Taken by Sarine Babikian
I love free speech. In fact, my insistance on saying things like they are with no regards to political correctness or sanctities has gotten me a fair share of hate mail if not outright death threats at times. That’s why, some of you might be surprised that I’m actually not a fan of Joe Maalouf, but think he is a wretched, opportunistic hypocrite who probably pulled some strings to get a show on MTV.
Now, when MTV went a little overboard, I was among the few that stood beside it, seeing how the accusations were mostly from idealistic leftists who thrive on “activism” and Cafe Younes food. But, with “Enta Horr”, MTV is allowing and purposefully endorsing violence, harm and danger to some of society’s most vulnerable.
Again, let me reiterate my absolute belief in freedom of speech and no censorship. Perhaps the one quote I truly admire is one by Voltaire “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” But, in this case, what Joe Maalouf is saying is killing other people and that’s where I draw the line.
I will not go into the details of whether or not homosexuality is a valid preference. As a biologist, and a libertarian, I believe that being gay is both natural and that legal adults have the right to decide what they like and want to do, so long as no one is actually getting hurt as a result. What I will always do though, is advocate their rights as human beings, something Joe Maalouf has endangered time and again and not only with homosexuals.
I was pleased to read on BlogBaladi that founder of Helem, George Azzi believes Joe Maalouf is gay and that that is widely accepted in the LGBT community in Lebanon. I don’t mean to stereotype, but his accent and mannerisms do tend to make that obvious. If only he wasn’t on a crusade to get homosexuals killed…
Joe, do shows about homosexuals. Let them be biased. Let them be incriminating, demonizing and all the other things closeted gay people try to portray their out-of-the-closet counterparts with. However, blur out their faces. Your cheap shot at ratings and controversy make Malek Maktabi look like a respectable journalist. You showing these people’s faces endangered their lives. What if one was the son of an extremist cleric? Do you think he’d last long on this Earth? And even if the harm wasn’t physical, imagine your face on national TV being accused of “atrocities”, would you be able to walk down the street again? Would your family love you the same way? Of course, homosexuality should never entail those consequences, but in a country where sheikhs think it’s cool to rape and beat women, we’re very far from gender equality let alone gay rights.
However, Maalouf’s recklessness has landed dozens of people in jail, and those are the ones we know of. In a jail where it is legal to insert a chicken egg into a man’s anus to test whether he is gay or not. Yes, I’m serious, that law does exist in Lebanon. Torture at it’s finest, I mean come on, who wouldn’t admit to being gay if it meant avoiding an egg being shoved up you ass?
Now, if you’re one of those people who still thinks homosexuality is the devil’s work, let me appeal to what’s left of your humanity after being warped by your faith. The child molester in Saint Joseph Antoura rocked the nation. The suspect accused of this created a lot of controversy and public anger, and rightly so. His name deserves to be publicized and he should suffer the consequences of his despicable actions. But, what do the innocent girls have to do with it? Why do their grief-stricken, in-shock families have to suffer the consequences of the actions of a man like that? They don’t.
BUT, of course, Joe Maalouf publicized the names of those girls and their families. Bravo Joe! You made people have something to gossip about in the salons. You also got awesome ratings and everyone thinks you’re a hero. But, they don’t actually. Making the victims’ names public exponentially makes the ordeal worse. Imagine suffering sexual abuse and molestation, and being reminded of it for the rest of your days with people always thinking about that and tip-toeing around you for fear you’re too fragile or broken. Thanks Joe! You’re a real trooper.
In conclusion, I’d like to take the chance to applaud MTV for always saying things without fear of backlash. However, I’d also like to rebuke them for their hypocrisy and some bigoted staff members. Having an opinion is cool and voicing it is a must and then it’s up to the people to make their decisions. But endangering people’s happiness, safety, liberty and lives will never be acceptable. It will always be bullying and one I find disturbing from a station with a youthful staff and up-and-coming philosophy.
When our Minister for Interior launched the infamous “Shaher Ameni” (security month). Some people saw it as something cool and much-needed. I saw it as an awesome joke that keeps getting better, for several reasons. Here’s why:
As a Lebanese citizen in Lebanon, I find it deeply disturbing that security is properly enforced only one month a year, or ever for that matter. Seriously? It’s as if keeping law and order was an exceptional thing and one that needs a special month with special procedures…Why is it an extraordinary event Mr Minister? Are you admitting that there is no security, no law and no order in Lebanon, and that attempting to keep it is something extraordinary and something worth highly publicizing?
