2011′s Most Popular Posts

This year was massive. I had a blast on the blog and I’ve been lucky to meet so many awesome people. We flip 2011 over with extremely high hopes for 2012. Thank you all for reading, sharing and commenting, you make it all worthwhile!

Get ready for new Fashal, leaks, analysis and of course PLENTY of reviews =D

1- N7W Scandal

This post got the highest individual hits for a past this year. This topic which galvanized so many people in Lebanon, got liked over 700 times on Facebook and was tweeted almost 150 times. In the end, we can all agree that the 14 million USD spent, were a complete waste.

2- The Infamous Sky Bar Blacklist

Though an unpleasant and one I’d prefer to forget, this was one of the most clicked upon posts of 2011. Here’s to hoping the summer of 2012 will remove this blacklist entry!

3- The Clash of the Diner Titans: Rd vs Crepaway

One thing this taught me is that we take our diners very seriously. Heck, I even got broadcasts on BBM urging me to vote on “this link” for each candidate. Thousands of votes later though, and completely unexpectedly, this post became one of the most read of 2011.

4- Pier 7 Opening Review

After being purposefully snubbed from the opening, I managed to get in and party and share with the rest of Lebanon the first photos and review of this new seaside club a couple of hours after it opened its door (which do not exist :P)

5- Armin Only in Beirut

One of my life’s most epic and emotional and moving nights. With 200+ photos and a video uploaded as soon as I got home the next morning. A fond memore of 2011…

6- The Weekly Leaks: Beirut’s Nightlife Hub-To-Be: The Citymall Area

This was the most viewed Weekly Leak of 2011. My unveiling of the prospective locations of Pier 7 and White well before they broke ground in construction. Also includes scrapped plans of the originally planned Pier 7 in the Port region

7- 15 Reasons Why Maryam Nour Should be in a Mental Health Institute

Hilarious, sad and scary! Shared over 300 times on Facebook, this definitely made a lot of people laugh in 2011

8- 3G is Finally Here

The confusion, delays and misinformation made simple and clear in laymen terms which we all can understand, not just IT and telecom people

9- 8 Reasons Why AUB Cats are More Awesome Than You

One of the things my time at AUB has taught me… =D

10- White Beirut Opening Review

The much-anticipated opening of the new White mega rooftop club with the first published photos and review of the club up and running minutes after its sound system and lights went on

The Reason I Am Going To Armin Tonite: The Anti-Israeli Groups Are Boycotting It

Armin van Buuren is my favorite DJ for many reasons. Among them is my love for his music for well over 9 years. Another is his constant presence in Beirut and him honoring us with the Armin Only epic event last January. I short, I never missed an Armin event in Lebanon, ever since his first appearance back in 2005. This time though, personal engagements on the same night, meant I could not go to Armin and be fully revitalized to celebrate NYE the next day.

However, last night I got word that the BDS chapter in Lebanon, which promote boycotting and sanctioning Israeli stuff, were boycotting Armin NYE-1 and rudely claim that “tens of political parties” don’t want him here and that  ”he is unwelcome in Lebanon”. To that, I tell the activists, if you think you speak for the rest of Lebanon, you’re the ones not welcome here. Just like any other narrow-minded ideologue who thinks he or she is Che Guevara’s descendant and believe he or she speaks on my behalf and drags everything unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict into the cesspool that is the curse of this region.

  1. First, allow me to point out the level of incompetence of this branch, which sporadically attempts to boycott stuff, probably cause they’re free on the said night. I’d like to remind them that back in 2007, Armin was in Tel Aviv before coming to Beirut. He landed in Amman then made his way to Beirut. Why didn’t you notice that then oh noble fighters for all that is true and right?
  2. Pro-Palestinians tend to forget that there are some humans who live in Israel. Humans who like to party like we do, who are fans of Armin too. They also forget that Armin is an artist for peace and love, part of the Trance family which is untainted by politics and war. Dragging him into our problems is stupid and asking him to take sides is unfair.
  3. I’d like to point out that on his Beirut visit, Armin van Buuren will visit a Palestinian refugee camp (which I will not name) as part of his support to an international NGO that seeks to better conditions of Palestinian refugees. So, yeah, bravo, boycott that based on your stupid visceral need to put a damper on everything, just like you disrupt lectures by an Israeli defector who was supporting your cause against his own government, just because he was born in Israel and visited Lebanon.

