The Little Syrian Kid Got Beaten Again By His Uncle …

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[YouTube]

I just saw on Plus961 that Al Jadeed interviewed the little kid that got beaten up as well and his mother. Weirdly enough, the mother told the reporter (Start At Minute 9:00) that she took the little kid to her brother who beat him up as well after hearing the story!

Unfortunately, there are almost half a million Syrian in Lebanon struggling to get into schools and forced to work for a living. Many of them are victims of sexual abuse and violence as well.

Arz Water

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I spotted the new slogan on Facebook and I thought it was a new bottled mineral water brand but it looks like it’s been out for years. That’s pretty weird because I never spotted it in any supermarket. I’ve tried most of the brands we have in Lebanon and my favorite has always been Tannourine.

Little Abbas’ Father Apprehended By The Lebanese Police

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[YouTube]

Based on reports from Al-Jadeed and LBCI, the security forces have identified the people behind the video that went viral earlier today and was showing a young kid beating another child and being encouraged by his parents. Moreover, LBCI just reported that the Internal Security Forces’ cyber crimes bureau raided the al-Raml al-Ali area in Dahieh to arrest the father of the minor Abbas. T.

This is great news and I am glad this video went viral and these people were arrested. I don’t get if it was the father or some relative or a total stranger who did this, they must be punished accordingly because this is a crime against an innocent child.

My Trip To Jordan: Part2

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In case you’ve missed Part1 of my trip to Jordan, you can check it out [here]. I’ve shared in it my experience at the dead sea, at the Baptism site (Al Maghtass) and Ma’In resort. The second part of our trip was the most interesting one as I got to experience Petra by day and by night, spend a whole afternoon in the desert, watch the sunset at Wadi Rum before heading to Aqaba.

Mount Nebo
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Our first stop after Ma’In was at Madaba where Mount Nebo is. This is where Moses as mentioned in the Bible was granted a view of the Promised land that he would never enter. The view is breathtaking from the top next to The Brazen Serpent and if the weather is clear, you could spot Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. There’s also a nice little museum that is worth passing by.

Mosaics Shop and Lunch In The City
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There’s a cool shop right before Mount Nebo that makes and sells mosaics. It’s a huge place where we got to see how mosaics are done (the traditional and modern way) and we had some time to shop for some souvenirs as well. Afterwards, we headed to the city to eat at an old authentic restaurant. Most of the restaurants in Jordan we visited were clean and served good food. However, the dishes were not that different from what we have in Lebanon except for the Mansaf and the Zarb (which I will talk about later on in this post).

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Petra By Night
Petra-Jordan-At-Night Picture by TravelingMyself

The trip from Madaba to Petra was a very long and tiring one. It’s a 4 hours trip on a desert road and there aren’t any interesting landscapes to look at along the way. Once we got to Petra and after dinner, we headed to visit Al Khazneh in Wadi Musa. It was around 9pm when we started walking down a valley surrounded by mountains with nothing by candles on the sandy and rocky road to show us the way. I’ve never tried anything like that in my life and it was quite exciting to be honest. Once we got to the Khazneh, the atmosphere was both magical and mystical as hundreds of people were listening to two artists playing medieval flute music while the Khazneh was lit up by candles all around it.

I was really blown away by this experience and I would go to Jordan just to experience it again. The only inconvenience is that it is impossible to take decent pictures (unless you wish to carry your SLR all the way down) as it’s too dark. You can find below a couple of shots I managed to take after several tries with my Lumia 1020.

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Taybet Zaman and Petra By Day
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We were staying at Taybet Zaman during our Petra visit, which is an old abandoned village that was transformed into a really cool resort. As you can see from the pictures, the place is really nice and set in a very peaceful surrounding. Breakfast wasn’t that great though.

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After experiencing Petra by night, we headed again in the morning to walk down Wadi Musa (Petra) and see the Khazneh temple that was used by the way in one of Indiana Jones’ movies (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). The day experience is very different from the night one as you get to see what’s around you and you can go on a horse ride instead of walking. Personally speaking, I preferred the night experience as the horses are quite annoying and there are a lot of smells and horse poop on the way.

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We took the short walk to Khazneh only as it was really hot. However, if you happen to visit Petra, go as early as possible or in the afternoon and try visit all the sites there. Keep a large bottle of water with you though as the walk is long and there aren’t many shops on the way.

