Category Archives: Middle East

Gulf Agrees New Contract For Domestic Workers While Lebanon Refuses To Change Its Archaic Kafala System

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Domestic workers in the Gulf will be entitled to end of service indemnity and overtime pay for extra work. Employers won’t be allowed to confiscate their passports or documents, or forbid them from leaving the house. The new contracts also limits the working day to eight hours. Of course this is not the ideal contract yet, but it’s a major improvement from the previous one and the one we have in Lebanon.

It’s sad how we always brag about being a democratic country that respects human rights, yet we haven’t been able to change this pro-slavery Kafala system.

Read the full article [Here].

Gulf labour ministers have agreed on minimum terms to improve the contracts of more than two million domestic staff working in the region, a top official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The move comes as labour ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are to meet with their Asian counterparts in Kuwait this week to discuss the issue.
The new contract entitles domestic workers to a weekly day off, annual leave and the right to live outside their employer’s house, the director general of Kuwait’s Public Manpower Authority, Jamal Al Dossari, told AFP.

Thanks Mustapha!

How Ford Put The New Mustang On Burj Khalifa’s 112th Floor

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I was at the event yesterday and it was pretty amazing, but I was wondering how they moved the car that high. As it turns out, they moved it in parts and assembled it on the top. They couldn’t use a helicopter because the area is too narrow and dangerous for such a stunt.

I will write a full post soon on this whole experience as it was a thrilling one.

[YouTube]

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2014 Good City Index: Beirut Among The 50 Most Inspiring Cities in the World

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The GOOD City Index includes a list of 50 cities from around the world that best capture the elusive quality of possibility. Beirut was ranked 9th in 2013 and is in 10th position this year. The report describes Beirut as a city of possibility, in various fields such as civic engagement, street life, connectivity, green life, diversity, work and life balance and others.

I know that things aren’t at their best in Lebanon, but we have to keep hoping for the best and keep pushing for change despite all the obstacles. More importantly, we need to defend our liberties and freedom of expression because without them, Lebanon would be lost forever.

You can check out Beirut’s profile [Here].

The last bastion of the liberal Middle East, Beirut is where the rest of the Arab world comes to let their hair down. While there is much more to the city than drinking cocktails on the beach, the fact that one can even do that legally is an important aspect of life in Beirut. More importantly, Beirut is one of the region’s only cities where people are free to embrace secularism, gay rights, and free artistic expression. Residents of Lebanon are constantly reminded that they are living in the midst of ongoing regional and political turmoil. However, this uncertainty has done little to slow Lebanese-funded construction. Nor has it impacted infrastructure, park development, or partnerships with cities like Geneva, London, and Paris aimed at making the city a better place to live. In 2014, Beirut’s startup scene thrived: Displaced Syrian artists established new studios in the city, the arrival of Uber ameliorated the city’s notorious traffic problem, and green activists proved Horsh Park could be a place for tolerance. Clinging to its outlier status in a region of uncertainty, Beirut will continue to be a beacon of possibility.

ISIS May Have Killed Peter (or Abdul-Rahman) Kassig

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Peter Kassig Peter Kassig in Beirut

That’s just terrible news! I was really hoping that Peter Kassig would be released soon. I’ve been following up on Kassig’s story for quite some time and this man has done a tremendous job in helping refugees specially in Lebanon.

He came to Beirut in the spring of 2012 and decided to stay here and help out the Syrian refugees. He was only 24 when he founded the humanitarian group Sera (Special Emergency Response and Assistance), aimed at providing medical training, supplies and treatment in areas too difficult for other humanitarian organizations to operate in. He also changed his name from Peter to Abdul Rahman. I remember reading about Abdul Rahman on the Lebanese blog Hummusforthought who was a friend of his before he got captured in October 2013.

His humanitarian work made headlines all over the world, but it wasn’t enough for IS to free him. Here’s an excerpt from the letter he wrote to his parents while in captivity:

“I am obviously pretty scared to die…I am very sad that all this has happened and for what all of you back home are going through,” Kassig wrote in the letter. “If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need.”

The Islamic State Versus Lebanon

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I don’t think we will have a new civil war in Lebanon and I strongly believe the Lebanese and the Army (Add to that the Lebanese Pot Farmers) will keep Da3esh away from here.

While the Islamic State and the Al Nusra Front lack the capacity for a full scale invasion, many fear their car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings might prove so destabilizing that the nation might once again spiral towards sectarian civil war.

