Fatmagul Sultan causing a lot of pollution

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FatmaGul causing more pollution in Zouk area and covering the area with low black smokes

I’ve been hearing from few friends and reading in the news that the Turkish power ship is polluting the Zouk skies even more than the Zouk Power Plant used to do and leaving huge black smokes. What’s making things worse is that the smoke stacks are much lower than the plant’s two towers.

I am surprised that Adonis and Zouk residents haven’t filed a lawsuit yet against the government (any government) to act on the environmental and health hazard posed by the poisonous black smokes generated by the Zouk power plant.

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Picture taken from “Petition to reduce pollution caused by the Zouk Power Plant” Facebook Page

In other pollution-related stories in Lebanon, few Tripoli residents torched diesel tankers headed to Syria causing one of them to explode and leave a black smoke all over the city. Really Smart Move!

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Picture via MTV – Three diesel tankers exploded in Tripoli after being torched and black smoke is engulfing the city.

Oh and the drinking water in most schools in Lebanon seems to be polluted or containing high levels of chlorine according to this report:

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Report shows drinking water in many Lebanese schools is polluted or contains high levels of chlorine

Spanish-Lebanese Energy Consortium Abener-Butec might file a lawsuit against the Lebanese Government

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Picture taken from Zawya.com

I’ve heard news of a lawsuit being prepared against the Energy Ministry and Lebanese government before but I wasn’t sure about it up until now. Here’s a small brief on what happened:

A tender to build a new power production unit at the Deir Amar facility was initially won by Abener-Butec, a Spanish-Lebanese consortium few months back. The contract was estimated at $662 million dollars, which according to Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, exceeded the $502 million allocated to fund Deir Ammar’s reconstruction. What happened next is that the first tender got cancelled and a second one is set to be open for interested companies.

Under the terms of the tender, Energy Minister is allowed to seek a 10% reduction from the winning company, and Abener-Butec agreed to these terms by downsizing the capacity of the new plant from 535 megawatts to 430 megawatts, but refused to cut down the contract by $160 million, which kind of makes sense. [DailyStar]

“You cannot ask us to deduct more than 10 percent of the total costs of the project, because if we were able to reduce costs more than that then how much profit would we be making? We’d be stealing from the government,” Zakharia said (Myrna Zakharia, Butec’s PR and communications adviser).

I don’t quite understand why did the government chose Abener-Butec’s offer in the first place if they knew they were above the amount allocated to fund Deir Ammar’s reconstruction. We are talking about international companies here with a reputation to keep, not some local bid over few thousand dollars.

Added to that, it seems the Spanish Company’s offer was apparently an excellent one:

“The offer Abener-Butec had made gave a really good price, even lower than what the ministry had expected,” said Younes. The consortium’s offer set the cost of producing one Kilowatt at $1,262 when using heavy fuel and $1,170 when using gas. Younes said the consortium’s offer also maintained high-quality implementation: “Our competitors were Indian, Turkish, and Chinese companies, our offer was the best, in terms of value and quality.”

I am not sure how solid is Abener-Butec’s case legally speaking, since no contract was signed yet, but we might end up getting unofficially blacklisted by international companies because of that.

FAIL: Boycott Guns N’ Roses

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Here’s how the boycott logic works in Lebanon:

– We love Armin Van Buuren (among others), it’s ok if he played in “Israel” (see below video). We will barely mention it on our page.
– We are not very fond of Guns N’ Roses, Boycott those Zionists! Death to Israel! Hakitfa Matata or whatever …

Like I said on many occasions, I don’t have a problem with groups boycotting artists to make a stance even if I don’t agree with them, but at least be consistent.

[YouTube]

No Alcohol or Pork at Zaatar w Zeit Hamra

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Picture taken from ZWZ Facebook Page

I was surprised to read on Gino’s blog yesterday that the newly open Zaatar wou Zeit in Hamra does not service pork or alcohol. The reason was not explained to him in the branch but ZWZ justified this ban by linking it to “leasing conditions”.

Here’s what Gino wrote:

I sat down, ordered a ham and cheese mankooshe. The waiter suggested cheese and turkey, so I asked if they were out of ham or something, he ensured me that that specific branch does not serve pork. I ordered something else “halal” and then asked for an Almaza, he said alcohol was not served at that branch either. [Full Post]

And how the Zaatar W Zeit Team explained it:

Dear All,

We are very fond of Hamra and we love to be part of its full-of-life streets. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to open there and let our customers enjoy the experience we have to offer. However, we had to do some amendments on our menu in order to still be able to cater to our loyal fans, while respecting the leasing conditions.

Adaptability and respect of others’ opinions are an integral part of the ZWZ culture. Our objective is to reach all customers in all regions while serving safe and delicious food.

Finally, we’d love to see you all in our other close branches, such as Bliss, Gemmayze or Sodeco, where you can enjoy our full menu, no exception whatsoever!

Have a great day ahead.

Zaatar W Zeit Team. [Source]

Now this may seem reasonable if this was a franchise but Zaatar W Zeit clearly stated that all ZWZ stores in Lebanon are owned by one company and thus aren’t franchised. If that’s the case, the question that comes to mind is whether it is legal to set leasing conditions of this type on a restaurant. Can’t they point out that there’s pork in some items (like they do now with the little piglet) and let customers decide if they want it or not? Where’s the harm in that?

