Are You Man Enough Beirut? Let’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

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scar Any volunteers to teach me how to walk in heels?

My awesome Uf Concepts friends are bringing the “Walk A mile In Her Shoes” event to Beirut in an attempt to raise awareness on violence against women and raise funds for KAFA by selling heels to men. You heard me right, Lebanese men will be asked to walk or run in heels for 1 mile on April 26 starting 10:00 AM at Waterfront City Dbayeh.

I got my heels yesterday and you can buy yours from Le Mall Dbayyeh and Sin el Fil (April 11,12 & 18,19). I’ve already convinced a couple of friends to join me and anyone is more than welcome to join the BlogBaladi team. We will have some fun and walk for a good cause that concerns us all. Check out the [website] and [Facebook] page.

[YouTube]

If you want more info, call 00961 70 519171 or email info@ufconcepts.me. You can also smoke-signal them at 34.301221,36.117094.

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What’s Stopping Beirut From Becoming A Tech Hub For The Middle East?

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FIBER-OPTICS via Executive-Magazine

Mike Butcher (Techcrunch) believes that “Beirut is rapidly shaping up to be a powerhouse for startups in the Middle East”, and that “Lebanon is uniquely posed to generate startups which aim both at the Arab world and the wider world at large”. Of course these are not just talks as Lebanon has everything from tech campuses, talented software engineers, successful entrepreneurs, a growing number of investors and accelerators, award-winning startups and more importantly a $400 million investment by Lebanon’s Central Bank through Circular No. 331.

So why isn’t Lebanon a tech hub yet?
Lebanon has everything except one tiny yet crucial thing, which is a fast and abundant internet. Butcher pointed out that the current average internet speed in Lebanon is 3.11 Mbps (vs 27.9 Mbps in the UAE) but it’s not really the case as the speeds outside Beirut are much lower and barely reach 1Mbps in some areas. Moreover, the changes that MP Harb introduced last year required an increase in bandwidth by Ogero which never took place and therefore forced some ISPs to charge the unlimited night traffic. The only fast and reliable connections nowadays are the 3G and 4G mobile data plans but they are relatively expensive if you need a plan bigger than 10GB.

Who’s to blame for the internet?
This issue has been dragging for quite some time, and is the result of the endless political bickering between the Telecom Ministry and Ogero. We thought that things would improve now that both the minister and Ogero are on the same political side, but things actually got worse somehow. It could be due to the lack of coordination between the two parties or/and the lack of expertise of Minister Harb in Telecom given that he’s a lawyer. Funnily enough, if we look back at previous strategies of implementing changes without coordinating with the other party, some of them actually worked out and forced others parties to adapt after a while (while end users suffered) so this “crisis” we are in might actually lead to something better in the near future but no one knows when. In fact, the sad part is that we can’t get any of the two parties to explain what’s happening and the proof is the latest Executive Magazine interview with Ogero’s head Abdel Moneim Youssef. Here are 3 small paragraphs that sum up the whole interview and leaves all our questions in regards to the internet and the future of fiber optics unanswered:

When asked why the new fiber optic network contracted in 2011 — which now connects the bulk of the central offices in Lebanon as well as many of the country’s heavy users such as universities and hospitals — has not been turned on, Youssef immediately retorted on the semantics, not the substance, of our question. ‘Heavy users’ is a meaningless term, he shot back, embarking on a diatribe arguing that the term was “not even a word.” If you look up ‘heavy users’ on Google, he said, it would yield no results. He went further to say that ‘heavy users’ was only a term used by people in Lebanon, to describe a concept that does not exist in the rest of the world’s parlance.

To close the discussion, he invited Executive to call up all of our sources and tell them they were wrong. “They are completely ignorant,” he said. Every source we had cited in our interview — the advisers to the Ministry of Telecommunications, the consultants, the internet services providers — were implied. All of them.

After we dismissed some ideas implied by our interviewee — such as buying shovels and digging trenches to check for the presence of cables, or calling respected experts to insult them — the net gain of 40 minutes’ exposure to Youssef’s mastery in haranguing was thin. What we learned was that the questions we were asking, for some reason, were questions that Youssef did not want to answer.

What’s next?
As Butcher stated, the building blocks are all there to transform Beirut into a tech hub for the MENA region, but we need decent internet for that to happen and I still find it hard to believe that Ogero or the Telecom Ministry don’t want this to happen. They have everything to win by enhancing the internet speeds and everything to lose by not doing so. In all cases, I hope we get some answers in the weeks or months to come but until then, Dubai is becoming a vibrant startup hub for the Middle East and that’s where all Lebanese entrepreneurs are or will be going.

