Lebanon Second Only to Switzerland in Gold per Capita

20110430_WOC637Gold is important. It has been long thought of the safe haven for wary investors, and is usually what we back our money’s value with. It makes sense Switzerland is number 1, they’re practically the bankers of the rest of the world. What’s surprising is that we are in second place, well ahead of Germany. It looks like the name “Swisra el Share2″ (Switzerland of the [Middle] East) does hold some truth to it, huh? Or at least did in Lebanon’s good old days before the civil war.

Read The Economist piece I borrowed this photo from here

Noon Keyboard: Type in “MSN Arabic” Get it in Proper Arabic!

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Most of us speak Arabic. Virtually none of us type it though. Heck, even most of our keyboards come with no Arabic letters, and if we do, we look like your grandma on the netbook you bought her for Christmas trying to type her password. This problem though, was solved by Yamli.com, the beautiful search engine that lets you type things like: Ana O7eb Gino’s Blog Kathiran, and get: أنا أحب جينوس بلوغ كثيراً in the field you’re typing in.

Now, imagine my extreme delight at finding out a keyboard for Android was released that utilizes the Yamli API to transliterate “arabic english” into proper Arabic. I discovered it months back while browsing the Google Market (it was called Market back then, not Play =P) and downloaded it for free, and instantly fell in love.

Now, you might ask who types in Arabic, and I tell you, the majority my friends! Maybe it’s hard to gauge in Lebanon, but in the Arab World’s Internet powerhouses like Egypt and KSA, most folks type in Arabic, and most folks have Anrdoids, so this app is gonna go big, and it already has, with tens of thousands of daily active users already.

It needs data connection to crunch out the transliteration, but come on, who doesn’t have 3G these days? Also, its data consumption is minimal, with barely a few hundred kilobytes per month gone (based on my usage at least).

Using Noon is a delight and it might just be what helps us create more Arabic content for the massive Arabic-speaking and reading market who yearns for original content in Arabic, but finds very little to satiate it.

So, download this lovely app and keep it in handy, with a few taps, you can turn your “7″ and “3″ into a “ح” and “ع” and impress your non-Android friends who would need much longer to type up a reply! Oh, and the cherry on top of all this is that Nader Ayyad, the developer behind Noon, is Lebanese, just like the creators of Yamli Habib Haddad and Imad Jureidini.

Noon on Google Play

Angry Lebanese Moms Campaign Against Fake Barney

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If any of you have younger relatives or siblings, you’ll know the above is definitely not Barney, the dinosaur from our ima-gi-nation! But, some dude in a costume probably bought from Baba Jina on the Jounieh highway.

Well, most of the kids that attended an event in Tripoli also noticed that, and told their folks, who in turn were furious after paying as much as 50,000 LBP (33+USD) per ticket for this “1 day trip of Barney from Beirut to Tripoli”.

Apparently, the organizer, Racha Baghdadi, justified it by saying that it was the Barney character from her nursery, VIP Nursery. Now, this begs the question, apart from ripping off a massive international brand name, why she’d use the actual Barney and Friends visual on her tickets and ads?

I’m writing about this though, not because I am enraged that it wasn’t the real Barney, but because I am proud of the women and parents who stood up to this and didn’t accept losing their money and their kids’ happiness to someone ripping them off. I am even more proud that instead of burning tires or kidnapping people, they did it through the proper channels, via the Consumer Protection Bureau in the Economy Ministry and via Facebook mainly. Now, apart from ruining Baghdady’s reputation, they seem to have had cooperation from the CPB, and might just be reimbursed!

Follow the whole story here on their Facebook group. Many thanks to Mark for helping me come across this!

An Infographic About the Rise of Android

Even though most iOS fanboys and girls friends of mine are switching to Anrdoid, I see some poor lost souls who still buy iPhones in this day and age. Here are some numbers for the doubters. FYI, this post was prepared on my Samsung Galaxy Note II phone, while on the bus…

ANDROID-MBAsource MBAonline

2012′s Most Read Articles on Gino’s Blog

 

1- b018 Review

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Even though I wrote this more than a year ago, it still gets regular visitors every single day. Makes me proud that I can contribute to conveying what this club is really like to the rest of the world. It’s been featured on several other websites, and on the Reddit subreddit /r/TodayILearned

Read it here

2- Le Mall Dbayeh Sneak Peak

We were all excited about this new mall and even though some people love it, others not so much, everyone wanted to check out what it’s gonna be like and which places are gonna open there.

Read it here

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3- Joe Maalouf’s Failed Attempt to Intimidate

After the failure to shut me up, I did what I promised I would, reveal everything, and I did. The support I got made me certain I wasn’t doing the wrong thing, and I thank you all from the very bottom of my heart!

Read it here

4- Veer Beach and Resort Leak

This is another leak everyone was excited about, and so was I. I’m proud that the first look and review of this brand new and original venue in Kaslik was broken here on Gino’s Blog.

Read it hereimag1067

5- SkyBar’s Blacklist

This is also an ancient post, but it seems the constant malpractice of the club has folks coming back for more every year. I’m glad to say I haven’t stepped there except once for a charity event in 2011, which is money and time well-saved!

Read it here

6- Who Was Cynthia El Khoury?

