Jounieh’s Illogical Road

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jounieh road

During the municipal elections in Matn and Keserwan, I saw a video somewhere bragging about this new road they inaugurated on the Jounieh highway. To be fair, this road is very useful but the execution is terrible.

In fact, the road barely fits two cars and at some point you need to slow down to let another car pass. Also once you turn right from the highway to go in, you reach a point where you find yourself on the other lane. To make things worse, there are no signs on the highway to tell you where that turn is.

I have no idea who engineered this road, or who’s behind all of Jounieh’s inner roads because they either cause more traffic or more accidents.


Pamela el Kik Says She Got “Inspired” By Charlie Chaplin

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Pamela el Kik delivered a speech this week on Menna W Jerr, which was basically the Arabic version of The Great Dictator’s Speech (Charlie Chaplin). Unfortunately, she didn’t bother to mention that it was Chaplin’s speech but now she’s saying MTV cut off this part during the show’s editing.

I am guessing she’s probably right but she still should have mentioned at first that it’s Chaplin speech before reciting it in Arabic. Also, saying that she got inspired from The Great Dictator is inaccurate as it’s pretty much the same speech word by word. That’s not inspiration, that’s pure translation 🙂

All in all, I guess we should look at the positive side here, that more Lebanese now know Chaplin’s memorable speech.

PS: Good job Lebanese Art police on catching that mistake.


Ten Great Travel Destinations Where Lebanese Don’t Need a VISA

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Even though we have one of the most expensive and least useful passports in the world, there are still some cool travel destinations that we can go to without a visa and MasterCard wants to remind us of some of them:

1- Mauritius
2- Turkey
3- Sri Lanka
4- Georgia
5- Jordan
6- Nepal
7- Malaysia
8- Oman
9- Seychelles
10- Maldives

I am not so sure about Sri Lanka though as I know there is a visa of around 50$ to be paid.

Horsh Beirut Now Open All Week Long, Dogs Still Not Allowed

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After finally reopening in September 2015 to the public on Saturdays only after 25 years, Horsh Beirut will now be open all week long from 7 AM till 2 PM and on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 AM till 7 PM.

This is all thanks to efforts from several parties and NGOs, mainly Nahnoo.

Beirut’s municipality still did not allow dogs inside the park though. Here are [pictures] from my first visit to Horsh Beirut few months back.


Jounieh Dream Beach House

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I live in Jounieh yet I’ve never spotted this house. It is a private residence designed by New York-based architects SOMA right on the Mediterranean sea. In order to defend against the waves, there’s a mechanism that deflects them and the glass is “a patented system of laminated glazing supported by structural steel, capable of withstanding the strongest waves of these winter storms”. [Source]

I would love to be in that house during a storm (or any other day of course). You can read more about it [here].





Promoting Religious Tourism in Lebanon: Our Lady of Mantara, Maghdouche

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Lebanon is one of the oldest countries in the world and has been at the heart of the growth of Christianity and Islam. Christianity has had a long presence of over two thousand years in Lebanon and churches, basilicas, cathedrals, shrines, monasteries and caves can be found almost all over our land. Unfortunately, religious tourism has been neglected for years in Lebanon and a lot of important and historic shrines and monuments are unknown to most Lebanese.

One of them is Our Lady of Mantara (The Wait) in the town of Maghdouche in the South. Being from the South, I’ve heard a lot about this place but I know a lot of people who don’t even know how ancient and symbolic this place and more specifically the grotto that was rediscovered there almost 400 years ago.

grotto Copyright William MATAR –

Here’s a small brief written by Mgr. Georges KWAITER, who was the Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of the Diocese of Saïda and of Deir el-Kamar up until 2011.

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mantara has its origins in the Holy Gospels. We read in Mark ch. 7, v. 24, that after leaving Genesareth in Palestine Christ went to the region of Tyre and Sidon (now called Saïda) to preach the Good News and to heal the sick. It was at Sidon that he cured the daughter of the Canaanite women possessed of a devil: “Woman, your faith is great.” For his part, Saint Luke says in ch. 6. v. 17 that after having chosen his twelve apostles Jesus “came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.”

