Review: The Fifty Boring Shades of Grey

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Before you read the review, note that I’ve never read the Fifty Shades books and I probably won’t so I don’t know much about the story except the stuff I hear from friends who are obsessed with Mr.Grey and online articles and memes about it. This being said, I was expecting to watch an erotic romance story which wasn’t the case. The movie was more of a twisted romantic story between a weird rich dude and some college graduate, and it didn’t include that many sex scenes and barely any scene involving bondage and stuff. I am not saying I was eager to watch some BDSM activity but I expected to see more of it based on what I’ve read and heard. Moreover, this whole Mr Dominant thing is quite misleading as Christian Grey is confusing and not as much in control as you’d think he is.

Overall, the movie is dull and is more like a story that never really picks up. The two things I appreciated were Dakota Johnson (Anastasia “Ana” Steele) who’s really hot, and the soundtrack which is quite good. I expect the second part to be less boring so let’s wait and see.

As far as censorship is concerned, the movie is supposed to be 125 minutes but I felt it was a bit shorter than that. I think there are a couple of cut scenes but I can’t confirm that.


The Sisters Show: The Lebanese Edition Of The Kardashians

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The Abdel Aziz sisters (@StyleinBeirut) will apparently star in a new reality show on LBC called the Sisters, a show similar to the Kardashians based on what Mondanite said, which is not really a good thing if you ask me. I personally can’t watch the Kardashians for more than 2 minutes.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how Lebanese react to such reality shows. One thing is for sure, the Kardashian sisters are much prettier.

We started our own blog a year ago that we named @styleinbeirut and which has become one of the most popular fashion pages in Lebanon with more than 100k real followers.

How exactly is an Instagram page a blog?


Why ZeeZee M’s Banana Song Is A Failed Publicity Stunt

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When I first shared the horrible Banana song, a friend told me that she knew the girl and that she’s studying theater at the Lebanese University so I had a feeling that this could be a joke but couldn’t prove it. A week later, the girl shows up with Adel Karam on Hayda 7aki and claims the whole thing was a publicity stunt organized by MTV, Impact BBDO and Sa2afetna aimed at bringing back our true culture and encouraging people to make a difference and share the stories that matter most.

While Sa2afetna is a good initiative which I’ve supported in a previous post, I think Hayda 7ake was the wrong show to organize this stunt with because some of Adel’s guests are even worse than ZeeZee M and Melissa who was his guest last week is one example. Don’t get me wrong as I am not criticizing Adel here as it’s part of his show to host such singers and indirectly make fun of them, which is the reason why ZeeZee M should have revealed herself in a more serious way (maybe by uploading a second video?).

Moreover, and I’ve stated this previously, the real problem in Lebanon is not people sharing fun videos from time to time, but media relying solely on such videos and clickbaits to promote themselves and get more clicks.

On a last note, should the banana clip stay online if it’s a stunt?

How Russia Responded To The Kidnapping of Four Soviet Diplomats In Beirut In 1985

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A friend was showing me a post on 9gag about kidnapped Soviets in Beirut and how Russia’s counter-terrorism Alpha Group handled the situation. I’ve read a lot about kidnappings, specially from the PLO, in the 1980s but I’ve never heard this part of the story.

Here’s what happened:
Four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped in September 1985 by a fundamentalist group called the Islamic Liberation Organization. Russia quickly dispatched its Alpha group, tasked with counter-terrorism hostage-rescue operations, to Beirut. Once the team learned that Arkady Katkov, a consular attaché and one of the four hostages, was killed, they responded quickly by tracking down and locating one of the kidnappers’ leaders (or relative it’s not clear). In order to send a clear message to the terrorists, Alpha group members castrated the hostage, cut him down into pieces and sent him to the hostage takers. They also threatened to kill more of the kidnappers’ relatives if the Soviet diplomats were not free.

As a result, the 3 hostages were released and dropped off near the Soviet Embassy and no Russian officials were ever taken captive since then. Some say that the release of the Soviet hostages was the result of extensive diplomatic negotiations with the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.