I still cannot process the shock and disbelief when I heard. Sometime, when I reread the post, I’m surprised I could write something like that, something so unlike what I’m used to writing. I miss Cynthia deeply and losing her still hasn’t really sunk in for me, but I’m proud to have had my say about this extremely wonderful human being so that those unlucky enough to have never met her, can know what an amazing person she was.

Read it here

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7- ISF Data and Your Privacy

This is one of the personal crusades I have always followed the past 2 years, whether it be the 3rd telecom network last year, or the breach of everyone’s privacy in the wrong, corrupt hands. I’m glad the post got a conversation going, but still sad to see so many choose the delusion of security, versus their personal privacy…

Read it here

8- Viber Blocked, Viber Team Response, Unblocked Again

After breaking the news and letting you folks know how to bypass this ban on free VoIP and IM app Viber, lots of folks came in the defense of the ministry, or the providers. Others just thought it was another way to steal our money, very few thought it was an IDF espionage conspiracy. What’s important, is that the Viber Team officially replied to everyone’s questions, and Viber is now mysteriously functional again on 3G.

Read it here

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9- 15 Reasons Maryam Nour Needs to be in an Asylum

This got shared a a lot and it brought out the pseudo-spiritual, pseudo-science proponents in Lebanon, claiming that we are just ignorant and that if we read more, we’d understand some hidden secrets. Of course, this is all part of the delusions of grandeur Nour and her followers have, and as people of science, we cannot acknowledge “secrets” that are not reproducible, verifiable, or simply understandable. It’s a funny post a lot of people enjoyed, and that’s what matters for me!

Read it here

10- Schizophrenia Explained

This is a post I love because it simplifies and clarifies a misconception most people have. Read it, it’s a short read, and will stop you from calling your moody friend “schizo” from now on =P

Read it here 

Miss USA Becomes Miss Universe in Georges Hobeika Dress

2012 Miss Universe Pageant

I’m in Rhode Island for the holidays and as you may already know, the Rhode Island native who became Miss USA was crowned Miss Universe this week. Now, this is a massive deal for this tiny state and so, I have been bombarded with every little detail about her.

One particular detail was her dress. It’s an awesome dress, super elegant, revealing enough, yet still classy. What I think you’ll find nicer, is that the designer, Georges Hobeika, is Lebanese!

Honestly, I’m taken aback by how many Lebanese designers are dressing A-list celebrities everywhere. It used to be either Elie Saab, or Zuhair Mrad. Now, each has at least one dress on red carpets in Hollywood or other glamorous cities…

My fashion blogger friends must be really happy about this!

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Saying What I Didn’t Have The Guts To: Karine’s Project for Awesome Supporting Animals Lebanon

I love animals. I adore dogs in specific. The one fight I got into in my time on this Earth was because a man was beating his dog to a pulp, and the dog was just taking it. We had to restrain that monster of a human being, by force…

I have been meaning to write something about the horrible situation of animal rights in Lebanon, but could never muster up the courage or the right words. This is an extremely emotional and moving topic for me, and I am afraid I can never do it justice with my writing.

However, my dear friend Karine has summed up everything I feel in my heart into one, short, moving and inspiring video. I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it above, and I beg you, watch it, it’s short and do what Karine says.

Poll of the Week: For or Against the Death Penalty?

deathpenaltyIt is perhaps one of the many divisive issues we face in our times. After the death penalty was handed down to the Syrian national that killed Myriam Achkar, the question of death penalties resurfaces. I for one am against the death penalty, I think killing people for killing people (or lesser crimes in some countries) is wrong and ineffective. We are better than that as human beings.

Look at Norway, after the mass-murder was found guilty, he was sentenced to only 21 years of therapy in a 3-cell suite in mental health institution. You might think it’s stupid, but I completely respect the Norwegian justice system. It seeks to treat and rehabilitate mentally ill people, versus kill them or just punish them. That is a very admirable move and to me, shows extreme levels of advancement in attitudes and understanding of human behavior. On the other extreme, we have Ketermaya and the absolutely disgusting public execution and defilement of an alleged murderer’s corpse. If not savagery in Ketermaya, we still use the inhumane method of hanging in Lebanon (just one level better than Dark Ages-style Saudi public beheadings). Where do you stand, and why?

PS, I was happy to find an NGO that campaigns against the death penalty in Lebanon.

Executive Magazine’s Unfortunately Painfully Accurate and Interactive Map of Lebanon

Painful, yet necessary

Painful, yet necessary

We Lebanese tend to quickly forget horrible things that happen. I usually give 7-10 days for really big deals, an 2-3 days for less dramatic security incidents before we completely forget they happened (unless it’s for political gains of course).

The awesome guys at Executive Magazine have compiled all the horrible things that happened in 2012 into one, beautiful interactive map of Lebanon. You can choose what incidents you want to see, or what regions, by caza and the districts within them. I pulled up a few examples for you to see how (even though the map has a super-easy tutorial that should have you skimming through the hellish moments of the past year in a jiffy).

The map’s contents are painful to read, but I feel they’re a necessary reminder. Everyone should look at this, most importantly our elected officials and security personnel. It is terrifying, shameful and overwhelming honestly. Perhaps putting all the incidents onto one map like this will help illustrate how not OK our tiny nation is, and I fear before the year is out, the guys at Executive will need to update their data…

Take a look at the map here, and download all the data via Google Docs here.