Category Archives: Personal

I’m Now Officially A Father And It Feels Awesome!

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My wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy at 9:17am this morning weighing 2.87 kilos. I’m not sure I can describe how it felt to see the baby popping out but it was an intense and amazing feeling. Having a child was always on the top of my list and as cliché as this may sound, holding our baby Brian today was the happiest (and scariest) moment of my life. People told me some guys cry when they see their baby for the first time but I didn’t, probably because I watched the whole operation and was still a bit shocked from what I saw.

I know a baby is a huge responsibility and that life will change for me now but I don’t know in what sense. People said the same thing when I got married but things got much better for me back then so I’m hoping the same will happen. Things will get busier I’m sure, and I will have less time to do things but you can always manage. Funnily enough, the long post I wrote on Fiber Optics in Lebanon was between 10pm and 3am while waiting for the contractions to come so I might end up blogging more during these long sleepless nights.

Many thanks to everyone for their wishes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Rest assured I won’t be flooding your timeline with baby pictures because I don’t like people who do that and I think too much of anything is bad.

20150702_073845 Thank you Joelle for this most useful gift :)

20150702_074019 Thank you Roy, Jenny, Rachel, Nadine, Cynthia, Nadim, Wajid, Nicola, my colleagues at work and all the friends and family who showed up yesterday or sent flowers.

Getting A Wedding Loan Is The Worst Idea Ever!

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20150527_074903-1 This is one of the many wedding loan promotions I see in Lebanon – I scratched the bank’s name because the post is directed to couples rather than criticizing banks that are simply doing what’s good for them

As soon as I set a date for my wedding 3 years ago, I sat down with my wife and wrote down the estimated costs of a big wedding in a budget planner. Even though I am not a fan of big traditional Lebanese weddings, I had no choice but to settle for one in order to please everyone around me. To be honest, I didn’t think it was worth getting into a fight with both families just for one day and I was fine with the big wedding as long a we didn’t exceed the set budget (and did few things my way). It was out of the question for me to pay for things I could not afford or even worse take a wedding loan! For me, a wedding loan is the worst possible idea any couple could apply for and I wish banks would stop giving young couples this option in Lebanon.

I can understand people applying for personal/car loans or getting credit cards, or borrowing money from their parents and I’ve done all of them and still have credit cards that I use in emergencies or when I run out of money, but I would never consider a wedding loan because it’s a terrible investment at the worst possible time.

Just to explain how bad wedding loans are for newly wedded couples earning average incomes and why they shouldn’t go for one (assuming that the average cost of a relatively big wedding in Lebanon is around 25-30k for 250 people):
1- You are taking 20K and 40K loans at very high interest rates (up to 50% of the original loan sometimes) to invite 300 people to eat and drink and look fancy and you are barely getting 50% of what you spent back in the wedding account.
2- You are starting your marital life with a heavy and unnecessary loan and the expenses will keep on piling up once you move to your new place. No wedding couple wants to start a marriage with staggering debt.
3- Speaking of expenses, and trust me on that one, they will double and triple once you are living on your own, so having an extra loan payment every month is a bad idea, specially if you are taking a house loan as well.
4- Even if you’ve been dreaming all your life of a big wedding, you won’t be able to please everyone no matter how much you pay, so pay as much as you can to make the best out of it. I’ve done a big wedding with a very reasonable amount by looking after every single detail and trying to get the best offers and I still regret some of the costs I had to endure.
5- Your family and friends will be happy for you no matter what you do with your wedding and even if you don’t invite them. They will drink and sing and cheer for you even if the venue is your own backyard, and that’s what matters the most.

Some may argue that a couple may need to take a loan in order not to delay the wedding, but that’s not a valid excuse as they can plan a small wedding or maybe organize a wedding abroad and invite their direct families only. Again I’m not trying to judge anyone here and it’s a personal decision after all, but a couple being behind before even kicking off their new life together will affect every decision they make together and could prove detrimental to their relationship. All in all, if your parents insist on having a big wedding, ask them to help out with the wedding expenses like I did and if they can’t, I advise you to prepare a wedding with whatever money you have and make sure to take into consideration your honeymoon expenses because that’s the best part of a wedding (at least for me).

10 Reasons Why I Love Reading Ivysays

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1- She’s smart, witty and pretty.
2- She has become a good friend and she’s a great person to talk to.
3- She makes great burgers.
4- She’s original and consistent in her posts and they are always fun and interesting to read (except beauty reviews).
5- She didn’t change much and is still the same Ivy I know even after her big reveal.
6- She knows how to have fun at parties and events.
7- She’s the best female lifestyle blogger in Lebanon.
8- She has haters but you don’t want to mess with her.
9- She loves food and alcohol and we share the same tastes in a lot of stuff.
10- She got a TV segment and now has her own radio show on NRJ (99.1) every Wednesday from 7 till 8pm.

Congrats on the radio show Dana!

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Mabrouk Lana!

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Since Lana’s a blogger and a good friend, I thought I write a small post to congratulate her and Ali for their big day and wish them all the happiness in the world. The wedding was grandiose and out of this world, everything was perfect and Lana looked gorgeous in her Elie Saab dress.

Since few people were asking me on Instagram who Lana was, she’s a Lebanese fashion blogger and in my opinion the best fashion blogger in Lebanon. I’ve been following her since day1 and she’s one of the very few devoted Lebanese bloggers who worked hard on growing their blog and establishing an image for themselves.

I uploaded a couple of pictures from the wedding. There are more pictures on my [Instagram] or you check the hashtag #aliandlana.

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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.