I Used My “Wasta” Unintentionally This Weekend

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wast1

I hate wasta, I never used it to finish any paperwork or get things done in Lebanon and I still refuse to do so. I’m one of those people who wouldn’t mind waiting for hours if that’s the right way to do things and I’m proud of that. Moreover, I’ve never bribed anyone in my life and I don’t intend to do so anytime soon. I still feel bad that I somehow ended up using my “wasta” on Saturday but it was unintentional.

Here’s what happened:

I needed a certain document from the notary public and I didn’t know any in Keserwan so I asked around and I was given the name of one so I headed there on a Saturday morning. Once I got there, it was chaotic just like you’d expect it to be and I couldn’t really tell whose turn is next so I just waited till the lady in front of me finished hoping that no one would cut me off.

I told the officer there what I needed and he asked for our IDs then our home address. When I gave him my new address, he told me that I need to go there and do the paper as it’s illegal to do it here, so I turned to my wife and told her it’s weird because my “wasta” which I won’t name told me we can do it here and he’s done it before. At that moment, the officer overheard me and he was like “Oh you’re related to Mr X” and I’m like “Yes why?”.

Everything changed at this moment, as if I used a secret code or something. He started smiling at me, told me to sit down and relax and the paper will be done in no time. He even took us to his private office and closed the door. I wasn’t really comfortable with the way things were going so I told the guy that I don’t want to proceed with it if it’s illegal, but as it turns out, it’s not but it’s preferable to do it in the town you’re living in. I eventually got my document in 5 minutes and got a discount on the fees as well. How can you give discounts on preset fees? He even offered me coffee lol!

What’s funny and sad about this story is that the lady who was there before me had to wait for an hour to get the same exact paper done, only because she didn’t have a wasta. Of course I’m glad I didn’t waste half a day for some stupid paper, but the last thing I wanted to do is use a wasta to get things done quickly.

Why Roger Feghali Is The Best Rally Driver In Lebanon

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Roger-Feghali-Falougha-Hillclimb-2015 via Biser3a

Roger Feghali clocked a 2:00.42 on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI to beat his brother Abdo Feghali, who clocked a 2:01.35, by less than a second. Jalopnik described Feghali’s hill climb about a good as driving gets and shared his run in the same event last year.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen while watching both videos. For all rally fans, watch both videos, make sure you’ve got your volume up and enjoy one of the finest hill climbs ever!

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

Week29: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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weekend Live Love Tyre – by PolSamuel

Spending a perfect Sunday during summer in Lebanon:
1- Wake up in the mountains to a breathtaking view.
2- Pick up delicious Saj manakish from the old lady in the village.
3- Head to the beach in Batroun or Tyre, go crazy with your friends and have few drinks.
4- End the night with a beautiful dinner at La Creperie overlooking the Jounieh bay.

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [Here] if you like.

Sawfar View from Sawfar – by Lanaudi

saj2 Saj wou bass – by Souseye

underwater Underwater – by Dany_111

jump Jump! By Elias

Qannoubin Qannoubin – by SalibaCarla

Creperie Live Love Jounieh and summer nights at La Creperie

Is The New Pepsi #MeshGhalat (Ataf) Ad That Bad?

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The new Pepsi #MeshGhalat ad is being criticized for using the word Ataf to refer to women and I agree that the term is disrespectful but not specifically towards women. I’ve seen girls use that term as well and it’s more of a slang term that’s inappropriate to use when referring to anyone in general. So yes using the “ataf” term is wrong but I don’t think that’s the only problem with this ad.

In fact, I still can’t understand what’s really happening between the guy and the girl. For all I know, it could be one of three scenarios and all of them don’t make sense:
1- The guy’s car overheats so the girl comes to the rescue and they decide to have a picnic together?
2- The girl is with the guy and the car overheats and he has the picnic kit ready so he gets to spend quality time with her in the wilderness?
3- The girl was having a picnic by herself and this guy comes out of nowhere because his car broke down?

Moreover, who does a picnic in Faqra (looks like Faqra in the background) and who keeps a picnic set and a hiking backpack in his car all the time? Kello mich zabit :)

To be fair, the two other ads are pretty cool and the whole #MeshGhalat campaign is fun. I used that hashtag a lot and it will easily go viral.

pepsi1 via PepsiLebanon

Pepsi2 via PepsiLebanon

An Inmate Sitting For Official Exams At Baabda’s Women Prison For The First Time

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prisoner

A female prisoner at Baabda’s Women Prison sat for Lebanon’s official exams as she hopes to pursue an education after her release. This is the first prisoner to sit for official exams at the prison according to the MTV report and she was visited by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab who “decried the deplorable conditions of the jail, saying that what he saw today was not something anyone should have to bear”.

