Category Archives: Middle East

Lebanese Restaurant In Saudi Arabia Comes Under Fire For Defending Hezbollah Chief

Picture from Lebanondebate

An employee at the Lebanese Restaurant Baalbeck in Riyadh, has reportedly threatened two customers for offensive remarks on Hezbollah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah. After the news spread, Saudis were angered by the story and a campaign was launched in the KSA (And a hashtag too #مقاطعة_مطعم_بعلبك_بالرياض) to boycott the restaurant. The restaurant’s management apologized for the employee’s behavior and promised to take the necessary measures.

I don’t know what got into this employee’s mind to pull something like that, but he surely picked the wrong place at the wrong time. They are already posting names of other Lebanese restaurants to boycott in KSA and Kuwait as well, just check out the tweets on the hashtag being used.

Lebanese are less happy according to the 2013 World Happiness Report


Most of the Arab countries have a higher happiness index than Lebanon except Iraq, Palestinian Territories and Syria. I can’t say I am surprised specially after everything we’ve been through in the past 3 years.

Here’s the complete ranking list for Arab countries:
14- UAE
23- Oman
27- Qatar
32- Kuwait
33- Saudi Arabia
74- Jordan
79- Bahrain
97- Lebanon
105- Iraq
113- Palestian Territories (vs Israel in 11th spot worldwide)
130- Egypt
148- Syria

Check out the full report [Here].

The happiest people in the world apparently reside in northern Europe, according to a 156-nation survey published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Released Monday, the 2013 World Happiness Report ranks the happiest countries around the globe, with Denmark, Norway and Switzerland leading the pack. Among North American countries, Canada took sixth place, while Mexico (16) slightly outranked the U.S. (17). [HuffPost]

The yellow line indicates the period between 2005 and 2007 while the blue line indicates the period between 2010 and 2012.

Qatar removes Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt statue

It looks like a sex position now lol

The statue was removed because it was slammed as being an anti-Islam idolization.

Qatar has removed a statue depicting a headbutt attack by footballer Zinedine Zidane following an outcry by conservatives who slammed it as anti-Islam idolisation.

The five-metre sculpture depicting the France footballer attacking Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final was put on display on Doha’s corniche on October 3.

But the statue, sculpted by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed, appears to have offended Muslim conservatives, who saw it as a violation of religious tenets. [Source]

Lebanon 111th in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ global report; UAE in 23rd spot worldwide


Lebanon ranked 111th in the “Ease of Doing Business” 2014 report, way behind the UAE which topped the Arab World and jumped three slots this year to land at No. 23 in the world.

Here are the rankings of all the Arab countries mentioned in the report:
23- UAE
26- Saudi Arabia
46- Bahrain
47- Oman
48- Qatar
104- Kuwait
111- Lebanon
119- Jordan
128- Egypt
151- Iraq
165- Syria

What does Doing Business measure and who performs well?

Through its indicators Doing Business measures and tracks changes in the economies that have no regulations in the
area being measured or do not apply their regulations (considered “no practice” economies), penalizing them for lacking appropriate regulation.

The economies ranking highest on the ease of doing business therefore are not those with no regulation but those whose
governments have managed to create a regulatory system that facilitates interactions in the marketplace and protects
important public interests without unnecessarily hindering the development of the private sector—in other words, a regulatory system with strong institutions and low transactions costs (table 1.1). These economies all have both a well-developed private sector and a reasonably efficient regulatory system that has managed to strike a sensible balance between the protections that good rules provide and the need to have a dynamic private sector
unhindered by excessively burdensome regulations.

You can download the full report [Here].

Why do Arabs say “What’s the news” (Chou el Akhbar) ?


Chou el Akhbar? Chou Akhbarak? are common Arabic greetings that we hear a lot in Lebanon. Here’s a possible explanation from ArabGlot as to where this greeting originated from and why it is used so commonly in the Arab world.

“Meanwhile the old man had made coffee and set out dates for us to eat. Hamad said, ‘He is the Christian.’ The old man asked, ‘Is he the Christian who travelled last year with bin al Kamam and the Rashid to the Hadhramaut?’ and after Hamad had assented he turned wo me and said, ‘A thousand welcomes.’ It had not taken long for this news to arrive, although here we wear near the Persian Gulf, far from the Hadhramaut; but I was not surprised. I knew how interested Bedu always were in ‘the news’, how concerned to get the latest information about their kinsmin, about raids and tribal movements and grazing. I knew from experience how far they would go out of their way to ask for news. I had realised that it was the chance of getting this as much as the craving for milk that had tantalized my companions during the past days when we had seen and avoided distant tents. The hated traveling through inhabited country without knowing exactly what was happening around them.

‘What is “the news”?’ It is the question which follows every encounter in the desert even between strangers. Given a chance the bedu will gossip for hours, as they had done last night, and nothing is too trivial for them to recount. There is no reticence in the desert. If a man distinguishes himself he knows that his fame will be widespread; if he disgraces himself he knows that the story of his shame will inevitably be heard in every encampment. It is this fear of public opinion which enforces at all times the rigid conventions of the desert.” [Source]

The Annual Conference for Arab Militias: Undermining the State Monopoly on Violence: Challenges, Tactics and Theoretical Frameworks

Fighter in Tripoli – via Gino

Hilarious stuff from KarlreMarks. Read it all [Here].

