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When we mention photo sharing apps, the first name that comes to mind is Instagram. In fact, many apps have been trying to rival Facebook’s latest acquisition but only few have been able to cope with it or at least draw online users’ attention by bringing different approaches to photo sharing. One of them is EyeEm and the reason I am talking about it is because EyeEm’s Chief Technology Officer, Developer and Founder is a Lebanese called Ramzi Rizk.

Photo Hack Day – Berlin

I had the chance to meet Ramzi’s brother Hany during my visit to Berlin back in June and I attended a photo hack day organized by EyeEm where I got to talk to Ramzi. I had a lot of questions in mind and wanted to know how different EyeEM is from Instagram and what are their plans for the future?

To sum it up, EyeEm is not just focused on photo sharing, but tries to connect like-minded users through the photos they take. As mentioned in this article, “EyeEm’s app combines the familiar ‘snapshots and filters’ approach with metadata that collects not just location and time for each photo, but contextual information like what a user was doing at the time.”

So basically it’s a smarter app that focuses on the user’s experience after uploading the picture by analyzing the photos and their related data. Of course the importance of a photo sharing app is to produce cool photos with the various filters and for that EyeEm provides 17 unique filters, and more importantly and that’s the best part, allows you to upload the whole picture and not crop it into a square.

Some of my pictures on EyeEm – User: Najib

I don’t think it’s fair to compare EyeEm to Instagram because both work differently. For example if you want to look at photos of Beirut you will have to follow some hashtagh on Instagram while EyeEm will automatically show you photos of Beirut if you had just uploaded a picture of the city yourself. If you’ve been uploading a lot of pictures of Beirut or Byblos, EyeEm will notify you of any future picture of that city assuming they are relevant to you. Last but not least, EyeEm intuitively suggests relevant tags based on your location.

In terms of numbers, EyeEm reached 1 million downloads in October 2012, and has since been growing by an impressive one million users per month. They are growing steadily and managed to raise $6 million dollars a couple of months back.

EyeEm featured on the Reuters screen smack dab in Times Square New York

If you want to know more about EyeEm, the best way is to download it and try it out. It is available for iPhone and Android.

I hope that by the time you’ve finished reading this post, you would have downloaded EyeEm and started uploading awesome pictures of Lebanon!

Why we love photography from EyeEm

The importance of tomorrow’s nationwide strike

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Picture from Al-Akhbar

The Economic Committees in Lebanon, which constitute the private sector groups, as well as all the Lebanese banks are closing tomorrow to demand the immediate formation of a Cabinet. Most people I know are happy that they are getting a day off, but few are realizing the gravity of the situation and the importance of this strike.

We hear about employees, teachers, NGOs or syndicates demonstrating and protesting in Lebanon usually, but this time business owners and heads of major corporations and all banks in Lebanon have decided to close down and send a clear message to the officials that Lebanon cannot get out of this economic crisis without a functioning government. Historically speaking, Lebanese banks which are the backbone of the economy, have very rarely, if ever, agreed to join such strikes, so by closing their doors tomorrow, they are raising the alarm on the dwindling Lebanese economy.

“The positive results of banks and reassurances of the Central Bank governor about the Lebanese pound and monetary situation are important … but if things continue on this pace of deterioration … all strengths will be endangered,” he said. “The only difference between Lebanon and these countries is that they found help being European Union members.”

25% of Lebanon’s population are refugees, the touristic season is dead, the economy is bad and above all that we don’t have a government. Let’s hope this strike tomorrow will result in a government of technocrats soon because this is what the country needs at the moment. If no government is formed anytime soon, things only get worse (if that’s even possible).

Shuft Taharrush Campaign: 69% of expatriate women in Lebanon are subjected to harassment

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I am not sure how reliable these numbers are because that’s quite an alarming rate. I wish we had more details on what is the majority of cases reported and what is considered to be a harassment act?

Over two-thirds of expatriate women in the capital have been sexually harassed, according to the results of a new survey by an activist group. The figures are likely just as high for Lebanese women, the group’s leader said, with complaints by women ranging from verbal harassment and catcalls to violent sexual assault.

“In their daily lives, Lebanese women and expatriates are experiencing harassment, whether verbal or physical,” said Tarek Abouzeinab, who launched the anti-harassment initiative.

More than 900 women responded to the survey, which was carried out in places that are frequented by expatriate women, including malls and churches.

The survey found that 69 percent of expatriate women in Lebanon “are subjected to harassment in all its forms and types as well as continuous and unrelenting violence, discrimination and harsh treatment.”

The campaign’s hotline, which was launched during Eid, has so far received over 192 telephone complaints. The group also received 290 email inquiries on harassment. [Source]