Queen Rania’s Spot-On Reply To Charlie Hebdo’s Racist & Tasteless Cartoon

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queenrania3

A lot of people, including myself, condemned the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo in the name of free speech, but many people were against using the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag simply because this magazine’s views do not represent them, and a clear example of that is Charlie Hebdo’s latest cartoon about Aylan Kurdi and sex attackers.

The French satirical magazine suggested that Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian kid whose tragic picture made headlines worldwide, would have grown up to be a sex attacker, in reference to the recent mass sexual assaults that took place on NYE in Cologne. I thought the cartoon was racist, disgusting and distasteful to say the least and I honestly don’t care what message they were trying to send through this drawing and whether they were misunderstood or not, you just don’t do that with the memory of an innocent dead child.

A lot of people were outraged by the cartoon, yet the best answer came from Jordan’s Queen Rania who responded with a sketch of her own, where she posted “Aylan could’ve been a doctor, a teacher, a loving parent…”. I thought the reply was spot-on and I will also add to it “Aylan could have been from Lebanon, France or any country going through war”, so let’s put ourselves in every refugee’s shoes and stay away from hateful and racist statements. Just like I said last week following the graphic images of death and starvation that emerged from the Syrian town of Madaya, you can easily ignore what’s happening around you if you don’t feel concerned, but making fun of other people’s misery makes you a sick person.

A 1968 USSR Study for Beirut Metro

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map metro Source

A 1968 USSR Study for establishing a metro in Beirut was shared few days ago by Nabil Nakkash, A Lebanese Transport Systems Engineer. The hand-drawn graphics show clearly the suggested metro lines for the city including typical cross sections, ridership numbers as well as the estimated cost (250-280 Million USD).

Of course a lot of Lebanese don’t believe that it’s possible to set up a metro in Beirut with the lack of urban planning and the poor infrastructure and road network but I agree with Nakkash here that “engineering is never the problem with such projects”. Our problem here is with the corrupt political class and the incompetent ministries.

I shared a couple of pictures but I highly recommend you check out the full article [here] as it contains tons of graphics and more info.

PS: I cannot confirm the authenticity of this study entitled “The evaluation of the possibility and necessity of the organization of the metropolitan (METRO) for the city of Beirut” as this is the first time I hear about it but it looks genuine to me. While looking online, I found two other studies related to urban planning in Beirut, a study done in the 1980s that includes a metro network and another by French architect and urban planner Michel Ecochard back in the 1960s. Apparently, Ecochard worked on the first ever master plan for Beirut.

hamra 2 suggested cross-sections for Hamra street

What’s Happening To The Famous Red House in Hamra?

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redhous2

I used to pass by this house a lot during my AUB years and I always took a peek inside. The Red House is one of Ras Beirut’s oldest houses and its most traditional ones. Its construction began in the 18th century and completed later on in the 20th century. I remember going once inside but I didn’t have any cameras back then (stupid phones era) to capture its beauty. All I know is that this place was a breath of fresh air in this polluted and crowded area and it is a gem that should be preserved.

Unfortunately, and just like most old houses in Beirut, the Red House is apparently being evicted of its tenants and could be demolished. One of the tenants posted a couple of days ago on FB saying they are being evicted, then AgendaCulturel wrote a whole article explaining what’s happening and a Facebook page was set up for saving Hamra’s Red House.

I don’t have the full story yet, but one of the articles mentioned that the current owner of the Red House wants to sell the place, noting that the house’s demolition should not allowed as there’s a report (still awaiting approval) submitted to the DGA (Direction générale des antiquités) and the Ministry of Culture that classifies the house as a historic one.

Keeping The Red House and other old houses is keeping our heritage alive. Let’s hope it works out and the house gets saved!

You can follow updates [here].

Update: The long-time tenants and house owners are apparently relatives and there seems to be issues between them. I won’t dig into the details but I hope they settle things and keep the house as it is a historic and symbolic house.

red house

redhouse1

Seriously? Two Syrians ARRESTED For Having Aids

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aids

Update: The two Syrians who were arrested were accused of criminal transmission of HIV. Whoever posted this news in the first place should have got the whole story correct because the title was disgraceful and misleading. Read the clarification [here]. Thanks Patty!

