Category Archives: Lebanon

Lebanon And North Korea Passports Have The Same Ranking

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leb

According to Passport Index.org, Lebanon and North Korea have a passport power rank of 73, which means that you can visit 44 countries without a visa using these passports. Cambodia and Gabon also share the same score. In terms of Arab countries, UAE is on top with 72 visa free countries while Lebanon has the worst ranking which doesn’t sound right specially when Syria is still ahead of us.

Here’s the full list of Arab countries with their corresponding ranking:
47– United Arab Emirates (72 visa free countries)
52– Qatar (66 visa free countries)
54– Kuwait (64 visa free countries)
57– Saudi Arabia (61 visa free countries)
61– Bahrain (61 visa free countries)
63- Oman (54 visa free countries)
64– Egypt (53 visa free countries)
68- Jordan (49 visa free countries)
69- Syria (48 visa free countries)
73– Lebanon (44 visa free countries)

The US topped the list worldwide, followed by United Kingdom, France, South Korea and Germany.

PS: The Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index shows the Lebanese Passport in the 88th position (out of 93).

via 248am

#NO2DrinkDriving Uber Beirut Offering $1 Rides All Weekend

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uber

I love the initiative and I think the government should consider financing such campaigns to make taxis cheaper during the weekend between 10pm and 6am. That way, we will have less traffic and less people will drink and drive. If the government can’t afford it, I’m sure a lot of brands are willing to collaborate and offer sponsorship.

Personally speaking, I always use Uber when I’m in Beirut. It’s affordable and extremely convenient.

[YouTube]

romantic gino Gino is in the video being all poetic and stuff.

Fatal Road Accidents In Lebanon: Don’t Blame The Roads Only

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News2558123-635644159326340632 Picture from Issam Breidy’s fatal accident – via LBCI

Over 900 people got killed in car accidents in Lebanon last year and the last victim was Lebanese actor and singer Issam Breidy who died on Sunday morning when his car overturned on the Dora bridge. Two other people died during the weekend and tens got injured in various car accidents. I personally didn’t know much about Issam but I was saddened by the news just like most Lebanese, and I was really touched by all the stories the media shared about him, on how his family and friends loved, on how talented and hard-working he was but I was also disappointed by the way Lebanese media covered the story, and covers any story related to fatal road accidents. I understand that people don’t want to hear such stuff, specially the victim’s family and friends, but the media’s responsibility is to shed the light on what happened and more importantly to spread awareness on road safety instead of just blaming the authorities.

Don’t get me wrong here as the authorities and concerned ministries are to blame and more for all the accidents that are taking place and I support any kind of pressure to fix the infrastructure and make our roads safer. Moreover, I still don’t believe we will be able to implement any new traffic law if there are no plans to filter out the corrupt cops from the ISF and improve the roads, but this is not an excuse for being a bad driver. Whether the roads are good or bad, it is our responsibility to wear a seat-belt, to respect the traffic lights, to drive slowly on wet roads, to respect the speed limits, to make sure our brakes are working fine etc ..

I’ve been driving in Lebanon for the past 15 years and I can easily tell you that roads are worse than ever but drivers as well. Every time I’m driving back from a party in Beirut, I feel like I’m in a Fast & Furious movie. Young people think they have control over the wheel no matter how fast they’re going or how drunk they are. They don’t understand that it’s pointless, irresponsible and stupid to drive when you are too tired or drunk, and it’s selfish because you will be hurting your beloved ones if something happens to you. If you’ve been drinking and driving for years without getting into any accident, it doesn’t mean you should keep on doing it. If anything, you should consider yourself lucky and stop doing it once and for all.

All what I’m saying is that we need to fix the roads, but we also need to change the attitude of the drivers in this country. When you’re partying with friends and one of them had too much to drink and wants to drive back home, stop him at any cost and order a taxi. If he insists on driving because he’s man enough to do so, call the cops. If I ever hear that my younger brother drove back home drunk or tired, I will forbid him from ever driving a car again for his own sake. We need to stop this carnage and put an end to all these accidents! If the authorities aren’t doing anything about it, let’s do our part at least!

