6 Awesome Calligraffiti Pieces in Tripoli by Hayat Chaaban

Hayat Chaaban is a young street artist from Tripoli who I had the fortune of meeting during my latest visit to Tripoli. In a city damaged with the scars of conflict, crumbling under the weight of neglect and suffocating amid the posters of politicians that disfigure its charm, Hayat’s work lifts its spirits up just a little bit, while preserving its Arab culture and heritage.

Here are a few pieces I chose, and some captions underneath them translated from what Hayat has told me about them.


ما أضيق العيش  لولا فسحة الفن 

which roughly translates to: “How cramped is living if it were not for a space for art”


unnamed-2After her previous piece, the local sheikh of a nearby mosque asked Hayat if “she could do something about the abandoned building facing it.” The above is the result.


“تحديت الموت وانبعثت من الرماد ” مكتبة السائح  هيك قالتلي

This piece is my absolute favorite of hers so far. It roughly translates to: “I faced death, and rose up from the ashes”. It was done near the door of Father Ibrahim Sarrouj’s iconic “Al Saeh Library”, which extremist islamist torched after several unsuccessful attempts and tried to kill Sarrouj’s assistant with a silencer-equipped gun…


كن بلسماً إن صار دهرك أرقما, وحلاوة إن صار غيرك علقما
أيقظ شعورك بالمحبة إن غفا لولا الشعور الناس كانوا كالدمى

كنت عم إقرأ قصيده “إيليا أبو ماضي” كن بلسماً” وخطر ع بالي أبونا سروج، وشو صار ب مكتبة السائح. حبيت إترك ذكرة حلوه… شرحتلو فكرة الرسمة و حبها كتير

 علمنا أبونا نكون مسالمين مع يلي بيأزي، كلنا سبينا وما تركنا كلمه ع يلي حرقوا المكتبه، وأبونا كان الوحيد يلي ما قال كلمه سيئة، وأخر بيت الن, عالم بلا ضمير ,بلا شعور وبلا شي، مجرد دمى يتحكم فيها الجهل


ويل لأمة  تكثر فيها  العقائد وتخلو من الدين – جبران خليل جبران 
على حيط مدرسة  في أبوسمرا
It’s a famous Gibran Khalil Gibran quote which roughly translates to: Woe upon a nation where ideologies are many, but religion is absent
Follow Hayat on Twitter



VEA: A Better Use for Old Tires in Lebanon [Hint: NOT Burning Them]


The image above is almost an icon for Lebanon in recent history. Existential crisis? World Ward? Fight with your neighbor? Pissed Barca lost to Real? Let’s burn a tire! And even though I never really got the point or effectiveness of this act, I’ve come to terms with the fact Lebanese folks from all sects and walks of life will resort to this unhealthy, ugly and environmentally irresponsible act.

But, the guys at Vea Wear have decided to find something more useful and environmentally friendly: making designer items with old tire rubber. Jewel-encrusted clutches, duffle-bags, wallets and earrings among many other things you can find on their page. I’d think of getting myself a wallet if Najib hadn’t already bought me an awesome one already as a gift.


It’s not just tire rubber btw, I’m sure all you Jack Daniels fans will love the soap dispenser they put together, and for all you vintage film buffs, their film candle handles.

The official launch is on the 8th of November at Beirut Souks, but I won’t be able to attend. So, lemme know how it goes!

30 Photos of an Abandoned Theme Park in Lebanon


I love abandoned places. Most times, the tenants leave at a moment’s notice, so, it sort of freezes in time as nature reclaims it and it begins to crumble. This theme park hasn’t been abandoned too long, I believe 2-3 years ago. So, many of you might have memories of going there as children. It’s located near Hammanah, right off the Dahr El Baydar highway towards Mtein.

26 Ways Living in Lebanon Can Kill You: A – Arguileh


First in a series by Noura Andrea Nassar titled “26 Ways Living in Lebanon Can Kill You”

Noura is a good friend, and I am a huge fan of her work. Her witty doodles always pack a good punch. You can find some she’s done for the blog here. Over the past few weeks though, her new series titled “26 Ways Living in Lebanon Can Kill You” has been especially good. Good enough for each to warrant a blog post in my honest opinion, so, today we’re starting with the letter “A” for Arguileh.