Please think, use your brains for more than writing disturbing poems and playing the victim on every chance you can get. The plight of Palestine is horrific and we all support their return to their nation, but that doesn’t mean we need to put a hold on our own lives because an international artist included Israel on his tours. You embarrass yourselves with the inconsistency and lack of proper research and informed decisions.

That is why, I have changed my plans and will make sure I’m at BIEL tonight to celebrate life and love. So, in a way, thank you pro-Palestinian activists, if it weren’t for your misinformed, blind, emotionally-fueled actions, I wouldn’t be going to Armin van Buuren’s gig tonight.

You for or with? Vote here

Samy Gemayel Visits AUB


I like Samy. He came to give a lecture two years ago, which I attended out of curiosity. Back at the time, I did not know who he really was other than that he is a Gemayel and a Phalangist (Kataeb) with a somewhat weird voice. After that lecture though, I discovered he was the only person in the Gemayel family who actually inherited Bashir’s charisma and eloquence.

What he hasn’t inherited though, is the level of idealism, which I find especially appealing about him. His pragmatic approach to internal politics are ballsy to say the least, but nevertheless well-researched and somewhat viable in a sea of invalid arguments and ideologies.

So, it was only natural that on his second visit, I attend his lecture, and this time jot down a few notes. Here are some of the points that I found interesting and my thoughts added at the end.

The Lebanese Political System is Broken

Samy touched upon an important fact we often overlook or dismiss as just a history class lesson. Our constitution and political system is inspired by our then-chaperones: The French. Lebanon as we know it today was drawn up and built up during the French Mandate that ended in 1943. This, he thinks and I agree, was the first mistake.

That’s because the French and Lebanese differ markedly on many levels. For one, the French all share the same identity, values, history and “pride” in their nation. The Lebanese are a mixture of persecuted minorities who came to Lebanon to seek refuge at different times in history and under very different circumstances. That’s why, the histories, loyalties, customs, norms, beliefs and even languages of the inhabitants of Lebanon are not the same. Thus, creating a France-style central government was a time-bomb waiting to explode, and it has, at least once already.

One government for 18 different peoples means one of them will control that government and the rest will either be second-class citizens, or do everything to seize that power. It’s a well-known fact the Christians, especially the Maronites, held much of the strings pre-1975. This prepared the stage for the infamous Lebanese Civil War that saw the Christian role diminish and virtually vanish, with ceremonial positions in governments and unfair representation in elected offices.

It’s indisputable that post-1990 period, the Sunnis rose to power with the blessing and backing of the Syrian Occupation. Here, Christians were virtually obliterated from all forms of government with their de-facto leaders in exile, in prison or in coffins. When things got sour and Syria left, that combined with the July 2006 War and the May 7 clashes and eventually the toppling of Sunni Saad El Hariri’s national unity government put the Shiite Hezbollah on top.

The point is, our political system is broken and we are all in a constant struggle to sieze power of the central government. This is the root of many of our problems, such as our dependence (and in some cases complete obedience) on international and regional powers .

Solution 1: A Fully Secular State is Impossible at the Moment

To this, Samy said it would be his ideal choice, but went on to say that at the moment it was unthinkable. His views are similar to mine, and talking of a secular political system is stupid when everything else, including laws, education and overall mentalities are still so heavily reliant on old men in robes. Samy said that for a real secular state, we need to abolish religious schools and political parties. This makes complete sense and we agree on this. I sought a more far-fetched solution though, read about it here.