Why would you arrest someone for having AIDS? Since when is it a crime to have AIDS? If anything, they should be sent to a hospital to be diagnosed and treated. The article is saying the arrest was done based on a “Lil Nasher” episode on Al Jadeed but no further details were given.

If these guys are involved in criminal activities or criminal transmission of HIV, then I could understand the arrest. Otherwise, this title is pure ignorance.

Save Adloun’s Historic Beaches

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adloun2

As if we needed further pollution and crimes against nature in Lebanon, there are plans apparently to turn the beautiful and historic Adloun beach into a fancy sea port. Adloun is small beautiful town in the South that is best known for its prehistoric caves and its beautiful rocky beach. It is the site of a Phoenician necropolis and archaeological finds from the 19th century reveled uncovered human remains from the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. More importantly, Adloun’s rocky beach is one of the last few sanctuaries for sea turtles, an endangered species, along the Lebanese coast.

sea turtle

Locals and activists, especially The Green Southern Community, have been protesting against this new project and in favor of declaring this beach and the whole Adloun coast as a protected natural area, but things are going the wrong way as excavation works could be initiated anytime now.

adloun3

This is an environmental disaster to say the least, and the last thing we need is ruining whatever is left of our public beaches. I couldn’t find any information about this project and I’m surprised that no TVs covered this story before. Of course such a matter should be raised normally to the Environment Ministry, but I think we all agree that there’s no point of doing that. All I’m hoping is that this post will help raise awareness on this matter and pressure the authorities to stop this massacre.

If you have further information regarding this story, please do share them because Greenarea.me stated Khoury Contracting are executing this project but I couldn’t find it on their website. I found this [article] though which indicates that this whole project is a mess.

PS: You can follow updates [here] and check out Aadloun on the map [here].

Be Like Michel, Wala 3a Belak Bel

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samaha Artist: Hassan Bleibel

Be like Michel,

Smuggle explosives into the country, call them fireworks.
Plan terrorist attacks and assassinations, claim you were a victim of entrapment.
Receive money from a foreign country, pretend you were harassed.
Plead guilty to all terrorism charges, claim you were trying to avoid a sectarian strife.
Get caught in the act transporting explosives in a car, make sure you have your seat belt on.

Be like Michel, wala 3a belak bel.

I really don’t know why so many Lebanese were outraged by the decision taken today to free Michel Samaha. After all, the real threat facing Lebanon is not a terrorist transporting explosives and planning attacks and assassinations, the real threat comes from the 18 young men and women who got arrested today for protesting against corruption, from the 8-year old poor kid who got interrogated few days ago, from a couple of Facebook users trashing politicians online, from a young man smoking weed outside a club, from Lebanese flag shoes, from Jagermeister devil worshipers, from Lebanese homosexuals, from yoga-practicing satanists and the list goes on and on …

It’s about time we unite and join hands to fight these threats, and leave these poor terrorists and assassins alone!

[YouTube]

“Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” Review From A Non Ziad Rahbani Fan

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I just got back from “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” premiere at Beirut Souks and the least I could say is that it was a beautiful experience. It felt great to finally watch the original footage and put a face to all these voices that people have been listening to for ages. I’m not even a Rahbani fan and I enjoyed it, so you can imagine how happy Ziad fans were. People were singing along with the songs, laughing at their favorite quotes and repeating some of the lines and they clapped more than once throughout the play. As far as the image and sound quality were concerned, I think M Media did an amazing job by reconstructing this play from bits and pieces. The play is 2 hours long, a bit too long for me, but more than good enough to be shown in theaters.