It’s not surprising to see the Russians react that way to hostage situations specially after what they’ve done during the Moscow theater and the Beslan school hostage crisis.

Speaking of hostages, would you support approaches similar to the Russian one to free our kidnapped soldiers?

New “Lebanon High School” In Texas Causing Controversy

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There’s a new high school set to open next year in a town called Frisco in Texas and some parents are upset with the name and want it changed. The school is expected to be named Lebanon High School because the building currently under construction sits in the middle of what was once an old farming town called Lebanon, but some parents are not convinced and believe that the name doesn’t fit the community and that Lebanon reminds them of wars and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.

I thought the story was a joke at first but BBC and Washington Post reported it as well and a meeting was scheduled to discuss the school name this month but I am not sure when. Personally speaking, I think the parents are making a big deal out of nothing as Lebanon is not an uncommon name in the US as there are at least 5 or 6 cities that share the same name. So far the school board has no intention to remove the word Lebanon.

The sad truth is that we are in need of new schools here in Lebanon to accommodate the ever growing flux of Syrian refugees while parents are arguing over the name of a school in Texas. I say let them ship the school to Lebanon and build a new one in a different location and a different name.

_80559350_middle-eastern-towns there’s a history Middle Eastern named towns in the US

lebaanon Lebanon High School plan – Source

Beirut River Solar Snake Project To Start Generating Electricity Soon!

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Phase 1 of The Beirut River Solar Snake (BRSS) is almost complete and the photovoltaic (PV) farm currently set will generate 1.08 MWp and help light up around 1000 houses by Q1 2015. The BRSS is expected to generate up to 10 MW to support the EDL (Electricité du Liban) once done and will feature high-level security, with a 3-meter fencing around the plant and CCTV cameras, in addition to around the clock security personnel.

Even though the 1 MW of electricity produced won’t do much to meet Lebanon’s growing energy requirements, I think this is a great step forward as we need to rely on renewable energies to compensate for our energy problems. If we sponsor hundreds of similar renewable energy projects across Lebanon, we will be able to stop relying solely on generators as an alternative and cut down on pollution as well.

You can read more about BRSS [here].



What’s With The Chinese Billboards?

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I noticed a couple of Fransabank billboards in Dbayyeh written in Chinese for some reason. I’m assuming that’s a teaser campaign for some new product but I wanna know what they’re saying and I don’t know anyone who speaks or reads Chinese. I asked on Twitter and got nothing so I googled a bit and found an app (Baidu Translate) that actually translates pictures in Chinese which is pretty cool but not that practical. I got something like “Golden Chamber and Synopsis” from the first billboard on the left which could be referring to Jin Kui Yao Lve’s book but didn’t get lucky with the second picture which is showing Xian’s city wall.

Update: I updated my Google Translate app and used their new feature which includes scanning a picture and detecting and translating the text on it. It’s way more accurate as I got something about a new Fransabank Platinum card debuting in China and being accepted in the whole territory or something like that. I also got UnionBank but I don’t know how it’s related.

Thanks Sabine for the tip!

Why I Am Against Destroying 51,000 Trees To Build The Janna Dam

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There are 15 domestic and inter-country rivers in Lebanon, yet we have an annual water deficit of 425 million cubic meters and Lebanese pay hundreds of millions of dollars yearly to cover their water needs. Ending this water-scarcity problem requires building dams and having a better water management policy, but this should not be done by wiping out green areas and destroying tens of thousands of trees unless there’s no other alternative.

What’s happening now?
The Janna dam has been causing controversy since day 1 and was already stopped back in 2013 after a report showed that building the dam might affect the Jeita Grotto. The report was challenged back then by Minister Bassil whose studies (Khatib & Alami, Artelia and Safege) reveal that Jeita’s water does not originate from Nahr Ibrahim. A week ago, Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb stated that works will be halted until the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Environment Ministry conduct new studies to assess the dam’s environmental impact.