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Wadi Rum and the Desert Experience
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After Petra, we headed straight to the Captain’s camp in Wadi Rum in the middle of the desert. It was my first time in the desert and I loved everything about this experience. The camp was really cool and clean, the people were very friendly and the food we had at night was superb, specially the main dish which was the Zarb.

I was expecting to go on a safari trip there but instead we just went on a jeep tour and explored Wadi Rum. We then parked at a strategic point to watch the sunset which was quite spectacular! Our driver showed us as well an old deserted camp where one of the scenes from Lawrence of Arabia was shot.

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Once we got back to the camp, the Zarb dish was almost done and the buffet was almost ready. In case you haven’t heard of the Zarb before, it’s basically a bedouin barbecue where meat, chicken and vegetables are all put in a large underground oven, then buried properly and cooked for few hours. The chicken is put on top, then below it the vegetables and finally the rice. As weird as it may seem, the outcome was surprisingly delicious. While dinner was being served, some of us smoked Arguileh while watching traditional music and dancers perform.

I was very tempted to spend the night at the camp as they had small rooms you could sleep in, but we had to leave to Aqaba. This being said, I highly recommend you give Wadi Rum a try and go to one of the bedouin camps set there. It’s quite the experience and you won’t regret it!

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Aqaba: Radisson Blu In Tala Bay & Snorkeling
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Our last stop was in Aqaba, which is a city located on the Red Sea and is one of the major tourist attractions in Jordan. Aqaba is well known for its rich marine life, its beach resorts and luxury hotels as well as for being a destination for all sorts of water sports. We were staying at the Radisson Blu in Tala Bay which is a beautiful resort but a bit far from the city center.

Even though the resort was amazing, it was way too hot to even walk outside or walk on the sand. I looked a bit online and May is definitely not a good time to be visiting Aqaba so maybe it was a bad idea to spend the last two days there. Nevertheless, I enjoyed walking around the resort a lot and even paid the spa a visit.

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Should You Visit Jordan?
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There are so many things to see and do in Jordan that I wish the trip lasted a bit longer. From the dead sea to Ma’In, then Petra and Wadi Rum, everything was great and all of us were having a lot of fun. The long distances were a bit tiring specially that we were in a small van, and the schedule was a bit squeezed mainly due to the Pope’s visit but otherwise it was a wonderful trip. However, I think we should have skipped Aqaba and enjoyed the desert a bit longer. In all cases, I am definitely visiting Jordan once again as I didn’t have time to explore Amman and I want to stay a whole weekend in the desert.

On a last note, I highly recommend that you pay Jordan a visit if you haven’t been there yet as there are a lot of exciting stuff to do and wonderful sites to visit.

Two Lebanese-Australian Killed in The Malaysia Airline Crash in Ukraine

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Update: According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two victims are Egyptian-Australian and not Lebanese.

Albert and Mary Rizk were on board of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down over Ukraine two days ago. 298 people were killed in the crash, including 100 of the world’s leading Aids experts who were flying to an international conference in Melbourne. Moreover, there were members of an Australian family on board who lost two other relatives when Flight 370 disappeared back in March.

Sincere condolences to all the families. It’s quite unbelievable that someone decided to shoot down a plane just like that and kill 300 innocent passengers. I really hope they catch whomever did this.

Two Lebanese nationals, holding the Australian citizenship, were among the 298 people on board the Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over Ukraine. According to Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5), Albert and Mary Rizk are among the victims who died along with dozens of others in the tragedy on Thursday. They live in Melbourne, Australia.

At a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines updated its nationality count of passengers, saying the plane carried 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysian – including the crew-, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian, 9 British, 4 German, 5 Belgian, 3 Filipino and one person each from Canada and New Zealand. [Naharnet]

My Trip To Jordan: Part1

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As mentioned previously, I was in Jordan for a week back in May along with a couple of bloggers and media people courtesy of the Jordan Tourism Board. Before talking about the trip, I have to say I am quite impressed by the initiatives taken by Jordan to promote tourism in their country and through the JTB as opposed to what the Tourism Ministry does in Lebanon.

Moving on to the trip itself, and given that it was 1 week long, I thought I divide it into 2 parts:

- The first post covering the first 3 days of the trip that includes a short stop and dinner in Amman, the Pope event at Amman stadium, the dead sea and baptism site visits and the stay at the mountain resort Ma’In Hot Springs Evason in Ma’In.

- The second post covering the visit to Madaba (Mount Nebo), the desert experience in Wadi Rum, Petra by day and by night experience and last but not least our final stop in Aqaba.