On a last note, I just want to make it clear one more time that this isn’t about Issam Breidy or any specific road victim, but about the role the media and we people have to play in spreading awareness and forcing our friends and entourage to drive safely and respect the laws.

Sincere condolences to the family of Issam, Charbel Z who also died that weekend and all the road victims in Lebanon.

bill

One Picture And One Story To Remember The Lebanese Civil War

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wow Tenzakar Wou Ma Ten3ad: Picture by @yasnoor via LiveLoveBeirut

Today marks 40 years since the start of the Lebanese Civil war, which officially started on April 13 1975 and ended on October 13 1990. An estimated 120,000 people were killed in the 15-year long war that opposed Christian, Sunnite, Shiite, Druze and secular Lebanese groups as well as Palestinians, Syrians and Israelis.

Every year on April 13, we vow to put the civil war behind us but then an incident occurs at some point to remind us of this ugly war. Whether it’s the Jabal Mohsen vs. Bab el Tebbaneh clashes, the sectarian fights in Beirut or the car bombs, Lebanon is still not over the civil war and will never be as long as we are being ruled by the same warlords who made this war happen and almost every Lebanese needs a weapon at home or in his car to feel safe. Moreover, we cannot possibly close the civil war chapter without holding accountable those who caused it, agreeing on a history book to tell the younger generations what happened, and more importantly find out what happened to the 17,000+ disappeared during that war.

casualties of war The highest death toll month between 1975 and 1990 was June 1976 causing 2989 deaths according to [LebaneseRenaissance.org].

Despite all that, I refuse to believe that we will have a new civil war in Lebanon and all I can do is remind the blog’s readers every year of how ugly this war was and how innocent civilians ended up paying the highest price. This year, I decided to share a story that I’ve been hearing ever since I was young and is sadly inspired from true events.

Back in 1975, when the tensions started between the Palestinians and Christian militias, three brothers found themselves in the middle of the fights, so two of them decided to join the fight to defend the “Christian areas” as they were called back then, while the third one (older brother) stayed away as he didn’t believe in violence and wasn’t ready to go out and kill people. In 1976 as the war entered one of its ugliest and deadliest years, the two brothers were still fighting at the fronts while the third brother still refused to get armed. One day, as the older brother was leaving home and on his way to get food to his friends and brothers at the front, he got killed by a sniper. The poor guy happened to be at the wrong place and the wrong time and died instantly. Years after, each of the two brothers joined different political party and found themselves fighting each other. To make things worse, each got a death threat from the opposing party when things calmed down and almost got assassinated if it wasn’t for the other brother’s intervention.

Up until today, the two brothers fight over politics but they both agree that war didn’t have any winner and that it cost them the life of their dear brother who had nothing to do with it. Every time I am reminded of that story, I ask myself if I would have joined the war or stayed aside, and more importantly if I would have agreed to shoot at other human beings and possibly relatives and brothers. I understand that circumstances were different back then, and that some people were forced to carry weapons and defend their lands or houses, but the war is over now and the war generation should keep their children away from violence and weapons and stop of inciting them to carry guns and fight.

On a last note, I found this old Joumblatt video as I was going through old civil war videos where he’s asking for all war lords, including himself, to be held accountable for their acts in order to close the civil war chapter. I fully agree and I hope someone reminds him of that speech today.

areas Bekaa was the safest area during the civil war

Week23: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Maison Rose Maison Rose – By Georgeper

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [Here] if you like.

sunset222 Putting the sun to sleep – by Hassanhakkani

mreisseain Ain el Mreisse by night – by Sacha el Aref

Foul Foul Option Van

dog Youki and his red car – By Joe_e

Coffee Coffee anyone? By KarlSader

On The Issue of Child Beggars In Beirut And What Happened At Dunkin Donuts Hamra

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Almost 2 million people have fled Syria to Lebanon since the start of the conflict in 2011, out of which hundreds of thousands of children deprived of education, food and their most basic needs. As a result, a lot of them had to resort to begging in order to provide for their families, or were recruited and exploited by organized mobs (or sometimes their own families) to make revenues. These gangs usually distribute children at different strategic points and threaten them to collect a minimum amount of money or suffer dire consequences. This is why a lot of children beggars refuse to take food when offered and ask for money instead, and they follow you every where out of fear that they might get beaten up when they go back home. As a result, most of them end up working long hours in detrimental conditions and leading a catastrophic lifestyle which poses many risks on their physical and mental well-being. To make things even worse, some gangs are sexually exploiting these children or even selling their kidneys.

