Lebanon celebrates Labor day on May 1, which happened to be on Sunday this year. We usually get the next working day instead but since we are celebrating Easter today, Prime Minister Salam decided to just ignore that holiday that we are all entitled to.
The idea from Labor day is to give all this country’s workers a break to honor their contributions to Lebanon’s well-being and prosperity, or whatever is left of that. I just got back from Rome and nearly all stores were closing on that day, except few ones in tourist areas.
Since it’s not common for shops to close down on Sundays, labor day should be set on a working day (first Monday of May for example). If the government and parliament celebrate Labor day every day, that’s not the case for most hard-working Lebanese.
Let’s not forget also that domestic workers are also workers, and that they are still being treated as slaves in this country because our government still refuses to annul the Kafala system.
You might have visited every city in the country, but if you have not experienced Lebanon by bike then you have definitely been missing out. Three years ago, my friends got me a bike, they were certain that it was going to end up in the garage with layers of dust covering it. To everyone’s surprise, from that day, I have been biking every single weekend.
Sunday for me, has drastically changed from a lazy day (±200 calories) to the most active day of the week (+2000 calories). On an average, we cover around 60-70 Km per ride, taking anywhere between 3-5 hours, depending on the number of stops we do. Our rides are not competitive, we are not in it to win a championship, but rather escape, be active, enjoy the outdoors and Live Love Lebanon.
When is the best time to go biking?
My journey starts every Sunday at 6am. I wake up, grab a light breakfast (usually a small sandwich), pack my bike and gear and head out for my ritual ride. The ride usually starts at 8am and ends by 1pm, just in time for Sunday lunch. Before you start, find yourself a biking partner, it’s always more fun and a lot safer when you have someone with you. Every week we set out to discover a new location in the country.
What’s beautiful about bike rides, is that you get to see the places you usually miss out on by car. You can go into the narrow streets, stop and admire anything you find interesting along the way, enjoy the scenery, discover new places and take lots of amazing pictures.
What type of biker are you?
There are plenty of locations to enjoy different types of rides. City rides, sea side rides, mountain rides, uphill rides, and my personal favorites are the offroad rides.
If you are a beginner, haven’t been on a bike for a long time or panic around cars, I would advise you to stick to relatively closed circuits, where cars aren’t swarming around you, like the Dbayeh Marina, Raouche, Beirut Waterfront or Amchit seaside boulevards.
If you are an ok biker like most people, then you can venture a bit and hit the streets, the best place to ride is the on the old sea side road Jbeil – Amchit – Batroun – Anfeh. It’s relatively a straight path with few slopes, not many cars use that road on a Sunday morning, the scenery is breathtaking, and there are many places where you can stop and relax along the way. You can stop at the beach and have a swim, fuel up with a lemonade in the old Batroun souks or even get a glass of beer and chill at Colonel Beer.
If you are an advanced biker, you can burn few more more calories by riding uphill in the Metn area, starting in Baabdat and moving up to Ain El Sefsaf or even shoot for longer rides in the Bekaa valey from Taanayel to Qaraoun.
Thrill seekers can go into remote rocky areas in Wata El Joz, Keserwan and enjoy an offroad experience. Of course you need a mountain bike and some extra protection gear to endure the ride.
How much does it cost?
If you don’t have a bike, you can always purchase one, you don’t need an expensive bike. You can get a mountain bike that works both for city rides and offroad for $500-700. If you don’t want to invest in a bike just yet, there are plenty of bike rentals in Beirut, Gemmayze, Jbeil, Amchit and Batroun. You can rent a bike for as low as 7,000 L.L.
All in All:
In Lebanon, we have the perfect landscape and weather for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, our roads are in terrible conditions, there are no bike lanes and car drivers have no respect for bikers on the streets. This is the main reason why I bike very early on Sundays, to minimize as much as possible the risks of getting hit by a car and avoid heavy traffic.
With the upcoming municipal elections, electoral programs should focus more on making the cities open and fit for healthier outdoor life, encourage people to go out, be active and use less and less their cars. Of course we can always dream of having a bicycle highway, like the one Germany just opened. It’s a 62 miles bicycle road that connects 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities.