Law 174 banning smoking in indoor public spaces in Lebanon has all but died. Every venue has magically become classified as “outdoor” for some reason, despite having the stuff that usually characterize a place as “indoor”, you know, like a roof and walls and stuff. The only aspect of the law that is actually working, is that tobacco ads and sponsorships have completely stopped (meaning the money the tobacco companies used to pump into the market is gone, but their harmful effect is still ever-present almost everywhere).

Here’s an excerpt from a post on Arguileh smoking I wrote earlier this year:

1- 1 Hour Arguileh = 100-200 Cigarettes Smoke

The volume of smoke you get into your lungs during one hour of arguileh, is equal to the volume to anywhere between a hundred or two hundred cigarettes… So, just in terms of sheer amount and volume, you’re already in deep trouble if you’re smoking arguilehs…

2- 25 Times the Tar and 10 Times the CO


3- Disease Transmission

Most arguileh smokers don’t own one themselves, and just rent it out at cafes or restaurants, or even have them delivered to their homes (a rising fad in Lebanon). This means that dozens, hundreds if not thousands of people will use the same smoking instrument. Usually, we add that little piece of plastic on the tip to be “hygienic” ( yes, I realize how this might come off as a euphemism to condom use). But, the tube itself is rarely, if ever cleaned, making respiratory diseases such as Tuberculosis fairly easily transmittable, and a friend in AUB was diagnosed with TB after a hookah session.

So, if the health hazards aren’t enough, then let your germophobe side convince you to stop.

Visit Beirut’s Newly Paint Up-ed Staircase!


It’s the 7th time the Dizhayners have organized a Paint Up project in Beirut that transforms one of the city’s iconic, deteriorating staircases into an urban art masterpiece. The events are always fun, with volunteers from all over Lebanon joining in to finish the monumental task in just 6 hours.

This time though, Chad the Mad (Chady Abousleiman), one of my favorite street artists in Beirut, collaborated with them and added his awesome signature, surreal touch to the middle-section of the stairs. Meaning, it’s even more awesome than the other staircases we all love and know around Beirut, like the one in Mar Mikhail most Lebanese people have a profile picture or two on.

But, the staircase is supposed to undergo much-needed renovations “soon” (which hopefully isn’t anytime soon given the Lebanese government’s track record), and with other staircases being threatened by the monstrosity that is the Fouad Boutros Highway, these amazing, world-renowned stairs are a very endangered species.

So, make the most of them while we still have them, and participate in the next Paint Up event to help preserve these rare pedestrian lifelines in a city choked with useless, absurdly-priced cement skyscrapers with sidewalks that are not wheelchair-accessible and often serve as a parking spot instead of a safe pedestrian path.

The Azariyeh stairs are located here, and below is a screenshot of their location (the space-age looking thing on the right is ABC Ashrafieh for reference)

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 3.30.42 PM

Artist Saint Hoax is Lebanese! (CORRECTION: SYRIAN)

After more intel gathered, I apologize for the mistake. Saint Hoax is actually a Syrian, living in Lebanon. Sorry for the mix-up, but I’m sure we’re all as excited and proud!

A series of shocking posters went viral online over the past couple of weeks. They featured Disney princesses like Ariel, Jasmine and Cinderella either beaten up Rihanna-style, or locked in a forceful embrace and kiss with their dads.

The point was to shift attention to the shocking numbers around sexual abuse, incest and rape around the world. 46% of minors who are raped are attacked by family members.

The posters are very powerful, in that they take the warped, often misogynistic portrayal of princesses in Disney movies, and makes it super-blunt instead of the subliminal messages that people usually attribute to these animated fairy tales.

I’ve confirmed that Saint Hoax is definitely Lebanese, but I won’t disclose any further information to respect the artist’s choice to remain anonymous. So, Saint Hoax, we are proud of you!

Check out the Saint Hoax Facebook page for a lot more epic pop-culture edits

Green Glass Recycling Initiative for Lebanon: Awesome, Affordable and Necessary

Every year, Lebanon goes through 71 million glass bottles of wine, beer and other beverages. Before the 2006 war, those bottles used to be gathered up and recycled in Lebanon’s only green glass factory. It was a tiny, yet important initiative in an otherwise environmentally oblivious Lebanon.

