Category Archives: Lifestyle

I Support Beirut Madinati (Beirut-My City)

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BM2

I could name a thousand reasons why I love Beirut. I love its old streets, its authentic houses and shops, its crowded cafes and pubs, the contrast between old and new, the hidden gems that you find on each corner, the diversity, the traditional food etc …

We all love Beirut but our city deserves better. Beirut needs clean streets, more green spaces, proper sidewalks, better waste management, more affordable housing, organized public transportation and more importantly it needs qualified, competent and non-corrupt people to manage it.

We are all disgusted by the entrenched political class that has been ruling our country and mis-managing our cities for years and we all want municipal councils that interact and listen to citizens, that work with civil groups and use their know-how and that actually present an electoral plan when they run for elections. Unfortunately, the likelihood of an outside list winning in Beirut is almost impossible as they face a coalition of three large political blocks but someone needs to put pressure on the ruling class and this is exactly what Beirut Madinati is doing.

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What is Beirut Madinati?

Beirut Madinati is a volunteer-led campaign that aims at challenging the traditional political leadership and working towards making “Beirut more livable: more affordable, more walkable, more green, more accessible, and, simply, more pleasant”. Their program was developed by experts with years of experiences and it addresses problems of affordability, mobility, waste management, air quality, public spaces, basic services, and municipal governance.

A lot of people will argue at this point that these ideas are impossible to achieve, which is why Beirut Madinati has been organizing a weekly open house, neighborhood gatherings and breakfasts in an attempt to interact with people, discuss their program and stress on two key parts of their electoral campaign: transparency and participation. Speaking of transparency, you can check all their finances on their [website].

What I love about Beirut Madinati so far is that they are pragmatic and transparent in their approach and that they are trying to make a change through the electoral process and not by going for unrealistic demands like toppling the system. It is an opportunity and a commitment to improve our city through the electoral process and I cannot but support it.

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To sum up their program in 10 points:
1- Improve urban mobility through an integrated strategy that makes soft options (i.e. walking, biking) more viable, enhances and organizes shared transportation systems.
2- Improve greenery and public space by incorporating the city’s shared spaces into a network of green passages and spaces.
3- Make housing more affordable for future homeowners and tenants.
4- Implement an integrated solid waste management strategy by providing incentives for businesses and households.
5- Protect and develop Beirut’s built and natural heritage, including its waterfront.
6- Build community spaces and enhance services, in partnership with stakeholders and active NGOs.
7- Integrate social justice, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic development.
8- Integrate principles of environmental sustainability and stewardship across all regulatory and operational interventions of the municipality.
9- Prioritize the health and safety of all city dwellers by recognizing the municipality’s responsibility to monitor, lobby for, and intervene.
10- Improve the organizational structure of the Municipality. [Full Program]

All in all, municipal reform is much needed in Beirut and all of Lebanon and Beirut Madinati has valuable ideas and a solid program that would definitely improve living conditions in the capital. In fact, they are probably the only side that actually presented an electoral program.

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Can Beirut Madinati actually win?

I don’t think that’s the right question to ask here. The fact that there’s an opposing list to the current municipality is already a major win. As long as there are people willing to step-in and participate actively in the political life to take back what is rightfully ours, we need to support them even if change takes years.

Beirut Madinati candidates, which were not yet announced, may not win this year but hopefully they will keep their initiative going for the years to come and be even more prepared in the next municipal elections. Even more, I think they should try to reach out to the winning candidates in the next 6 years and push for their ideas as I’m sure there’s at least one competent municipal member in Beirut.

Until then, let’s help them out by spreading the word and keeping the momentum going.

PS: For those who wish to contribute financially, you can donate [here].

#BlogWaladi: Clashing Parenting Styles & How To Deal With Grand Parents

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Briann

Even if you have the sweetest parents and in-laws, there will come a time when one of them or both will get on your nerves when they are offering unsolicited advice on how to care for your little one. Of course grandparents really do mean well and want to make sure that their grandchildren are cared for in the most proper way but their parenting styles and tips are not always the best and can be outdated, wrong, or downright harmful especially when they suggest Arak as a teething remedy, make your 6-month old child taste chocolate or drink water or even allow him to watch TV.

All grandparents want to help, even though they are not obligated to, so we should be grateful in a way and try to find a balance between letting them enjoy spoiling and loving their grandchildren and keeping them from crossing boundaries.

Here are few tips on how to handle unwanted parenting advice:
1- Be in agreement with your wife on how you’re going to raise your child. This will help you confront grandparents over sensitive issues.

2- Quote the pediatrician when boundaries are crossed, and make sure to do it respectfully and calmly in order not to harm the relationship and avoid confrontation. Your parents do have more experience than you in raising kids but they are not more qualified than your baby’s doctor to give advice.

3- Don’t set yourself as an adversary and try to listen to some of your grandparents’ advice. You definitely don’t want to miss out on some great advice and some of their tips might actually fit with your parenting style.

