Three Caricatures To Sum Up Lebanese Events This Past Week

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11218530_818022921566565_8876180288754507109_o via Al Jomhouria

A couple of words here: I strongly believe this matter should be treated legally as our juridical body is still far better than any other body in this country.

summer via Claude el Khal

Summer is here but we still don’t know yet how hot it will be. The sure thing is that everyone will be partying in Beirut no matter what!

wel3ane via Claude el Khal

Violence, Camouflaged: Powerful Portraits Of Lebanese Women

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Abillama01-1200 By Lebanese Photographer Lamia Maria Abillama

This is not a campaign to support the Lebanese Army, but a powerful series of portraits by Lebanese Photographer Lamia Maria Abillama entitled “Clashing Realities”. Several Lebanese civilian women, like May Chidiac, are shown in their homes wearing military uniforms “a symbolic representation of the encroachment of political violence into personal space”, or in other words to symbolize the violence that these women experienced at some point in their lives, whether it was the Lebanese civil war, an explosion or others …

Abillama’s work will be published later this month as part of a book series devoted to the work of Beirut-based female photographers. You can check out all the portraits in the [NewYorker] article.

Each of her subjects’ lives has been touched by violence, Abillama told me, although she has chosen not to include captions identifying their names or describing their traumas. Instead, it is their common identity, the burden they wear like a “second skin,” that she wants to call attention to. As the daughter of a storied political family whose life was shaped by Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, Abillama grew to despise her country’s system of governance. And she knows that the second skin is not easily shed. “Even if you go to Paris or Milan or wherever, ultimately you carry within yourself always the spectre of war,” she told me.

Speaking of women and violence, Lebanese singer Elissa apparently released a new song called “Ya Merayti” to highlight violence against women and in support of the Lebanese NGO Kafa (While Haifa is still breathing you in). I won’t criticize Elissa’s clip as it has a powerful message but I am curious to know why she’s talking in English at the start.

[YouTube]

I Challenge MP Kabbani To Use Public Transportation For One Week

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kabbani

Our Public Works, Transportation, and Water and Energy Parliamentary Committee Head MP Mohammad Kabbani told a journalist that he doesn’t need to buy a car in Lebanon if he doesn’t get paid much because, and I quote, “there are taxis everywhere and people use public transportation everywhere in the world”. When another reporter asked him if he had ever used public transportation, he replied that he used to take the train to college.

If we assume that Lebanon has a decent public transportation that connects all regions, then MP Kabbani is absolutely right but that’s not the case in Lebanon. For example, if I want to get from Jeita to Achrafieh using taxis and buses, I would need to either take a cab which would cost me at least 20,000 LL each way or take a “service” to the highway and from there take a bus and then take another “service” or bus to get to my work place, noting that there are no bus or taxi stops in Jeita (and almost anywhere else in Lebanon) and you basically have to stand on the highway and wait for a cab to pass by. Moreover, the majority of our buses and taxis are not equipped with air conditioners so it’s a nightmare for those who have to wear suits to work especially during summer.

Of course it’s a bit easier to take cabs if you live and work inside Beirut but our public transportation is terrible and advising people to take cabs because they have low salaries is utter nonsense, especially when they live outside the capital and cannot afford rental prices in Beirut. If MP Kabbani is so confident about our public transportation, I kindly ask him to move to Keserwan for a week and take cabs and buses to the parliament everyday. Once done, he should pay a visit to the Mecanique in Hadath and see what we go through every year there.

On another note, and knowing that our MPs are too busy extending for themselves to do such experiments, a good idea would be for local TVs to document what Lebanese are going through everyday and show it to the concerned ministers and MPs in their talk shows.

[YouTube]

How To 69 On The Saida Highway

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69

There are three things that came to mind while watching this video:
1- Where are the cops on that road? It’s one of the busiest ones in all of Lebanon.
2- Why doesn’t he have a license plate on the bike?
3- Last but most importantly, who’s the guy filming all these stunts? Why doesn’t he try to film them as landscape?

[YouTube]

Global School Rankings 2015: Lebanon Ranks 58th Worldwide, 3rd Among Arab Countries

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Leb

BBC are calling these rankings the “biggest ever global school rankings” as they were “based on an amalgamation of international assessments, including the OECD’s Pisa tests, the TIMSS tests run by US-based academics and TERCE tests in Latin America, putting developed and developing countries on a single scale”. The analysis was based on test scores in maths and science in 76 countries and put Asian countries in the top five places and African countries at the bottom.

As far as Lebanon is concerned, we ranked 58th worldwide and 3rd in the region after the UAE (1st) and Bahrain (2nd). In terms of economic growth potential, Lebanon can achieve an 816% GDP increase if all pupils (15 year old) are enrolled in schools and that they achieve at least basic skills.