I have 3 things to say here:
– I smiled when I saw that MTV was covering a story related to an inmate wishing to pursue her education, specially after Adel Karam’s screw up last week on Hayda 7ake. Next thing you know, Abdallah Taleb will be a guest on Hayda 7ake next week.

– I laughed when I heard the Education Minister talk about Baabda’s Women Prison as if it was the first time he visits it, which is probably the case. Noting that conditions in all prisons are terrible in Lebanon and that he’s been a minister for few years now, he should have thought earlier about setting conference rooms and encouraging inmates to pursue their studies in prison. Moreover, Catharsis has been working for years on creating a bridge between inmates and society, and came up with a play “Sheherazade in Baabda” performed by the women inmates of Baabda prison, yet they never received any official and decent support.

– The female prisoner (H.N) is doing time for substance abuse and needs all the help she could get to overcome her addiction and start a new life. She’s already doing an amazing job by being the first inmate to sit for official exams, and she should be encouraged by the authorities along with other inmates to pursue their education. I’m glad Minister Bou Saab raised the issue to Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, but I believe he can already start making some changes before they start building new prisons.

[YouTube]

Thanks Nancy!

A Huge And Impressive Sabah Mural In Hamra – By Yazan Halwani

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A beautiful work by the super-talented graffiti/street artist Yazan Halwani. I love the colors and the location that he chose as it’s an iconic building that is located at the heart of Hamra.

Here’s what Yazan had to say about it:

I painted the legendary Sabah on one of the largest murals in Beirut to immortalize the woman that was loved by all and was able to challenge the rules of society. She was not only an “icon”… I think we need to take Sabah’s drive in modern society, break taboos when need be and not be held by norms.

This mural was painted on an iconic building of Beirut pre-war era, the “Heart Of Hamra” is a building that earns its name: Before the Civil War it hosted the legendary Horseshoe Café, a literary café where Nizar Qabbani, Paul Guiragossian, and many Arab artists and intellectuals used to sit. After the war, Hamra started slowly recovering but was never able to become the Arab cultural hub it once was, this mural is an attempt to bring back that era.

Thanks to the people that made this huge mural possible: Ahla Fawda , Colortek Kassaa for providing the best paint, the Assaf family for donating their building, my team (Jeff, Joude, Ed, Rayan, Nadia and Selma)!

Ashekman also completed a beautiful tribute to the Sabbou7a in Achrafieh a week ago.

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The Westin Resort Costa Navarino: Where I’d Want To Wake Up On A Friday!

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When I first got the media trip invite to Costa Navarino from Wild Discovery, I started googling the location and the resort and quickly fell in love with it, but trust me, the resort and the whole installation are far more wonderful to experience than read about in reviews or see in pictures, and the weekend getaway I spent there was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ones I’ve had ever since my honeymoon euro trip back in 2013. As I said, it’s hard to describe how beautiful the place is but I’ll try to take you through my whole experience there and share amazing pictures that will make you want to take the next plane and head there (it’s only 2 hours flight away).

The Resort:
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The Westin Resort Costa Navarino is a huge luxury resort located in a beautiful and untouched area of Messinia in Greece. The 5-star resort has 450 rooms and suites all designed and inspired by old Messinian mansions and enjoying an unobstructed sea view, add to that a multitude of facilities and recreational activities. I counted 5 restaurants, six pools, a playground for kids and sliding pool, tennis courts, two huge golf courses and a gorgeous spa. The rooms are clean and spacious, the staff is extremely friendly, the service is excellent, and everything is so calm and serene everywhere you go. To be honest, I thought I’d get bored in a relaxing resort but that wasn’t the case at the Westin Resort. You could walk for hours inside the resort and discover every day new things to do and new places to see.

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The beach is a must-visit of course as it’s sandy, very long and quite amazing and you can spend the whole day there. There’s also this small bar with quite a dreamy ceiling that I highly recommend you pass by. Also what’s quite impressive about the resort is how eco-friendly it is and the management’s commitment to the environment. We were even told that every olive tree that had to be taken out to make way for the resort was planted elsewhere carefully.

Food & Drinks
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The best meal I’ve had at the Westin Resort was the first one. We had just arrived after a long bus trip and the breakfast buffet was almost closed so we asked the staff if they could get us omelettes and they brought us something out of this world! I still don’t know the exact ingredients but it was really good.

