In Pictures: Hundreds Demonstrate In Beirut, Garbage Collection To Resume Today

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lil via Liliane Assaf

Around 1000 Lebanese demonstrated in front the Grand Serail in Beirut against corruption and the current garbage situation. I grouped some of the pictures and shared them here. Meanwhile, the government stated yesterday that garbage collection will resume on Saturday night after a temporary solution was reached to replace Naameh with other landfills whose location was not specified. I think we will soon find out where new locations are once locals start blocking roads like Naameh residents did.

Of course “temporary” is the solution to almost every crisis in Lebanon and it won’t take long before the temporary becomes final just like what happened with Naameh. Moreover, the government is still not considering recycling which is quite pathetic to say the least but again that’s not an excuse for municipalities and Lebanese not to start recycling and reduce waste.

ra4 via Ralph Aoun

ra3 via Ralph Aoun

ra via Ralph Aoun

lil (3) via Liliane Assaf

lil (2) via Liliane Assaf

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Join Today’s Anti-Corruption Demo In Beirut!

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tol3it

There’s an anti-corruption demonstration planned today at 5PM in front of the Grand Serail in Beirut. The aim is to rise against corruption, pressure our politicians to find a quick solution for the garbage crisis and demonstrators are being asked to bring their garbage with them to dump them in front of the Serail.

To be honest I am not a big fan of demonstrations especially when there’s no action plan after it but I cannot but support any movement against corruption and against the rotten political class in Lebanon. The government knew Sukleen had a deadline, Minister Mashnouq was aware of that as well yet they didn’t have any contingency plans to contain a probably garbage crisis and the result is what’s happening today. Over 5000 have agreed to join the demo this afternoon and I hope the number on Facebook will be reflected on the ground. A “fachit khele2” is much needed and people should go and throw their garbage in front of the parliament instead of throwing and burning them recklessly. Let’s also try to throw an official in the garbage like they did in Ukraine.

The fact that no one is collecting garbage is not an excuse to throw it all over the place and complain about no one collecting it, but a reminder that this garbage right in our faces is being dumped elsewhere without any recycling or any waste management and is polluting some small village and threatening its residents. We need to to stop relying on the government and start recycling and reducing waste ASAP. Let’s start recycling at home and be role models for others to follow. Today we can make a stand and make headlines on TV but everything will go in vain if we go back home and do nothing the day after. What matters is what happens after the demo.

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Five Ways To Reduce Waste Until The Garbage Crisis Is Over

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The Naameh landfill is still closed, Sukleen stopped working, garbage is invading our streets and some idiots have started burning trash not knowing that it’s very dangerous for their health and the environment. The government failed today to reach a decision which is not surprising because the solutions offered are not feasible and Minister Mashnouq should have thought of a contingency plan before reaching this stage.

Everyone is blaming the government for the garbage crisis but I will not waste my time pointing fingers because 1) our officials are all useless and 2) we don’t need more waste. Of course tweeting and nagging online about garbage is also sort of useless, but what we can do is spread awareness and help people take action by reducing waste and not make things worse.

To begin with, I advise everyone NOT to burn trash and REPORT anyone who does that to the police because it adds to air pollution, create 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. Yesterday, several Ogero units got damaged because of these fires and Beirut’s Fire Departments stated that it “doused more 140 fires set on dumpsters across Beirut since Monday”.

How to reduce waste?

I know Lebanese will not start recycling all of a sudden but there are ways to reduce waste, so please read them carefully and try to apply them as of tomorrow morning.

1- Bring home less stuff, Buy only what you need and buy in bulk
Next time you head to the supermarket, think about what you need and how you plan to use it before you buy. Avoid buying unnecessary products or stuff that you know you will end up throwing away. Avoid individually wrapped items and buy in bulk the items (preferably recyclable) that you use regularly to save money and reduce waste.

2- Stop ordering food:
I know this will upset many restaurants but avoid ordering food for now. Cook your own meal, prepare your own sandwiches or ask your mother to cook for you. You will end pleasing your mom, eating healthier food and reducing waste.

3- Use clothes instead of paper towels in the kitchen, go paperless at work:
Whenever you’re cooking in the kitchen or cleaning, avoid using paper towels and use instead cloth rags. As for work, try to reduce the amount of papers you’re printing and use every side of a notebook. Reduce the amount of unwanted mail you get and choose to have your statements and bills sent to you by email.

4- Avoid plastic cups, bottles and bags.
You’d be surprised by how many plastic cups you throw away every day. Get your own mug to work and avoid using plastic cups. Also whenever you are shopping for stuff, try to buy a recyclable bag and avoid using plastic grocery bags. It won’t cost you a thing and some supermarkets offer them for free. As far as water is concerned, try to buy reusable water bottles instead of the plastic ones you throw away.

