Category Archives: Middle East

Four Lebanese Banks Among Forbes’ Top 100 Arab Companies Of 2016

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banks

The 2016 Forbes list of the Top 100 Arab Companies 2016 is out and four Lebanese banks made the list. To rank the top 100, Forbes started with 1,316 publicly-traded companies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, U.A.E. (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia and measured sales, net profits, assets and market value.

Saudi companies make up more than one-third of the top 100, with Saudi petrochemicals giant SABIC still in the first spot. QNB is the largest bank in the region and Etisalat, the biggest Arab telecommunications company, is fourth. Only banks from Lebanon made the list, with Bank Audi ranking the highest in #34, followed by Blom Bank #45, Byblos Bank #75 and Bank of Beirut #88.

You can check out the full list [here].

Love During The Siege: Fighting Hunger Through Hope and Love

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The Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press is held on June 2 every year, which is the anniversary of Samir Kassir’s assassination, and is funded by the European Union. The winners of the 2016 editions were as follows:

Opinion piece category: Maher Massoud (born in 1977) from Syria, an opinion writer for many Arab newspapers, magazines and websites and a researcher at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO).

Investigative article category: Mohammad Tarek (born in 1989) from Egypt, an investigative journalist at “Al-Masry Al-Youm” newspaper.

Audiovisual report category: Matar Ismaïl (born in 1988) from Syria, has been covering developments in Syria since the very beginning of the uprising in March 2011.

I’ve seen Ismail’s short movie “Love under Siege” and it’s a beautiful one. It sheds the light on the daily life of a Syrian family struggling to survive under siege south of Damascus and shows how these families fight the siege and hunger through hope and love they have learned to find during the hardest of time.

This is a reminder that Syria is still at war, that thousands of families living 2 hours away from Beirut are starving and dying every day.

Everyday, Arab Women are Told Who They Can and Can’t Be!

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I love this campaign. It’s basically a video portraying more than 20 Arab women coming from different walks of life to celebrate difference and uniqueness. Unfortunately, we are still very far from achieving gender equality in the Arab World and women in the Arab World and more specifically in Lebanon are still treated as second-class citizens and are still victims of abuse and domestic violence.

Check out the video:

The Narrow Streets of Bourj Hammoud

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Burj hammoud via OldBeirut

Bourj Hammoud used to be a huge garden back in the 1920s before thousands of Armenian refugees began arriving in Beirut and settling in refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. What began as a tent camp soon turned into an urban center and later on in the 1950s an independent municipality.

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Burj Hammoud is one of the most densely populated cities in the Middle East and has been neglected for years by the authorities. Fifteen years ago, several houses and shops were torn to build a bridge right across the overcrowded city. As a result, hundreds of households are now living in detrimental conditions under the bridge or right next to it.

The below video by Joanne Nochu is a leader for a 90 minute film on “The Narrow Streets of Bourj Hammoud” and has received support from the Wenner Gren Foundation.

Here’s a brief on the project:

This project established a filmmaking workshop for young adults living in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon. Bourj Hammoud is a diverse, densely populated, working-class suburb of Beirut that is dominated by Armenian social and political institutions. Earlier dissertation research in Bourj Hammoud looked at the ramifications of various urban planning initiatives as well as infrastructures and social service institutions on the formation of sectarian identity. Using videography and photography, the grantee documented how people obtained much-needed services and resources, like education, medical care, electricity and water. The presence of the grantee’s camera elicited great interest among several of interlocutors and enabled unexpected conversations as grantee and interlocutor filmed the urban landscape of Bourj Hammoud together. The engaged anthropology project established a filmmaking workshop with some interlocutors.

The Narrow Streets of Bourj Hammoud from Joanne Nucho on Vimeo.

Beirut’s Raouché Rock Lit Up with Lebanese & Belgian Flags

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Raouceh

The Raouché rock in Beirut was lit up with the Lebanese and Belgian flags, in solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attacks that hit Brussels few days ago. Beirut’s Pigeon Rock was also illuminated to condemn terrorist attacks back in November 2015 following the Burj el Brajneh and Paris attacks.

Now we’ll never hear the end of it. Why Belgium and Paris and not Egypt or Ankara? Or Baghdad? In fact right now we have a repeat of what happened back in November 2015 whereas media is talking about the Ankara attacks that took place before Brussels and were barely mentioned in the news. There’s also the horrible suicide bombing that took place in Baghdad yesterday inside at a football match and killed at least 30 people.