In terms of restaurants, we tried Flame, Kafenio and Morias. Flame is a fine dining restaurant that overlooks one of the gulf courses and serves excellent steaks. All the dishes we tried were quite good and I enjoyed the Greek Labneh more than ours (Blasphemy!). Kafenio is specialized in Greek Mezze specialties which I didn’t appreciate much except for the pork-based dish. As for Morias, it was an international buffet dinner and a delicious one. Their wine (1827) is quite good by the way.

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We also had the chance to visit a traditional home in the town of Pylos and learn from local women how to cook authentic family recipes. It was a fun experience followed by a full dinner and then a Zorba dance outside the house. Needless to say, the local women and my friends were mind-blown by my dancing (and cooking) skills.

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Attractions & Things To Do:
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As I stated earlier, the resort has two golf courses and we had the chance to visit one of them and try to hit some golf balls. It was much harder than I thought it would be, considering I’ve only played mini-golf in real life and golf on Nintendo Wii. We had an experienced player teaching us how to hold the golf club and make the swing and I got the hang of it after 10 or 15 tries. It was a fun experience and I want to give it another try at the Beirut Golf Club since I was told you don’t need a special membership to get in.

Aside from playing golf, we were taken on a boat trip to explore the gorgeous Messinian coast aboard a sailing boat. It was a 4 hours long trip but it felt like a 20 minutes one as I enjoyed every single bit of it. The ride was smooth, the beaches and coves were quite incredible and we enjoyed a good swim in the middle of the sea. Sadly enough, I was chatting with one of the crew members who told me that hundreds of illegal migrants arrived to Pylos aboard a tiny boat last week thinking they were going to Italy. Apparently, Greece has received over a million immigrants in the past couple of years.

As far as touristic sites are concerned, there’s an old medieval castle (Niokastro) in Pylos worth visiting as it overlooks the whole Ionian sea where the famous naval Battle of Navarino took place. You can take some amazing shots from up there. Moreover, there’s a small beach (Voldokilia) that a lot of people visit for some reason even though there’s nothing special about it (except that there’s a spot for nudists there but I didn’t see any).

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The verdict:

The Westin Resort is a dream resort located on a sandy Ionian coastline and surrounded by beautiful landscapes. You will find a bit of history in everything around you while experiencing luxury and relaxation. If you are looking for a peaceful weekend getaway or a fun weekend with the family, this is the ideal place to go. The boat trip is highly recommended, the golf experience is worth trying but the best thing you can do is just sit back, relax and enjoy the view from your balcony or just wander around the resort and enjoy the beach.

It’s the ultimate place to wake up on a Friday morning but I don’t recommend you come back on a Monday because it will take you a couple of days to get back in a work mode.

For those of you who are interested in visiting this resort this summer, Wild Discovery has all the information you need [here]. Costa Navarino is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts and we flew Aegean Airlines.

PS: On a side note, what made this trip even better were the other media members, mainly Rami who’s a great guy and a funny one (even though he overslept and was late on two occasions), dreamy and charming Pascale, my new crazy friend Vanessa, fellow blogger and friend Daniella who’s always fun to hang out with, and of course our awesome guide and my good friend Johnny.

Farewell To HMA Tom Fletcher: The Best Diplomat Lebanon Has Had In Years!

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Yesterday was the Queen’s Birthday Celebrations at Music Hall in Beirut but also a farewell party to UK Ambassador Tom Fletcher. I never thought I’d say that about a diplomat or politician specially in Lebanon, but he will be dearly missed. I’ve been interacting with his excellency for 4 years now and even became good friends with him, and I wish to thank him once again for the outstanding job he has done during his term for Lebanon and the Lebanese, and for being a role model to all of us. I’m sure some will tell me that it’s his job after all as an ambassador but I’ve never seen anyone do as much as he did for Lebanon, and more importantly engage with the Lebanese offline and online and get closer to them than most of our politicians ever did.

His farewell speech was extremely touching and witty yesterday and my favorite part was when he hinted the that he would have loved to stay but and I quote “Unlike some of your politicians I can’t extend my term”. I even had that discussion with him on Twitter the same day and we jokingly agreed to start a fight at the event, then keep fighting for months before we extend his term and blame others for it.

tom

Here are some of the things HMA Tom Fletcher (& The British Embassy) did throughout the past 4 years:
– He took part as a judge in the first Social Media Awards in Beirut.
– They distributed Meghle to celebrate the first royal baby’s birth.
– He took part in every Beirut Marathon.
UK Embassy donated 50 Million Dollars to public schools and educational projects in Lebanon.
– He took part in a funny online exchange with KarlRemarks.
– He walked out of an event after noticing that domestic workers were asked to sit in a separate area. He sat with them before leaving.
– He worked as a domestic worker to highlight migrant worker rights.
– He donated blood to the Jnah Explosion victims.
– He helped, along with the British authorities, prevent a major attack on the Lebanese border by building a £150,000 watchtower in 17 days.
– He wrote an open letter to Lebanon on Independence day that I advise you all to read.

