Category Archives: Personal

You’ll Be Missed Ramzi!

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To be honest, I wasn’t planning on posting at all because I didn’t know where to start but I couldn’t sleep yesterday night after hearing the news and I’ve been thinking all day today about Ramzi, his family and his wife. I’ve been friends with Ramzi since 3 years and even though we’d mostly meet at events, I always had fun hanging out with him. He’s the kind of guy who’s always smiling and enjoying his time and was one of the best geeks you could ever meet.

I was supposed to see Ramzi on Friday but I couldn’t make it and I regret it terribly. Even though we weren’t the closest of friends, I will always remember Ramzi every time I go Karting as that’s the first time we met, every time I play Gran Turismo, every time I pass right in front of his office and every time I post about techy stuff. Ramzi is the kind of people I could never forget and I truly mean it.

Ramzi loved his bike too and unfortunately died in a motorcycle accident. I don’t know how the crash happened and I am not interested at all. All I know is that Ramzi’s gone and he’ll be terribly missed.

RIP My friend!

I Drove A Ferrari!

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I loved playing with cars and trucks as a kid but I would never let anyone touch my Ferrari models, not even my brothers. I had a small collection, unlike Billy Karam’s amazing collection, of around 20-25 Ferrari models (1:43 scale) that I would put on display or keep them in their boxes. I would save money from birthdays and holidays just to buy newer and bigger models and two of them, The Ferrari 550 Maranello and Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 car (1:18 scale) are still on display at my parents’ house. I even remember making a bet with my younger brother that by the time I am 30, I would have bought my own Ferrari. Well that’s obviously not gonna happen anytime soon (unless I win the lottery) but at least I got to drive a Ferrari and it was the best feeling ever!

The Car: Ferrari 458 Speciale
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The Ferrari 458 Speciale is the first super car I ever drive and is one of the fastest and most advanced V8 Sports car ever built. It’s more powerful, more dynamic, faster, lighter and more expensive than the 458 Italia. We are talking here about a 597 hp Ferrari that can go from 0 to 100 in 3 seconds, has a top speed of around 320 kph and is more aero-efficient than any other Ferrari road car! In simpler words, Ferrari took the 458 Italia, and made out of it the most high performance Ferrari V8 Sports Car ever, that is the 458 Speciale. I won’t bore you with more technical specs as you can find details reviews from experts on Topgear, Autoblog and other websites.

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The Ferrari steering wheel is absolutely gorgeous and makes you feel like you’re inside an F1 car, specially with the shift lights on top that tell you when you need to switch to a different gear. There’s everything you need and more on this steering wheel except for the reverse mode which is a button on the side.

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As far as the interior is concerned, I found the seats to be super comfortable for a sports! In fact, I was looking for some pictures showing the seats and the interior but I couldn’t find any, probably because once I got behind the steering wheel, I forgot about everything around me. it’s a good thing I got to drive the car on two occasions because I barely had any pictures or videos from the first time!

First Drive
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Since it was my first time in a Ferrari or a super car for that sake, one of the Ferrari people in Lebanon (Paul) took me for a ride at first and explained to me how to turn the car on, how to switch gears, turn the automatic mode on, use the reverse mode and what every button meant on the steering wheel. We went for a smooth drive around Beirut before we got to a spot where they are few empty roads to speed on. That’s where Paul parked the car and then accelerated and before you know it we had reached 160 kph! I wouldn’t lie to you that it was a bit scary at first and I was like WTF just happened! For some reason, I remembered Richard Hammond’s reaction when he first drove an F1 car. The sound of the engine was music to my ears, it was the most intense feeling ever and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheels.

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After making sure I was familiar with all the buttons in front of me, I finally sat behind the steering wheel and started driving carefully with the automatic mode on. I would go faster whenever I find an empty spot and accelerate a bit but it wasn’t the smoothest of rides at all and I could tell that from Paul’s facial expressions. After driving around Beirut for a good half hour, I became more comfortable with the car and started speeding. One of the people running Lebanese_Cars’ Instagram account even caught me on camera that you can see [Here].

