#DafaCampaign On November 1 To Help Families In Need All Over Lebanon

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Winter is coming and a lot of families in Lebanon are unable to stay safe and warm. The #DafaCampaign is aimed at helping all those in need of heating, warm winter clothing, toys, electronics, food and others …

The campaign was kicked off by Journalist Paula Yacoubian and is taking place on Sunday November 1 from 10 am till 6 pm at Martyrs Square and donations will be distributed to organizations and families in need all over Lebanon.

What I like about this campaign is that it’s aimed at helping all families and is not restricted to refugees or Lebanese. Just to give you an idea, 3.3 million people are in need in Lebanon, half of them are Lebanese. Moreover, we had 61% more POOR inside Lebanon since 2011 and 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line.

#DafaCampaign is taking place in 8 days so there’s plenty of time for everyone to gather the stuff that they don’t need and drop them. Hope to see you all there!


Is The New Traffic Law Still Working?

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I don’t think we need to compare stats between this year and the previous one to realize that the new traffic law, whose implementation started back in April, is no longer working. In fact, ever since I got fined for using my phone, which I insist I wasn’t, I haven’t seen a single cop on that same road. Moreover, I’m seeing more and more people use their phone while driving, as well as others driving recklessly, going the wrong way, parking illegally etc …

To make things worse, police officers and army men are still breaking the law without being punished. The other day on the Dbayyeh maritime road, I spotted an army man driving recklessly while talking on the phone and without the seat belt on, as well as a police officer driving the wrong way on a scooter without any helmet on.

In terms of numbers, Yasa confirmed back in August that the number of accidents decreased dramatically during the first two months (April & May) but then the numbers started increasing gradually. I looked up the stats per month that Kunhadi published (taken from ISF) and they surprisingly show that the number of crashes have significantly decreased this year but the number of fatalities didn’t change much. However, if you look at the Lebanese Red Cross numbers (August 2014 vs August 2015), you will notice that the numbers are very similar.


Another Failed Attempt?

Some people may argue that the new law needs time to be applied properly but I think the reasons why it’s not working are very clear and I’ve raised them already before:

– Policemen are still breaking the law and should be punished more severely when they do so as they are role models for others to follow.
– People are using wasta to remove the fines.
– The idea from the new traffic law should be to help people become aware of the traffic law and care about their own safety, not just fine them and send the money elsewhere.
– Lebanese should know that the fines they are paying are going somewhere to improve the infrastructure.
– The law is being applied in specific areas.

I once proposed an idea to help implement the new traffic law, stop Wasta and fix roads and I’m sure there are other ways to make this law work but it doesn’t look like anyone is interested in doing so.


august 2014

red cross aug 2015

About That Anti-Drugs Flash Mob in USJ

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Yesterday, rumors spread that an USJ student had a stroke due to a Captagon overdose and was rushed to the hospital. The news also said that he overdosed after he had an argument with the drug dealer on campus which doesn’t really make any sense.

تعرض الطالب كارل ضاهر إلى نوبة جراء تناوله لجرعة زائدة من حبوب الكبتاغون إثر خلاف مع المروجة وزميلته في كلية الطب في جامعة القديس يوسف في منطقة المتحف ليا ونّس.

As it turns out, it was all part of a flash mob organized by the Lebanese Forces Students at USJ and the USJ administration to raise awareness on drug abuse. Of course the initiative is a good one but that’s not really a flash mob or at least that’s a badly executed one because a flash mob consists of a “large public gathering at which people perform an unusual or seemingly random act and then disperse” and more importantly they should be spreading the video online to make the proper impact.

The only video I found online was the one of the young man being taken to the hospital which is misleading of course. If they’re planning on releasing one later on this week, it would be too late as the so-called flash mob is already over.

All in all, I’m not trying to criticize the anti-drugs campaign led by these students and the USJ administration but they should have advertised it in a better way to reach a larger audience and make the story go viral.

PS: On another note, the anti-drugs billboards were spot on. I loved the slogans used.


#ABCMissionPink On The Way

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ABC Lebanon is launching a very cool breast cancer awareness campaign during October and I’m proudly taking part in it. To be honest, I am not a big fan of photo shoots (even at my wedding) and ads and I rarely share pictures of myself but this is for a good cause so I thought I give it a try and it was actually fun!