Now in its fourth year, the Annual Conference for Arab Militias has become the event to attend in the world of alternative power structures in the Arab world. This year’s conference entitled ‘Undermining the State Monopoly on Violence: Challenges, Tactics and Theoretical Frameworks’ was held in the Qatari capital Doha and has firmly placed the event on the applied post-structuralism event calendar. The conference was attended by hundreds of delegates representing militias all the way from Libya to Iraq. In order to inform our readers about this event, we sent our correspondent Osman Haraki and he came back with fascinating report.

Workshops, talks, debate panels, this conference had it all. The growth of the event itself has mirrored the unparalleled success and growth of Arab militias and their expanding areas of operation. A few decades ago this was a marginal phenomenon that had a niche presence in Lebanon and some Palestinian camps, but the explosion of Arab militias, no pun intended, has electrified the world of alternative violence and parallel state institutions. And while most of the recent growth has come from Syria, there is no doubt that there are many other countries that will join in the near future.

The stars this week were no doubt the Libyan militia the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution who had stunned everyone with their spectacular kidnapping of the Libyan Prime Minister and his subsequent release within a few hours. Most of the young audience at the conference appreciated both the execution and the idea behind the operation, which represented the latest theoretical trend in militia work. The older generation of militia leaders however frowned upon a seemingly random and senseless operation, but many felt this represented how cut off they had become from modern practices in grassroots violence.

October 26th Women Driving Campaign in KSA Dropped; Website Hacked


Saudi Women were planning to hold a drive-in today to try and drop the ban against women driving (Yes you heard me right driving!) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but it was cancelled after several threats against the organizers, or maybe they end up listening to the “wise” Saudi Sheikh who warned them that driving could affect the ovaries and pelvis lol!

The [Website] that was launched on this occasion was also hacked.

Women rights in the Middle East are not something to be proud of, even in Lebanon. Some might be laughing at this Saudi law but Lebanon is still very far behind in terms of equality and women rights. We need have laws that protect women from domestic violence, allow them to give the nationality to their children, and encourage them to engage in the political life.

“Out of caution and respect for the Saudi Interior Ministry’s warnings… we are asking women not to drive and on October 26 and to change the initiative from an October 26 campaign to an open driving campaign, activist Najla Al Hariri told AFP.

I want to drive because there’s no reason why I can’t

ArabNet Developer Tournament in Lebanon


For all Lebanese Developers and codes, the ArabNet Developer Tournament is taking place on October 26th at the Beirut Creative Cluster in Lebanon. Winners will get to represent in the ArabNet Coding Championship in Dubai and receive monetary prizes as well.

There’s also a Job Fair where you can meet with top local and regional companies and a Code Lab where you can discover the latest technologies in web and mobile development.

You can check out all the details and register [Here].


Last year, Lebanon won the first place at the Arabnet Development Tournament in Dubai.

UAE Could Become First Arab Country Whose Citizens Are Exempt From Schengen Visa


Correction: It is not clear whether the vote was to consider UAE’s admission to the list of countries exempted from Schenghen or allowing them once and for all to travel to EU without a Schenghen. That’s why I corrected and added “Could Be” until I clarify this matter. From what I understood from this [article], there are still technicalities that need to be sorted out before UAE citizens can travel without using a Schenghen.

Every time I think of traveling to Europe, the thought of getting all the papers and setting an interview for the Schengen depresses me. I want to think Lebanon will join UAE one day but that’s not gonna happen in this lifetime, even though our passport is one of the best in the world according to the General Security (Ma hek?).

Congrats to the UAE and UAE Citizens!

The Civil Liberties Committee at the European Parliament (EP) has unanimously endorsed a proposal to add the UAE to the list of countries whose nationals are exempt from the Schengen visa requirements.

UAE Ambassador to the European Union Sulaiman Al Mazrouei described the EP’s move as an achievement for the UAE diplomacy and a reflection of the country’s strong ties with the EU.

“If implemented, the Schengen visa waiver would ease travel of the UAE citizens to the Schengen states. The UAE would be the first Arab country whose citizens are exempt from Schengen visa,” said Al Mazrouei. “Today’s vote is a huge step towards finalising legislative requirements and moving to negotiations and subsequent waiver implementation,” he added. [Source]

Lebanese Cameraman Samir Kassab Among Missing Sky News Arabia Crew in Aleppo, Syria

A couple of hours ago, we learned that the Aazaz abductees have become in the custody of the Turks and they should be in Lebanon within 24-48 hours. This is indeed good news but there are other Lebanese prisoners in Syrian prisons and hostages that need to be freed as well and they should be given the same attention as the Aazaz pilgrims. [Link]

A team of reporters from Sky News Arabia has gone missing in the contested city of Aleppo in northern Syria, the Abu Dhabi-based channel said Thursday.

Sky News Arabia said it lost contact on Tuesday morning with reporter Ishak Moctar, a Mauritanian national, cameraman Samir Kassab, a Lebanese national, as well as their Syrian driver whose name is being withheld at his family’s request.

Sky News Arabia chief Nart Bouran said the crew was on assignment primarily to focus on the humanitarian aspects of the conflict in Aleppo. The channel appealed for any information on the team’s whereabouts and for help to ensure the journalists’ safe return.