5- Give away or sell the stuff you don’t need
Don’t just throw stuff in the garbage. Check to see if anyone is interested in buying things you don’t need and seek NGOs and organizations that collect trash and recyclable stuff. I will post on all the companies that recycle in Lebanon to help you out.

The above steps don’t require a government decision but individual efforts from each and every one of us. I will start implementing these tips and I hope you do the same to help reduce waste, encourage recycling and protect the environment and Lebanon for the generations to come. Recycling can be achievable and I’m asking around to see how we can help municipalities start recycling the soonest.

Update: Here are the companies in Lebanon that recycle with all the information you need. Please make good use of this list and share it with all your friends.

Most of you are already familiar with Ziad Abi Chaker’s Cedar Environmental Initiative. You can read more about it [here] and contact him at the below numbers:

Office Phone: +961 1 389404
Mobile: +961 3 293222
e-mail: info@cedarenv.com(contact person Ziad Abichaker)
Address: Cedar Eco-Industrial Park, Abou Mizane, Bickfaya – Lebanon.

Here’s the full list that is being shared online:

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Review: BRGRCO, Still My Favorite Burger Joint, Now Open At ABC Achrafieh

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I often brag about Brgrco and recommend it to all my friends but I’ve never done a proper review of that place surprisingly, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do that especially that Brgrco just opened its third branch in Beirut at ABC Achrafieh. Brgrco has been my favorite burger joint in Beirut for almost 4 years now and I have yet to find a better place even though I’ve tried many, if not most of the burger places in town.

So what makes Brgrco so special?

1- Simple Burgers, Prime grain-fed Angus Beef & High-Quality Ingredients:
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Brgrco is all about the meat. The patty is 100% grain-fed Australian Black Angus beef, cooked on real charcoal grills without any sauces, spices or artificial flavors. The bigger the patty is, the juicier and more flavorful it is. All burgers are served medium and a couple of signature burgers are best served medium-rare. When I order Hussein Haddid’s signature burgers like the Butcher’s Cut, I don’t even ask for cheese on top and as I just want to enjoy this thick piece of meat served on its own. If you don’t like your meat medium or medium-rare, you can always have it well-done but you’d be ruining the burger and the whole Brgrco experience in my opinion. Of course you can add whatever you want to the burgers (pork bacon included) but I’ve never asked for anything except cheese on top.

2- Fries, Cheese Fries, Parmesan & Truffle Fries:
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Not every potato makes it to be Brgr.co fries. I don’t know how they pick their potatoes but their fries are quick amazing and the cheese they use on top makes them even better. Parmesan and truffle fries are a must-try!

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3- Redefining Gourmet Burgers & Always New Menu Items:

Every now and then, there’s a new exciting gourmet burger at Brgrco. The ones that I know of are The Raclette BRGR which is served during winter, the “Café De Paris” Burger, which consists of a fat and juicy medium-rare patty topped with a special butter-based complex sauce with over 12 ingredients and a fresh soft bun with a bit of Dijon mustard spread on it, The Falafel BRGR, the Truffle BRGR which I’ve never tried and the newly introduced Stroganov BRGR. My favorites are the Raclette and Café De Paris.

Café de Paris BRGR

Aside from burgers, Brgrco introduced last summer lobster rolls imported from Maine and Nova Scotia and boiled on a daily basis. It’s the perfect add-on to your main dish and it’s also the best lobster roll I’ve tried in Beirut.

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4- The Desserts:
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Make sure you always leave room for dessert when you’re eating at Brgrco. The Cheesecake pudding, The Banoffee cream cheese pudding, the toffee date pudding and the malted rich soft chocolate ice cream are all great choices. My favorite right now is the malted rich soft chocolate ice cream.

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5- The Atmosphere, The Service & The Friendliness of the Staff
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Every time I’ve been to any of the Brgrco branches, the staff was friendly, the service was impeccable and our food was ready in less than 15 minutes. More importantly, the quality and taste are always the same. The venues, especially the ABC Achrafieh one, are also very cozy, the music is nice and the cleanliness is showing. I remember having two minor complaints over the past 3 years which were resolved quickly and on the spot. Also, smoking is forbidden inside. Price-wise, some may argue that the place is expensive but if you truly compare the quality of meat and service that you are getting vs popular diners and fancy restaurants that serve gourmet burgers, you will realize it’s pretty much the same if not less.

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Let’s not forget the cows of course, which are showcased in all BRGR.CO restaurants and are pretty cool. There’s also a small cow that I decorated and that is on display at Brgrco Sodeco branch. If you ever go there, check it out as there’s BlogBaladi written all over it.

All in all, these are the reasons why I appreciate Brgrco and why I keep coming back there. I have friends who fell in love with the place and others who just didn’t like the idea of having medium or medium-rare burgers. For me, burgers are all about the quality of the meat and I’m not interested in bulky burgers with burned patties, or low-quality meat topped with a zillion ingredients.