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The second time I drove the 458 Speciale, I was more confident and I switched off the automatic mode from the start. I headed to an empty straight road and started driving back and forth and going faster every time. I think Paul who was also with me got bored of the times I was driving past him (he was filming me) but I couldn’t get enough of that car and would have kept going all day if I could.

An Unforgettable Experience
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When I first told my friends I was going to drive a Ferrari, most of them, specially the car enthusiasts, cursed at me and called me names instead of congratulating me. Of course they didn’t mean it that way but it pretty much tells you how much it means to drive a Ferrari for most people and believe me, it’s a one of a kind experience that you don’t want to miss out on!

I am eternally grateful to Ferrari Lebanon, specially Marie Claire, for giving me this opportunity and I hope it won’t be long before I drive another Ferrari. Of course I also wish we could drive these cars around a track and speed even more but we don’t have something like that in Lebanon.

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Here’s one of the videos that my friend took of me speeding in the Ferrari 458 Speciale. I will be adding more pictures today on Instagram and a video from inside the car. You can check them out in a bit [Here] and follow Ferrari Lebanon [Here].

[YouTube]

Get Well Schumi!

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(FILE) Former F1 Driver Michael Schumacher Hurt In Skiing Accident

Seven-times F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher is fighting for his life after an off-piste skiing accident in the French Alps resort of Meribel. Michael hit his head on a rock and suffered head trauma with coma that needed prompt neurosurgical treatment.

I’ve become addicted to F1 because of Michael Schumacher. I’ve seen him win back to back championships with Benetton in 1994 and 1995, supported him during his tough Ferrari debut, the horrible crash he had in 1999 then his majestic years from 2000 to 2004 where he clinched 5 consecutive championships. I enjoyed watching him race with Mercedes even though I knew he wouldn’t win a championship. I even flew to Monza in Italy to watch him live at least once in my life before he retires.

He’s been an inspiration to millions (including myself) around the world, despite few unfortunate incidents. He’s a great skier, footballer and motorcycle driver as well. He also won the Race of Champions several times along with recent F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. To sum it up and in my personal opinion, he’s the greatest driver in the history of Formula1.

Let’s hope his condition improves today and he gets better very soon.

Or as Martin Brundle said:

Come on Michael, give us one of those race stints at pure qualifying pace to win through, like you used to. You can do it.

PS: You can follow updates [Here].

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The hospital where Schumi is being treated

Athenee De Beyrouth Construction Finally Finished

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When I joined L’Athenee De Beyrouth in the early 90s, the school consisted of two old buildings in Rabieh surrounded by forests. It was a cool place but a temporary one until we move to the new location in Bsalim. Unfortunately, the school’s owner died and we had to move to an unfinished school as construction works were put on hold.

Luckily though, a new management took over the school a year ago and finished in 15 months what has been pending for 15 years or more. I have fond memories of this school and I hope they will keep on improving it.

Congrats to the Athenee students and teachers and specially to the school’s principal Mr.Hayek who kept the school going through rough times and was loved and highly respected by all students.

There’s a committe being formed for “Les Anciens de l’athénée”; you can register for it on the school’s website [Here].

PS: I know this post may seem irrelevant to many readers, but anyone who’s been to Athenee can relate to what I am saying.

Four Seasons Hotel – Beirut

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I was in Beirut over the weekend and on this trip I ended up staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown Beirut. The hotel is located in what I think is one of the nicest looking towers in Beirut, right in front of the very popular Zaituna Bay and so I was really looking forward to staying there.

Right from the moment I stepped out of my rental I knew I was going to be enjoying my stay at the hotel. The customer service at the hotel was just better then any other I had previously stayed in before and I’ve stayed at many. The feeling I kept getting is that every single employee wanted to help make your stay better, and by every single employee I don’t mean just the reception staff or managers, I mean everyone from the valet guys, to the housekeepers to the waiters. I think its the words they use but you just get this feeling that you can ask them for whatever you want and they’d love to do it and that made me super comfortable in asking them for stuff which I tend not to do.

