t one reality.” Indeed, the fact that she lives in Paris, where she is married to Palestinian film director Elia Suleiman, suggests a degree of alienation from what is happening in the Middle East. “Islam itself is in a complex period. I learnt the Koran as a child. When I read the Koran or hear it read, the images and the poetry, the sound of the language is very inspiring. There are many positive values that come with a Muslim upbringing. But when religion becomes about rules and hierarchies, when it starts to feel like a prison, I’m not interested.”

NB: You need to put your proper email in the email field while commenting since winner will be contacted by email. You can only comment once, anyone caught commenting more than once will get disqualified.

Where Is The Internet Police When You Need It In Lebanon?

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dima-sadek

LBCI News Anchor Dima Sadek removed a post she wrote on Facebook few days ago after her mother received threats and insults on her phone. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a journalist is harassed in Lebanon whether online or through abusive phone calls and these people won’t stop even if you removed a controversial post or picture. May Chidiac was and is still being harassed on a daily basis and nothing is being done to track down these people. Moreover, there are a lot of people who have nothing to do with politics and get harassed on a daily basis and are unable to do anything about it, and I’ve already raised this issue two years ago when one of my friends was being harassed.

I think it’s time for the ISF and cyber crimes bureau to investigate this type of harassment and bullying and try to track down who’s behind it. We also need to track down all these apps that can get you someone’s personal information based on their license plate and that are still available for download. Cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying and online harassment are crimes that should be punishable by law and treated more seriously in Lebanon.

Dima

Joke/Headline Of The Week: Lebanon To Become a Railway Powerhouse Once Again

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Picture taken from Bambi’s Soapbox

When I first read the title of this article, I checked the date to make sure it’s not an old post, then I read the whole thing 3 times just to make sure it’s not a satire post and I still can’t believe that someone, Robert Fisk in that case, would believe that “Beirut has the chance to revive its steam-age role as a key transit hub”, and that Syria’s relaunching is going to happen sometime soon and have a positive impact on Lebanon. I mean seriously? A Tunnel from Baabdat to Chtaura? A train from Beirut through the Bekaa, Syria and the Gulf and all the way to Europe? Who are we kidding here?

Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous, an Austrian politics professor at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and engineer by profession, told his Unesco audience that “railways are a regional, international issue because infrastructure development is one of the keys to the future of the Middle East”. Talking later, he was more specific. “The majority of the freight for re-launching Syria after the war will obviously go through Beirut. The Syrian port of Lattakia is too small. The reopening of the old Tripoli-Homs train line, which is still relatively intact, could be done quite quickly.

Now the funniest part is how Mr. Maalouf is “relying on the sheer frustration of the automobile-intoxicated Lebanese to bring back the trains”. Don’t get me wrong as I have the utmost respect for the Ecuador-born Lebanese filmmaker Elias Maalouf, but Lebanese have been cursing yet electing the same people for more than 20 years now, and they seem to be fine living without a president, without infrastructure, water, electricity or internet. They couldn’t care less about trains being renovated or turned into UN heritage sites and they are building houses and nightclubs all over them (unless the government paves a new road over the railway).

All in all, the poster below is the closest thing we will get to seeing trains in Lebanon again. Enjoy the [article] and keep dreaming Lebanon :)

A Video Showing New Traffic Law Violations In Lebanon

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bad

This video was shot by a student for a school project and shows several violations (including one by an ISF officer) in Beirut. I’ve also been spotting many violations on a daily basis but I’ve also noticed Lebanese are not speeding anymore and driving safely which is a good sign. I think the ISF and Interior Ministry are doing the right thing by taking things slowly, but I still want them to punish officers who break the law more severely in order to further gain people’s trust.

[YouTube]

Thanks Hadi!

Three Caricatures To Sum Up Lebanese Events This Past Week

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11218530_818022921566565_8876180288754507109_o via Al Jomhouria

A couple of words here: I strongly believe this matter should be treated legally as our juridical body is still far better than any other body in this country.

summer via Claude el Khal

Summer is here but we still don’t know yet how hot it will be. The sure thing is that everyone will be partying in Beirut no matter what!

wel3ane via Claude el Khal

Violence, Camouflaged: Powerful Portraits Of Lebanese Women

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Abillama01-1200 By Lebanese Photographer Lamia Maria Abillama

This is not a campaign to support the Lebanese Army, but a powerful series of portraits by Lebanese Photographer Lamia Maria Abillama entitled “Clashing Realities”. Several Lebanese civilian women, like May Chidiac, are shown in their homes wearing military uniforms “a symbolic representation of the encroachment of political violence into personal space”, or in other words to symbolize the violence that these women experienced at some point in their lives, whether it was the Lebanese civil war, an explosion or others …

Abillama’s work will be published later this month as part of a book series devoted to the work of Beirut-based female photographers. You can check out all the portraits in the [NewYorker] article.

Each of her subjects’ lives has been touched by violence, Abillama told me, although she has chosen not to include captions identifying their names or describing their traumas. Instead, it is their common identity, the burden they wear like a “second skin,” that she wants to call attention to. As the daughter of a storied political family whose life was shaped by Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, Abillama grew to despise her country’s system of governance. And she knows that the second skin is not easily shed. “Even if you go to Paris or Milan or wherever, ultimately you carry within yourself always the spectre of war,” she told me.

Speaking of women and violence, Lebanese singer Elissa apparently released a new song called “Ya Merayti” to highlight violence against women and in support of the Lebanese NGO Kafa (While Haifa is still breathing you in). I won’t criticize Elissa’s clip as it has a powerful message but I am curious to know why she’s talking in English at the start.