Solution 2: A De-Centralized Government

This sounds like a dolled-up version of the taboo Kataeb catchphrase of “Federalism.” I for one, believe this is the ideal solution. Let the ideologues bicker over petty things like Arabism and Western Influence as long as they want, but let things which actually matter to me, like water, electricity , asphalt and telecom get done. I couldn’t care less about martyrdom and other big titles which mean nothing. I care about my bills, traffic and being able to live a decent life which I can enjoy.

My stances are of course more extreme than Samy’s because I’m not running for the elections in 2013. Anyway, what Samy was focusing on is that the government is too far away from its people and that the only way you can get anything done is through “wasta” which means “knowing someone/bribing someone” to get what is actually your right. With a local government, you can easily get to them without needing to kiss a thousand asses and lick a hundred boots. Why? Because if they screw up, you’ll screw them over in the ballot four years later.

What actually happens now is we get screwed over, but come election season, the incompetent and corrupt politicians hand out special services or bribes to voters, which get amnesia and go vote for them again like sheep. A de-centralized government is the solution to that dilemma, and that is the solution Samy has subscribed to as a pragmatic, but conservative politician.

My Two Cents

Samy failed at one integral thing: the mechanism. It would be fine and dandy to create a de-centralized government. But, how? The people that benefit from the current system are the people with the authority and power to change the system. So why would they change it? By revolting you say? The problem is we don’t have a Muammar or a Hosny, we have a Hariri, Nasrallah, Junblatt, Geagea, Gemayel, Aoun, etc. and “toppling” one will inevitably lead to a clash with one of the Lebanese factions.

If I were Samy, I’d keep at it. I’m proud to have MPs which actually do their work, lobby for it and believe in it pragmatically. If Samy had his own party, I’d consider joining it. I guess lots of other people feel the same way I do. The Kataeb party and the Gemayel family have too much baggage with them, and not everyone is prepared to subscribe to that. One example is my dislike of his father, Amine, who is a failed statesman in my opinion, and yet remains in the top post in the phalange party based on primitive hereditary political transitions.

Notable Moments

Samy admitted his party might’ve done mistakes in the past. Including a few mistakes and misjudgments that might’ve help lead to the 1975 war.

Another was Samy’s witty and frank response to Hezbollah supporters. He admitted he knew “what he was getting into” when he came to AUB jokingly admitting he was expecting students like Hezbollah supporters to confront him. One question raised by an HA supporter was why would they give up their arms and fate to a corrupt government, to which Samy promptly responded, why would everyone else submit to the will of the Resistance? Which I completely agree with. No one side should be able decide the fate of a nation, no matter how “noble” and “divine” they might be.

Samy’s suggestion that the Resistance become a part of the Lebanese Armed Forces versus being dismantled, is a tricky one, but more feasible. Maybe the politicians won’t go into the details of the standard operating procedures of HA, but at least the decision of war and peace can be a national decisions, not a unilateral one.

Another question was “what was the army doing to stop the aerial incursions of the Israeli Defense Forces?” Samy answered blazingly fast “what was HA doing?” to which the HA supporter said “if we do something, you’re unhappy, if we don’t you’re unhappy” to which Samy’s replied the diplomatic, but farfetched suggestion of “strengthening the Lebanese Army”

A good point was also “constructive neutrality” which Samy believes Mikati and Sleiman are exercising at the moment when it comes to the Syrian situation. Lebanon’s abstaining in the UNSCR sanctions vote and its refusal to send observers with the Arab League, were indeed the smart option because it is an issue the Lebanese are split about. This way, no one is considered oppressed or controlled. On matters of agreement though, like Israle being the enemy, there would not be neutrality though Samy said, which means Lebanon is “constructively neutral” in that when it needs to and everyone is ok with it, we take a decision. When we’re not, we abstain. Problem solved. Hello Switzerland of the Middle-East.

