Category Archives: Middle East

Lebanon Wins Galactic Discovery Competition – MENA Region

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gala

My friends from Uf Chou Laziz just informed me that they won the international Land Rover Galactic Discovery Competition for the Middle East North Africa Region! The winning team members are Wajid El Hitti, Sam Nassif, Samah El Hakim and Nicola El Hakim and they won a 6 days wildlife travel adventure to Botswana in Africa in mid-2015. The video was shot in Lebanon of course.

Congrats guys and I hope you go to space one day!

[YouTube]

Five Lebanese Among The World’s Richest Arabs In 2014

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l1

Arabian Business released their 2014 list of the world’s richest Arabs and five Lebanese made the top 50 list just like last year. Here are the names of the richest Lebanese in the Arab world for 2014 and how they compared to last year.

Joseph Safra (Lebanese-Brazilian)
Rank: 3 (Up 5 spots from 2013)
Wealth: $11.9 billion

Taha Mikati
Rank: 27 (Down 2 spots)
Wealth: $3.2 billion

Najib Mikati
Rank: 28 (Down 1 spot)
Wealth: $3.2 billion

The Hayek Family
Rank: 33 (Down 1 spot)
Wealth: $2.9 billion

Saad Hariri
Rank: 35 (Down 6 spots)
Wealth: $2.7 billion

Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal topped the list with $28.1 billion dollars. Check out the full list [Here].

l2

Refugees In Lebanon Facing Bitter Winter: Here’s How You Can Help

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winter

The United Nations has run out of money and announced that it is suspending its food programme serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. It’s really quite pathetic that the UN cannot secure $64 million to support the refugees for the rest of December. In all cases, this means that winter will be even harsher for refugees in Lebanon who are already struggling to make a living.

However, there are campaigns being organized just like every year to help them out in Lebanon and regionally and two of them are happening on Saturday December 6. Here are details about the two events for those interested:

House of Mouneh Project For Refugees – Zahr el-laymoun – Dbayeh on December 6, 2014.
This is a project supported by the US Embassy in Beirut. Lebanese for Refugees (L4R) is a civil campaign to aid the burgeoning number of refugees in Lebanon.

Donate Clothes for the Refugees in Iraq – Forum De Beyrouth between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
All clothes and shoes donated will be packed and shipped to Erbil to help all the displaced families who are suffering from inhuman and miserable conditions.

invisible

Lebanon Among The Ten Worst Countries For Women

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abuse

Lebanon was ranked among the ten worst countries for women in the world and scored one of the lowest rates in terms of women political empowerment with less than 3% (Yemen, Oman, Qatar and Brunei Darussalam are the only countries with less than 3%). The original report was produced by The WEF’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Report which measured disparities between men and women in 142 countries. In the worst-scoring nations, economic and educational opportunities, as well as political representation and health outcomes, were far worse for women than for men.

Here’s what the article said about Lebanon:

Few nations were rated worse than Lebanon for women’s political empowerment. Just 3% of seats in Lebanon’s parliament were held by women, one of the absolute lowest rates. Further, none of the country’s ministerial positions were occupied by women. One problem for many women in the country may be that religious laws cover issues of personal status, such as marriage and divorce. Despite passing a new anti-domestic violence law in April 2014, Human Rights Watch said the country still has significant room for improvement. In particular, the organization said that “Exempting matters governed by personal status laws from the domestic violence law undermines women’s security in the home.”

8. Lebanon
> Female-to-male income ratio: 0.27 (7th worst)
> Labor force participation (m/f): 76% / 26%
> Literacy rate (m/f): 93% / 86%
> Pct. women in parliament: 3%

I know women face a long battle for equality in this country and drastic changes need to be introduced, but the percentage of women in parliament is not a very significant ratio to look at right now as the whole country is paralyzed and we haven’t had elections in 4 years or more. I can’t believe we are ranked worse than KSA!

You can check out the full report [Here].

Check Out Awesome non-Terrorist Pizza: Domino’s Pizza In Syria

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domios syria

I have no idea how this page is still up and no one reported yet. Check out the last few posts:

Enhanced security in central Damascus restaurants!
THANKYOU OBAMA!

The toilets are NOT a place to dispose of inert grenades! We’ve been having issues with this a lot lately, especially with the IS militants.
-Domino’s Syria Team

1 large pizza for every IS corpse in our Damascus restaurants!
-Dominos Pizza Syria team

We’ve been getting asked a lot about this lately and we would like to clear this up:
NO! We do not rent our ovens out for mass disposal of bodies!
More lies made up by Pizza Hut™!

Thanks Maia!

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

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AP071114064703-copySM

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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Beirut

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.”