Less than 5% of the Lebanese Coast remains clean and untouched and there are at least two turtle reserves known, both in the South (Mansouri and Kolaila beaches). Both are recognized as being protected natural areas by the municipalities but they are still not protected by law and are often threatened by projects or simply fishermen.
In the past four months, four female sea turtles were killed by dynamite and lannate poisoning even though using these substances is forbidden by law. The Orange House Project, an NGO working for the protection and conservation of sea turtles in South Lebanon, shared pictures of the dead turtles and urged the authorities to do their job and stop these criminals.
Sea turtles travel from all over the world to lay their eggs and reproduce on our beaches. They are beautiful yet endangered turtles and something needs to be done to declare the Coastal area that stretches from the Naqura Cliffs (South of Tyre) to the Tyre Reserve a protected area and sea biosphere reserve!
There’s no doubt that the influence of social media channels is growing in Lebanon but we have yet to see its effect on elections as we haven’t had any for the past 5 years or more. The upcoming municipal elections will rely heavily on social media and online campaigns but its effect will be minimal in my opinion especially that municipalities are about families and most of the work is still being done “offline”. More importantly, political money and bribes are still a key factor in winning elections and cannot be fought that easily online.
Nevertheless, the good (and bad) thing about social media is that things could change overnight and we might be in for a lot of surprises during the upcoming municipal elections. For example, Beirut Madinati is posing a serious threat on the Hariri-backed Beirutis list and could help facilitate the transition from online activism to off-line action and create a much-needed change. Let’s not forget that the turnout is VERY low for municipal elections (barely 20-25% in some areas).
Also and as mentioned by my friend Jimmy in the below MTV report, a candidate’s online popularity is very important nowadays and most of those in power are struggling to repair their online image despite spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars online. Lebanese are more aware now of what’s happening and who’s corrupt and who’s not, and they will hopefully think twice before voting for the same people again.
I got an invite from the Ministry of Culture to cover the opening of the Lebanese Museum of Modern Arts in Rome from the 29th of April till May 1st. The museum is supposed to have a collection of 800 works of art by several renowned Lebanese painters and sculptors like Khalil Gibran, exclusive never before seen pieces will be on display.
The organizers of this trip and the Ministry are not giving me any further information and keeping it as a surprise and I couldn’t find anything online regarding that opening so I have no idea on what to expect there. All I know is that two bloggers were only invited to the opening, one of us (me) is going to Rome and the other (my good friend Dana from Ivysays) to Paris.
This is my first trip to the Eternal City so I’m very excited about it and about the museum opening of course. I will keep you posted with updates and will be sharing my experience there on [Instagram], [Facebook], [Twitter] and Snapchat [@LeNajib].
Spring hunting is extremely damaging to wild birds as they are flying back to nest and provide the next generation of birds. If we don’t allow these migratory birds to breed during this sensitive time, their populations stand no chance of recovery.
The Indiscriminate Killing of any type of Migratory or Resident Birds,.at any time of the year (and surely increasing at the Migratory Season), ..the shooting that is happening at any Location (not just in the Bekaa Valley, or High lands),..between Olive groves, Fruit gardens, agriculture fields, between houses in villages, the use of hunting guns by people as young as 7 years old,….this is not just killing beneficial birds that help control the ecological balance (the birds help in harmful insects reduction and therefore directly contribute to a healthy agriculture and to the farmers reducing the use of chemical fertilizers) but also spreading all “heavy metals” / “toxic chemicals” from the bullets shot in the air, powder falling on the soil, on the fruits, olives, vegetables, infiltrating the soil and polluting the ever rare fresh water…
This is simply a Suicidal activity..not just for the country Lebanon but also to the Region and the whole Planet since we are all Connected on our Home, Planet Earth.
Unfortunately, hunting in Lebanon is still not regulated and a lot of hunters just go out and hunt for the fun of it. They shoot at anything that flies and don’t even bother retrieve the downed birds or pick up the empty bullets. A couple of hunters were arrested this year due to illegal hunting but more needs to be done to stop the carnage. There’s already an ongoing campaign and a online petition being signed and we can do more by preventing family members and friends from hunting during spring.
I truly hope that avid and ethical hunters will refrain from hunting during spring and practice their hobbies in other seasons. A lot of species are declining due to climate change, habitat loss and and spring hunting will only make things worse.
