The Story of Beirut: A Spectacular Start To The Beirut Cultural Festival

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The Story of Beirut was the centerpiece of the May 17-22 Beirut Cultural Festival and the best possible way to kick off the first edition of these festivals. Using Nejmeh Square’s iconic clock tower as its focal point, the show took us back to the Phoenicians, then the Roman Empire, the Ottoman rule, the French mandate, our independence in 1943, Beirut’s glorious years in the 1960s, the unfortunate civil war and the reconstruction that followed, a moment of silence in 2005 and then a dazzling light show transported us to the 2016 all accompanied with beautiful musical compositions and mixes by Guy Manoukian.

CNN wrote a lengthy article today on The Story of Beirut. I will leave you with these pictures and a small video that I compiled from various parts of the show.

Thumbs up to everyone who made this possible and to the show’s art director Daniel Georr.

Tonight is your last chance to catch the show. You can look for tickets [here].

[YouTube]

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Naameh Landfill Is Closing Tonight, Garbage Crisis is Coming Back Soon!

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garbage Source: AFP

Two months ago, I wrote that the Lebanese cabinet is only postponing the garbage crisis with their temporary four-year long solution. Unfortunately, they weren’t even able to stick to that plan and the garbage crisis is coming back as of tomorrow when the Naameh landfill closes again.

I don’t know if the cabinet has plans to keep Naameh landfill open for a long period but what saddens me is that no one was talking about that garbage crisis during the municipal elections. You’d think that waste management would be the hottest topic on every candidate’s electoral program but instead candidates were polluting further with their posters (which were not removed yet in Beirut) and fireworks.

Here’s Why I Love Formula One

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I love Formula 1. Everything about this sport is fascinating and I hate it when I hear people telling me “It’s just driving around in circles”. Formula 1 is considered by many to be the greatest sport ever because it simply is. You have the best automotive engineers and teams using state-of-the-art technologies to build the fastest, lightest and most advanced cars for the world’s most talented drivers to drive around the most beautiful and demanding tracks in the world.

Even though I’ve been watching F1 for almost 20 years now, I’ve only been to one Grand Prix at Monza back in 2011 and the whole experience was simply amazing and out of this world, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard Red Bull are organizing an F1 showrun in Beirut!

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I am sure Formula 1 fans are as excited as I am about this event, but I want non-F1 fans to realize how awesome this sport is and what they are missing out on. I want them to know how hard it is to make an F1 car, how much time it takes, how demanding it is, the different stages involved from Design and R&D, Composites, Manufacturing and Assembly and other fascinating details.

I’ve teamed up with Red Bull to come up with this post 1) because I love Red Bull, 2) because Red Bull Racing won four successive Constructors’ Championship titles in the past 6 years with my favorite driver Sebastian Vettel and 3) because they are organizing the F1 showrun on Sunday.

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So here we go: How to make a Red Bull Racing F1 car?

What does it take to make one of the world’s fastest racing cars? How are they so powerful? How much time does it take to build one? How is the perfect design chosen? How many tests before a car is good to go? How many parts does an F1 car need? And how many machines are needed for the whole process?
Questions, so many questions! Here are the answers.

There are basically four stages in the making of an F1 car:
I- Design and R&D
II- Composites
III- Manufacturing
IV- Assembly

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Here are a few insights on what happens at the Red Bull Racing factory. The first two parts were already covered by Red Bull so I will elaborate on the last two which are Manufacturing and Assembly.

III- Manufacturing:
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Did you know a Formula 1 car typically takes only five months to design and develop? It takes over 300 designers, aerodynamicists and machinists to create one RB model. Yes, three-hundred, THREE-hundred! Every model created has a specific purpose.

The RB car is made from over 6,500 unique parts which include 100,000 components, 70% of which are machined in house. There are 20 programmable machines capable of manufacturing all parts of the car and the engineers running the machine shop have to constantly improve to reduce the manufacturing time while preserving the quality needed and making sure the parts are 100% reliable. Weight is the biggest challenge for any F1 team as they are constantly trying to make the car lighter and lighter. Quoting Christian Horner, the team principal at Red Bull Racing, the parts produced are pieces of art and the work being done is phenomenal.

paint Even the Painting Process is a hassle

The RB car is painted in-house. The painting process is very critical as it’s not about aesthetics. It’s a performance element as the finishing needs to be smooth and building up paint on the car might increase its weight and slow it down or even affect the aerodynamics. An F1 car’s paint job may seem silly but it’s a very technical process that is often overlooked.

IV- Assembly:
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Assembling a Formula one car is similar to a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that needs to be completed in a record time with zero margin for error. The first build tends to take about a week and the planning process is even more painful than the assembly itself.

