Category Archives: Middle East

The Selfiest Cities in the World: Beirut Ranked 210


According to Time, Makati City known as the financial center of the Philippines is the Selfie Capital of the World, or the capital where people take the most selfies. Manhattan came in second spot followed by Miami. As far as Arabic cities are concerned, Doha came first (Ranked 42 worldwide), followed by Dubai (Ranked 63 worldwide). Beirut is in the 5th spot regionally and 210th worldwide.

Here are the Arabic cities that made it to the top 100 list:
42. Doha, QA: 52 selfie-takers per 100,000 people
63. Dubai, AE: 41 selfie-takers per 100,000 people
87. Abu Dhabi, AE: 33 selfie-takers per 100,000 people
92. Sharjah, AE: 32 selfie-takers per 100,000 people

To investigate the geography of selfie-taking, TIME built a database of more than 400,000 Instagram photos tagged “selfie” that included geographic coordinates. In total, we ranked 459 cities to determine the selfiest places on earth. Fear not Manhattan and Miami, you’re up there.

Check out the original article and full map [Here].

Thanks Sam!

Are White Belly Dancers Engaging In Cultural Appropriation?


Ranja Jarrar argues in her piece that white women who practice belly dance are, willingly or unwillingly, engaging in appropriation. Personally speaking, I didn’t really get the point the author was trying to make and I never saw a problem in white women learning how to belly dance and finding in it a form of self-expression.

Women I have confronted about this have said, “But I have been dancing for 15 years! This is something I have built a huge community on.” These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.

But, here’s the thing. Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in; we are not bangles or eyeliner or tiny bells on hips. We are human beings. This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community; can gain a deeper sense of sisterhood with each other; can reclaim their bodies; can celebrate their sexualities; can perform for the female gaze. Just because a white woman doesn’t profit from her performance doesn’t mean she’s not appropriating a culture. And, ultimately, the question is this: Why does a white woman’s sisterhood, her self-reclamation, her celebration, have to happen on Arab women’s backs? [Source]

More Than 1000 Cyclists Take Part In The “Ride For Roy” 65K Memorial Ride


The Ride For Roy is a 65 km ride that starts and finishes at Atlantis, The Palm. It was organized to honor Triathlon Lebanese Champion Roy Nasr‘s memory. Roy was killed by a drunk driver whilst riding his bike near Safa Park back in September 2013.

More than 1000 cyclists joined the ride, noting that all the registration fees will go into the Roy Nasr Memorial Fund.

Here are few testimonies given by athletes on Roy, including Lebanese Maxime Chaaya.


“This is to celebrate the life of a man who was an inspiration to so many,” said Paul Venn, an organiser with Race ME, which hosts triathlon events. “It is a chance for people to pay their respects to a man who was never happier than when on his bike. The thought of more than 1,000 people on a ride with jerseys with his name would have put an enormous smile on his face.”

“Roy was a natural leader and had a certain aura about him, so whether it was in the sea or in the pool he would give others a boost and help them swim a bit quicker,” Seth Chappels, founder of Dubai Masters Swim Club where Nasr trained, said. “He was a competitive triathlete but always had time for a word for you,” he said. “You could not help but like him.”

“Roy was a motivator and such a warm person,” said Chris Khouri, an IT manager who took to triathlons after a 2009 motorbike accident left him disabled below the chest. “He would call me every couple of months to chat and he didn’t have to. He has left behind a legacy. He touched so many people because of his positivity.”

Baghdad Airport Deputy Head Arrested Over MEA Incident


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the arrest and dismissal of Samer Kubba, Baghdad Airport’s deputy head as well as all “those responsible for preventing the plane coming from Beirut from landing in Baghdad”. Yesterday, Iraqi authorities forced a MEA airplane to return to Beirut because the son of the Iraqi Transport Minister had missed the flight.

I want to believe that the Iraqi authorities will take the necessary measures but I have a feeling it’s just a media stunt to cover up the story.

LinkedIn to include new ‘Wasta’ section for Middle East markets


Hilarious stuff from the Pan-Arabia Enquirer and the comments are as epic as ever! Read the full article and comments [Here].

