Category Archives: Travel

Lebanese Stuck at Turkey’s Istanbul Airport, Lebanese Embassy Not Answering

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coup2

Update (16/7/2016 8PM): Minister Bassil urged Lebanese consulate and embassy in Turkey to do the necessary to help the Lebanese stuck there. Embassy got in touch with the passengers according to LBCI.

A group of Lebanese are stuck at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport since yesterday following the failed military coup that took place. One of the passengers is saying the Lebanese embassy in Turkey is not answering their calls and the airport staff closed down the restaurants and left them alone at night with other passengers. Turkish airlines should have resumed their flights by now but MEA announced it will resume its flights tomorrow.

The Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs should get in touch with these passengers instead of tweeting at them to use the hotline and get them back to Beirut ASAP. This is unacceptable!

Here’s a link to the original post.

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The Price You Pay For Water & A Red Bull Can At Beirut’s International Airport

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red bull

A bottle of water and a red bull cost 14,000 LL at Cafematik at the Rafic Hariri airport, while they barely cost 3,000 LL anywhere else. The above bill was shared online and went viral, forcing the Ministry of Economy & Trade to issue a statement saying that they sent a group to the airport to investigate.

It’s normal for airport prices to be more expensive than street prices but in that case, it’s an obvious case of monopoly abuse and there’s probably one company licensed to operate, similar to the airport parking lot case that’s been making headlines for the past few weeks.

I personally never buy anything from Cafematik. I’d rather starve and get dehydrated than buy a bottle of water from that place. The concerned ministry should set a cap on the prices especially when it comes to bottles of water. The ideal of course would be to set up free water stations for travelers beyond security but Cafematik would go broke in a couple of months.

Let’s wait and see what the Ministry does following its investigation. On another note, this whole story reminded of Farix’s hilarious take on Cafematik.

Vogue Spends Four Perfect Days in Beirut

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Alison Beckner came to visit Beirut for four days and the result was “a perfect storm of shopping, wining, dining, dancing, and—eventually—sleeping in this capital city where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East”.

Friday at Baffa House in the lively neighborhood of Mar Mikhael, a visit to the recently reopened Sursock Museum, dinner at Lux and end the night at the weekly Summer Decks on the Beach party at Sporting Club. Saturday starts at Souk el Tayeb, then a visit to “charming cobblestone streets of Saifi Village”, lunch at the authentic and history-filled restaurant Al Falamanki and party till dawn at the Grand Factory and the legendary B018.

This is a quick recap of the first two days. I love how the author took her time to walk around the city, explore the hidden gems found in every street, visit museums and art galleries and even hit the gym. You can check out the rest of the days [here].

Despite ongoing political turmoil, Beirut remains a hub for Levantine history combined with stunning juxtapositions: green hills, a sea-cradled peninsula, labyrinthine streets, neglected architecture—from Arabesque to Venetian Gothic—high-rises, old mosques, churches and palaces, and much more. Add to this a sociocultural melting pot, teeming with makers, doers, and shakers. The result is a perfect storm of shopping, wining, dining, dancing, and—eventually—sleeping in this capital city where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East. [Vogue]

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Biometric Passports Expected Soon in Lebanon: Five Things You Need To Know

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leb

Back in 2014, the Lebanese cabinet approved Interior Minister Mashnouq’s proposal to replace the old passports by new biometric ones. Earlier this year, the Lebanese General Security forced all those with a renewed by hand passport to issue new ones and there were false rumors that we might not be able to renew for more than a year because biometric passports are coming.

Since biometric passport should start rolling out very soon, I’ve been trying to collect information on this topic since most people are not familiar with it. Here’s what I have so far:

What does biometric data mean? What’s the technology behind it?

Biometrics refer to unique characteristics to an individual such as fingerprints, facial structure, the iris or a person’s voice. Biometrics are all about replacing “things that you know”, such as passwords and PINs, with “things that you are” and such data cannot be stolen or duplicated.

