Joke of the Day: Lebanon to Sign Climate-Change Pact in New York

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2arrib Source

Dear Prime Minister, wake up, get out and smell the garbage in Beirut.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam traveled to New York on Thursday to participate in the ceremony aimed at signing the climate-change pact that the world adopted in principle in Paris last December.

The state-run National News Agency said Salam is expected to give a speech at Friday’s ceremony, which will be attended by leaders and envoys from more than 160 countries. [Naharnet]

A New Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art Due To Open in Beirut by 2020

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muu The site of the future museum – Picture by Roger Moukarzel

Back when I wrote about the new Aishti contemporary museum opening soon, I mentioned that there were talks about building a huge museum of Modern and contemporary Lebanese art in central Beirut by 2020 and that Tony Salamé, Zaha Hadid (who unfortunately died recently), Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones of London’s Serpentine Galleries were involved.

It appears that the project has moved a step closer to becoming a reality with the announcement of the shortlisted architects for the project:

109 Architectes s.a.r.l.
Bernard Khoury / DW5
Hashim Sarkis Studios, LLC
HW architecture
ibda design
IDC / Verner Johnson / ETEC SA
L.E.FT Architects
Lina Ghotmeh / DGT Architects
Najjar Najjar Architect
Raëd Abillama Architects / Nadim Khattar
WORK Architecture Company (WORKac)
Yatsu Chahal Architects (YCa) / Said Jazari Consulting Office (SJCO)
Youssef Tohme Architects and Associates (YTAA)

The winner will be announced this autumn and the 2,780 square meter museum is due to open by 2020. As far as the location is concerned, it will be close to the National Museum as shown in the picture above and “representatives from the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (Apeal), the non-profit organisation behind the museum, have already signed a long-term lease agreement with the Université Saint Joseph for the site”. The museum will be funded through a private fundraising campaign.

Needless to say, I’m glad we’re getting a new museum but if the parking lot is being transformed into a museum, and knowing the area, no one would be able to visit it or the National Museum because there’s no place to park anywhere near. I hope they’re considering underground parking or other alternatives.

For those interested, you can follow the progress on [A museum in the making] website.

Thank you Sana!

Why Would Anyone Buy A Special Passport Number?

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passport

The Lebanese passport is one of the most expensive and least useful in the world, yet for some reason, the General Security has just released special “VIP” passport numbers that will cost you up to LL 1,000,000.

I can understand golden mobile numbers and up to a certain extent car plate numbers but why would I pay extra to get a special passport number? Will that special number allow me to enter more countries without a visa? Do I get free upgrades at hotels or during a flight if I show off my number? Will I get a free “Arabic Select Upgrade” on Southwest Airlines?

There’s only one type of Lebanese who will benefit from that: Those who show off every time they check in at the MEA Cedar Lounge will now be able to brag about their “special” passport numbers.

Here are few funny tips from Farix on how to make use of that special number:

Yorgui Teyrouz: The Man Behind DSC Lebanon Running With Beirut Madinati

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Yorgui

I learned this afternoon that Yorgui Teyrouz, a civil rights activist, the founder of Donner Sang Compter Lebanon and a good friend of mine, is running on the Beirut Madinati list for the Beirut municipal elections.

What Yorgui has accomplished in the past few years is quite astonishing. He has been working relentlessly and has sacrificed everything to make Donner Sang Compter work and help save the lives of thousands of Lebanese in need of blood. Just to give you an idea of the work DSC Lebanon has done in the past 5 years, they were able to recruit more than 15,000 blood donors, 250+ committed volunteers and saved more than 50,000 lives.

Best of luck to you Yorgui and you can surely count on my support!

If you haven’t heard yet about Beirut Madinati and why I support it, here’s a [post] I wrote few days ago. If you wish to help, feel free to volunteer [here], follow them on [Facebook], [Twitter] and subscribe to their [YouTube] channel.

Road Works 3al Lebnené

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werach via LBCILebanon

Half the country got stuck in traffic from Antelias till Maameltein because of the road works next to the Casino du Liban. I cancelled my son’s appointment at KMC because I was told I’d never make it there on time and I’m staying in Beirut till 7:30 to avoid traffic.

The best part is that the cops had to help out the workers to fix (ter2ee3) the road and clear the way for cars. I’m glad they did but they should go fine the contractor for this lousy work.

Update: The contractor apparently got arrested according to the Ministry of Public Works but that’s not enough.

ISF2 via ISF

PS: The works are scheduled to start at 10 PM so I’m not sure what they were doing during the day.

Indigo on the Roof New Menu: Excellent Choices, Exquisite Desserts

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20160228_084230

Indigo on the Roof is Le Gray Beirut‘s exclusive restaurant and one of my favorite spots in Beirut. I’ve been there countless times for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and it has always been a pleasant experience. The restaurant is refined and offers delicious food, the staff is (almost) always friendly and professional, the service is great and welcoming and the panoramic views of Beirut are stunning.

A month ago, we were invited to try out Indigo on the Roof’s new menu with the arrival of Le Gray’s new Executive Chef Darren Andow, who has over 20 years of experience in the field and a particular passion for Lebanon (Thank u Google). That night, we basically tasted every single item on the menu in small portions and I was so impressed with the flavors that I went back a week ago for lunch to have a full meal and review properly the items I liked the most.

Seafood Platter

We were 4 people:

We ordered the seafood platter, the duck salad and the Burrata as starters. The seafood platter is rich and fresh, it contains oysters, shrimps, mussels and marinated calamari with a couple of dips. The duck salad and buratta were excellent, the seafood platter was good but I would have preferred ordering the grilled calamari over the marinated one. If you like fish and want to try something different (but less-healthy), go for the sesame crusted oysters.