[YouTube]

I Challenge MP Kabbani To Use Public Transportation For One Week

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kabbani

Our Public Works, Transportation, and Water and Energy Parliamentary Committee Head MP Mohammad Kabbani told a journalist that he doesn’t need to buy a car in Lebanon if he doesn’t get paid much because, and I quote, “there are taxis everywhere and people use public transportation everywhere in the world”. When another reporter asked him if he had ever used public transportation, he replied that he used to take the train to college.

If we assume that Lebanon has a decent public transportation that connects all regions, then MP Kabbani is absolutely right but that’s not the case in Lebanon. For example, if I want to get from Jeita to Achrafieh using taxis and buses, I would need to either take a cab which would cost me at least 20,000 LL each way or take a “service” to the highway and from there take a bus and then take another “service” or bus to get to my work place, noting that there are no bus or taxi stops in Jeita (and almost anywhere else in Lebanon) and you basically have to stand on the highway and wait for a cab to pass by. Moreover, the majority of our buses and taxis are not equipped with air conditioners so it’s a nightmare for those who have to wear suits to work especially during summer.

Of course it’s a bit easier to take cabs if you live and work inside Beirut but our public transportation is terrible and advising people to take cabs because they have low salaries is utter nonsense, especially when they live outside the capital and cannot afford rental prices in Beirut. If MP Kabbani is so confident about our public transportation, I kindly ask him to move to Keserwan for a week and take cabs and buses to the parliament everyday. Once done, he should pay a visit to the Mecanique in Hadath and see what we go through every year there.

On another note, and knowing that our MPs are too busy extending for themselves to do such experiments, a good idea would be for local TVs to document what Lebanese are going through everyday and show it to the concerned ministers and MPs in their talk shows.

[YouTube]

How To 69 On The Saida Highway

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69

There are three things that came to mind while watching this video:
1- Where are the cops on that road? It’s one of the busiest ones in all of Lebanon.
2- Why doesn’t he have a license plate on the bike?
3- Last but most importantly, who’s the guy filming all these stunts? Why doesn’t he try to film them as landscape?

[YouTube]

Global School Rankings 2015: Lebanon Ranks 58th Worldwide, 3rd Among Arab Countries

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Leb

BBC are calling these rankings the “biggest ever global school rankings” as they were “based on an amalgamation of international assessments, including the OECD’s Pisa tests, the TIMSS tests run by US-based academics and TERCE tests in Latin America, putting developed and developing countries on a single scale”. The analysis was based on test scores in maths and science in 76 countries and put Asian countries in the top five places and African countries at the bottom.

As far as Lebanon is concerned, we ranked 58th worldwide and 3rd in the region after the UAE (1st) and Bahrain (2nd). In terms of economic growth potential, Lebanon can achieve an 816% GDP increase if all pupils (15 year old) are enrolled in schools and that they achieve at least basic skills.

Here’s a list showing rankings in the Arab World:
United Arab Emirates 45
Bahrain 57
Lebanon 58
Jordan 61
Saudi Arabia 66
Qatar 68
Oman 72

Worldwide, Singapore came first, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The UK ranked 20th, the US 28th and Ghana got the worst ranking at 76.

potentialj

Lebanese Young Entrepreneur Ziad Sankari Recognized By US President Barack Obama

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Ziad

I met Ziad Sankari back in 2012 as we were both speakers at TedxLAU. I remember very well sitting right next to Ziad and asking him about CardioDiagnostics as it was a brilliant idea and by far the most interesting talk we had that day. Ziad has been relentlessly working on his idea since then and his efforts finally paid off as he got invited to the White House two days ago as one of the emerging young entrepreneurs from around the world. Ziad Sankari’s work was recognized by US President Barack Obama who introduced Ziad to the whole world (Yup you heard me right!) and explained how CardioDiagnostics, a heart monitoring technology, “is improving the way we respond to cardiac attack incidents which will have enormous ramifications not just in places like Lebanon but potentially all around the world”.

Being recognized by the US president is a huge deal as it provides a unique opportunity to attract investors and I am positive that Ziad will go very far with his idea and I wish him the best of luck!

Check out Obama’s speech [here].

vid

If you are still wondering who is Ziad and what’s CardioDiagnostics, here’s the full story:

Ziad Sankari started CardioDiagnostics in 2012. Ziad lost his father to a heart attack when he was seventeen and his family lacked access to proper healthcare. He decided to pursue his studies in understanding the electrical activity of the heart and how monitoring and analyzing that activity can save lives. Today, the company uses FDA-approved wearable devices that are 24/7 GPS-enabled heart rate monitors allowing for heart monitoring centers to communicate diagnostic and preventive information to patients in the United States, where the center has over 40 employees, and in Lebanon. In 2008, Ziad attended Ohio State University on a U.S. Fulbright scholarship. After returning to Lebanon, he was selected to pitch his idea at the 2011 Global Innovation through Science and Technology’s (GIST) Tech-I competition where he won first place. Through GIST, a U.S. Department of State funded initiative, Ziad received his first round of seed funding and traveled through various U.S. cities to expand his network, learn how to negotiate, and connect with mentors. Given his experiences, Ziad sees education as essential to successful entrepreneurship and to combat rising issues of poverty and extremism. He hopes to support other startups and build a high-performing educational system in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East that leverages U.S. expertise and connections to open a world of opportunities to younger generations. [Source]

Make sure to check out [CardioDiagnostics] for more info.

Here’s an interview with Ziad before the White House meeting:

[YouTube]