The Pros and Cons:
In regards to the environment, building the Janna dam is a disaster as it will result in cutting down over 51,000 trees, killing millions of shrubs and herbs depending on these trees for nourishment, as well as endangering millions of species and destroying a whole ecosystem. On the other hand, completing the Janna dam will benefit around 700,000 people as it will provide additional water and energy to the northern part of Mount Lebanon and a section of the outskirts of the capital Beirut. Moreover, the dam is expected to create job opportunities for 400 workers and boost tourism and water sports in the area.

What to do:
I think the real problem here is that there are many conflicting studies about the dam and no one has a clear answer on its environment impact. This being said, the Ministry of Energy & Water is expected to ask several parties to conduct the necessary studies, then sit down with experts and activists, as well as residents of the area and take into consideration their remarks. More importantly, the authorities should set up a plan to compensate for the thousands of trees cut in order to minimize the environmental impact, knowing that it will takes probably 100 years to rebuild what they’re willing to destroy.

Once all these steps are implemented and the dam construction is approved by all concerned parties, then we can go ahead with it. Until then, I am against building the Janna dam and any dam. While Lebanon needs infrastructure projects to resolve the water-scarcity problem, I’d rather pay for my water needs than see green areas being wiped out just because the government is not willing to take more seriously the impact of a project.

Is Tripoli’s Huge Allah Sign A Political Or Religious Sign?

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tripoli The Tripoli Nour Square with a sign saying “Allah, Tripoli the Muslims fortress” and a Merry Christmas banner underneath it

I woke up today and noticed that some of my friends had replaced their Facebook profile picture with Yassou3 el Malak (Jesus Christ shrine) in Keserwan, and one of them was cursing and bashing MP Khaled el Daher. I looked up what MP Daher had said in the news and found the below video where he’s opposing the removal of the Allah sign and partisan flags in Tripoli and comparing them to Our Lady of Harissa and Jesus Christ shrines in Keserwan. I won’t bother reply to MP Daher as he’s delusional and known for his sectarian and hatred-filled speeches but here’s how the Allah square (Known as Nour square) came to be in Tripoli:

The Nour or Allah square at Tripoli’s entrance was originally known as Abdel-Hamid Karami square, with a statue for Karami who was Tripoli’s mufti at one point and part of the movement that led to Lebanon’s independence in 1943. He was praised an independence hero and later on served as a prime minister in the mid 1940s. The civil war witnessed the rise of Salafist movements in Tripoli and in the mid 1980s, the Tawheed movement decided to take down Abdel-Hamid Karami’s statue and replace it with a huge Allah sign with a slogan underneath it that says “Tripoli the Muslims fortress”.


This being said, the Allah sign is technically a political slogan and can’t be compared to religious statues and shrines but I don’t think it should be part of the recent campaign to remove political slogans that was launched by the authorities in Beirut and all over Lebanon. The sign has been there for over 30 years and is no longer perceived as belonging to a specific party or group. I was never intimidated by it but I’d want the authorities to replace it back one day with Abdel-Hamid Karami statue. However this initiative should be handled separately and managed by Tripoli’s key figures. As for the partisan and ISIS flags in Tripoli, they should be removed ASAP.

Funnily enough, I was tweeting the other day that this whole campaign is pretty much useless and this is a clear proof of it. The authorities need to address the root causes of this sectarian speech instead of wasting their time by removing flyers and banners.

PS: Check out Pierre Hachache’s funny take on this.

tripoli 1969

Old Lebanese Law Requires Women To Be Single To Enroll In The Diplomatic Service

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old via Annahar

Apparently there’s an old Lebanese law (1971) that is still applicable and that requires women applying for certain job openings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lebanon to be single. I tried asking around to see why this requirement is there but no one had an answer and it doesn’t make any sense. Why would it matter if the woman is single or married? Are they worried her husband might be spying on us? What if she lives with her bf? Why should the woman be single and not the man? That’s a completely absurd law but the good news is that Minister Bassil is working on changing it and that it should be abolished soon.

It would be fun if someone should compile all these archaic Lebanese laws and publish them somewhere. I remember once reading about an old Ottoman law from 1941 that prohibited women from wearing a two-piece swimsuit and hitting the beach and fined them 250 Lebanese-Syrian pounds.