Duck Salad

Buratta

As for the main dishes, we had the char-grilled veal chop served with portobello mushrooms, vine tomatoes and a Roquefort cream, the new Wagyu beef filet (marble score 7) with a bearnaise sauce and the truffle addict tagliatelle. The Wagyu beef filet was mouthwatering and amazing, just like all their steaks, I loved the veal chop as well and especially the sauce, and the tagliatelle is a great choice if you like truffles.

20160304_222533

Moving on to the desserts, I barely had the chance to taste them properly the first time as I was full from all the appetizers and dishes so I made sure I leave some room for dessert this time. We ordered the lemon grass crème brûlée, the classic lemon tart and the Valrhona chocolate fondant.

Le Gray’s desserts always leave me speechless. In fact, sometimes I pass by Gordon’s Cafe on the ground floor just to have their Pain Perdu. If I had to choose one dessert among the new items, it would be the lemon grass crème brûlée.

chocolate fonddant

lemon

pain perdu

All in all, everything we ordered was perfect from presentation, to freshness and taste, just like you’d expect things to be at a five-star hotel. The portions were sized appropriately, not too big, not too small and we ended up paying around $70 per person without the wine. Indigo on the Roof is not a restaurant I can afford to visit frequently but it’s definitely worth the money you will pay!

For me, it’s an ideal place for a romantic night out, a family/business lunch or dinner or to celebrate a special occasion. Breakfast at Indigo is also highly recommended (try their Eggs-Benedict).

Rating: 4.5/5

Business 3al Lebnené

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oldslchi

In case you’ve been wondering how our national debt got so big, here’s your answer. To make things worse, we’ve become so corrupt that no one cares about completing any project now, they just want to steal the money and accuse others of corruption, or even better, state that they are leading a battle against corruption.

Car Insurance 3al Lebnené

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mtv insurance

Everyone is tagging MTV on this ad but I can’t seem to find it anywhere on their website. It is a hilarious and spot-on ad. The video ends with ” بربكن صلحوا الطرقات الزفت” in an attempt to shed the light on road conditions in Lebanon but I can’t find the full version yet.

I Support Beirut Madinati (Beirut-My City)

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BM2

I could name a thousand reasons why I love Beirut. I love its old streets, its authentic houses and shops, its crowded cafes and pubs, the contrast between old and new, the hidden gems that you find on each corner, the diversity, the traditional food etc …

We all love Beirut but our city deserves better. Beirut needs clean streets, more green spaces, proper sidewalks, better waste management, more affordable housing, organized public transportation and more importantly it needs qualified, competent and non-corrupt people to manage it.

We are all disgusted by the entrenched political class that has been ruling our country and mis-managing our cities for years and we all want municipal councils that interact and listen to citizens, that work with civil groups and use their know-how and that actually present an electoral plan when they run for elections. Unfortunately, the likelihood of an outside list winning in Beirut is almost impossible as they face a coalition of three large political blocks but someone needs to put pressure on the ruling class and this is exactly what Beirut Madinati is doing.

beirutmadinati1

What is Beirut Madinati?

Beirut Madinati is a volunteer-led campaign that aims at challenging the traditional political leadership and working towards making “Beirut more livable: more affordable, more walkable, more green, more accessible, and, simply, more pleasant”. Their program was developed by experts with years of experiences and it addresses problems of affordability, mobility, waste management, air quality, public spaces, basic services, and municipal governance.

A lot of people will argue at this point that these ideas are impossible to achieve, which is why Beirut Madinati has been organizing a weekly open house, neighborhood gatherings and breakfasts in an attempt to interact with people, discuss their program and stress on two key parts of their electoral campaign: transparency and participation. Speaking of transparency, you can check all their finances on their [website].

What I love about Beirut Madinati so far is that they are pragmatic and transparent in their approach and that they are trying to make a change through the electoral process and not by going for unrealistic demands like toppling the system. It is an opportunity and a commitment to improve our city through the electoral process and I cannot but support it.

madinati

To sum up their program in 10 points:
1- Improve urban mobility through an integrated strategy that makes soft options (i.e. walking, biking) more viable, enhances and organizes shared transportation systems.
2- Improve greenery and public space by incorporating the city’s shared spaces into a network of green passages and spaces.
3- Make housing more affordable for future homeowners and tenants.
4- Implement an integrated solid waste management strategy by providing incentives for businesses and households.
5- Protect and develop Beirut’s built and natural heritage, including its waterfront.
6- Build community spaces and enhance services, in partnership with stakeholders and active NGOs.
7- Integrate social justice, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic development.
8- Integrate principles of environmental sustainability and stewardship across all regulatory and operational interventions of the municipality.
9- Prioritize the health and safety of all city dwellers by recognizing the municipality’s responsibility to monitor, lobby for, and intervene.
10- Improve the organizational structure of the Municipality. [Full Program]

All in all, municipal reform is much needed in Beirut and all of Lebanon and Beirut Madinati has valuable ideas and a solid program that would definitely improve living conditions in the capital. In fact, they are probably the only side that actually presented an electoral program.

madinati2

Can Beirut Madinati actually win?

I don’t think that’s the right question to ask here. The fact that there’s an opposing list to the current municipality is already a major win. As long as there are people willing to step-in and participate actively in the political life to take back what is rightfully ours, we need to support them even if change takes years.

Beirut Madinati candidates, which were not yet announced, may not win this year but hopefully they will keep their initiative going for the years to come and be even more prepared in the next municipal elections. Even more, I think they should try to reach out to the winning candidates in the next 6 years and push for their ideas as I’m sure there’s at least one competent municipal member in Beirut.

Until then, let’s help them out by spreading the word and keeping the momentum going.

PS: For those who wish to contribute financially, you can donate [here].