If you’re a criminal, you usually are aware of the fact you are being hunted down. In Lebanon, you know things move at a snail’s pace and fueled only by bribes and threats. So, when the minister tells you that for a month they’re gonna be extraordinary at doing the bare minimum of their jobs, you’ll make sure to be extra careful, hide somewhere or even go on vacation till the hype dies down. I find it hilarious that the minister was so generous and gave outlaws and suspects an advantage to seek shelter and safety from justice. He might’ve thought it was a deterrent force statement to prospective criminals, but, in a country where so many suspects are roaming free, the cons heavily outweighed the pros in my opinion.
Not many of you may know, but for several months a year, the judiciary system in Lebanon takes some time off. A lot of time off in fact. Depending on the judge and his/her conscience, a judge might spend as little as two hours a week reviewing cases and chairing courtrooms. So, all the people arrested are spending too much time in jail before even appearing in front of a judge. You’re catching “bad guys” but putting them in limbo with a judiciary that is mostly on vacation. What if the people caught was a misunderstanding? Or because a detective got paid off to make the bust of someone innocent? I think this is a major failure on the synchronization part of this security month.
As if the spontaneous checkpoints on busy nights weren’t already annoying, now you can rest assured they’re a certainty and much more numerous. Got a party in Gemmayzeh? Good luck getting their in time after getting stuck for as much as 40 minutes per checkpoint, and that’s assuming no stupid people are burning tires on the said day or road you’re taking.
So, when they catch actual criminals and terrorists, they get released because of tires burning and bullets firing. Meaning that any real threat gets bailed out by politicians or street thugs (which are mostly the same by the way). Who ends up being behind bars? Kids with a marijuana joint, bootleg dvd vendors and some douche who pays out checks with no balance. Real threats to my security these lot, not like silly things such as bullets, bombs, road closures and the like, those are minor things we shouldn’t bother with.
Congrats on catching 1,201 people this fine month. I wonder how many were actual criminals. I wonder how many crime bosses fled before the month. I wonder how many thugs were released because of corruption, coercion or bribery. I wonder if I can get to my dinner party in Verdun on time this weekend. I wonder when’s the next time the police decide to do their job for one month only.
You’ve all heard of AlloFail by now. The online-driven initiative launched to name and shame Lebanese telecom providers and pressure them into giving us the minimum of services for the premiums we pay.
You don’t need activists to tell you that Touch and Alfa suck. Because, they suck. You can never complete a conversation, or get a dial tone from the first trial. 3G is something we covet dearly and stay still in one location when we actually get the signal.
Our bills are not transparent, we not only pay for things that are absurdly overpriced, we’re not 100% sure what we’re paying for. That’s of course besides the blatant theft of recharging mobile internet and having it disappear minutes later after the alleged limit has been reached. After investigations, you realize it’s not an app or your phone, but Alfa and Touch. What do they have to say about that? Nothing. Or some stupid excuse like “guarantee software”.
However, what’s cute about Touch and Alfa is that they advertise as if they’re a blessing sent from the gods. With Touch bombarding us with its “In My New World” campaign, while selectively rooting out the ones that call for better mobile service, but keeping and promoting farfetched stuff like losing calories while doing nothing or traveling the world in one day.
After making sure we all know they have 2 million subscribers, Touch released a fairly basic plan which allows unlimited calls to a certain number, a service that is a given by most telecom providers and usually for 3-5 numbers, not just one. Now, despite the fact it was just one number, and for a period less than a month, we all thought it was pretty neat considering what we’re used to from Touch and Alfa…
And after criticism
And to that, I dunno what to say exactly. So, because I’m finding it hard to choose the right words, here’s a rage face that describes Touch perfectly:
Join the AlloFail cause, go to their Facebook group and complain. Telecom providers are answering and acting upon people’s complaints, so change is actually happening (I know, hard to believe right?). Best part is, if it’s not up to the pace we want, AlloFail’s lawyers are gonna sue them for their wrongdoing and that’s gonna be a lot of fun!
My Dearest Friends,
My constant rambling about this country and the situation is one it seems we all share. Who among us wouldn’t want to escape to lands better off and forget, if for a little while, all the troubles and burdens that come along with being Lebanese in Lebanon?
That is why, after my trip to the Gulf on business, I am embarking tonight on an 8-day cruise with the Lebanese Abou Merhi Group, on their newly acquired Orient Queen 2. I will be covering all the cities we will be visiting, as well as the cruise ship itself. The trip includes cities in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey and yes, I’ll be taking you along with me with the shots I’ll be uploading here, tweeting and of course Instragramming.