The cars are assembled in the “Race Bays”. Five chassis are prepared, one for each driver, two test cards and one kept in disassembly mode. Every manufactured or purchased component goes through a thorough inspection process and there are several state-of-the-art tools that are used to inspect the car and its different components without touching it. The tiniest mistake, we are talking microns, could cost the team disqualification or drastically affect the car’s performance.

All in all, Formula 1 has the best of everything: The technology, the cars, the tracks, the crashes, the drivers, the glamour, the rivalries. It’s probably the best sport you are not watching!

See you all on Sunday and let’s hope that one day we will have a Beirut F1 GP.

Beirut Cultural Festivals Kick off Tonight With A Massive Visual & Musical Tribute to Beirut

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The Beirut Cultural Festivals will be held for the first time this year from May 17th till May 22nd at Beirut’s waterfront area. The festival will kick off tonight with a tribute to Beirut itself, through a one of a kind visual and musical production entitled “The Story of Beirut” that “will recount in a distinctive and artistic way the story of our capital since the time of the Phoenicians and highlighting the long and glorious history of Beirut and its importance”. The show will feature an impressive 3D mapping production and an orchestra formed of over 70 musicians performing musical compositions prepared by Guy Manoukian.

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The “Story of Beirut” will be shown for the first 3 days, followed by a series of cultural, artistic, sports and entertainment activities that will be concluded on May 22nd with an the Red Bull F1 showrun, the first of its kind in Beirut!

I will be there tonight and at the F1 showrun on Sunday. If you want further information, check out the [Beirut Cultural Festival] website.

Yet Another Victim of Celebratory Gunfire in Beirut

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Last Sunday a child got killed in the Bekaa when a stray bullet hit him and yesterday a 15 year old called Hussein al-Arab was reportedly hit by a stray bullet in Bourj al-Barajneh and was hospitalized. The bullet hit his heart directly but he’s still alive. According to LBCI, he was walking his mother at the time.

When will someone put an end to celebratory gunfire? When will those firing in the air recklessly be arrested? What if it was a minister or an MP’s son that got hit? What would have happened then?

Maskhara!

Meet Nasser & Mohammed: Two Children Selling Their Artwork in Mar Mikhail Every Saturday

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Nasser & Mohammed Darwich are two Syrian children from Aleppo. They currently live in Beirut and go to school here. On Saturday, they head out to Mar Mikhail, set up set up a small table outside Internazionale and sell their drawings in the form of postcards to people passing by. I first read about them on Facebook and headed to Mar Mikhail on Saturday to meet the two brothers and buy some postcards.

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One of them was there in his school costume sitting on a tiny table. He was very polite and kept smiling at me. The drawings were all colorful and positive, depicting Beirut’s busy streets, Mar Mikhail’s nightlife, old houses next to skyscrapers etc. I ended up buying 6 postcards.

I love what these brothers are doing and how cheerful and positive they are. I didn’t ask them about Aleppo or Syria or about their family. I’m sure the last thing they need is a reminder of the atrocities happening there. What matters is that they are in good health, they are going to school and they are working for a better future.

You can catch them 2-6 every Saturday. They go to school on the other days.

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Why is Electoral Fraud Being Treated so Lightly? Buying Votes is a Serious Crime

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Update: LADE Report is out. 801 violations, bribes, fights at polling stations, military men voting illegally, delegates pressuring the voters etc …

Last Sunday, 647 violations were reported in Beirut and the Beqaa including three documented bribes made to voters. Yesterday, almost 600 violations were also reported in Mount Lebanon and a couple of videos of electoral fraud were shared online.

The person who was paying for people to vote in Zahle got arrested last week, and yesterday another arrest was made but is that enough? Who asked this specific person to pay voters? Where did he get the money from? Are there other people bribing voters as well?

In Zahle, the list that was bribing voters lost but yesterday the “Karamet Jounieh” list who was caught bribing voters won by a tiny margin. Assuming both lists were bribing voters, which was probably the case, shouldn’t these votes be cancelled? Is it enough to just arrest one guy? Was there any investigation? Where’s the official report?

I think it’s outrageous that electoral fraud and bribes are being taken so lightly, especially when it’s that obvious. The rule should be simple: if any candidate or delegate is caught bribing voters in a specific polling station, all votes related to this candidate or the list he belongs to should be annulled. Claiming that it was one isolated case is basically insulting our intelligence and even if it’s just one case, it should be enough to severely punish the list or candidates in question.

PS: LADE will be holding a press conference at noon to discuss the violations that took place yesterday.