Category Archives: Middle East

Leave Patriarch Rai Alone!

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[YouTube]

No one and I insist NO ONE has the right to tell Patriarch Bechara el Rai where he should go or should not, specially if he’s going on a religious visit to the Holy Land with the head of the Catholic Church. Enough said!

I am glad he put an end to this interview and I urge him to ignore all the media and just go on with his visit.

Healthy Ministry Confirms First MERS case detected in Lebanon + What You Need To Know about MERS

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bm_camel_free

Lebanese Health Minister Wael Abu Faour confirmed yesterday that a Lebanese was diagnosed with the coronavirus and that he was given the proper treatment and left the hospital. The MERS virus has killed over 120 people in Saudi Arabia and cases were reported in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain. Minister Abu Faour ordered to “activate scanners detect cases of MERS among travelers arriving at the Rafik Hariri International Airport” as a preventive measures.

Of course we should be worried about having a MERS case detected in Lebanon, but we shouldn’t panic as the virus is only transmissible between people who are in close contact and does not appear to spread easily among people in public settings.

Here’s some useful information on MERS taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US:

Q: What is MERS?
A: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV).

Q: What is MERS-CoV?
A: MERS-CoV is a beta coronavirus. It was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. MERS-CoV used to be called “novel coronavirus,” or “nCoV”. It is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.

Q: Is MERS-CoV the same as the SARS virus?
A: No. MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, MERS-CoV is most similar to coronaviruses found in bats. CDC is still learning about MERS.

Q: What are the symptoms of MERS?
A: Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 30% of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Q: Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?
A: MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact.[1] Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in several countries are being investigated.

Q: What is the source of MERS-CoV?
A: We don’t know for certain where the virus came from. However, it likely came from an animal source. In addition to humans, MERS-CoV has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV, indicating they were previously infected with MERS-CoV or a closely related virus. However, we don’t know whether camels are the source of the virus. More information is needed to identify the possible role that camels, bats, and other animals may play in the transmission of MERS-CoV.

Q: Am I at risk for MERS-CoV Infection in the United States?
A: You are not considered to be at risk for MERS-CoV infection if you have not had close contact, such as caring for or living with someone who is being evaluated for MERS-CoV infection.

Q: What if I recently traveled to countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries and got sick?
A: If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries[2], you should see your healthcare provider and mention your recent travel.

Q: How can I help protect myself?
A: CDC advises that people follow these tips to help prevent respiratory illnesses:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

Q: What are the treatments?
A: There are no specific treatments recommended for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.

Lebanese Karl Sharro And Patrick Baz Featured Among Time’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds Of 2014

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Sharro

Here’s what TIME said about Karl and Patrick

The tweets from this account can be as satirical and cringe-worthy as they are on-point and timely. The bold musings of Karl Sharro, a prominent Lebanese-Iraqi writer and commentator on Middle East affairs who spends his days as an architect in London, are shared widely as regional news breaks and frequently provide a lighter tone to what can otherwise be a dark storyline. —Andrew Katz

As the Middle East and North Africa photo manager for AFP, Patrick Baz has his finger on the pulse of breaking news in one of the most complex regions in the world. His feed is a vital and often real-time source of the best photojournalism and reporting coming out of Syria, Afghanistan and Egypt. —Mia Tramz

If you haven’t followed yet Karl on Twitter or checked his website, you are missing out a lot as he’s one of the funniest and wittiest people you could ever read. Patrick Baz‘s Instagram account is a must-follow too.

Check out the full TIME list [Here].

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40 Maps That Explain The Middle East

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phoenician_800_bc [High-Res]

Check out these 40 maps done by Max Fisher for understanding the Middle East — its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today. I found the above map interesting, showing how ancient Phoenicians spread from Lebanon across the Mediterranean. There’s also a map showing the Israeli and Hezbollah strikes in the 2006 Lebanon War.

The Phoenicians, who lived in present-day Lebanon and coastal Syria, were pretty awesome. From about 1500 to 300 BC, they ran some of the Mediterranean’s first big trading networks, shown in red, and dominated the sea along with the Greeks, who are shown in brown. Some sailed as far as the British Isles, and many of them set up colonies in North Africa, Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia. This was one of the first of many close cultural links between the Middle East and North Africa – and why Libya’s capital, Tripoli, still bears the name of the ancient Phoenician colony that established it.

Maronite Patriarch Rai To Visit The Holy Land

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JER-Film-Stills-Sunset-Dustin-Farrell via JTA

The Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara el Rai has decided to visit Jerusalem as part of a papal delegation in May. According to Al-Akhbar, he will be the first Lebanese Patriarch to ever visit the Holy Land. Former Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir had refused to accompany Pope John Paul II on his journey to the Holy Land because “there is a domestic situation that we must take into account. We have bishops that travel between Lebanon and Palestine, but taking into consideration the domestic situation, we preferred not to do it.”

I am not sure if the Patriarch needs any special permit to visit the Holy Land specially that the Maronite Church has a bishop there, so I guess we will have to wait and see how this goes. In all cases, I think it’s a bold move and I hope it works out.