Other than the excellent service my room was also very comfortable. I had overpacked on this trip but there was more than enough closest space and drawers to accomodate all my stuff. The room wasn’t that big but the bathroom was with a large sink area, tub, shower room, toilet room and a makeup table. The room had a balcony that was big enough to fit a table and two chairs and finally there was free wifi in the room and the whole hotel. My favorite part of the hotel though would have to be the roof. During the day the roof is a cool place to swim and tan but at night it’s an open air lounge overlooking the Mediterranean sea and Beirut.

I do have two minor complaints though. The first issue the hotel really can’t do much about but the view from my room could have been better if there wasn’t a large sand lot right outside. I live in Kuwait so I would rather not see sand lots when I travel. Even though the hotel is right in front of Zaituna Bay, my room was more on the side and I could only see the marina if I was on the balcony looking left which was disappointing. The other issue I had was with their breakfast. It’s not a breakfast buffet and one of the things I look forward to the most in hotels is their breakfast buffets. At the Four Seasons they have a dried fruit, fresh fruit and cereal buffet but if you want any hot dishes you have to order them. The advantage obviously is your breakfast is made for you and so is fresh, but the disadvantage is it takes time to make and you also can’t just fill up your plate with whatever looks good like you would do at a regular buffet.

In the end though I had a really good time at the hotel. I generally don’t tend to spend much time at hotels but on this trip I was having all my friends come over so we could just chill out on the roof. The incredibly friendly service and the lounge on the roof made me really love my stay. I’d most likely stay there again once I’m done reviewing other hotels in Beirut. Here is the link to their [Website]

Driving a Porsche for the first time

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I know for sure that this is the first and last time I am getting married but I hope it won’t be the last time I drive a Porsche too. Hopefully in the near future, I would have purchased a Cayenne or a 911 not rented it for few days or a special event.

For the time being, getting married is definitely an event that overcomes the joy of driving a Porsche or anything else I dreamt of, at least for me personally, and I hope everyone finds this special person in their life.

By the time this post comes out, I would be probably half way through my wedding ceremony having a blast with my family, friends and loved ones. See you all in a couple of weeks time.

We Love You Maya Zankoul!

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Picture from Maya Zankoul

I was very surprised to read Brofessional Review’s post on Maya, not because it was critical of Maya’s work, but because it was highly subjective, disrespectful and unfair. However, it’s their right to criticize the way they see fit and I will not bother reply as I am not fit to discuss illustrations and what makes someone a real illustrator, but I thought a word of support to Maya, who is one of BlogBaladi’s biggest fans (and vice-versa) and one of the nicest people you could ever meet, was the least I could do.

After all, it is not just Maya’s talent that got her to where she is today, but the way she was able to communicate her ideas in a fun and creative way. In fact, sometimes I would spend an hour writing a post that she would summarize in an illustration/doodle/WhateverYouWannaCallIt.

Keep doing what you do best Maya!

Update: I recommend you read BeirutSpring’s post on this matter [Here].

My Nominations for The Social Media Awards

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The Social Media Awards are happening for the first time in Lebanon and I thought it would be fun to share my nominations for the various categories listed. Before that, here’s how the selection process will occur:

Stage 1: Online Nominations
Members of the online community nominate candidates for different categories via our website www.SMABeirut.com. Users can nominate themselves, friends or an organization on business based on the criteria of each category. Their submission is accompanied by relevant material such as Facebook links, Twitter accounts, blogs and other platforms to support their candidates.

Stage 2: Judges Selection
Based on the nominations received, our team of experienced and celebrity judges from different backgrounds will be narrowing down the nominations in each category to seven (7) nominees within two weeks of closure of nominations. The whole process will be carried out in pure transparency and an announcement event will be held for the press and online community.

Stage 3: Final Vote
Members of the online community are asked to vote for their preference in each category over a period of one month. During this period, nominees will be able to campaign for obtaining votes.

Stage 4: Awards Ceremony
An awards ceremony will be held for over 750 invitees from digital agencies, VIPs and online influencers with entertainment, key guest appearances, and VIP guests bringing Oscar-like award glamour to social media. [SMABeirut]

I took a look at the judges’ list and the ones they chose are more than qualified for this job, with 1 or 2 exceptions which I will not name. One thing that I would have done differently is narrow down the nominations to 4, as I think 7 is too much.