Biometric technology is the go-to solution for improving digital security and it has evolved from simple fingerprints and facial recognition to behavior IDs that are capable of adapting to a user’s movement and produce “a digital fingerprint to confirm their identity and develop an ongoing authentication without requiring any action from the consumer”.

Why are we switching to Biometric passports?

Passports containing Biometric data cannot be forged or spoofed and will be more secure for their holders and will help the Lebanese authorities reduce fraud and prevent terrorists and criminals from using fake passports.

Why are we doing that now? There are 100+ countries worldwide using bio-metric passports, the U.S. has mandated the use of biometrics for over 10 years now and everyone is headed that way, so the question should be why didn’t we do it before? Let’s not forget that there are probably mandates related to implementing biometrics set by the international aviation organization that we need to comply with.

Will there be a timeline during which certain countries might start rejecting the old passport?

The government will start issuing the new e-passport before end of July. Pilot has already started for all applicants. Lebanese can use the old passports, not the ones renewed by hand though, till their expiry date. There shouldn’t be any acceptance issues but again one cannot be 100% sure. Some embassies might require soon e-passport as pre-requisite for visas.

Who is handling this project?
The company handling it is Inkript, which is a subsidiary of RGH. I don’t have much information about Inkript but that they are listed on ICAO directory as a turnkey biometric travel document solution provider alongside global brands which should be reassuring.

How much will it cost?
I heard that the new passport will have the same fees as the current one.

I will keep you posted as soon as I have additional information.

#LiveLoveLebanon: Promoting Rural Lebanon & Lebanese Traditional Guest Houses

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lll5

If you want take a journey into the heart of rural Lebanon, there are tens of gorgeous guesthouses located in breathtaking locations and offering an authentic Lebanese experience. To name few:

Bouyouti – Maasser Beiteddine
Mtein Guesthouse – Mtein
Tafla – Smar Jbeil
Eco Dalida – Tannourine
Esber Guesthouse – Rachaya el Fokhar
Dar Mehdi – Rachaya el Wadi
Akram Guesthouse – Barouk
Beit Douma – Douma
Der Qadisha – Hasroun
Beit el Nessim – Al Mina Tripoli
Remhala Guesthouse – Aley
Dar Alma – Tyre
Dar Linda – Deir el Qamar
Dar el Achrafieh – Achrafieh

You can check out information for some of them on [hotelibanais].

I loved the video and the music. Another job well done by The Ministry of Tourism!

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Ten Great Travel Destinations Where Lebanese Don’t Need a VISA

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sey

Even though we have one of the most expensive and least useful passports in the world, there are still some cool travel destinations that we can go to without a visa and MasterCard wants to remind us of some of them:

1- Mauritius
2- Turkey
3- Sri Lanka
4- Georgia
5- Jordan
6- Nepal
7- Malaysia
8- Oman
9- Seychelles
10- Maldives

I am not so sure about Sri Lanka though as I know there is a visa of around 50$ to be paid.

48 Hours in #Beirut: I Love it!

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byblos

A couple from Dubai visited Beirut for a crazy 48 hours and compiled everything they did into 5 minute video. They explored Beirut by day and night (Zaitunay, Mar Mikhail etc …), took the Teleferique to Harissa, Jeita Grotto, Byblos Souks and ended their adventure at the one and only B018.

I know these are all cliché things to do but tourists enjoy them and a lot of Lebanese, including myself, still enjoy them from time to time. Visiting Byblos, Going to Harissa, partying at B018 are a must if you haven’t visited Lebanon.

I love how this couple shared their experience and I hope they will be back soon for another crazy 48 hours. There are so many different things to do in this country in 48 hours that you will always keep coming back!

Check out the full story [here].

[YouTube]

I’m Going to Rome For The Opening of the Lebanese Museum of Modern Arts

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colo1 Source

I got an invite from the Ministry of Culture to cover the opening of the Lebanese Museum of Modern Arts in Rome from the 29th of April till May 1st. The museum is supposed to have a collection of 800 works of art by several renowned Lebanese painters and sculptors like Khalil Gibran, exclusive never before seen pieces will be on display.