I know things are easier said than done, but it’s in your best interest to listen to grandparents, explain to them what they are doing wrong and come up with constructive things that each of them can do to help rather than reject everything they have to offer. Making them feel helpful is much more rewarding for the whole family, especially the baby.

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In order to illustrate better these clashing parenting styles that every family will face at some point, there’s a brilliant, and funny, YouTube series “Drama Mama” that my friend Maia did as part of Nestlé’s Start Healthy Stay Healthy initiative and that aims at generating awareness and providing essential information to pregnant women and mothers.

Some of the topics covered are: Water for newborns, Baby’s bed, Baby sleeping time, Teething in babies, Baby nutrition schedule and others.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

What Are We Teaching Our Kids In Lebanon?

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Vienna Metro

Last week, my wife and I managed to get out of the country and spend a few days in Europe. We wanted to recharge our batteries and get away from the daily pressures we all face in the country. The whole trip was amazing and we managed to disconnect and enjoy the beautiful cities of Budapest and Vienna during winter time. Looking back at the trip and any other trip, you realize that so many memories are forever engraved in your mind.

Ironically, the most striking image that I can never get out of my head is not that of an enchanting castle or a majestic church. It’s rather the image of a family (mom, dad and child) at the metro station in Vienna standing at the ticket booth making sure that they insert the tickets before using the metro.

So What’s the big deal? 

1- The rotating metallic barriers or blocking doors usually found at any metro station entrance in order to prevent people without tickets from entering, did not exist.

2- Security and police officers were not present at the gates in order to check the tickets and prevent people without purchased tickets from entering.

3- One can easily go in and out without a ticket. Nothing and nobody will stop them.

4- At the time, the station was somehow empty and almost nobody was around. These people were practically alone and yet they stopped in the middle of an empty hallway on a virtual border to insert their tickets before moving towards the metro area.

These two parents could have easily not stopped and kept going with their child. They could have used one of the many excuses we use everyday to justify our public wrongdoings (we’re late, we’re not the only ones, the train is here, who cares, everybody does it, etc). Instead, they are teaching their child not to steal or cheat his way through life, and are raising him to be a responsible citizen.

The question remains:

What are we teaching our kids in Lebanon? Are we able to raise them as true citizens with everything happening around us? How can we teach them to abide by the law when those in charge of enforcing it are corrupt? How can we ask them to do the right thing when you need a “wasta” for almost anything in this country?

I don’t have an answer for that but I know I will try my best to raise my kids to become good citizens and encourage them to make a difference in Lebanon and the world. Even though it’s hard in a country like ours, we all need to do an extra effort and teach our children honesty, responsibility, fairness, compassion and inspire them to make a change in their community. Raising our children to become good citizens in a failed state is difficult yet remains something we should be fully committed for their own sake and the country’s sake.

#BlogWaladi: Are You Guilty Of “Oversharenting”?

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baby1

“Oversharenting” (Over Sharing As a Parent) is basically sharing too many pictures and details about your kids on social media. A lot of parents I know are guilty of “Oversharenting” and it’s a major turn off not just for acquaintances and followers but also for relatives and close friends, yet I will never be able to come out and tell them to stop posting too many pictures. In fact, I don’t think it’s our right to tell them what to do 1) because it’s a very personal matter and 2) because you can easily ignore or hide pictures or posts you don’t like on most social media platforms, especially Facebook.

Personally speaking, I’m always worried that I might be oversharing pictures of Brian and I try to keep the pictures to a reasonable amount (3-4 times per month) even though I have that urge sometimes to share all the pictures I have of our little bundle of joy.

So how can you tell if you are over-sharing your children on social media?

If you look online, you will find a lot of quizzes and articles that help you figure out if you’re guilty of oversharenting but I think they are all useless because people always comment nicely on baby pictures, so it’s kinda hard to convince a parent who think his baby is the cutest baby in the world and is reminded by everyone on every single picture about that, not to share more pictures.

Nevertheless, here are few things that I’ve learned as a father that could prove helpful:

1- If you love sharing pictures of your child, don’t post more than once a week unless they are part of an album.

2- Be selective about your pictures, choose the one that best describe the moment and write a nice caption. Not all baby pictures are cute, and a lot of intimate pictures should be kept as private.

3- If you want to share a lot of pictures, use Whatsapp. I set up a whatsapp group for family members where I share all the pictures that I take of Brian. Whatsapp groups are non-intrusive and very practical.

4- Alternate between social media platforms when posting baby pictures. Share a picture on Instagram during one week and another on Facebook the following week. This is mostly useful for those like me who manage a Facebook page and profile.

5- Try to include yourself in your baby pictures. It makes them more personal and more relevant to your friends and followers.