But, in 2006, IDF jets bombed the factory, and it was never rebuilt. That means 568 million glass bottles litter our landfills. These bottles take forever to degrade, and they’re a major fire hazard (as you all know sunlight + glass = bad, bad news for what’s left of our green areas in Lebanon).

However, the guys and gals behind Green Glass Recycling Initiative for Lebanon (GGRIL) have come up with a brilliant solution, and it looks very pretty too.

The ancient art of glass blowing was mastered by the Phoenicians, but today, the ancient craft is almost extinct, and one of the only places it still happens in Lebanon is in the town of Sarafand. GGRIL teamed up with the artisans there, and made sure they supply the artisans with the raw material they need: the glass bottles. In turn, the artisans transform them into wonderful products, from furniture to vases, bottles and glasses.

During the Beirut Design Week, Dina and I went to Plan BEY, and checked out the awesome products, and we ended up buying four glasses and a gorgeous bottle, for just 20USD. The glasses are gorgeous. They’re green and have the bubbles and imperfections that make it obvious they were hand-made, glass-blown individually. They were made by Lebanese artisans, using products that would have otherwise just helped fill our landfills. They’re also aesthetically unique, with every vase and glass and bottle different, since it’s not just one mold you pour stuff into.

Anyway, I really loved the GGRIL idea, and I think it’s going to be a regular gift choice for me from now on. Best part is, even the cool packaging is made from recycled paper in Lebanon. It creates jobs, affordable quality products, and helps recycle the gargantuan amount of waste Lebanon produces. Win, win, win.

Check out some photos, and don’t forget to check out their Facebook page here.

“CAUSE I’M HABLI”: Introducing Shady Hanna’s Comedy Loft

For the old-school Lebanese comedy fans here, you probably know Shady Hanna. He’s the guy that was behind SLCHI and SLFILM, which remains one of the best comedy productions in Lebanon, and whose stars are now all super successful Lebanese comedians, like Adel Karam, Fadi Raidy, Naim Halawi, Tony Abou Jaoudeh and many others.

Shady has decided that it’s time to open up the Comedy Loft, which will offer workshops and classes for people who want to up their game in comedy. It’s geared towards non-actors as well, and has an intensive program that promises to yield a 20-minute comedy skit by the non-actor after the workshop.

I won’t lie, doing stand up has been something I’ve always really wanted to do, but could never really figure out how to put things in a funny way. So, I’d consider going and checking out how it’d be. I miss the days when the Comedy Club was still open and you could see upcoming talents on a weekly basis in sketches and stand up that’d make the big guys almost look lame. So, I feel the Comedy Loft is going to help create a new generation of comedians that’ll revitalize that awesome scene in Lebanon, where material for funny skits is never in shortage.

Check out there Facebook page here.


Bonofa Unwittingly Help The Case Against Them + Updates

You might have seen the letter Bonofa published yesterday. I found it brilliant, because it actually proved everything I revealed was true.

  • Bonofa finally admitted the indictment and charges against them are true, after over a week of denial. In the letter, they named the judges and case numbers I gave you, which many people have verified themselves.
  • The charges have been split into two, one with Judge Ali Ibrahim, which handles tax evasion, illegal money transactions abroad and improper paperwork filed. The second, is the “i7tiyel wa istila2″ on Lebanese people’s money, and that part of the charges is being handled by judge Elie Helou
  • The case is far from closed, and the indictment is impossible to “make disappear” anymore like previous investigations. Investigations will take many months to conclude, and till then, yes, Bonofa can still operate their ponzi scheme
  • There is no way the issue can be resolved in a corrupt way. Indictments (which included arrests and summons) are not a thing you can buy or talk your way out of.
  • The only thing Bonofa can do, is delay the court’s proceedings, mainly because many of the victims are too afraid to come out and file their own lawsuits.
  • If you are a victim of Bonofa, file your own lawsuits to judge Elie Helou, this will make sure that the perpetual camping of the Bonofa lawyer in front of of the judge’s office every day from 8AM till 2PM won’t become an earworm that distracts the judges from the reality on the ground. Don’t be afraid of them, have some faith in the judiciary system that has so far exhibited extreme levels of unbiased professionalism and transparency.
  • Third party news websites and victims have been able to verify everything I have shared with you, and you can do so yourself.
  • The main reason behind this post and the ones before it, isn’t a “programmed attack by a gang” to take Bonofa down. It’s just one person armed with the truth, and with no direct personal interest in the case. I don’t have money in Bonofa, and I don’t stand to gain anything from their legal indictment except justice being served to ponzi schemers that employed mafia-style methods to shut people up. Something I can never stay silent on.