I can go on and on, but this post is already over 1500 words and I’m sure the comments will be just as wordy!

My Last Comments

Please Mr Samy, open up your own party and begin rallying support from youth such as myself. We’re gonna be voting next time around!

Everyone else, it’s time we start facing facts… There’s something wrong, and we need a solution which is radical, but rational, even if it means betraying some “taboos” and giving up on your personal ideologies. Things change with time and circumstances, that’s natural selection’s law. Not changing in a changing world means failure. 2013, here we come (unless the world ends in 2012)

The Weekly Leaks: A Virgin Megastore in Hamra this March

If you’re a Hamra regular, you probably grab a bite to eat at Roadster or Deek Duke every now and then. You might’ve also noticed that the adjacent Cafe Blanc has been closed for a couple of months.

Since Hamra’s pub life is booming, I was afraid it would be another den for hipsters and neo-communists wanna-be-intellectuals. Thankfully, it’s not. It’s the opposite really: a symbol of globalization and capitalism at its finest: Virgin Megastore.

I haven’t been able to ascertain the exact date of opening, but it looks like work has been under way for a few weeks. So, I’d say Hamra will have a Virgin in it in the first quarter of 2012.

The location is in Crowne Plaza (map above) [Edit:] I got confirmation that the date is going to be sometime in March 2012.

The Top 20 Trance Tracks of 2011 (Downloadable for Free)

1- Aly & Fila ft. Jwaydan – We Control The Sunlight

This is the number one, definitely my number one, but a cool track nevertheless. It’s not as awesome as previous number ones like Sunlounger’s Lost or Tuvan by Gaia, but heck, what do I know? =P

2- Alex M.O.R.P.H. ft. Sylvia Tosun – An Angel’s Love (Vocal Mix)

This track has a Tiesto’s Forever Today feel to it. So, I LOVE it, very emotional track… Gets the skin tingling and the blood curdling. MUST-DOWNLOAD

3- Above & Beyond ft. Richard Bedford – Sun & Moon (Club Mix)

This is my favorite track in the list. Bedford’s lyrics can be transplanted into any remix, and they’d make my head and face numb. This track by Above and Beyond is definitely my favorite of 2011, even though I prefer the original mix, and I’m not just saying that cause Paavo and I are tight =P

4- Shogun – Skyfire

Love the melody on this one. If it were in a massive stadium event, I’d be jumping up and down and turning round and round. Super uplifting track.

5- Orjan Nilsen – Between The Rays

Melody’s awesome, but all in all, I feel this is a very forgettable track… But, I will trust the world #trancefamily on this one and include it!

6- Gaia – Status Excessu D (ASOT 500 Theme)

The epicness of the Gaia-style vocals at the beginning bring back warm memories of ASOT 500… There’s no doubt this track should be on this list and this far up!

7- Arty & Mat Zo – Rebound

This track is very elaborate, with the sophisticated melody combined with Mat Zo’s not-always-trancy brew of electronic music. It’s a cool track, comes in strong after the build-up.

8- Cosmic Gate & Emma Hewitt – Be Your Sound

I adore this track, it would definitely qualify as one of my top 3. Emma Hewitt and CG have made a truly powerful track that gets the sentimental side of you all pumped up for some spiritual Trance.

9- Ferry Corsten ft. Armin van Buuren – Brute

I hate this track. It’s so below Armin and Ferry standards… But, for some reason, it keeps coming back =/ DO NOT RECOMMEND this…

10- Bobina ft. Betsie Larkin – You Belong To Me

I love the Dgrow and Dub Head remix, so I’ve linked to that. Great track, love Betsie Larkin!

11- Andain – Promises (Myon & Shane 54 Summer Of Love Mix)

Another beautiful build-up to a powerful entry. Would be a superb addition to any Trance set. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!