Before any of you jump to conclusions, I am not being paid to do this. The cruise was a gracious invitation from the Orient Queen 2 team which I humbly accepted with no preconditions. So, worry not, it’s gonna be the honest type of reviews you’ve all gotten used to reading here. Now that everything has been made clear from the start, I hope you’ll enjoy the posts over the next week.
Luckily, the date coincides perfectly with my summer schedule, making it the escape I need as well as an awesome opportunity to review a cruise ship owned by a Lebanese company that sails from our very own port. It’s also my first ever cruise, so I’m excited!
So, see you next week Beirut and in the meantime, wish me a safe trip.
Firstly, I find it hilarious that MTV is putting conditions on people to get coverage. Usually, it’s the TV station that needs to take the initiative to get the news, not the other way round.
Secondly, I agree fully with MTV’s claim that the uncivilized, stupid, naive, polluting and plain annoying new fad of burning tires has gone out of hand, and with an army which does little more than direct traffic and police too busy stuffing their face with chicken and taking bribes, any idiot with a lighter and old tire can hold an entire region hostage.
However, as a TV station, it’s in their interest, if not their moral obligation, to cover the reality of things. Choosing to turn a blind eye to something you don’t like, is like a 5 year old child putting his hands on his ears and shouting at the top of his lungs till whatever he’s mad about it is gone.
What’s worse, is that they’ve fallen into the disgusting mentality that many Lebanese share, where they seek to “hide” the bad parts and want to falsely advertise the good things. We all saw what that backwards mentality did with the Jeita N7W issue: we lost way too much money and were so embarrassed that with all the fuss and extreme coverage and badgering of people for weeks leading up to the results, the whole of Lebanon acted as if the N7W scam never happened the next day.
Covering reality is what we’re supposed to do. Adding opinion is completely up to them, but choosing to leave out certain things you don’t like is both wrong in principle and also bad for business. If something’s happening and MTV isn’t covering it, while AlJadeed for example is, screw MTV, I’ll switch to AlJadeed and watch it there. That’s because unless you’re a die-hard politically active person, you don’t really feel loyal to a particular TV station, you just want the content. So, choosing to leave out juicy contact like that, for boring press conferences or whatever they consider as civilized, is bad for business.
Especially when MTV have a knack of being at the right place at the right time, getting live coverage of many events when other stations would be airing Syrian-dubbed Turkish soap operas, or that retard selling Jujuba with men with belly-rings.
So, please MTV Lebanon, stop being a teta who is sheltering us from the truth and do your jobs. No need to give them extra attention, but removing coverage is a bit narrow-minded. I guess including them in the newshours at night would be sufficient, but it would be bad for business, and credibility, if you overlook a breaking news piece deliberately, I might be watching your programing before my flight, and wouldn’t know some imbeciles closed the airport road. I’d miss my flight for nothing!
I never really put much thought into Spinneys’ history and where it’s from. But after my friend Jessy told me about their plans, and later saw a snippet in Lebanon Opportunities about the same thing, further confirming the rumors, I Wikipedia-ed it and found some cool stuff.
Apparently, they started in 1924 when the British wanted a place to get supplies for the railway yards. It’s come a long way now and operates in several Arab countries, including our beloved Lebanon of course. Read more here.
As for the fantastic news, it seems you’ll be able to order your groceries online and have them delivered to your home within the same day or the next day. This is awesome if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to be stuck behind that fat old lady which buys supplies for her entire dynasty of kids. The only question that remains is, will you need to pay online (which means it won’t be accessible to as many Lebanese) or will it be ok to pay cash upon delivery like many other online retailers in Lebanon.
EDIT: Spinneys Rep Ralph El Kahi: “Hi Gino, you will be able to pay online, cash or card on delivery or through the new mobile payment.”
So, Lychee’s soft opening was last night. Unfortunately, being abroad I missed it. I did manage to get a hold of some photos for you though, and I’ve been told that the grand opening will be next Wednesday July 18th, 2012.
Here’s their number, so PLEASE don’t Whatsapp/Facebook/Comment asking me about reservations. I just do reviews! 70505504
So, if you do pass by, let us know how it goes!
Back in 2010, the Solidere Annual Report indicated that the Beirut Fitness Center (BFC) would be built as a temporary (8-10 years) project that would “herald Solidere’s development of the reclaimed land area.”