Here’s a list showing rankings in the Arab World:
United Arab Emirates 45
Bahrain 57
Lebanon 58
Jordan 61
Saudi Arabia 66
Qatar 68
Oman 72

Worldwide, Singapore came first, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The UK ranked 20th, the US 28th and Ghana got the worst ranking at 76.

potentialj

Lebanese Young Entrepreneur Ziad Sankari Recognized By US President Barack Obama

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Ziad

I met Ziad Sankari back in 2012 as we were both speakers at TedxLAU. I remember very well sitting right next to Ziad and asking him about CardioDiagnostics as it was a brilliant idea and by far the most interesting talk we had that day. Ziad has been relentlessly working on his idea since then and his efforts finally paid off as he got invited to the White House two days ago as one of the emerging young entrepreneurs from around the world. Ziad Sankari’s work was recognized by US President Barack Obama who introduced Ziad to the whole world (Yup you heard me right!) and explained how CardioDiagnostics, a heart monitoring technology, “is improving the way we respond to cardiac attack incidents which will have enormous ramifications not just in places like Lebanon but potentially all around the world”.

Being recognized by the US president is a huge deal as it provides a unique opportunity to attract investors and I am positive that Ziad will go very far with his idea and I wish him the best of luck!

Check out Obama’s speech [here].

vid

If you are still wondering who is Ziad and what’s CardioDiagnostics, here’s the full story:

Ziad Sankari started CardioDiagnostics in 2012. Ziad lost his father to a heart attack when he was seventeen and his family lacked access to proper healthcare. He decided to pursue his studies in understanding the electrical activity of the heart and how monitoring and analyzing that activity can save lives. Today, the company uses FDA-approved wearable devices that are 24/7 GPS-enabled heart rate monitors allowing for heart monitoring centers to communicate diagnostic and preventive information to patients in the United States, where the center has over 40 employees, and in Lebanon. In 2008, Ziad attended Ohio State University on a U.S. Fulbright scholarship. After returning to Lebanon, he was selected to pitch his idea at the 2011 Global Innovation through Science and Technology’s (GIST) Tech-I competition where he won first place. Through GIST, a U.S. Department of State funded initiative, Ziad received his first round of seed funding and traveled through various U.S. cities to expand his network, learn how to negotiate, and connect with mentors. Given his experiences, Ziad sees education as essential to successful entrepreneurship and to combat rising issues of poverty and extremism. He hopes to support other startups and build a high-performing educational system in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East that leverages U.S. expertise and connections to open a world of opportunities to younger generations. [Source]

Make sure to check out [CardioDiagnostics] for more info.

Here’s an interview with Ziad before the White House meeting:

[YouTube]

A Lebanese TV Campaign Against Homophobia: The First Of Its Kind In The Arab World

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homo

Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. Blaming People for Being Gay is Like Blaming Them for Being Left-Handed.

IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) is a long day event organized and hosted by Proud Lebanon. During this day, various activities will take place in order to address the issues related to this cause. Your participation is highly appreciated and required, so you can contribute to promote our cause and fight against Homophobia.

[YouTube]

Is This For Real? Domestic Workers In Lebanon Could Face Deportation If They Marry non-Lebanese

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leb_housej

As if the situation wasn’t bad enough for domestic workers in Lebanon, the Lebanese authorities are in the process of passing a law that prohibits workers from having any type of relationships in Lebanon or marrying a non-Lebanese here. If they do so, the tenant can report them and have them deported as mentioned in the Legal-Agenda article and on Kafa’s Facebook page.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

خلال شهر تشرين الاول من العام 2014، تلقى كتاب العدل من وزارة العدل تعميما بشأن التعهد الذي يفترض بصاحب العمل توقيعه لديهم في اطار الحصول على اقامة للعاملة أو تجديدها. وبموجبه، يطلب من صاحب العمل أن يتعهد تجاه المديرية العامة بعدم وجود “أي علاقة زواج أو ارتباط من أي نوع كان تربط العاملة (…) باي شخص عربي او أجنبي مقيم على الاراضي اللبنانية”. كما يتعهد أنه “في حال تبين لاحقا وجود اي علاقة زواج حصلت بعددخول العاملة مراجعة الامن العام بعد تأمين تذكرة سفر بغية ترحيلها الى بلدها”

This is the first time I hear about this law and I can’t really confirm it yet. If it’s true, I don’t know what they are trying to achieve by implementing it as it’s against the most basic human rights and is wrong. We should be working on changing this rotten Kafala system instead of passing laws that enslave the workers even further.