Category Archives: Middle East

Lebanon To Impose Visa Restrictions On Syrians For The First Time

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refugees Picture via UNRWA

Syrians were able to stay in Lebanon for up to six months previously, but this will no longer be possible as any Syrian who wishes to enter Lebanon will have to obtain a visa at the borders. This measure should have been implemented long time ago in order to control the flow of refugees trying to escape the war but it’s better late than never.

The new regulations will come into effect on January 5 as mentioned on the General Security website. This is the first time that such measures are taken ever since Lebanon’s independence. Hopefully, the borders will be secured soon as well in order to stop illegal entries as well.

Amal Alamuddin Clooney Risking Arrest In Egypt

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amal-alamuddin

The newly wed Lebanese born human rights barrister was told by Egyptian officials that she risks arrest over a document criticising the country’s judicial system. Alameddine has identifies flaws in Egypt’s judiciary which led to the conviction of the journalists over a year ago. Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were sentenced in June to seven to 10 years in jail for spreading lies to help a “terrorist organization” – a reference to Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Honestly speaking, I am not surprised by the Egyptian authorities’ reaction but I wouldn’t go as far as call Alamuddin the regime’s number one enemy as Annahar did. Let’s see how this situation evolves and let’s hope we won’t be needing Clooney to stand for Lebanese journalists anytime soon. In fact in terms of Freedom of the Press, Egypt was ranked as not free last year while Lebanon is still partly not free but hasn’t improved in years.

“When I went to launch the report, first of all they stopped us from doing it in Cairo,” Clooney told The Guardian. “They said: ‘Does the report criticise the army, the judiciary, or the government?’ We said: ‘Well, yes.’ They said: ‘Well then, you’re risking arrest.’ [Independent]

4 Reasons Why Everyone Is Sharing Dubai, Not Beirut’s NYE Fireworks

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fireworks

I always enjoy watching NYE fireworks from around the world mainly in London, Sydney and New York. As far as the Middle East is concerned, Dubai has been impressing the world with a spectacular show around Burj Khalifa every year and yesterday’s show was even more impressive than last year. Of course we also had fireworks planned in Beirut but most Lebanese I know are sharing Dubai’s fireworks for 4 main reasons:

1- Dubai’s fireworks were the most expensive in the world ($6M) and Dubai broke the Guinness record for the world’s largest pyrotechnic display, setting off 500,000 fireworks in six minutes. It’s very hard, even for New York, Sydney and London, to compete with a city that has something as big as Burj Khalifa.

2- Christmas decoration was poor this year in Beirut and NYE celebrations were also shy. I don’t know why the Beirut municipality is not spending much this year (money is not an issue though) but we barely heard about the fireworks and I haven’t seen any videos and only a couple of pictures online and Instagram. I think it’s quite shameful as we had some really cool fireworks few years ago in Beirut and it would have been nice to keep this tradition going and let people look forward to this spectacle.

3- Celebratory gunfire is still very common in most areas in Lebanon, even in Beirut. A lot of Lebanese don’t like fireworks and would rather fire their guns and even machine guns to welcome the new year. It’s stupid and dangerous but a lot of people still do it. Check out this [video] taken yesterday at midnight.

4- Cities like Jounieh and Jbeil are becoming more popular every year and are organizing cool fireworks and shows. Of course this is a positive thing but Beirut is the capital and NYE celebrations should be special there. Moreover, a lot of Lebanese love to spend New Year’s Eve in the mountains, like Faraya, Mzaar, The Cedars, Broummana, Zahle, Ehden as it’s far from the city’s traffic and it’s nicer and cosier specially when there’s snow.

So until we have cool fireworks in Beirut, enjoy Dubai’s stunning NYE spectacle:

[YouTube]

Israel Has To Pay Lebanon $850m For The 2006 Oil Spill

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jiyyeh

This is the first time that a price was put on the damages done by Israel during the 2006 war. Unfortunately, the General Assesmbly resolutions are not legally binding and even if they are, I don’t expect Israel to pay anything. Israeli had bombed on July 14 and 15 in 2006 the Jiyyeh power station, causing a huge oil spill and an environmental disaster along the Mediterranean sea. I personally stopped going to beaches in the Jiyyeh area after that oil spill.

The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution asking Israel to pay Lebanon more than $850m in damages for an oil spill caused by an Israeli air force attack in its war against Hezbollah in 2006. The resolution, which passed late on Friday, said “the environmental disaster” resulted in an oil slick that covered the entire Lebanese coastline and extended to the Syrian coastline, causing extensive pollution. Israel, the US, Canada, Australia, Micronesia and Marshall Islands voted “no”.

Israel’s UN mission said in a statement that the resolution was biased against Israel. “Israel immediately responded to the oil slick incident by cooperating closely with the United Nations Environment Programme, as well as other UN agencies and NGOs, addressing the environmental situation along the coast of Lebanon,” the statement reads. “This resolution has long outlived the effects of the oil slick, and serves no purpose other than to contribute to institutionalising an anti-Israel agenda at the UN.” [Jazeera]

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].