I seriously have no idea who came up with that ad, but this guy acts exactly like me. I lock my car at least 3-4 times and if I’m leaving the laptop in the car, I check all the doors like 5 times. I make sure our building’s gate is properly closed and don’t get me started with my daily house inspections. I check everything twice every morning before leaving and twice before sleeping.
My wife couldn’t stop laughing when she heard the ad.
PS: As far as online payment is concerned, I only use one specific card with a low limit and always make sure the website is secure enough. Of course with 3D Secure, payments are even more secure now so it’s great news for me and that other “Najib” lol!
Enjoy a funny interpretation of 42 of the most popular Arabic songs from 1900 till today. After watching the video, I realized I barely know any of the songs after 2010 and I’m glad I don’t because the songs suck.
If you are bored of the same old plans every weekend and want to do something fun and intellectually challenging, I highly recommend you visit Clue Club in Hamra and try to escape from one of their two rooms. If you enjoy challenging games where you have to solve puzzles and riddles, find clues and uncover codes then you are going to love the Clue Club games!
I will give you a brief about the concept if you haven’t tried escape rooms before and then move on to describe our awesome experience there!
What’s an escape room?
It’s a physical adventure game where you are locked inside a room and have to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. The rooms are monitored for everyone’s safety and well-being and you can’t get out unless of course there’s an emergency. The time limit is 1 hour at Clue Club.
Can anyone play?
The games at Clue Club are designed for groups of 2 to 5 people and anyone can play of course but you will need smart and witty people on your team if you want to solve the riddle and get out!
How hard is it to escape the room?
We were a team of 3 and managed to escape both rooms within 1 hour even though it was our first real escape room experience. It took us 55 minutes to escape the first room and 58 minutes the second one so it was a close call both times.
How can you prepare for the game?
You can’t really prepare for the game as you don’t know what’s inside the room. What you can do though is distribute tasks among team members before the game starts. For example let someone look for hidden clues while the other goes through the clues at hand etc …
Do we get any help?
The room is monitored at all-time and you are completely disconnected from the world (no smartphones no nothing) but you will receive small hints throughout the game whenever they feel you are stuck.
Moving on the rooms in question, there are currently two at Clue Club and they are working on a third one. There’s an intermediate level game “The Golden Eye Diamond” where you need to steal a diamond from a heavily-fortified bank vault in Hamra and an advanced level game “Explosive Gentleman” where you are facing the biggest threat to life in history and need to stop a bomb from detonating.
The first game we tried was “Explosive Gentleman” and even though it was really challenging, we managed to finish it in less time than “The Golden Eye Diamond” mainly because we wasted 15 minutes looking for a certain account number in endless lists.
I personally enjoyed “Explosive Gentleman” but it was quite hard. The clues were hard to find, the puzzles were difficult to solve and we had to use Morse code at some point. We exercised our brains for the whole hour and I loved the adrenaline rush that came with it. Every time we figured out a clue, we’d get two new ones and we probably couldn’t have escaped without the hints we got but it’s part of the game.
“The Golden Eye Diamond” is less difficult but as demanding as the first game. There were a lot of clues all over the place and even though we managed to open the vault within 30 minutes, we wasted some time figuring out one of the clues and luckily escaped the room. In fact, we had 1 missing value out of 4 needed and I tried a random combination and it worked at the 58th minute 😀
All in all, I wish I could say more about the games but I would be ruining it for those who want to try it. The experience was an amazing one and I challenge those who never tried real escape games to win both games from the first time. I can’t wait to go and try the third room as soon as it’s available!
Price-wise, it’s very affordable. 35$ per person for couples, 30$ per person for a group of 3, 25$ per person for a group or 4 or 5. You can [book] here and I’m gonna email the Clue Club guys to see if we can get a promo code for the blog readers.
Go and try it out and I promise you that you won’t regret it!
Mashrou’ Leila will not perform in Amman as planned on Friday 29th of April as their authorization to play has been withdrawn by the local authorities. The official reason provided is that “the performance would have been at odds with what the Ministry of Tourism viewed as the “authenticity” of the site” and the band has been unofficially informed that “that they will never be allowed to play again anywhere in Jordan due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom”.
Censoring music is an extremely worrying and silly act. I’m not a Mashrou’ Leila fan but I stand with them and with any band against censorship.