In fact, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on the [teaser video] which is great and I’m thankful to everyone! Stay tuned as the revealer video will be out sometime this week.

PS: It took me 3 to 4 minutes to figure out how to drive that old VW van. Switching to second gear was a true ‘Mission Impossible’ lol!

Who’s Spreading Rumors About Zaatar W Zeit?

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If I ask anyone about the food safety campaign that was kicked off few months ago, the only thing they will probably remember is the first list of restaurants that was announced by the Minister that included the likes of Roadster and Kababji surprisingly. Of course we still don’t know the nature of the violations at these restaurants, the standards applied to check these violations and if there’s any follow-up process.

I’ve been supporting this food safety campaign since day1 but I still don’t approve of the way the minister was flashing popular restaurant names in press conferences and causing serious damages to the businesses for reasons that are still unclear. Taanayel les Fermes for example got its share of bad publicity because most people mistook it for Centre Taanayel that was declared non-compliant.

Another example is what happened with Zaatar wou Zeit yesterday. I spotted an article early in the morning on Annahar saying that ZWZ received a warning from the ministry but I chose to ignore and check later on what ZWZ management had to say about it. As it turns out, they were unaware of any warnings addressed to them and they learned about it from the papers, which is quite absurd!

I traced back the article to the National News Agency but I couldn’t find anything on the MOH website. In fact, the latest health news there dates back to 2012.

All in all, sharing such articles can be seriously damaging and misleading and I think the MOH should investigate and make sure nothing is ever published without their consent. If there’s really a warning, we all deserve to know the whole story especially when the food chain in question is a very popular one.


What Happens To The Victims Of Car Bombs In Lebanon?

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Jennifer Chedid was seriously injured three years ago in Achrafieh after a car bomb targeted the head of the ISF information branch, Wissam el Hassan. Jennifer’s condition was very critical but she refused to die, fought back and recovered.

Three years later, Jennifer’s wounds still did not heal completely and her family is unable to admit her to the hospital when needed due to financial reasons and lack of support. To make things even worse, Jennifer is being bullied at school and she thinks that it’s normal and she “understands those” who mock her.

Jennifer had nothing to do with politics and just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though she survived the blast, she’s obviously in pain and unable to lead a normal life. This being said, the least the authorities can do is provide medical support at all time and make sure she’s fully recovered. Moreover, Minister Bou Saab should intervene and talk to the school principal to see why she’s getting bullied by other students because this is totally unacceptable!

I’m glad MTV shed the light on Jennifer and I hope they do the same with other car bomb victims.


Special Celebrations For Weddings/Funerals/Baptisms/Graduation In Lebanon

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wtf Source

Forget the fireworks, the Zaffe and the go go dancers, there’s now a cooler way to celebrate your birthday, a first communion, your wedding, your graduation or even mourn your beloved ones. Several packages are being offered at highly competitive prices and satisfaction is 100% guaranteed (If you manage to get out alive).

Until the packages are finalized, here’s a glimpse of the promotions being offered and the safety measures taken:

– If you just gave birth to a boy and he’s the first boy in the family, two B7 shots will be offered for free. If it’s a girl, a special discount will apply.

– If you’re getting married soon and wish to drive a tank to church, you will have to take tank driving lessons or pay a bribe of $500.

– If you’re having a big funeral and don’t want your guests to get hit by stray bullets, we can arrange to fire towards neighboring towns for an additional fee.

– If the sound of gunshots is not too loud, you can hire our multi-talented “Zouzou ebba” BMW drivers to make more noise.

– If your kid failed to graduate and you had placed your order in advance, you get a 20% discount and your kid gets to fire 10 rounds for free as a consolation prize. Insurance policy will not cover anyone who gets hurt in the process.


Jokes aside, I’m not just writing this to criticize what happened in Zahle during Elias Skaff’s funeral procession, and the fact that armed gunmen were roaming around officials firing in the air, but because some people are actually proud of this heavy firing and believe that it’s the right and “manly” thing to do. We’re lucky no one got hurt during this funeral but we’ve seen how many people were injured or got killed in Beirut due to celebratory gunfire.

What they fail to understand is stray bullets can hit anyone at anytime and kill them, and that their “manly” actions could end up killing innocent people and possibly one of their own. Firing in the air during any occasion is a dangerous habit that needs to be ended once and for all in Zahle and elsewhere for everyone’s sake.