Don’t Blame The Pitbull For Killing The Poor Kid In Zahle, Blame The Trainer

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dog The trainer hit the dog with a sharp tool on his head to keep him away from the kid – via Annahar

A seven year old boy was killed yesterday after a dog attacked him in his family’s farm. The incident happened after the boy’s father was cleaning one of the kennels and somehow the dog, which looks like a Pitbull Terrier, grabbed the kid by his head and killed him instantly. Of course this is a terrible accident and I offer my condolences to the parents, but the kennel needs to be closed down if it’s training dogs for fights. I already asked a couple of people and they told me it’s a common practice to train dogs for illegal fights in the Bekaa and elsewhere.

A lot of people have a misconception that pit bulls are more violent than other dogs, but I think it all comes back to how the dog is treated. Any dog from any breed can be aggressive if he’s abused and trained to fight and any dog can be gentle if he’s treated humanely. Even if some argue that pit bulls are genetically different than other dogs, and pit bulls have a very strong bite when compared to other breeds, the owners should take the proper measures like using muzzles when they train a pit bull as a guard dog or for fighting. I think the police should investigate all kennels not just this one to put an end to these illegal fights and try to prevent future dog maulings.

In all cases, it’s a tragic incident that’s for sure but something needs to be done about some training camps and kennels because the process of raising and training fighting dogs is cruel and harmful to animals. Here’s one of many [videos] that shows how brutal this sport is.

PS: I just learned today that the movie “How To Train Your Dragon” is about dogs. I should watch it soon. Thanks Nadine!

Cellular Lines Starting 81 Will Soon Be Available In Lebanon

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Telecom Minister Boutros Harb announced that he’s adding one million mobile lines (range starting 81) in order to meet the country’s growing demands for the next 25 years. The minister also asked “both mobile operators to grant those defaulting on their subscription fees a three-month ultimatum before deactivating their lines.”

Harb

I had asked Minister Harb to reconsider as well the extra consumption rates in Lebanon as they are unacceptable and he replied that he’ll take it into consideration, so let’s hope we will see a change some time soon. As far as DSL is concerned and the fate of fiber optics in Lebanon, Executive Magazine interviewed Abdel Menhem Youssef for 40 minutes but I couldn’t conclude anything from the interview.

Thanks Hadi!

Review: Yeh! Frozen Yogurt Café

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20150404_190404

Update: One of Yeh!’s owners commented on Facebook stating that they offer different flavors every week and have in total 43 different flavors, so I guess it just happened that they didn’t have any fruit flavors when I passed by. I will make another visit and try out their crepes and waffles as well.

I’ve been hearing about this Yeh! Frozen Yogurt Cafe for the past few weeks now, so I decided to go check it out on Saturday. Yeh! is located in Kantari Beirut right next to Aziz shop. There’s no place to park in front of the shop so you have to give it to the valet or do what I did and head to the nearest parking which is right behind the building and a 4 minutes walk from the shop.

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The place was half full when I went there and I decided to sit inside as it was too noisy outside. One of the waiters welcomed us, explained the concept briefly and asked if we wanted to try any of the flavors. Yeh! is a self-serve frozen yogurt concept where you fill up your cup with all the flavors available, then add all the toppings you want and then you pay for your “froyo” in weight. 1kg (everything combined) is priced at 46,000LL which is definitely not cheap.

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I went to check out the different flavors and there were 8 available:
– Pineapple
– Cake Batter
– Nutella
– Oreo
– Lotus
– Original flavor
– Peanut butter
– Greek Honey

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What caught my attention at first was that there were no fruit flavors except for the Pineapple. I looked up the website and there are tons of flavors there, so I’m guessing they will be bringing more flavors later on but they should have brought more than 1 fruit flavor in my opinion.

As for the flavors available, I loved the Oreo, Lotus, peanut butter and Nutella the most. Greek Honey was ok but I didn’t like cake batter. I added fruits mostly on top and ended up with 540g of yogurt which cost me around 25,000LL.

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All in all, I am not big a fan of the self-service shops as you always end up putting more of one flavor by pressing a bit harder, and I remember having a bad experience with that at Yogen Fruz (which I didn’t like) at Le Mall Dbayyeh. Nevertheless, Yeh! flavors are quick good and it’s definitely worth a try if you are a frozen yogurt fan.

Is it better than Pinkberry?

I don’t think it’s fair to compare it at this point as most of Pinkberry’s flavors are fruity while Yeh! only had pineapple, but Pinkberry’s original and chocolate flavors are better than Yeh! and I still prefer Pinkberry’s concept to the self-serve one. Price-wise, they are both expensive.

Rating: 4/5

Lebanon’s Population To Hit 5.9 Million By End Of 2015

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poor The shopping mall that’s now home to 400 Syrian families – Source

If we examine ESCWA’s study on the population growth in Lebanon, the population size of Lebanon increased from 2.6 million in 1980 to 4.3 million in 2010 and was expected to reach 5 million by end of 2015, however the Syrian crisis has changed all that and Lebanon’s population is expected to hit almost 6 million by the end of this year (Source: UNHCR).