Should we help street children or not?
Child beggars have been present since ever in Lebanon, but their situation has worsened with the Syrian crisis as more families are inhabiting the streets and more children are being forced out of school to beg for their families, or are being exploited by child beggar networks, and this is quite noticeable in many streets in Beirut specially in Hamra where there are tens of families living on the side walks and child beggars all over the place.

Personally speaking, I can’t but help children I see on the street, no matter what their nationality is, but I always prefer to give them food instead of money because I know money is going to the wrong people. Some take the food you offer them while others only want cash and become annoying at some point, but giving them money will make them come back for more which is why I refuse to do so. Of course I wish I could get these children out of the street and put them back in school, but there’s little I can do about that and the only way to help is by spreading awareness on this matter and promoting the NGOs helping refugees and street children, or even doing small initiatives like the one LiveLoveBeirut and JouéClub did back in Christmas based on one of the pictures I took.

Who is to blame for this situation?
Both begging and child labor are illegal in Lebanon and the government is responsible for enforcing laws that prohibit exploiting children to finance illegal activities or for sexual purposes. Moreover, Lebanon is forced to abide by the Convention on the rights of the child that was agreed on in 1991. This being said, it is the responsibility of the authorities and mainly the ministry of social affairs to help get these children out of the street and back into school, and more importantly arrest the gangs that are playing a major role in keeping children on the street.

Sadly enough, this issue has long been neglected by the authorities and the only organization in Lebanon that offers a refuge to both Lebanese and non-Lebanese street children (Home of Hope) is not receiving enough funds to do its job. The organization, established by the Lebanese Evangelical Society (LES), is headed by Mr. John Eter, and offers kids a basic education, medical insurance and most importantly a loving environment.

What happened at Dunkin Donuts in Hamra?
A story has gone viral in the past few days about a Dunkin Donuts employee who “beat up” a Syrian child beggar and kicked him out of the coffee shop. The story spread before it even got confirmed and the picture of a DD employee that had nothing to do with the incident got shared somehow. Eventually, the employee who hit the child got suspended by Dunkin Donuts Lebanon and a police investigation is underway according to what they stated on Facebook, while Al Jadeed interviewed the employee and other eye witnesses who stated that the kid wasn’t beaten up as stated. Needless to say, what this employee did was wrong whether he slapped or beat up the kid and I think DD should have added an apology to their statement but I don’t understand people, specially Dima Sadek whom I respect, who are asking to boycott Dunkin Donuts because of that incident. How is boycotting Dunkin Donuts going to help with anything? When did boycotting ever achieve anything? And did they take into consideration the hundreds of families who are against such practices and working with Dunkin Donuts? What if the child beggar was a Lebanese or a Kurd? Why does it matter that he’s a Syrian?

Moreover, I can easily confirm that a similar incident has taken place in almost every coffee shop I’ve been to in Lebanon, and street children are humiliated, beaten up, slapped and pushed away almost everywhere in Lebanon. Shall we start boycotting all the shops? I think a smarter idea would be to mount the pressure on the authorities to do something about this growing phenomenon and help raise funds for concerned NGOs to help these children. I would also encourage journalists and influential people in the media to tackle this problem with the concerned ministries instead of focusing on an isolated incident.

Can we help Lebanon’s street children?
Lebanon has suffered the most from the flow of Syrian refugees, and the Syrian crisis has proven to be a huge burden socially economically and politically. The international help that we are getting is not enough to cope with the ever-growing influx of refugees and the biggest problem is that there’s a whole generation of children, victims of the Syrian war, that are forced to drop out of school and are destroying their future. This being said, the fact that there’s a single institution in Lebanon dealing with homeless children is unacceptable, and the work that the ministry of social affairs has been doing is less than pathetic. For that purpose, we need a new strategy to cope with this ever-growing problem and as it happens, one LAU student came up with a cool idea that “includes modified and improved methodologies of dealing with beggar children, collecting donations, recruiting street educators and volunteers, and educating the general populous about the situation, through the establishment of a non-governmental organization”. I’m sure there are other proposals and ideas that are as affordable and sustainable and can help provide a better living for all street children of all nationalities in Lebanon. Let’s not forget that 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line according to the UN and a lot of Lebanese child beggars originate from the Bekaa area so this is not just a problem related to the refugees and concerns a whole generation of Lebanese as well.

