Category Archives: Middle East

Queen Rania’s Spot-On Reply To Charlie Hebdo’s Racist & Tasteless Cartoon

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A lot of people, including myself, condemned the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo in the name of free speech, but many people were against using the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag simply because this magazine’s views do not represent them, and a clear example of that is Charlie Hebdo’s latest cartoon about Aylan Kurdi and sex attackers.

The French satirical magazine suggested that Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian kid whose tragic picture made headlines worldwide, would have grown up to be a sex attacker, in reference to the recent mass sexual assaults that took place on NYE in Cologne. I thought the cartoon was racist, disgusting and distasteful to say the least and I honestly don’t care what message they were trying to send through this drawing and whether they were misunderstood or not, you just don’t do that with the memory of an innocent dead child.

A lot of people were outraged by the cartoon, yet the best answer came from Jordan’s Queen Rania who responded with a sketch of her own, where she posted “Aylan could’ve been a doctor, a teacher, a loving parent…”. I thought the reply was spot-on and I will also add to it “Aylan could have been from Lebanon, France or any country going through war”, so let’s put ourselves in every refugee’s shoes and stay away from hateful and racist statements. Just like I said last week following the graphic images of death and starvation that emerged from the Syrian town of Madaya, you can easily ignore what’s happening around you if you don’t feel concerned, but making fun of other people’s misery makes you a sick person.

Ghena Bou Hamdan: The Young Syrian Girl Singing For Syria’s Children Of War

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Back in the late 70s and early 80s, famous Lebanese child singer Remi Bandali captured Arab hearts by singing “3touna el toufouli” and “Imani A7la Iman” to a war-torn Lebanon. Over 35 years later, Ghena Bou Hamdan did the same by bursting into tears while singing Bandali’s “Give Us Our Childhood” song on the new MBC show “The Voice Kids”. Ghena was carrying a message of peace and hope for her home country and singing for all of Syria’s Children of war. Syria has become the toughest and most dangerous country in the world to be a child and the Syrian War has left millions of children deprived of their rights to survival, health and nutrition.

There are over 14 million children who can’t go to school because of wars in the Arab World, and a lot of children are unfortunately losing their innocence due to the war. We see hundreds of them begging and selling flowers on the streets instead of being in school, others are being sexually exploited or even recruited to become child soldiers.

These kids are the forgotten victims of the horrific war and they need every help they could get. I hope Ghena’s performance will help shed more light on this situation and get these innocent children much-needed assistance.

[YouTube]

UNESCO Adds Arabic Coffee To “Cultural Heritage” List

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UNESCO announced the new additions to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list last week and the tradition of making Arabic coffee was among the 20 new traditions.

Quoting the UNESCO report, “Serving Arabic coffee is an important aspect of hospitality in Arab societies and considered a ceremonial act of generosity. Traditionally, coffee is prepared in front of guests. The most important or oldest guest is served first, filling a quarter of the cup, which can then be refilled. Common practice is to drink at least one cup but not exceed three.”

Even though the countries mentioned in the report are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, making Arabic coffee is also part of our Lebanese culture and is served in all occasions. The most common type is the Turkish coffee that you will find in most cafés in Lebanon. Street coffee sellers are also still popular in some areas like Tripoli.

Coffee-making begins with the selection of beans, which are lightly roasted in a shallow pan over a fire, then placed into a copper mortar and pounded with a copper pestle. The coffee grounds are placed into a large copper coffee pot; water is added and the pot is placed on the fire. Once brewed, it is poured into a smaller coffee pot from which it is poured into small cups.

Europe’s Refugee Crisis In Comparison To Lebanon

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We have 1.5 million refugees in a country of 4 million people. That’s the equivalent of:

– Germany hosting 20 million refugees.
– America hosting 80 million refugees.

We are all aware of the situation but it’s very hard to compare the situation in Europe vs Lebanon. When Germany plans to welcome refugees, they allocate the needed resources to integrate them and naturalize them on the long run, while in Lebanon refugees came in because our borders were open for political reasons and no matter how long they stay here, we will always consider them as foreigners (look at the Palestinians).