I don’t want to get into this debate because it’s a useless one. Some argue that bombs have become the norm in our region while they have yet to become the norm in the West, while others insist that global media gives more importance to the West but what matters to me is that terrorism is on the rise, innocent people are getting killed and we are not doing enough to combat extremism.

Lebanese Finally Agree On Something: Thank you Ahlam!

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A7lam3

I’ve been reading for the past half hour the replies to Ahlam following her ill-mannered tweets against the Lebanese media and people and I can’t stop laughing! That’s not the first time she insults Lebanese and she totally deserves this bashing.

For those who aren’t aware of what happened, one of A7lam’s fan, also known as Halloumi (Halloumiyeen bil jame3) tweeted at Adel Karam after he mocked the Emirate “singer”, so she retweeted it and insulted the Lebanese media by saying:

“This is a video for the beggars in the Lebanese media who have insulted their queen. A poem from my country responding to them.”

Then she replied to another post and said:

“I’m telling the beggars so they won’t keep on talking about their mistress and queen. Let them prove they love their country and pick up the garbage from their streets.”

I love how all the Lebanese online agreed on bashing her together. The hashtag #منع_احلام_من_دخول_لبنان has been viral for two days now. What’s also surprising is that Adel’s video on A7lam was funny, check it out:

عادل كرم يسخر من "الملكة" أحلام !#هيدا_حكي

Posted by ‎Neswa cafe نسوة كافيه‎ on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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People in Lebanon Getting Happier

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2016 happiness

The 2016 World Happiness Report is out and Lebanon has surprisingly gained 10 spots. “GDP per capita” is still the most important explanatory variable in determining national happiness, followed by healthy life expectancy and social support for Lebanon.

Here’s the complete ranking list for Arab countries:
28- UAE (Down 8 spots)
34- Saudi Arabia (Up 1 spot)
36- Qatar (Down 8 spots)
41- Kuwait (Down 2 spots)
42- Bahrain (Up 7 spots)
67- Libya (Down 4 spots)
80- Jordan (Up 2 spots)
108- Palestine (No change)
112- Iraq (No change)
120- Egypt (Up 15 spots)
147- Yemen (Down 11 spots)
157- Syria (Down 1 spot)

Syria remains the least happy country in the Arab world and in the world right after Burundi.

You can read more about the report [here].

Google is Celebrating Iconic Arab Poet Nizar Qabbani

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Google is celebrating Nizar Qabbani’s 93rd through a series of four different doodles. Nizar Qabbani, considered the titan of Arab literature, is one of the most revered contemporary poets in the Arab world. The doodles depict different periods in the poet’s life during which he wrote some of his most celebrated works, one of them being Beirut of course.

The illustrations are also inspired from Nizar Qabbani’s poems; such as the jasmine flowers from his garden in Damascus and the palm trees that lined Baghdad during his time there. Arab nationalism, love and feminism were among the most popular topics he wrote about, noting that he worked as a diplomat.

Qabbani had a special passion for Beirut and established his own publishing house here. He left it in 1981 after his wife, an Iraqi woman named Balqis al-Rawi, was killed in an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Beirut.

For those of you who haven’t read any of Qabbani’s poems, you probably heard them in songs as many were incorporated into lyrics by some of the most renowned Arab singers such Fairouz, Abdel-Halim Hafez, Majida el Roumi, Um Kalthoum, Kazem el Saher and others …

One of his most popular Beirut poems is “يا ست الدنيا يا بيروت” that became a post-war hit song by Majida al-Roumi.

[YouTube]

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The Week Middle East: Is Lebanon Sinking?

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Lebanon sinking

The Week Middle East featured our PM Tamman Salam on its cover page with the title “Is Lebanon Sinking?” in reference to the ongoing garbage crisis. I tried looking for the magazine but couldn’t find it at Virgin or anywhere so I looked it up online and bought the issue as a souvenir haha!

The article on Lebanon’s garbage crisis is on page 6 and it says “River of Rubbish: Lebanon’s inability to act”. It pretty much sums up how messed up the country is recently. Let’s hope (it won’t happen) all our ministers, not just the Prime Minister, wake up once and for all and smell the coffee or the garbage in that case.

My worry at this point is that they agree to export the garbage and end up dumping it in the sea. After faking the papers to the Russian company, I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if they do that.

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