In the subsequent annual and quarterly reports though, no mention of this project emerge. However, DW5, Bernard Khoury’s architecture firm, still has it listed as active and “in progress” Also, the area does have some action going on there, so who knows.
As for the expected date, if the project has in fact been given the green light and permits, I have no idea, but it should be in the next couple of years. It’ll include:
As for the elliptical shape around the BFC, it’s not a running track… Sorry runners! It’s a parking area, where Khoury has sort of employed the same plan he has for B018′s parking (his landmark project).
Anyway, it’s probably gonna be those exclusive country club-type of place if it ever does open up. I think it’s cool though, having become a fitness-oriented person myself the past couple of months, I think it’d be cool to have a gym and spa in Beirut, despite the uncool prices of course…
So, it looks like the cabinet caved in last night and finally approved the plan to find the replacement for the dismantled Jal El Dib bridge after residents threatened to close of both sides of the highway from 7:00 AM till 2:00 PM today (but later canceled, as you all know since you only spent the 2 normal hours of traffic instead of 5)
Above are the proposed renderings, which look very sexy and cool. Too bad reality isn’t the same, and if history’s a lesson, let’s take the Mathaf area trial as an example. This tunnel+roundabout/intersection model has been successfully implemented in that area all the way up to Tayyouneh. Anyone who passes through there knows what a life-saver these infrastructure solutions are.
But, remember how long it took? I think it was the better part of a decade… Will Jal El Dib’s new solution take that long? The cabinet only yesterday approved “consultation” on how best to go about accomplishing the above. If you ask me, I’d say there’s no way it’ll be done before 2014 (and that’s my best-case scenario!). Let’s hope the governments and whichever contractor they hire can prove me wrong, and with the Jal El Dib movement’s prodding and “encouragement”, perhaps you and I will get to use this bridge before our immigration paperwork comes to term =P
Lebanon is a scandalous country. We love doing bad things. Every single issue, has a scandal hidden somewhere. In fact, most of the time it isn’t, we just choose to overlook it and with time it dies down.
The controversy over the privatization of Lebanon’s shores has been going on for several years now, gaining momentum in the past couple of years as entrance fees skyrocket well beyond the financial abilities of most Lebanese, myself included.
I myself am generally against that, and encourage you to occupy parts of the shore facing places like Edde, since they legally have no claim over that land, which is public property, like anywhere else in the world. However, scandals most of us are oblivious to, which happened mostly during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975-1990, have paved the way for several beaches in multiple Lebanese areas to legally, own that piece of shoreline and even several meters into the sea (which no one can own, besides Solidere of course, which buys sea, reclaims it and sells it to us for millions of dollars).
Stealing sand is commonplace in Lebanon. Anyone who commutes via the Nahr el Kalb tunnel will notice a bulldozer or two every now and then at the foot of the Nahr el Kalb river. None of us give it much thought, but the reality is that these people are up to no good, and what they’re doing is very illegal. But, of course, they’re politicians’ bulldozers and trucks and when enough people are paid off, everything goes in this broken little country.
It seems that during the war, when everyone was busy killing each other, these sand thieves were a bit too bold. They siphoned off thousands of tons of sand, tens of thousands of trucks, maybe more, were sold off. Al-Akhbar estimates that one truckload of sand is worth 400USD today (which it also claims MEA is doing in Beirut). Let’s assume it was just 300 or 200USD back then, that’s millions if not billions of dollars stolen from you and me.
The amount of sand stolen was so immense, than the shoreline has gone back several meters. I’d say, we’re not really 10452 sqaure kilometers anymore, given disputed lands with Israel and Syria, as well as Solidere’s expansion into the sea, and add to that the disappearing shores and we’re somewhere like 10452-X+Y±Z=WTF
Anyway, if you’re a millionaire now and buy a plot by the sea, chances are you might be buying a land which is incomplete, where part of it is actually the sea, which is exactly what the photo below is. Notice the protruding “sansoul” or artificial rock formation where boats could maybe dock and beach goers would suffer weaker waves. That’s technically illegal, you can’t build into the sea. In this particular plot though, the sea legally begins at the edge of that artificially reclaimed piece of land! So much sand was stolen, that the sea moved inland and is technically part of the land being rented or bought…
All I can say now is: wow, really? And advise you to be careful next time you wanna impose yourself on what you believe is public property… It might as well be someone’s private land and you’d be in a terrible legal mess as a result!
I blog about my unusual life and happenings. I'm Lebanese with a nomadic lifestyle. I hope to eventually settle down somewhere and become a neuromarketer