I’m sure I missed on plenty of other achievements, but the most important for me is how he was able to connect with Lebanon’s youth and get close to them. I sure hope that the next ambassador will be half as good as he was.

Good bye to you Sir and best of luck in your future endeavors!

PS: Many thanks to the British Embassy in Lebanon team for giving bloggers and online influencers the importance they deserve throughout the years.

20150610_204618 HMA Tom Fletcher honoring the Lebanese Army

Adel Karam Apologizes To The 63 Year Old Man Presenting His Brevet Exams

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Adel Karam issued an apology few hours ago for disrespecting a 63 year old man who was presenting his brevet exams after the story went viral online and Elie posted about it. Needless to say, it’s a shameful thing to mock an old man for wanting to complete his brevet exams at the age of 63 and he should be praised instead and even though it’s too late to apologize now, I’m glad Adel decided this time to do so instead of blocking those who are attacking him and ignoring them (which he did earlier on Twitter with a separate incident).

More importantly, I hope Adel and his team will learn from this mistake and try to focus on positive stories worth sharing instead of hosting dumb guests and updating us on Kim Jong-un. What happened with Fares Karam few months back was also unacceptable as he handed Adel a loaded gun live on TV.

I still think Adel’s show is a decent one and he does make me laugh from time to time, but it can be much better than that in my opinion.

Update: Never mind the blocking remark, it seems he did block few tweeps who attacked him. I think this is a silly move (from him or whomever is managing his account) that will only backfire on him.

abdallah-taleb-brevet

Giveaway: Win An iPhone 6 With Zomato, My New Favorite Restaurant Guide In Lebanon

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Update: Deadline is extended till Tuesday 16th of June at noon as a lot of readers asked me for more time to write their reviews.

Update 2: And Our winner is Rita AS! We will contact you by email to inform on how to collect your prize. Thank you all for participating and I wish you the best of luck next time.

Zomato is going to offer the below 10 people (picked randomly) food vouchers as well to thank them for participating:
1- DanielaSK
2- Sam_LB
3- Fadi Bteich
4- Hala
5- Charbel Jammous
6- George Saliby
7- Michel Bseibes
8- Ralph Dagher
9- Roubz
10- Roy el Hachem

I’ve used many restaurant guide apps in Lebanon over the past years but nothing compares to Zomato in terms of user-friendliness, ease of use and the amount of information available. I was addicted to Four Square previously and I still use it from time to time, but ever since they came up with Swarm and messed up their whole layout, I lost interest in it. Zomato is a much simpler platform where you can browse places easily and find all the relevant information from updated menus, location, price range, reviews in seconds. You can also build your foodie profile by adding reviews and pictures and I like how you collect points for reviews and pictures and people get to see that.

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What I love most about Zomato is how simple and efficient the search is there. You can either perform quick searches, by cuisine or just switch to the Nearby feature and see what’s around you. For example since Ramadan is near now, they already have two categories up “Open During Ramadan” and ” Iftar & Suhoor”. I know some of these features are available in other apps but they are not as clear and easy to access and the information is quite relevant and accurate but that’s probably because Zomato has a team in Lebanon working on the app and on updates daily and did not just deploy here.

big foodie Follow me [Here].

As far as food bloggers are concerned, it’s a great platform to get more exposure as you get to write your reviews and link back to your blog. I have already 28 reviews and 137 photos and I’ve already received almost 150,000 views for my reviews and pictures combined. You can check out my profile and follow me [here].

Moving on to the giveaway part, I met with the Zomato guys last week and decided to spice up my review to encourage people to use the app and understand why I like it so much, so we decided to come up with a small competition where one of the readers will win a brand new iPhone 6.

The conditions are quick simple:

1- Download, install and register on Zomato. [iOs] [Android]
2- Follow me [here] and update your Zomato profile with a picture and useful information and write at least 2 reviews (new reviews if you already have a user).
3- Write a comment on the blog post sharing your username and the names of two restaurants or places that you reviewed.

The Zomato team and myself will be going through every entry so please avoiding copy pasting reviews or creating several users as you will be instantly disqualified. I will draw a name by Sunday night and the winner will be awarded an iPhone 6.

NB: You need to put your proper email in the email field while commenting since winner will be contacted by email. You can only comment once, anyone caught commenting more than once will get disqualified.