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We took an early morning flight from Beirut to Amman (there are 7 flights every day) and got to Amman in less than 2 hours. It was my first time on a Royal Jordanian plane and the trip was quite smooth and the staff were very friendly. Upon arriving to the newly renovated Queen Alia International Airport, a bus and a tourist guide were waiting there to help us out and pick us up. The first hotel we stayed in was the Regency Palace hotel as it was very close to where the Pope’s mass is taking place and to the Jordanian cultural center where all the press conferences were being held.

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Night out in Amman and a selfie with Pope Francis
To be honest, the Regency Palace hotel was by far the worst hotel we stayed in during our trip to Amman as the rooms were dirty, the food was average and the hotel was right on a busy highway. After resting for a couple of hours, we headed out to the city center and had dinner at a beautiful authentic restaurant called Sufra. The restaurant is an old renovated house with a beautiful interior and a splendid terrace. The food was also quite good as we got to try few Jordanian dishes which were quite interesting (specially the Kafta wou Batata with T7eené instead of tomatoes).

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The second day was quite a busy one as we had to be ready by 10am for the Pope’s visit and we spent the whole day between the Jordanian cultural center and the Amman stadium. The security measures taken were quite drastic as there were 2 or 3 police officers every 20 meters and a lot of security checks. Nevertheless, everything went as planned and I got to see Pope Francis which I admire and respect a lot. I even took a selfie with him!

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The Dead Sea Experience: At the lowest point on Earth
Our next stop after Amman was at the Movenpick Hotels & Resorts which is located on the dead sea. As opposed to Regency Hotel, this was one of the most beautiful resorts I’ve ever been too. The resort was splendid, the rooms were amazing, the food was great and the facilities were everything one could ask for. As far as the dead sea experience is concerned, I went for a swim and it was quite a weird feeling as you float the whole time. I stayed for around 20 minutes as this is the recommended time then put some of that “magic” mud on my body. Note that it is not recommended to swim if you have a cut, nor is it advised to dunk your face in the water as your eyes will hurt real bad; you just have to lay back and navigate with your hands as if you’re in a tube.

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The whole dead sea experience took less than an hour and we spent the rest of the day sunbathing and walking around the resort. I even found some private Jacuzzi entrance and managed to get in after one of the hotel employees gave me the pass code. It was one of the best Jacuzzis I’ve stayed in as well. If you ever want to visit the dead sea, there are a lot of cool resorts along the coast just like the Movenpick.

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Baptism Site

After leaving the Movenpick and before heading to Ma’In, we passed by the Baptism Site for a short visit. The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, also known as Al-Maghtas, is one of the most important religious destinations specially for Christians. Despite its symbolism, there’s nothing much to see there except for the few churches and the main site next to the river.

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What was quite amazing there is that we were standing right on the Jordan River and the people on the other side of the river were in Israel. Even though we were separated by few meters only and no barriers, no one dares to cross the river from both sides.

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Evason Ma’In Hot Springs

After our short stop at the Baptism site, we drove for like an hour to get to Ma’In, a region situated in the mountains and hosting a beautiful resort next to Ma’In’s famous waterfalls. The resort is called Evason Ma’In Hot Springs (I have no idea how we pronounce Evason) and consists of a hotel and a spa, the Six Senses Spa, set underneath one of the three waterfalls found there.

The hotel itself is really nice and ideal for a weekend escape, the rooms were tidy and clean but there wasn’t much lighting at night for some reason. The biggest waterfall found there is not accessible to the public, but there are two other waterfalls that you can go to. One of them is located inside the Six Senses spa and you have to pay to go there while the other one located right outside the resort is free. There’s also a pool 200 meters away from the hotel but I didn’t like it much to be honest, as I would have preferred some infinity pool inside the resort with a couple of Jacuzzis to relax specially that they have a breathtaking view.

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As far as the waterfalls are concerned, it’s quite a unique experience and it feels quite weird to be standing underneath them. They call them the “healing waterfalls” because they apparently relax the muscles and make you feel better. All in all, I highly recommend this resort if you are heading to Jordan for a week and looking for a weekend escape. You don’t need more than a couple of days at Evason Ma’In Hot Springs.

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This pretty much covers the first part of my trip which I enjoyed quite a lot, but the best is yet to come to stay tuned for the second post where I will be talking about Petra and the desert experience mainly which were mind blowing!