On the other hand, saying that Syrians are fleeing to Lebanon for economical reasons is bull shit and claiming that they are taking our jobs is a myth. In fact, we’ve had a major shortage of Syrian skilled workers ever since the Lebanese authorities decided to impose visa restrictions.

I honestly have no idea how the country has survived economically this huge burden but what worries is that the Syrian crisis is getting worse and Europe will eventually stop receiving refugees (if they haven’t stopped already) which means that more will be coming our way. No one knows who’s fighting who in Syria anymore and every time a new country starts bombing, more civilians have to flee their cities.

original via KarlRemarks

I doubt any of the Syrian families want to stay in Lebanon living in shitty conditions, sleeping on the streets and begging for food and water. Even Lebanese are dropping their passport and trying to flee the country. No one wants to stay here but there’s no place to go.

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Alicé Anil’s report is a good reminder of the current crisis in Lebanon and that we need a lot of help from the Western countries but the comparison is a bad one in my opinion. The countries that should be ashamed of themselves for not welcoming Syrian refugees are first and foremost Arab countries.

Check out the report [here].

Lebanese Car Makers W Motors Just Launched A Second SuperCar: The Fenyr Supersport

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Three years after launching the world’s most exclusive super-car, the Lykan Hypersport, with only 7 units produced, Dubai-Based W Motors has just unveiled at the Dubai Motor Show yesterday their second super-car: The Fenyr Supersport.

The Fenyr Supersport won’t be as exclusive as its predecessor as 25 units will be produced and the price tag will be around $1.6 million but that’s not confirmed yet. The car is powered with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter flat six-cylinder engine and develops almost 900 horsepower (vs 770 hp for Lykan). The Fenyr Supersport can get from 0 to 100 in 2.7 seconds (vs 2.8 seconds for the Lykan) and has a top speed exceeding 400km/h or 248 mph (vs 245 mph for the Lykan). The whole car-body “is crafted out of carbon fiber and complemented by a tubular light-weight aluminium chassis”.

The Fenyr looks awesome but I hope we will get to see it perform on a track, unlike the Lykan Hypersport which we’ve only seen in pictures and flying through buildings in the last Fast & Furious movie.

Here’s how the Fenyr compares to other super-cars:

Fenyr Supersport: V6 4.0 liter 900hp 0 -100: 2.7s top speed: 400 kph
LaFerrari: V12 6.3 litres 963hp 0-100: Less than 3s top speed: 350 kph
Bugatti Veyron: W16 8.0 litres 1,001hp 0-100: 2.7s top speed: 407 kph
Lamborghini Veneno Roadster: V12 750hp 0-60: 2.9s Top Speed: 355 kph

Here are few exclusive shots that I took at the Dubai Motor Show yesterday right after the official unveiling. The interior wasn’t revealed yet by the way.

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And this is a picture of the old Lykan, the closest thing to the Batmobile.

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My First Time At The #DubaiMotorShow

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I just landed in Dubai and I’m here to attend the 2015 Dubai International Motor Show. I’m here with the Ford & Lincoln team and I’m looking forward to another exciting experience. This is my second trip with Ford and I love how professional and well organized these people are. Last year, the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang was a phenomenal event and I enjoyed every bit of it, especially going up to the 112th floor on Burj Khalifa to see the new Mustang.

I’m here till Wednesday and I’ll be posting daily updates about the Motor Show and my trip. You can follow me on Instagram [@LeNajib], Twitter [@LeNajib] and Facebook of course [BlogBaladi]. I’m also on Snapchat [LeNajib] but I still don’t see the point from using Snapchat so don’t expect many updates there.

The Middle East’s First Official Apple Store Is Now Open In Dubai

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The first official Apple Store in the Middle East will officially open tomorrow to the public in the new Mall of the Emirates extension in Dubai, followed by a second launch at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi. This is obviously big news for the UAE but also for Apple fans in Lebanon. I know a lot of people who prefer to buy their Apple products from the Apple Store itself, experience the official Apple retail experience and get the proper service and warranty. Moreover, the closest Apple Store to Beirut is in Europe right now and is usually expensive because of the Euro and taxes. Of course what would be ideal is having an Apple store in Beirut but we all know that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.