According to holy tradition the Holy Virgin accompanied her son when he journeyed to Tyre and to Sidon. However, as we know, Jewish women were not allowed to go into pagan cities. Therefore, as Sidon was a Canaanite town and therefore pagan, Mary waited for her son in this grotto at Magdousheh, for the Roman road which ran from Jerusalem to the Lebanese coast passed by this village. Here she waited in prayer and meditation, from which comes the name Our Lady of the Wait – al Mantara. [Full Text]

The grotto was turned into a shrine where people come to honour the Virgin and ask for her grace but the place is largely unknown to plenty of Lebanese and tourists, and the Ministry of Tourism is apparently working on changing that fact. I stumbled upon the video below yesterday and I truly hope that they have a serious plan to put Our Lady of Mantara on the international religious tourism map, along with Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal and of course Medugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

We have a lot of important religious sites in Lebanon and religious tourism can both help put back Lebanon on the religious tourism map and boost the economy, especially in neglected areas like Maghdouche and the South in general.

Here’s to All The Super Dads Out There!

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I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for the loss of a parent. I surely wasn’t prepared, no one was prepared for my father’s sudden death. It was a large blow for all his friends, colleagues and of course his family. I tried my best to stay strong for my mother and brothers but his death triggered a profound and complicated type of grief. I just couldn’t help crying my heart out when doing the hospital papers, going through the funeral arrangements, selecting and printing a couple of pictures for him and of course the funeral procession.

His loss was extremely difficult but death is part of our life and we need to accept it and move on, for our own sake and the sake of our loved ones. I know it won’t be easy but I want to believe that the most difficult part is behind us and that I must cope with things the way my dad did throughout his life.

My dad also lost his father at a young age, he lost his 22 year old brother as well in a tragic car accident. He lost his house and everything he owned during the war. He lost plenty of friends and family during the civil war. He lost his mother almost 15 years ago. He had to leave his hometown, start all over again, work day and night to provide for us. At one point, he was working 3 jobs yet he’d always come back home smiling. Both my parents sacrificed their best years to raise my brothers and I, to give us the best education and get us whatever we desired. He never complained, he always tried to make the best out of everything and made sure we never argue over anything in the family. He would brag about us every time we graduated or got a new degree. He was the happiest man in the world when my brother got married and then when I did, he was dancing tirelessly all night and welcoming everyone. He flew all the way to the US and cried tears of joy when his first grand child, Sophia was born. When Brian was born, he was on top of the world.

He helped everyone around him in every possible way. He was always friendly, always polite and positive. He’d always throw in a joke to lighten things up. In fact, what has always inspired me to stay positive throughout all these years is my dad first and foremost. We often complain about life and problems around us, but we tend to forget what our parents went through and how our worries are minimal when compared to theirs.

Today marks my third wedding anniversary. I will be accepting condolences instead of celebrating the occasion with my dad and the whole family. Brian’s first birthday also coincides with the 40 day memorial. I don’t believe in coincidences but maybe that’s my dad’s way of telling us to remember him in happy times only and live life to the fullest just like he did.

I am not as strong as my dad was but I’ll try to be. We will try to be as a family and remember the wonderful things we experienced together. Talking about it helps and that’s why I’m writing this post. I always felt more comfortable keeping such personal issues for myself but my first post and the tons of messages that I received helped enormously so I thought of letting it all out.

I hope that the rest of your lives and your loved one’s lives be long, happy and healthy.

I Miss You Dad Already

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I’m at loss for words right now. I always feared the day that I would lose a close family member but I never imagined it would be that soon. I lost my father this morning, it was the first time he ever gets admitted to a hospital yet he didn’t make it. No signs, no symptoms, no warnings no nothing. He died of a sudden unexpected heart attack. He was only 64.

I lost the most important man in my life. He was a proud father, the happiest grandfather, a hard working employee and he was loved by all. He never complained about anything, he was always smiling and positive.

You left too early Bob! You will be dearly missed. I think I’m gonna stop here because I started tearing up again.

The Janna Dam is Still a Bad Idea!

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This is probably the 4th article I write about the Janna dam in the past 4 years and the issue is still causing a controversy. For me, the issue is very simple:

– As long as there are conflicting studies about the dam and no one has a clear answer on its environmental impact, the project should be stopped and no one should be allowed to remove a single tree.

– As long as the authorities don’t have a clear plan to compensate for the thousands of trees cut in order to minimize the environmental impact, knowing that it will take probably 100 years to rebuild what they’re willing to destroy, the dam needs to be stopped.

We are talking about over 400,000 trees and bushes, thousands of plants, animals, mammals and birds that will be put under various levels of endangerment. For that sake, a camp will be organized nexy weekend on Saturday and Sunday at Jannet Artaba to protest against the dam. The gathering is hosted by our friends at LiveLoveBeirut, Deghri Messenger and CyclingCircle.