Confirmed: Salma Hayek Coming To Beirut For Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet Movie Premiere On April 27

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Salma

I wrote a couple of weeks back that Gebran Khalil Gebran’s The Prophet animated movie is set to be released on August 7 2015 in LA and New York, but I had heard that it might debut in Beirut by end of April and the news got confirmed few days ago on the movie’s Facebook page. Salma Hayek is coming to Beirut on April 27 for The Prophet’s Beirut premiere and worldwide launch!

The Prophet will feature a voice cast including Salma Hayek as Kamila little Almitra’s mother, Liam Neeson as Mustafa, John Krasinski as Halim, Alfred Molina as Sergeant, Quvenzhané Wallis as Almitra and Frank Langella as Pasha. Gebran Khalil Gebran was born in 1884 in Bcharreh, a village in the north of Lebanon in 1884 where he was buried and a museum was inaugurated in his memory in Mar Sarkis’ monastery. The Prophet was published in 1923 and is Gebran’s most popular work. The book has been translated into over 40 languages and has sold over 100 million copies.

I’m really looking forward to this movie and I hope I will get to meet Salma Hayek in Beirut. Check out the movie’s [trailer] in case you haven’t already.

Can You Live With 11,000LL for 5 days? Three AUB Students Are Taking The Live Below The Line Challenge

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Haifa

30,000 people from all over the world are taking the “Live Below The Line” challenge by spending £1 (2,200LL) a day for 5 days and attempting to raise over £7 million for the world’s leading anti-poverty organisations. Out of these 30,000 there are three AUB students that are taking the challenge, Haifa Harb, Sandra Shaban and Hadeel Hmaidi and raising money for Human Care Syria, an organization that delivers quality humanitarian aid and development programmes to affected communities in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Haifa is already at Day4 and has exceeded her goal of £1000 while Hadeel and Sandra are on their last day have also exceeded their £400 set goal. What’s important is that you can still donate and show support to these three brave girls because what they are doing is really amazing and tough. I honestly don’t think I can pull off such a thing while having a full time job (two actually) but if anyone wants to participate, all the information you need is on the [website].

Haifa1

Just to give you an idea of what your meal is like if you can spend only 2200LL per day, Haifa had:
– 1 egg and 1 banana for breakfast.
– 1 cup of noodles and 2 rolls of bread for lunch.
– 1 banana and 1 roll of bread for dinner.

If you wish to donate to any of the three candidates, here’s the [link] for Haifa, the [link] for Hadeel and the [link] for Sandra.

Update: There’s also Farah Hashem taking the challenge. You can help her meet her goal [here].

PS: If you know other Lebanese or students in Lebanon taking the challenge, please let me know so I can add them.

Hadeel Hmaidi

A Happy Story From Zahle This Time

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happy via Annahar

When I wrote about the 7 year old child that got killed by a pitbull in Zahle last week, I attacked those who are training dogs for illegal fights and stated that this practice is unfortunately very common in the area, but what I didn’t say and should have is that there are as many people in Zahle that love dogs and take great care of them. The dog (Max) in the video below could have easily drowned in the frozen Berdanoui waters but his owner and a couple of Zahle guys rushed to his rescue and saved him in time.

Unfortunately, animal abuse is still very common in Lebanon and most of the incidents reported are bad ones but there are good people out there still trying to do the right thing. Only yesterday, I wrote about a hyena that was killed and another snatched from his mother in Akkar, and I’m following up on the story with a couple of friends to see if they will be able to bring the hyena cub back to his mother, but they told me it’s almost impossible for that to happen now that the hyena has formed bonds with other animals and humans. Nevertheless, it’s still better to take the hyena from this ignorant hunter and put him in a safe shelter.

[YouTube]