I first found out about Ma3roof after George al Rif’s tragic incident. Their “2atte3ne 2awou b2at3ak” graphic was a perfect reflection of the reality we are living in and everyone was sharing it online. After I got in touch with Bob Kastoun, the guy behind Ma3roof and visited his page, I noticed he had been producing witty and funny graphics for quite some time and some of them are spot on!
Ma3roof basically “focuses and comments in a sarcastic and funny way on everyday’s political events and all the events we lived decades before, hoping to touch all segments of people from one distance in a way that enlarges their way of thinking and their political maturity in order to build a better political life in Lebanon”, and they are doing a great job so far!
I was on my way to Beirut a week ago when a policeman stood in the middle of the road (next to the Canadian Embassy in Jal el Dib) and started asking few drivers to park on the side including myself. At first I thought they were checking “mecanique” papers and indeed the officer asked me for my driving license and “mecanique” papers which I gladly handed over. I still had no clue I was being fined for using my phone because I don’t recall taking any calls or texting anyone that morning. A few minutes later, I got bored from waiting so I asked the officer if I can go if my papers are good and that’s where he told me I’m getting a fine for using my phone. I told him but I wasn’t using my phone as far as I know but he was like “Yes you were there’s an officer standing on the side of the road a few hundred meters back who spotted you”. I was like “Spotting me doing what?” but all he said was that I was using the phone.
I was in a rush so I didn’t bother argue anymore and took the fine and drove away but I’m still not sure what “using my phone” meant to this officer and how random these fines are. In fact, ever since I got the fine I haven’t seen any officer standing on that road and I’ve spotted tens if not hundreds of drivers texting and answering their phones on the same road. I even wanted to go and file a complaint but to say what? I am sure I wasn’t using my phone to text or answer yet I could have been holding it to check the time (I don’t wear a watch and my car’s clock doesn’t work) or listen to music (plugged to the radio with an auxiliary cable) but again I didn’t have proof and neither the officer who fined me did. I ended up paying the fine but I wish the ISF would clarify what “using our phone” means and why they are still fining people randomly and during peak traffic hours?
What’s the point of fining drivers stuck in morning traffic for using their phones? How does that help promote road safety? How about those speeding on the highway while texting and driving? Can we take calls if we have a handset or on speaker? What if I’m holding my phone down and have the speaker mode on? Is that also a fine?
More importantly, why aren’t there regular checkpoints to fine drivers breaking the new traffic law? I spot hundreds of drivers breaking the law on a daily basis on the highway and main roads. This is where the real threat is, not on the Dbayyeh Jal el Dib maritime (jammed) road at 8:30am.
All in all, I gladly paid the fine because I may have been holding my phone but it’s quite frustrating to pay a 200,000 fine while everyone around you is clearly breaking the law (including police officers) and getting away with it, and while you’ve been promoting road safety for years on the blog.
Members of the #طلعت_ريحتكم movement placed trash today in front of Environment Minister Mashnouk’s residence and asked him once again to resign. I think we should do the same with every official and every head of municipality who is not helping in this garbage crisis.
When I posted about the Saadah restaurant offering food for free to poor and needy families in Beirut, I remembered an old post from 2012 about a Lebanese immigrant called Salam Kahil who was nicknamed the Lebanese Sandwich Nazi. This guy ran away from Lebanon aged 15, lived all over Europe before he settled in Vancouver where he runs a deli that makes “The Best Sandwiches in North America”. He’s bad mouthed, he makes nasty jokes, he greets all his customers by a page of rules and warnings but he’s hilarious. He’s also very generous and gives away free sandwiches to homeless people occasionally.