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My friends at AbsoluteGeeks.com were among the first to visit the Apple Store in Dubai and shared their experience. I’m sharing a couple of sneak peek pictures from inside the store and few things you need to know about the first Apple Stores in the Arab World.

– The last time Apple opened two stores in one day was back in 2001 on the same day in the USA.
– More than 150 products will be sold at the Apple Stores. The Apple TV and the Hermès edition of the Apple Watch are not available though yet.
– Apple will be hosting women-only workshops in the coming weeks besides the usual calendar.
– The store’s design components were done in partnership with Foster + Partners, the same team which designed the Apple Campus at its headquarters in California.
– There are two Genius Bars in the middle of the store in Dubai surrounded by self-watering trees.
– The two UAE Apple Stores will have over 150 employees who speak 40 languages and represent 30 nationalities.

I recommend you check out the full article [here] for more info.

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Netflix Might Be Launching In The Middle East Soon

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According to IGN, Netflix has confirmed they will be launching in the Middle East soon. In an email to IGN ME, Netflix’s Joris Evers said, “We plan to complete our global expansion by the end of 2016. Of course the Middle East is part of that, hence our hiring.”

If you look under Jobs on Netflix.com, you will find that there’s one specific position for the Middle East area. This is definitely great news but we still have to see what will be available on Netflix once it starts here. Currently, people are using VPN services to access Netflix.

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Doomsday Seeds Transferred From Syria To The Bekaa In Lebanon

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norway The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard in Norway

This is quite an incredible story. Apparently things have become so bad in Syria that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has sounded the doomsday alarm and made an extraordinary request in early September to remove thousands of samples and transfer them to a vault in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. The aim is to preserve Syria’s unique agricultural heritage after ICARDA’s gene bank in Aleppo, which includes more than 135,000 varieties of wheat, fava bean, lentil and chickpea crops, as well as the world’s most valuable barley collection, has been damaged by the war.

What is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in northern Norway, something of an agricultural Noah’s Ark, was set up as a guarantee against mass starvation. The world’s governments poured in their countries’ seed samples – unique strains of every crop – and the doors were closed in 2008, when no one expected them to be opened for many generations. It has more than 860,000 samples, from almost all nations. Even if the power were to fail, the vault would stay frozen and sealed for at least 200 years. The vault is meant to be opened only in the event of a catastrophic event, like flooding or drought, that would threaten a crop with extinction, according to Brian Lainoff, a spokesman for the Crop Trust, one of the vault’s international stewards.

ICARDA’s gene bank in Aleppo, Syria, includes more than 135,000 varieties of wheat, fava bean, lentil and chickpea crops, as well as the world’s most valuable barley collection.

Let’s just hope things will remain calm in the Bekaa.

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Sources: [CNN] [Independent] [Jazeera]

Gibran Khalil Gibran Exhibition At The Sharjah Art Museum Till Dec 10, 2015

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The Sharjah Art Museum in collaboration with the Gibran National Committee is hosting an exhibition entitled Drawings of Gibran: A Humane Perspective that will showcase artworks by the Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer. More than 50 works and manuscripts will be displayed, making it the largest collection of Gibran’s work ever to go on display in the UAE. Some of the works displayed will include his 1916 face of a Veiled Woman, a charcoal self-portrait from 1908 and an oil painting from 1910 called The Sad Mona Lisa. The original Gibran museum is located in Bcharreh of course and includes 440 original paintings.

Admission is free and the exhibition will run from October 7th until December 10th. Gibran Khalil Gibran is considered one of the most influential figures of the modern age. His most popular work is The Prophet, which was turned into an animated movie this year by Salma Hayek.

I am sure a lot of Lebanese here and in Dubai never visited Gibran’s museum in Bcharreh so here’s a chance to check out some of his artwork.

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