The organizers of this trip and the Ministry are not giving me any further information and keeping it as a surprise and I couldn’t find anything online regarding that opening so I have no idea on what to expect there. All I know is that two bloggers were only invited to the opening, one of us (me) is going to Rome and the other (my good friend Dana from Ivysays) to Paris.

This is my first trip to the Eternal City so I’m very excited about it and about the museum opening of course. I will keep you posted with updates and will be sharing my experience there on [Instagram], [Facebook], [Twitter] and Snapchat [@LeNajib].

Caravan Beirut: Lebanese Designers Taking Over Georgetown Park, Washington D.C

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caravan

More than 40 established and emerging Lebanese designers are flying all the way to Washington DC to take part in the Caravan Beirut pop-up store and showcase their talent and collections at the 4-day event (April 8-11). Caravan Beirut is a pop-up store in Washington organized by Nour Khoury and Mariana Wehbe in partnership with the American Lebanese Chamber of Commerce. The initiative is also supported by the Ministry of Tourism and US Ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones who was present at the press conference last week, which I attended.

Just to give you a small brief on Nour & Mariana, Nour Khoury is the founder of Bucolik, an online digital platform for emerging Lebanese and Middle Eastern designers while Mariana Wehbe heads MW Communication, a boutique PR Agency specializing in luxury brands, fundraising & NGO Auctions.

Mariana Nour via Jamalouki

All the designers were personally handpicked by Mariana & Nour and products will vary from fashion to cooking, jewelry to handicrafts, to photography, home ware, architecture, and other marvels. The aim is to expose Lebanon’s treasures to a brand new market, empower Lebanese designers around the world, create more job opportunities, open a new trade route to the United States and more importantly give a brighter image of Lebanon.

Beirut House of Paisley

The venue in Washington will be conceptualized by famous Lebanese architect Rabih Geha and the food during the opening event will be offered by Kamal Mouzawak of the renowned food market Souk el Tayeb.

As for the designers taking part, they include jewelers such as “the Mukhi Sisters, André Marcha, Selim Mouzannar, Rania Farsoun, Bil Arabi, Nada Le Cavelier, and Madame Rêve. Photographers such as Patrick Baz, Emile Issa, Roger Moukarzel and Amin Sammakieh; and fashion designers such as Karoline Lang, Jessica K, Milia M, House of Paisley, Nour Hammour, La La Rose, Mojo Beach, Sarah’s Bag and Little Bluffers will also exhibit their work. Stationery from Choux à la Crème, artists like Michel Karsouny, and HR Design will present the best Lebanon has to offer, alongside home ware designers such as Bokja, Maison Tarazi, Nalbandian Carpets, Senteurs d’Orient, Rasha Ceramics, and Kanzaman”.

PS: A portion of Caravan Beirut’s proceeds will be donated to Skoun, a Lebanese non-profit organization that offers prevention and treatment to drug users.

mukhi Mukhi Sisters – Beirut Souks

I love the initiative and it would be great to see this concept travel around other American cities and different countries in the future. If you live in Washington DC, make sure to pass by and check out some of Beirut’s most talented and creative designers & artists.

Opening night: April 8, 6pm-9pm
Pop-up shop hours: April 9-11, 10am-7pm
Closing night: April 12, 6pm-8pm

Virtual visitors are also welcome to stop by Caravan Beirut online at Bucolik.com.

You can check out further info on the event [here].

I Just Got A New 5-Year Passport

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passport

So everything we’ve been hearing about the renewed passport by hand and the Biometric passports being rolled out is wrong. I traveled with a renewed by hand passport without anyone stopping me and I just got a new passport for 5 years without anyone warning me about the new Biometric passport.

I thought we were only allowed to renew the passport for 1 year but apparently that’s not the case. Now we have to wait and see if the authorities are going to force us to switch to biometric passports once they are out.