Anyway back to the nominations, here it goes:

Best Blog of the Year
Beirut Spring: I’ve always been astounded by the insights Mustapha provides on the Lebanese society and Lebanon in general despite being abroad. He is concise, convincing, methodical and is among the very few bloggers that I agree with almost always. Oh and he never misses a chance to throw in a new term in every post and make me look for it online.

Best News Blog
Hummus Nation – The good thing about Hummus Nation is that his news are always reliable because he makes them up.

Best Lifestyle Blog
L’armoire De Lana – Lana has been pulling an impressive job ever since she launched her fashion blog. She’s posting daily, tweeting all day long, uploading pictures all the time. She’s doing it right and she totally deserves it.

Best Technology Blog
Tech-Ticker – A website founded by a group of Lebanese Technology enthusiasts covering the latest tech news and reviewing the most recent tech products.

Best Personal Blog
Gino’s Blog – Gino is truly commited to his blog and it shows through his posts. His views on certain topics are as far as they come from the conservative “Lebanese” thinking yet he manages to convince his readers most of the time. Neuromarketing at its best.

Most Engaging Media Personality
Magazine: RagMag’s Editor in Chief Fida Chaaban.
She devotes a lot of times to social media and interacting with readers and that’s not something easy to pull. In fact I don’t think I know any other media personality as devoted as her.

Best Performer
Nemr Abou Nassar: He was funnier when he started and I didn’t like his latest shows but he’s doing a great job online and deserves that award. The problem is here very few performers in Lebanon are active online to begin with.

Best Vocal Artist (Non-Arabic)
Tania Kassis

Most Creative Instagram Account
Mark

Most Viral YouTube Video
I would have loved to say Buzz but it turned out to be a copycat from an old US commercial. I’ll go with LebaneseBrew’s Try Something Brave.

Most Engaging Tweep
TrellaLB

Most Engaging Celebrity on Twitter
Celebrities in Lebanon have no idea how to use Twitter.

Most Engaging Media Personality on Twitter
TV/Journalist: Shada Omar.
Despite having almost 100,000 followers on Twitter, Shada dedicates time to almost everyone that interacts with her and is always interesting to talk to.

Most Engaging Diplomat on Twitter
HMA Tom Fletcher – If you wanna know why, read [this].

Best Business on Twitter
RagMag

Best Organization/NGO on Twitter
Donne Sang Compter

Best Pub/Bar
February30 and The Angry Monkey. The Angry Monkey’s last tweetup was the best I’ve been to in months and the place was packed. Bravo Jessy!

Best Restaurant, Café or Bakery
Roadster Diner and Zaatar W Zeit.

Best Hotel
Phoenicia Beirut.

Best Commercial District Account
LeMall

Best NGO/Community
Donner Sang Compter

Best Startup
Dermandar.

Cynthia will be greatly missed

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R.I.P

They say that you don’t need to meet some people in person to know they are special. Cynthia was one of those people. She’s an exceptional human being, one of the nicest, most cheerful, active and enthusiastic people I interacted with online. My only regret is that I never got to know her better or meet her in person. Cynthia died after battling cancer for few months.

Just looking at her Twitter TimeLine makes you realize how special she was to all her friends and followers.

Cynthia was born on January 19, 1990 and is from Ehmej, Lebanon where her funerals will take place today at 4pm.

10 reasons why I love RAGMAG magazine

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1- RAGMAG tackles all sorts of topics (art, theater, film, nightlife, music, cuisine, fashion, health etc …)
2- Their exclusive interviews are always a pleasure to read even if you don’t like the interviewee.
3- Their [website] looks very nice, is easy to browse and is always updated.
4- The Ragged highlights have some really cool sections, my favorites being “Hayda Lebnen ya 3ayne” and “FML
5- They are very active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and don’t just post stuff but interact all the time with their readers/followers.
6- RAGMAG organizes giveaways/competitions all the time for its readers and fans and the prizes are really cool!
7- They have a refined taste in restaurants/hotels/pubs etc …
8- I got featured once in the magazine in the “Mon Amour, Mon Ami” section.
9- The people behind RAGMAG are hardworking, intelligent and very friendly. ( @Gina @Fida @Youmna @Danielle )
10- All of the above.