For those who are not familiar with the plot, it’s about a couple Zakaria (Ziad Rahbani) and Souraya (Nabila Zeitouni) who decided to move to Beirut and work together in a trendy bar in Hamra to provide for their family and improve their social status. However, the couple’s ambitions are thwarted by the high cost of living in Beirut and Souraya starts going out with customers to get some extra cash. Sadly enough, things have become even worse 35 years later and more and more Lebanese families are struggling to stay above the poverty line and provide for their families.

najib I finally got the “Bet7ebba ya Najib” line

One of the most powerful acts in the play was the last one where Zakaria is fed up with the situation and lets his frustration out. It’s a whole different thing when you see it live rather than hear it on a radio and Ziad’s acting was quite impressive in that part. Speaking of which, I loved how genuine the acting was in general. The characters weren’t shouting and faking it like most Lebanese actors do these days and it felt like they were all having fun and just being themselves. My favorite character was Joseph Sakr, I always admired this man and listened to his songs and seeing him perform “live” was a dream come true for me! (Check out the small video I shared [here])

All in all, Bennesbeh Labokra Chou? is a must-see whether you’re a Rahbani fan or not. It’s all about the experience rather than the play itself and if you enjoy looking back at old footage like myself, you will love it even more!

PS: On another note, and just like I mentioned back in November, a second Rahbani play “Film Ameriki Tawil” will be in cinemas soon.

Meet The Instagram Bro

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insta bro1

As soon as I confirmed my trip to Las Vegas to cover the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I asked my brother who lives in Houston if he could join for few days to catch up and have some Vegas fun. Luckily for me, he had few days off so he joined me for the whole trip and we had a great time!

Of course, there’s one part that he didn’t enjoy much and that was me taking pictures of itneresting things around me and the whole tweeting/instagramming/posting process. Unlike me, my brother is not really into social media and he barely posts anything on Facebook or Instagram so you can imagine what he had to go through but he did make the best out of it by taking selfies while looking annoyed during my “photo sessions”. The outcome after 3 days of sightseeing in Vegas was a series of funny selfies taken by my brother, or the “Instagram Bro” as he referred to himself. I featured 3 of them in this post but there are like 15 of them lol!

The Instagram Bro drinking for two while I was busy finishing a post

Aside from these selfies, here are 3 funny moments where he was about to take my phones and smash them.

1- Capturing Gordon Ramsay’s burger in low-light:
burger
We were having lunch at Gordon Ramsay BurGR and the place was dimly lit, so it was hard to capture a proper shot with a smartphone and I personally hate using the flash. Noting that we were both starving as we had just walked for 5 hours, I asked him not to touch the burger and turn on the flashlight on his phone to use it as a light source but he obviously wasn’t very happy with the request. I ended up taking the picture myself lol!

2- Asking people to clear the way so I can take the picture:
insta bro2

You know that moment when you are taking the perfect shot and someone comes out of nowhere and ruins it? Well it happened a couple of times at the Venetian and Caesars Palace and my brother was like “No one cares about ur stupid pictures, just move on!”. That didn’t stop me from taking the picture of course.

3- Taking the same picture several times with different devices:
IMG-20160112-WA0016
I’m not a professional photographer but I take my time when I’m capturing a shot and I try to take it from different angles and using different devices (or my goPro). As you see from his facial expression, he wasn’t very pleased with these small “photo-shoots”.

All in all, I’m not the kind of person who uses his phone all the time and doesn’t connect with people, so it was rather a fun experience for both of us and I even got my brother to be more active online, but I’m sure this won’t last for long. It’s a good thing I am not a Snapchat addict or else we would have fought in public lol!

Is The Lebanese Passport The Most Expensive In The World?

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lb via Speaktheblues

I was watching Hayda 7aki yesterday and they were comparing the price of a Lebanese passport vs other passports from around the world, so I looked up the world’s most expensive passports and I got this list:

pass2 via GoEuro

The most expensive passport in the world can be found in Turkey and it costs $251, followed by Australia and Switzerland. However if you look up the expiry date of each passport, you will find that the Lebanese Passport costs more than the Turkish and could be the most expensive worldwide.

In fact, the Turkish passport costs $251 but expires in 10 years, while a 10-year validity passport in Australia costs $254 (not $206 as mentioned). On the other hand, a Lebanese passport costs $200 over 5 years and you have to add $20 in fees and papers, so technically it’s more expensive than all those on the list. Moreover, the biometric passports are still not here and they will probably be more expensive so we will be easily topping that list for quite some time.

The funny part is that our passport is among the 10 worst passports in the world as it only allows you to travel to 37 countries without a visa, and the list is shrinking by the year.

PS: The UAE has the most affordable passports at only $14.