[YouTube]

AUB Among The Best Five Arab Region Universities

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The American University of Beirut was the best ranked in Lebanon, followed by the Lebanese University in 37th spot, Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth in the 50th spot and finally the Lebanese American University which was ranked 52 out of 91 universities. The rankings seem pretty reasonable except for LAU which I believe should be at a much higher position.

You can check out the full list [Here] and the methodology followed [here].

The inaugural U.S. News Best Arab Region Universities rankings are the first in-depth assessment of schools in the region. This 1.0 version of the rankings is the beginning of a long-term project to develop surveys and rankings for the region.

U.S. News believes that the 2015 Best Arab Region Universities rankings will allow prospective students, parents, policymakers and employers in the region to accurately compare institutions – something that had not been possible in the past due to a lack of standardized educational data. Arab region universities will also be able to use these rankings as a way to benchmark themselves against schools in their own country and region and discover top schools from other countries to collaborate with.

The rankings – which are based on bibilometric data and research metrics provided by Scopus, part of the Elsevier Research Intelligence portfolio – focus specifically on institutions’ academic research output and performance and not their separate undergraduate or graduate programs.

Lebanon Ranked Among The Worst Countries In Terms Of Gender Inequality

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The Annual Gender Gap Index is out and Lebanon has dropped from last year to the 135th spot (out of 142) and suffers from severe gender inequality. Moreover, Lebanon ranked really bad in terms of female political participation, given the low number of women holding public office. Lebanon is the second worst ranked country in the Arab world after Syria only in the 139th spot. Kuwait is the best ranked in 113th spot, followed by UAE (115), Bahrain (124), Egypt (129), Saudi Arabia (130) and Jordan (134).

The report is issued by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. You can download it [Here].

Thanks Gianni!

Lebanon Tops The List of Countries By Net Migration Rate

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The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population change and does not differentiate between economic migrants, refugees and other types of migrants. Of course it’s not surprising to see Lebanon on top given the number of Syrian refugees entering the country everyday.

In terms of other Arab countries, Qatar came second, followed by Jordan in fifth spot, then Bahrain and UAE in 9th and 10th respectively.

The list was posted on Wikipedia and was taken from the CIA website.

Thanks Oday

Samir Kassab Is Also Lebanese And Is Still Missing In Syria

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We all want the kidnapped Lebanese soldiers to be freed, and it is a matter of utmost importance, but we should give the same importance to any Lebanese kidnapped in Syria, whether they are soldiers, journalists, activists or just normal citizens. Samir Kassab is a Lebanese and the Lebanese authorities should free him the soonest possible, specially that there are no politics involved here.

It’s been a year already and no one knows where Samir is.

One year after Lebanese cameraman Samir Kassab was kidnapped, his family still wakes up each day hoping that their son, brother, and fiance will return to them. “Since then, we have no confirmed information regarding his situation,” Georges Kassab, Samir’s brother, told The Daily Star. “We heard from someone who said they saw him together with his crew – though nothing is sure.”

Kassab was kidnapped with his Sky News colleagues Ishak Moctar, a Mauritanian, and a Syrian driver whose family asked that his name not be printed, while working near Aleppo on assignment last October. [Link]

Beirut-Based Mukhi Sisters Among The Top 5 Middle Eastern Daywear Jewelry Designers

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Style.com (Arabia) featured the Mukhi Sisters as one of the top 5 Middle Eastern Jewelry Designers. I don’t know much about jewelry but I’ve met the Mukhi sisters on several occasions and appreciate their work and designs. One more reason why I like them is that their designs would fit perfectly on some Game of Thrones characters and I am a huge GOT fan.

Anyway, here’s the [list] featuring all 5 jewelry designers.

Using gold, diamonds, as well as other precious and semi-precious stones, they draw on their personalities, interests and obsessions to create high-end pieces. You can describe a Mukhi Sisters piece as a statement of individuality. Some of their favorite statement and signature collections are the ones that Mukhi clients tell them are conversation pieces. Their jewelry, at once whimsical and original, conveys things both about the 3 Mukhis -Maya, Meena and Zeenat- and about the women (and lately men) who wear their designs.
Jewelry runs in the Mukhi family genes: their mother is Effat Kreidie, the creative force behind Effy’s Jewelry. Their father, Chandru Mukhi, comes from a long line of Indian jewelers in the industry since 1875. Born into a world of dazzle and sparkle, Maya, Meena and Zeenat were on intimate terms with fine gems and jewelry from an early age. With such a rich heritage, the sisters began collaborating on their own brand.

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