Brgrco is now located in L3 at ABC Achrafieh.

Lebanon Among The 15 Most Billionaire-dense Countries: One Billionaire For Every 586,000 Lebanese

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bill

Someone crunched the numbers from Forbes’ 2015 billionaire list and came up with a a list of the most billionaire-dense countries. Lebanon made the list with 7 billionaires for a population of 4,104,000, which equals one billionaire per 586,286 Lebanese. The Mikati (Najib & Taha) and Hariri (Saad, Ayman, Bahaa, Fahad) families are basically Lebanon’s billionaires in addition to Robert Mouawad. It is worth noting that the Hariri and Mikati families are originally from Saida and Tripoli, two of the poorest areas in Lebanon.

The only other Arab country that made the list is Kuwait with 5 billionaires. I expected to see the UAE on the list but they only have 4 billionaires according to Forbes.

Check out the full list [here].

billio via Forbes

Seven Sisters: Beirut’s Newest Nightlife Venue Is Opening Tonight!

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The hottest nightlife destination this summer in Beirut is Seven Sisters and it’s opening tonight. I passed by the venue yesterday for a sneak peek visit and it’s a pretty cool concept at an ideal spot in Beirut Waterfront next to O1NE and Garten. Seven Sisters is basically an outdoor garden, a sort of green island in the skyscraper-packed capital where you can enjoy sunset drinks, listen to loungy music or a live-band, party on the weekends or even enjoy a good Sunday brunch.

Speaking of food, Seven Sisters are very keen on the food they are offering and the owners told me they will have an international menu, live cooking with Chef Danny Khairallah and a BBQ station, a show kitchen as well as a Sashimi station by Le Sushi Bar. They want their Sunday brunches to be memorable and they are working hard to achieve it.

I think this place has a lot of potential and I’m in love with the concept. It’s always a great idea to add some grenery to the city and I’m glad they are focusing on the food as it’s usually a weak point in most nightlife venues. I unfortunately missed out on the opening tonight but I’m going there for drinks sometimes this week and I’m definitely trying their Sunday brunch.

Here are few sneak peek pictures to show you how the venue looks like:

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Sound of Monte-Carlo will be playing on Sunday at Seven Sisters. You can check out more info [here].

Celebrating Eid In Tripoli: Crowded Souks, Great Food, Clowns For A Cause, Flying Lanterns & Happy Children

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Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, is a very special time of the year for Muslims worldwide. Every country has its own traditions and in Lebanon, every city celebrates it in its own way. This year, I decided to head to Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city and one of its poorest, to share their traditions and join Tripolitans in their celebrations.

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My first stop was at Furn el Saadeh, a popular oven located in Al Tall area that sells Ch3aybiyyet, Kafta and Lahm Baajine. The place was tiny yet packed and we ended up standing outside and having our breakfast on one of the parked cars’ hood but it was quite amazing and totally worth it.

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Tripoli may be a poor city, but it’s rich in diversity and is a beautiful city to explore. There are always new places to visit and new things to do and a sense of community in the city. Locals come up with new initiatives every year to help out those in need and put a smile on their faces. Here are some of them:

Flying Lanterns (نور دربن) on Maarad Street:
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This year marked the third edition of this event, where Tripolitans welcome the holidays by lightening Tripoli’s ski with lanterns and collecting money to put less fortunate children back in school. The atmosphere is quite amazing as more and more people are joining the event every year to light up Tripoli skies and brighten up a child’s future.

Clowns for a cause:
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Eid is an occasion for children to celebrate and reunite with their loved ones but unfortunately that’s not the case in Tripoli where a lot of children have to work to provide for their families. The number of children aged between 7 and 15 and already working is quite staggering in Tripoli and they are easily noticeable especially in Bab el Tebbaneh. Fighting child labor is a long process but a lot of NGOs and locals organize small gatherings in the old souks and deprived areas and invite clowns to entertain the children and celebrate Eid.

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One of these events was organized by the Old Souk Development Committee in the old souks right underneath Tripoli’s citadel where they had set up inflatable games and brought clowns and cartoon characters. Another event was being held in the streets of Abi Samra by The Lebanese Center for active citizenship and a third one in Jabal Mohsen’s neighborhood. Children were dancing, playing, singing and having a great time just like they should be on Eid. Sadly though, I spotted at every event a couple of kids working and selling stuff to the audience while trying to enjoy the show.

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Haret el Tanak – (Tin Neighborhood)
In addition to these events, a friend of mine brought my attention to clown flash-mob performed in one of the most underprivileged parts of Tripoli, which has little-to-no infrastructure and is known as Haret el Tanak (Tin neighborhood). Journalists, engineers, students and activists came from all over Lebanon, dressed up as clowns and spent the whole day celebrating Eid with families there.

clowns Picture via Natheer Halawani

I ended the day by touring Tripoli’s citadel and taking panoramic shots from the highest point in the city.

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