6- Make sure you are taking the proper measures to ensure the privacy and security of your family members before sharing pictures. Make sure that you don’t reveal too much details about your kids that might make them vulnerable to predators, pedophiles, thieves, etc. This is a very important and sensitive point.

7- If you are not comfortable with sharing your baby pictures in the first place, don’t do it. There’s nothing wrong with keeping them private and it saves you a lot of hassle.

All in all, the biggest problem is that social media makes oversharing way too easy but it’s not that hard to follow certain guidelines and share safely and moderately.

If you are wondering if you’re taking too many pictures of your kids, check out my previous [post].

Inside O1NE Beirut By SKYBAR: Lebanon’s Hottest Night-Life Venue In Winter

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If Skybar is the place to be during summer in Lebanon, O1NE Beirut is the best place to party during winter. What started out as a huge pink round building was transformed into a true artistic landmark for Lebanon and the region. Talented graffiti artists from all over the world came to Lebanon to interpret the theme of music on the 3,000 sqm wall and the outcome is an awesome venue featuring the world’s largest privately owned graffiti wall.

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As for the interior, O1NE consists of blank white walls that come to life at night with 3D video mapping all over them. It was very difficult to visualize the interior when my friend at Skybar explained it to me, but once I was inside, the first thing that caught my attention was the beautiful interior and how it takes you from one mood to another throughout the night. The music and the 3D Mapping synced in a beautiful way that I haven’t seen anywhere in a night club before and everyone can see the mappings as they cover the full 360 degrees.

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O1NE is very spacious inside and even though I was with a group of 20 people that night, we never felt that squeezed or uncomfortable. Of course it got more and more crowded as the night progressed but it was relatively ok when compared to SKYBAR’s nights where you could barely move. Towards the end of the night, I went up to the DJ’s booth that overlooked the venue and it was pretty cool from up there. My contact at Skybar told me that there are plans to build private rooms with balconies overlooking the club in Beirut just like O1NE Abu Dhabi, which would be pretty cool but I don’t know when it will happen.

As far as the music is concerned, O1NE plays all genres of house music and has been bringing hot performers every week. Last weekend Jamie Jones was playing his sets and this week, it’s gonna get hotter with Luciano on Friday night and DJ Magnum on Saturday. Price-wise, we ended up paying around 65$ per person that night which is a very reasonable price.

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O1NE Beirut is located in Downtown Beirut right on Biel’s entrance. You can call 70 939 191 to book your table and make sure to check their Facebook page as they keep posting updates there.

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Rating: 4.5/5

10 Reasons Why I Love Reading Ivysays

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IVY1

1- She’s smart, witty and pretty.
2- She has become a good friend and she’s a great person to talk to.
3- She makes great burgers.
4- She’s original and consistent in her posts and they are always fun and interesting to read (except beauty reviews).
5- She didn’t change much and is still the same Ivy I know even after her big reveal.
6- She knows how to have fun at parties and events.
7- She’s the best female lifestyle blogger in Lebanon.
8- She has haters but you don’t want to mess with her.
9- She loves food and alcohol and we share the same tastes in a lot of stuff.
10- She got a TV segment and now has her own radio show on NRJ (99.1) every Wednesday from 7 till 8pm.

Congrats on the radio show Dana!

dana

Living The Single Life In Beirut

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[YouTube]

I am happily married because I chose to, but I’ve never understood the pressure that families and society in general here in Lebanon put on single women and men who don’t wish to get married or are just too focused on their career. Being single is not a bad thing and Jasmina Najjar tells us everything about living the single life in Beirut in this TED talk at LAU.

Jasmina is a good friend and the author of “Beirut Knights”, a book on Lebanese dating disasters. I started reading that book which is pretty fun but didn’t have time to finish yet. You can read more about the book and the author [Here].

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Lebanon Tightening Regulations on Foreign NGO Workers

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Mohammed-el-Amine-Mosque-in-Beirut-Lebanon Picture Via LayoverGuide

Foreign NGO workers should indeed apply for a different type of VISA if they are not coming here as tourists, but things should be made easy for them as they are here on a humanitarian mission and are helping us out at the end of the day.

Read the full article on the Economist [Here].

New rules now require foreigners engaged in humanitarian work to obtain visas before entering the country rather than alter them once there as used to be the case. Agencies have been instructed to inform the security agency of all foreigners working in their offices, including staff, volunteers, interns, and people visiting Lebanon for training or meetings. Officials have begun visiting NGO offices asking them to comply with the new regulations—or risk their staff being deported.

NGOs say that they want to obey the law, but that the process of obtaining a visa is unpredictable and cumbersome. It costs thousands of dollars, requires much paperwork, and takes months. Smaller organisations say the burden is too much. “If they want me to pay, I don’t mind. Just give me the documents,” says Kris, a founder of a non-profit hostel in Beirut who was recently deported. Kris submitted his residency and work permit applications in December but six months later he was told to leave Lebanon and escorted by security officers to the gate for his flight. [Economist]