If you wish to join, read more [here].


Huawei Mate 8 Review: My First Experience with a Huawei Phone

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Even though Huawei phones have been in the market for quite some time, I’ve never had the chance to use or review any of them. A month ago, I spotted the Messi commercial with the new Mate 8 so I asked Huawei if I could try it out and they sent me a review model for a couple of weeks time, which was good enough for a quick review:

The Huawei Mate 8 is a large phone, or phablet in that case, and doesn’t comfortably fit in all hands, just like all 5.5-inch+ smartphones. The slightly curved back does make it easier to hold but it’s still a hassle. The Mate 8 is an all-metal/glass phone and it’s pretty heavy but the metal finish feels premium and solid and the phone boasts a 6-inch screen which makes it one of the smallest 6-inch smartphones on the market. For example, Google Nexus 6P is a bigger phablet with only a 5.7-inch device.

comp1 Huawei Mate 8 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4 – via PhoneArena

In terms of design, The Mate 8 is a refined version of the previous Mate 7 but I found its front side to be a bit dull. Its back side on the other hand stands out and is quite nice.

I found the screen to be dim and the screen resolution to be too low. I’m surprised it’s only 1080p LCD display and is a major drawback when compared to the competition. I don’t know if I got used to LG and Samsung’s impressive screens over the past years, but most competing smartphones are of far higher quality than this. The resolution is still sharp enough for most situations, but I personally wouldn’t switch from a Quad HD screen to this one.

The only positive aspect about the display is a better battery life, which I will discuss next.

power saving

If you are looking for a large smartphone with an impressive battery life, then Mate 8 is what you need. There’s a large 4,000 mAh battery tucked inside the large metal body and it would easily last around 36 hours if you’re a heavy user (Emails, Facebook, Instagram, Watching videos, Taking pictures etc …). The quick charge is also supported and can fully charge your dead battery in around 80 minutes.

G4 normal2

The Huawei Mate 8 relies on a Sony IMX298 16MP front camera and a lens with a f2.0 aperture. The camera can generate up to to 4,608 x 3,456 pixels in resolution and there’s optical image stabilization too. It’s a very good camera, but not a great one but again I am very picky when it comes to phone cameras and I’ve gotten used to impressive Samsung Galaxy S cameras that are very hard to compete with. The only camera that was as impressive as the Samsung’s one is the LG G4 and I’m expecting the G5’s camera to be even better.

Going back to the Mate 8 camera, there are several cool features that are worth mentioning:
– Swiping left or right lets you switch between several modes (Light Painting, Beauty, Time-lapse, video etc ..)
– Selfie addicts will fall in love with the Beauty (Selfie) mode.
– Light-painting mode is pretty cool but you need a tripod to use it properly. Here’s a small sample with the old Huawei P8.
– Mate 8 also offers a professional mode where you can adjust ISO levels, Aperture, white balance etc.
– You can add a watermark also on the picture directly.

Speaking of Huawei cameras, I’m eager to test out the Huawei P9’s camera as it was co-engineered with the one and only Leica.

Here are a couple of pictures I took using my LG G4 and the new Huawei Mate 8.

LG closeup

Software/Performance/User Experience

The phone is ultra fast but the software is a little buggy and the interface is not very appealing. I only had a couple of weeks to experiment with the phone and given my experience with other brands, it’s still a matter of time before you get used to the interface. For example, it took me some time to get used to the LG G4’s rear button but now every time I hold a button, that’s the first thing I look for. Similary, Samsung and the iPhone’s home button is a must for me and the Mate 8 doesn’t have that.

I loved the fingerprint sensor, it’s super responsive and fast. The Mate 8 also accepts two SIM cards.

Final Verdict:

The Mate 8 has a lot of cool features, it’s a solid phone with an exceptional build quality, powerful specs and an outstanding battery life but the display is average, and the design and the camera are good but not great. Here’s a list of pros and cons that might help you decide if you’d consider buying the Mate 8 or not. Price-wise, it’s around $500 which is a tiny bit expensive for what you’re getting.

– 6-inch gigantic screen: perfect for browsing, messaging, watching movies or series on the plane etc.
– Impressive battery life.
– Dual SIM.
– Solid build.
– Ultra Fast processor.
– A lot of cool features (Fingerprint sensor, camera options etc…)

– Doesn’t comfortably fit in all hands or pockets.
– Low resolution and dim screen.
– Camera is not impressive.