Most of them know that for all his bluster, he has a mile-wide generous side, notably bagging up food to hand out to the many down-and-out denizens of the downtown area each week. Between acts of charity and vulgarity, bits of personal history spill out: He ran away from his large, disapproving Beirut family at age 15, lived all over Europe, “took advantage of a lot of people” as a stud for hire (or sometimes for free, as when female acquaintances wanted a sperm donor without a husband attached), then entered a less illicit business when he “realized my beauty was fading” at age 29. Soon he’d built up a mini-empire of stores, but the hassle of managing employees (and worrying his antics might strike them as sexual harassment) prompted eventual reduction back down to a one-man, one-deli operation. [HuffingtonPost]
“Bonheur du ciel” is a newly open snack in Bourj Hammoud that opens from Monday till Friday and serves food for free to the poor and needy families. The food is provided by a renowned restaurant in Beirut and the snack can welcome up to 80 customers every day. Food is served by volunteers who welcome people from all races, sects and areas. Whenever the food is not enough, nearby snacks and restaurants rush to offer free meals as well.
I love this initiative and I hope that all popular restaurants in Lebanon will figure out a way to offer free food to the needy instead of throwing it away.
Illegal dumping is not new in Lebanon but it has increased drastically ever since the garbage crisis has begun. In fact, while few municipalities and towns chose to start recycling and reduce waste, others decided to dump and burn their garbage in illegal places or even worse in nature. To name few, Broumanna, Beit Mery and Dekwaneh are handling the garbage crisis in the worst possible way and the officials and concerned ministries aren’t doing to stop them. There’s currently an online petition urging Broumanna municipality to stop dumping and burning but I don’t think it will get anywhere.
Burning trash is a very serious problem as it adds to air pollution, creates an unpleasant smell especially when burning plastic, rubber or painted material and can produce a range of poisonous compounds. Moreover, fire can spread to buildings and trees and damage public properties. Municipalities who claim that they have no other option but to burn are either corrupt or incompetent as the solution is out there and quite simple: Recycle!
Everyone knows by now the country’s existing recycling companies as the lists have been circulating for weeks. Recycling should start at home and the municipality should handle the rest. Recycling will reduce trash, generate profit and make everyone’s life better.
Overall, the Lebanese are getting more and more fed up with their government, the #YouStink campaign is still going strong, everyone is talking about recycling but I wouldn’t call this garbage crisis a blessing in disguise yet as dumping and burning trash is on the rise and no one is taking action against them.
I think we should do what the Naameh residents did by protesting against our own municipalities and forcing them to recycle and properly manage their waste.
The Shouf is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful areas in Lebanon. It boasts the biggest Cedars forest in Lebanon, historical palaces built by the Emirs of Lebanon, most notably the magnificent Beiteddine palace, as well as beautiful old Lebanese houses, monasteries and attractions. There are many things to do in the Shouf, such as hiking in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, visiting the old town and doing some sightseeing, staying at the Mir Amin Palace and enjoying a good meal with the best view in town etc …
I will be writing soon a post dedicated to the Shouf area and things to do there. Until then, check out this nice campaign and share your experiences using #AuthenticShouf
Business owners and top managers in 561 firms were interviewed from April 2013 through September 2014 and the top three obstacles for Lebanese companies willing to grow were identified as Political Instability, Electricity and Corruption. In terms of corruption, 1/3 of Lebanon’s firms had requests for bribes, and 40% of them stated they were expected to give gifts to get a construction permit for example.
Bribery incidence (percent of firms experiencing at least one bribe payment request): 30.2 in Lebanon vs 27.2 in all countries.
Percent of firms identifying corruption as a major constraint: 61.4 in Lebanon vs 35.2 in all countries.
Percent of firms expected to give gifts to get a construction permit: 41.8 in Lebanon vs 23 in all countries.
I didn’t understand how 17.3% of firms in Lebanon said they had to bribe someone to get an electrical connection. What electricity lol?
The survey conducted by The World Bank’s Enterprise Survey showed “that 14.6 percent of firms operating in Lebanon expect to give gifts or make informal payments during meetings with tax officials, the 48th highest percentage globally and the sixth highest regionally”. Overall, corruption and bribery are here to stay and the Lebanese government is working hard to improve on its 4th position in 2014 and become the least efficient government in the world in 2015.