Last but not least, the branch is not that far away from a street filled with pubs and bars that obviously serve alcohol and people who go there are the most likely to be visiting the ZWZ branch after a long drinking night, add to that LAU students so I am not sure who they are trying to reach with this ban.

If I were ZWZ, I would have simply picked another spot in Hamra.

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Picture taken by myself via Instagram: One of ZWZ’s best sandwiches, Ham & Cheese and no it’s not the same if you replace the ham with turkey.

Kholoud and Nidal are having a baby

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Picture Taken from NowLebanon

That’s great news for Lebanon’s first ‘civil’ couple but not so much for the baby as I don’t know yet how they will be able to register him given that Minister Charbel has yet to approve their marriage. What is confusing to me though is what Minister Charbel stated in NowLebanon’s article.

When asked how the baby would be registered if he does not sign the marriage contract, Minister Charbel answered: “Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish had a religious marriage so they can have the baby registered. In any case, I am waiting for the Consultations Committee’s response before making the appropriate decision.”

I wasn’t aware that they had a religious marriage. Why go through all this hassle if they had a religious wedding? Am I missing something?

Meet Swedish-Lebanese singer Therése Neaimé

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I don’t know why I never heard of Therése Neaimé up until now. She’s apparently a known pop-singer not only in Sweden but in the Gulf countries as well where she got featured on many TVs and radios and even made a song for the 40th anniversary of the UAE. She apparently pursued a modelling career as well and was featured in several Swedish magazines, print ads (Dobber/Levis Jeans, IKEA) and commercials [Source]. She has the body of a top model but not the prettiest of faces to be honest.

I posted below her latest song and her interview with MBC1. She has a nice voice. You can read more about Therese on her Facebook page [Here] and official website [Here].

Therése Neaimé, the Swedish-Lebanese singer-songwriter, has been enjoying great success in the US, Europe and the Middle East. Her debut album “LIVIN’” was released in 2006 on Therése Neaimé’a own label Future Records and included the hit singles “The Future” (#13 in the US) and “Not Easy” (#1 in Sweden).

In October 2011 she released her new album “STRONGER”, a mix of soulful ballads and dance hits. It includes the pre-released singles “How Could I”, “All I Think About Is You” and “Lovers Lullaby” that have all made it to radio hits.
“Today Is A Holiday” is dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the UAE and has been playing on major radio stations. Since her return to Dubai this fall, Therése has enjoyed much media attention. Dubbed by radio as “the talk of town” she is a regular on TV and radio shows, lifestyle magazines and tabloids.

Therése Neaimé toured the world from Los Angeles to Singapore, Europe and the Middle East. She performed for the troops in Afghanistan and opened with her own band “Neaimé” for “Simply Red” on their European Tour. She has performed for the King and Crown Princess of Sweden and at numerous VIP events.

Therése shares her time between Sweden and Dubai. She was selected by the Swedish Government as “noteable personality” for the cause of Swedish-Arab relations. Therése is the Brand Ambassador for Volkswagen Middle East and an Ambassador for the Swedish Foundation for Children with Cancer. [Facebook Page]

Thank you Michelle!

New Pope Francis I has a special admiration for Saint Charbel

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Picture taken from latimes.com

I heard on TV and read on a couple of sites that the newly elected pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Francis I) has a picture of Saint Charbel in his office and admires the Lebanese Saint. I am not sure if it’s true but I wouldn’t be surprised as St. Charbel’s life is an inspiration to many Lebanese and Christians from all around the world.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named the 266th pope, succeeding Benedict XVI as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina, was elected by his fellow cardinals in their fifth round of voting, securing a two-thirds majority just 24 hours after their conclave began in the magnificent precincts of the Sistine Chapel. He took the papal name Francis. [Source]

You can read more about the new pope [Here].

Waterfront City Centre – Dbayeh

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WaterFront City Animation

While reading Executive Magazine’s interview with MAF Properties senior mall manager Sleiman Mallat, I noticed that he talked about a new mall planned for Waterfront City in Dbayyeh, the Waterfront City Centre. I couldn’t find further details on Waterfrontcity.com related to this mall though.

Here’s what he said:

Q:You have much experience in the mall business in Lebanon, including working with the ABC Mall. How do you see the business of building and operating malls evolving in Lebanon?

A: Lebanese developers mainly develop small shopping centers that are not real malls. The complete offering is what will differentiate this shopping center from the small shopping malls. ABC is a shopping mall and City Mall is also a shopping mall, but as I said, Lebanon is underserved. All studies show that we can develop more shopping malls in Lebanon and we have another project, the Waterfront City Centre in Dbayeh.

I will keep you posted as soon as I find out more about it.

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Future Waterfront city

Zouk Power Plant

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Roy Jibrin’s final year project was the Zouk Power Station and he was able to get inside the power-plant and have access to unique pictures and confidential information which he shared in his post.

Read all about it [Here].

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During construction of phase 1 (The 2 small towers are the old power station)

God Bless Personal Loans and Lebanese Banks

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I honestly don’t know what’s so good about loans in Lebanon, or why some banks are so proud of their extremely high loan interests. What is even worse are those ads advertising personal loans for a child’s birth or a vacation. You end up paying 40% interest over 5 years and you should somehow feel happy about it.

I am taking a house loan soon and the interests are really scary. If you want 180k or 200k over 15-20 years you end up paying some 100,000$ in interest.