The economic and social impact of the Syrian crisis is reaching new heights every year as the mass influx of refugees into Lebanese territory continues. There are at least 1.5 million Syrians registered with UNHCR as refugees and at least half a million more residing here but not registered. For this purpose, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) was initiated to “describe how the Government of Lebanon and its partners will work together to reinforce stability through this crisis while also protecting Lebanon’s most vulnerable inhabitants, including de facto refugees”. The funding required for this plan is a bit over $2 billion dollars and is aimed at helping 3.3 million people in need, out of which 1.5 million are Lebanese, 1.5 million Syrian and 300,000 Palestinian. If we look at the numbers they are quite scary as the number of poor has risen by nearly two-thirds since 2011 and Lebanese unemployment has doubled.

Here are some of the projections (December 2015) stated in the report:
– Estimated population currently living in Lebanon: 5.9 million.
– Estimated people in need: 3.3 million (1.5M Lebanese, 1.5M Syrian, 300K Palestinian).
– 1 in 4 is displaced.
– Economic losses due to the Syrian crisis: $7.5 Billion dollars.
– 348,300 Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian children are out of school compared to 300,000 enrolled in public schools
– 61% more POOR inside Lebanon since 2011.
– 92% of sewage running untreated into watercourses.
– 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line.

I think it’s the perfect time to organize an international fundraising conference to help Lebanon, and more importantly appoint an international committee or group to implement the LCRP just to make sure money doesn’t end up in the wrong pockets. Moreover, I think all NGOs should cut down their operational costs to a strict minimum in Lebanon in order to allocate most of their budgets to helping out refugees. You can read the full report [here].

Week22: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Zahle Stunning Zahle by charbolography

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [Here] if you like.

chezmaguz Chez Maguy in Amchit by insta_jenn

yasou3 Gorgeous sunset by Plus961

qadisha Valley of the Saints or Qadisha – by Charbel Bouez

maamoul Lots and lots of Maamoul – by KarenOgeil

harissa Our Lady of Harissa

from the sky From the sky – by charbolography

easter Happy Easter – by restaurantamar

Hiba Tawaji Won The Public Vote And Is Through To The Next Round!

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hiba

Update: There are still 12 candidates left out of which 4 will compete in the finals. I corrected the title from Semi-finals to the next round as there are 2 more rounds before the finals.

Hiba Tawaji is through to the quarter finals of The Voice France after she won the public vote with her last performance. The judges had no say in the final result so Hiba needed everyone’s support as she was competing with 3 other contestants from Mika’s team. She chose to perform Everytime by Britney Spears which I believe suited her better than Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”.

Hiba is a step closer to the finals and I’m sure she can win this!

For those of you who couldn’t find the video and asked me to share it, Hiba is uploading all her performances on her YouTube channel and you can check them [there].

[YouTube]

Cool Easter Ads From All Over Lebanon [2015]

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Castania Castania mbayyada!

Here are some of the Easter Ads I spotted this year. Kababji and Castania were the most creative this year while Exotica re-used last year’s ad. Here are last year’s ads in case you missed them.

MARCH ad from last year was brilliant!

Exotica Exotica

Kababji No more kebbit la2teen, hello eggs! via Kababji

Dodge Love this one from Dodge!

Jeep Nice one Jeep!

easter-2015 via Vivad

KHoury Khoury Home

Mayrig Mayrig restaurant

dunk #Huntindonuts not eggs this year – via DunkinDonuts

Nazha Ma3moul el Eid – via Beit Nazha

Sony via Sony Lebanon

Sweet Sweet Easter treat – via Dulce ‘n Banana

Tamashii via Tamashii

easter-01 via BeirutFood

Touch via Touch

Alfa via Alfa Telecom

brgrco Easter buns – Brgrco

Yasa via Yasa

Unlimited Night Traffic No Longer Free For IDM And Cyberia Internet Users

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unlimited

Cyberia and IDM are changing their unlimited night internet policy and turning it into a paid service starting May 2015. The aim of this new policy is to limit the abuse of a small number of users during peak hours and try to improve the internet speed for everyone else. IDM & Cyberia users will now have to pay an additional $3 or $6 to enable the unlimited night feature.

Of course this is not the ideal solution as internet is supposed to get cheaper and become more abundant, but the problem is the lack of the bandwidth and the never-ending feud between the government and Ogero. If we believe what Executive Magazine reported last week, “the country has a new, multi million dollar fiber optic network that forms a backbone for data traffic. It is laying idle, however, because a few switches needed to pass information have not been flipped”. So basically there is a way to fix the internet problem in Lebanon but some people don’t want to.

Going back to the Unlimited Night feature, Ogero had already removed it last year and replaced it with an unlimited option. I’m not sure how things are going for Ogero users after midnight but I don’t think what Cyberia and IDM did will improve the internet’s speed drastically.