Category Archives: Middle East

21 Stereotype-Exploding Facts About The Middle East, 5 From Lebanon

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It’s a fun read by BuzzFeed but the author apparently ran out of ideas towards the end.

Here are the facts where Lebanon is mentioned:

1. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, and Morocco all have their own national beers.
2- Lebanese are obsessed with plastic surgery – 1.5 million surgeries per year in a country of only 4 million!
4- In Lebanon, you can ski in the morning and visit the beach in the afternoon. And take photos of the sights along the way.
19- One of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world is in Lebanon.
20- This is Lebanon…

U.N. Refugees Chief Antonio Guterres Warns Lebanon Could Collapse Under Syrian Refugees Burden

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Picture via UNHCR

Here’s a sum up of what United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour:
- Lebanon could collapse under the weight of the massive influx of Syrian refugees
- Without economic and financial support, and an increased effort to share the burden of Syrian refugees, “Lebanon [does] not [have] the possibility to go on with the present situation.
- Twenty-five percent of the Lebanese population today is Syrian.
- We have more Syrian students in Lebanese public schools than Lebanese students.
- Lebanon has serious problems with electricity and water, and largely because of this huge increase in population.
- The health system is totally overburdened, and the security implications of the Syrian crisis to Lebanon are absolutely dramatic.

This is old news to most of us Lebanese by now, and Lebanon is in need of a substantial help to cope with this humanitarian crisis. Aside from that, and instead of requesting to expel Syrian refugees or stop receiving them like some Lebanese officials have been doing for the past couple of years, the government needs to set up an emergency plan once and for all to cope with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and organize them into camps or proper settlements. This should have been done since day1 and even if things are out of control now, it’s never too late to have a plan and put an end to this chaotic situation because the Syrian war is not ending anytime soon.

Will The Movie Noah Be Banned In Lebanon?

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UAE, Qatar and Bahrain have already banned the Hollywood film “Noah” because it contains scenes that are seen as offensive to Islam. I am not sure whether it will be banned in Lebanon as well but I highly doubt that it will get approved by the censorship bureau.

I wonder how long will it take us to realize that any form of censorship is wrong.

Update: Grand Cinemas told me on twitter that it will start showing on March 27th but they said it didn’t pass the censorship yet.

The Selfiest Cities in the World: Beirut Ranked 210

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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?

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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

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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.

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“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

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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.