A Few Words to Sum Up

I’m bored of this case. Bored of the lies. Bored of the desperation and threats. I have given you all the information you need to verify everything I said is true, and many of you already have. Remember, Bonofa is a company that thrives on misinformation and deceit, as well as extortion and blackmail. In my five years here, I’m sure you know now I am as transparent as it gets, and always honest with my readers. So, stop falling for their threats, and listen to my substantiated, logical, and most importantly true data.

Now, get on with your lives like I have, and if you want your money back, file your own lawsuits and help the court stay on this perfect track. I have a lot of faith in the justice system this time, and I trust judges Ali Ibrahim and Elie Helou will do the right thing. We’re just here to make sure you know as well, and guarantee the case stays transparent and unbiased, even under the immense pressure by the Bonofa folks.

Peace and love <3


10003487_423768947759118_1083250742_nI like theater. I love watching a good play. If I could afford to, I’d watch more Broadway shows when I’m in New York. Luckily though, theater options in Beirut aren’t that expensive and they’re a lot more accessible in terms of cultural and societal connections to our daily lives.

I watched PSY CARLOS’ TRIP last week, and it was a blast. To be honest though, I was mainly excited to see Tino Karam in action for more than the iconic 30-second ads he succeeded in cementing in Lebanese pop culture and dialect. Don’t tell me you haven’t used “3adee, mashewe” a couple of times in the past few months…

But, I was extremely pleased with the rest of the cast, Marcel, Lara and Kim.

I loved seeing Lara Rain on stage. If you’ve seen Ghadi the movie, she was the mother of Ghadi. A soft-spoken, gentle character which doesn’t say much but probably invoked the most emotion during my absolute favorite Lebanese movie in recent years. So, it was a breath of fresh air to see Lara on stage, playing the much livelier and dynamic Madame Carlos. There’s something about seeing an actor or actress live that makes it all the more enjoyable, and Lara was hilarious and proved her acting skills span far wider than just the docile mother of a special needs kid.

Kim was epic. She played the doe-eyed, princess-dress wearing, Chantale Goya wannabe Lebanese Frenchie. She pulled it off so well, that sometimes, you’re not sure if you want to pinch her cheeks or punch her in the face. Every second her character was on stage was a great one, and she does an awesome job breaking the ice at the beginning of the performance when no one’s sure what’s gonna happen yet.

Tino’s character was awesome, and it had the usual Tino brand of comedy infused with a heavy Lebanese rural accent for this play. The real joy in his performance was the dichotomy he pulled off with his character, which shifts radically from the start of the play towards the end. Captain Carlos and Madame Carlos pushed the boundaries too in what’s acceptable in comedy performances in Lebanon, another gem you can only find on the stage, and not on the screen here in Beirut.

Marcel’s Dr Raad was the character you love to hate. He’s the full package of all the stuff you hate about posers in Lebanon. What’s nice is that the dishonest, greedy, arrogant psychiatrist gets what he deserves in the play, and suffers hilariously throughout. He orchestrated the flow of the play, and at times when it was hard to keep up with the mentally unstable Carloses, he’d sort of get you back on track with the story line.

Jamal was hilarious too. She’s the typical “tante” who’s always unhappy and a textbook hypochondriac. Her performance was hilarious and I’m sure she reminds you of a couple of ladies you’d rather not know. She also wraps up the storyline in an epic twist that added a lot of awesomeness to the play.

It’s been extended for the whole month of May, and tickets start at 20$. So, if you’re in the mood for some lighthearted laughs and seeing familiar faces in an unfamiliar performance, then check it out!