In an announcement made this morning, the company revealed that the ‘Wasta’ category would be launched next month and would instantly allow its “10 million plus users across the region to update their profiles with important information about who they know, who they’re related to and any other influential connections that could improve their chances of getting a job”.

“Localisation is absolutely vital for us,” said LinkedIn regional manager Hisham Caterjee. “Our MENA clients need to show prospective employers key abilities such as having an important uncle or being the shisha buddy of a high ranking civil servant.”

PS: Pan-Arabia Enquirer is a satire website.

The Most Powerful Lebanese Women – 2014


Arabian Business released their “100 most powerful Arab women 2014″ list and 17 Lebanese women were ranked among the top 100, with Swatch’s Nayla Hayek climbing 2 ranks from last year to 6th position. UAE’s Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is still ranked first for the fourth year in a row.

6- Nayla Hayek
14- Leila el Solh
39- Ayah Bdeir
45- Grace Najjar
49- Nadine Labaki
56- Hanan Al Shaykh
58- Fairouz
59- Nesreen Ghaddar
62- Joumana Haddad
63- Reine Abbas
64- Nancy Ajram
76- Hind Hobeika
79- Rabab Al Sadr
83- Mona Bawarshi
87- Christine Sfeir
93- Elissa
98- Najwa Karam

Here’s what Arabian Business wrote about Nayla Hayek.

Nayla Hayek is one half of a brother and sister team that oversees the world’s biggest watch company. Last year, Swatch posted a 20 percent increase in annual profits to $2bn, with overall revenues coming in at just under $10bn.
Hayek, whose father co-founded the company, has been an active member of the board ever since her appointment in 1995. When her father died in 2010 he was ranked the 232nd richest person in the world with an estimated wealth of $3.9bn.
Swatch’s importance lies not just in the fact that it is such a huge manufacturer; it makes most of the parts that make other Swiss watches tick. The firm has been on the acquisition war path in recent years; its stable of brands includes Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Longines and Tissot.
Last January, the watch giant announced it had acquired the Harry Winston Diamond Corp’s luxury goods operation in a deal valued at as much as $1bn. After that deal was concluded, Hayek became CEO of the company.

PayPal Has No Plans To Launch In Lebanon Anymore


According to Executive-Magazine’s [article], we won’t be having PayPal anytime soon in Lebanon.

The Lebanese launch, however, is not just stuck in the pipeline – it has been taken out of it altogether. Currently, Barel says, there are no specific plans to launch in Lebanon at all. “We are trying to expand to new territories and to other countries, but right now we don’t have specific targets for Lebanon,” he says.

A Map Of Female Labor Force Participation Around The World: 25% Or Less Of Lebanese Women Work

women-labor-force-participation1 [High-Res]

The numbers are taken from the most recent data from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators on female labor force participation rates, but to be honest, I find 25% a very low percentage for Lebanese women. You check out the original article [here].

That’s a jargony way of measuring the percentage of women ages 15 and up who are employed. The higher this number, the better for women (economic self-sufficiency, or at least the potential to be economically self-sufficient, is closely linked with all sorts of other basic rights) and the better for countries. Any country where it’s hard for women to work, whether because they’re pressured to stay home or because educational attainment is tougher or just because of straight-up discrimination, is effectively suppressing half of its economic potential. That makes everybody poorer and worse off. [WashingtonPost]

Lebanon Drops 5 Spots From Last Year In The Press Freedom Index 2014


Syria is the worst ranked Arab country in 177th spot (out of 180). Kuwait is the best ranked Arab country in the 91st spot.

Here’s the list of Arab Countries and their respective ranking:

Syria – 177
Saudi Arabia – 164
Bahrain – 163
Iraq – 153
Jordan – 141
Palestine – 138
Oman – 134
UAE – 118
Qatar – 113
Kuwait – 91

Lebanon had dropped 8 spots last year and 5 more spots this year. You can check the full report and World map [Here].

In Lebanon, where the media serve as the propaganda outlets of businessmen and politicians, the Syrian conflict has consolidated the existing fault line between media allied with “8 March” (the mainly Shiite movement supported by Tehran and Damascus) and media allied with “14 March” (the mainly Sunni coalition supported by Saudi Arabia against Damascus). This polarization between media that support and oppose the Syrian government has reinforced Lebanon’s social and political polarization.