12- Andy Moor ft. Sue McLaren – Fight The Fire

Cool track, I miss Andy’s stuff =D

13- Gaia – Stellar

Gaia? Stellar! Looks like Armin can only do magic when he takes on that alias! Energetic track, fluid transitions just like AvB has gotten us used to.

14- Dash Berlin ft. Jonathan Mendelsohn – Better Half Of Me (Club Mix)

I love it when a seemingly non-electronic track makes a sexy transition into a Trance track. Dash Berlin’s ability to turn me into a sobbing sissy is not a secret, his set at Dance in the Summer this year in Beirut made the whole concert worthwhile. This track is beautiful addition, with the guy on vocals giving a more real, american-ish feel to the vocals

15- Headstrong ft. Stine Grove – Tears (Aurosonic Progressive Remix)

Another track I would’ve chosen as one of my top 3! Has a Lost (sunlounger) feel to it with the consistency and subtle changes in the track. Vocals unobtrusive too, perfectly complementing the melody. So, wipe away those tears from your eyes!

16- ATB with Dash Berlin – Apollo Road (Club Version)

AMAGAAAAAAD! ATB! WITH DASH BERLIN! Absolutely magnificent, emotional track. Must-download, definitely must-download.

17- Dennis Sheperd & Cold Blue ft. Ana Criado – Fallen Angel (Dennis Sheperd Club Mix)

Cool track, love the loops and melodies and the combination with the bass lines. The vocals are superb too, my favorite element in the track. Worthy of a spot on the top 20

18- Emma Hewitt – Colours (Armin van Buuren Remix)

You know that track you hear in an Armin promo? Those epic ones you’re like “What’s the name of that track in the de3ayeh?” Well, this is definitely one! LOVE.

19- Gareth Emery & Ashley Wallbridge – Mansion

The kind of Trance track where jumping up and down with hands in the air will not be enough. Uplifting, diverse and dynamic.

20- Armin van Buuren ft. Laura V – Drowning (Avicii Remix)

Drowning is one of my favorite tracks on Mirage. Avicii, that naughty boy who made all the hits this summer, remixed it into an even more godly version. Though, I still prefer the original mix!

The NYE2012 Series: 3 Parties To Make Faraya Bearable

Wiz Khalifa’s Official DJ and Big Sean/Adidas Official DJ at Stars Faraya Mzaar
100-160USD
70626353

TGOD. Nuff said. But, if you’re wondering, the man who co-produced Black and Yellow, Roll Up and No Sleep among others is coming to celebrate NYE in Lebanon. I’ve also been informed that another international DJ, Moe Beatz, will also be taking the decks on the last night of 2011, so this is sorta like a mini-leak before they announce it later tonite.

Apart from the RnB and Hip Hop sensations, a host of local DJs will also be spinning, including Rudebox with some good old House music and MiniB, Ruji and Jay-R. It’s for a hundred dollars with open premium bar and 160 for the VIP package which includes better seats and a chance to meet the star DJs.

This is a party I’d love to be at if I were in Faraya this year. I must say, I’ve developed an addiction to Wiz’s music and having the man who puts the beats to the words in the house on NYE 2012 means Taylor Gang party!

Noir Mekanik at Faraya Mzaar
133USD
76349596

Mak, lil’T and Serge will be on the decks that night, bringing you their take on RnB and House as well as a promised mix of Rock and Pop before the countdown to midnight.

The venue is of course the 5-star Intercontinental Mzaar, so it’s close to where the main attractions will be, adjacent to the pistes and has the cozy, warm feel to the chilly night up in the mountains.

Consider this if your chalet plans got ruined and you need to find a somewhere to countdown to the new year whilst you’re up on the slopes.

Igloo
240USD
03066999

I have a ton of friends who love the Igloo menu. This NYE, they’re offering a 4-course menu with open premium bar at the club and restaurant adjacent to the Faraya square where all the chalet-dwellers come out to play at 12:00AM.

A pricey option, but if you like the food and venue, and have the cash, you might want to consider it!