Dalieh of Raouche, One Of Beirut’s Last Public Shores, Could Disappear

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Two Lebanese sites were placed on the 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List, The iconic Heneine Palace that I posted about two days ago and Dalieh, one of Beirut’s last public shores. The list of sites that are most at risk was announced last Thursday by The World Monuments Fund (WMF), a New York-based nonprofit preservation organization.

The World Monuments Fund is joining the civil campaign to protect Dalieh that was kicked off almost a year ago after plans of turning Dalieh into a private luxurious beach resorts were revealed. Activists organized weekly protests, lectures and even filed a lawsuit “against the government, claiming that the development laws had been passed during the chaos of the civil war and had sold out Beirut’s natural heritage. The suit focused on decree 169, from 1989, which removed previous restrictions on development in Dalieh and the surrounding coastal areas, including the famous pigeon rocks and Beirut’s only public beach.”

fisherman A fisherman at his Dalieh shack. Some have been paid to leave the area. Photograph: Habib Battah

Dalieh has been used as a public space for over 7,000 years now and no one in their right mind should consider turning this beautiful landmark into a private beach resort. Dalieh MUST be designated as a natural and cultural landscape and kept as is! I really hope that the World Monuments Fund and the civil coalition will be able to stop the privatization of Dalieh but it’s going be a difficult fight against all these major real estate investors and corrupt Lebanese authorities of course.

Here’s a brief description of Dalieh:

Beirut’s Dalieh, a prominent landmark on the main coastal promenade and a landscape of beauty, rich social history, and cultural memory, has been a feature of city life for more than 7,000 years. The Dalieh is part of the landscape of the iconic Raouche (the Pigeon Rocks), an icon of Beirut’s shoreline that appears in thousands of images of the city. The open rocky area along the sea shore has been used for hundreds of years by working-class families for everyday activities from swimming to religious festivals, as well as farming and fishing. The continuity of activity at the site is remarkable—excavations in the early twentieth century uncovered completely untouched stone tools and other artifacts dating from the Neolithic era. The area also has considerable natural interest, thanks to its complex shoreline ecosystem, fossil-bearing rocks, and plant life in a city with very little vegetation. Beirut has less than a square meter of green space per person, making it one of the least green cities in the world. There has been a long tradition of public access to the Beirut shoreline, beginning under Ottoman rule and continuing through the French mandate with laws prohibiting development on the coast. [Source: WMF]


To read more about Dalieh, check out this great article by [The Guardian], as well as [dalieh.org] and [BeirutReport].

#BlogWaladi: Blogging As A Parent

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play Working on my FIFA skills to avoid future humiliation.

I was looking at dad blogs before writing this post but I couldn’t find any in Lebanon or the Middle East. I know it’s not very common for men to share their experience as parents and that most people here in Lebanon think that mothers are the ones who should be doing everything, but I don’t agree with that as both parents should be involved in my opinion and I’m sure most studies agree with me. I don’t understand dads who refuse to hold the baby while he’s still an infant (less than 3-4 months), or don’t like changing his diapers or feeding him or showering him and I’ve met plenty of them already in Lebanon. These are all “women” tasks for them which is an ignorant thing to say. If anything, the mother needs her husband’s support at the early stages especially if pregnancy was hard and she’s still recovering physically and emotionally.

Personally speaking, I held our baby even before my wife did in the delivery room. I used to take most of the night shifts during the first two months, I learned how to change his diapers and I shower him every day now. In fact, baby shower time is my favorite part of the day now, and I insist on doing it even when I’m exhausted. Time spent with the baby in the early weeks can make things much easier for the parents and the child later on, and makes fatherhood more rewarding and enjoyable.

You no longer have a life when you become a father:

I’m sure you’ve all heard that sentence before and I also don’t agree with it. Things were quite tough in the first couple of months mainly because the baby would wake up every 2-3 hours to eat but you can easily manage your time when he starts pulling an all-nighter. As far as outings are concerned, you will need to plan them differently but if you have helpful parents, cousins or even friends who don’t mind babysitting then you’re fine.

baby brian

All in all, there are so many things I want to talk about but I will keep it short for now and prepare other posts for future use. A baby is a huge responsibility but it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me and it keeps getting better every day.

PS: #BlogWaladi was an idea my brother and his wife gave me last Christmas as gift. They altered the blog’s logo, put Waladi instead of Baladi and printed it on a baby onesie.