Partial Solar Eclipse TODAY At 10:45AM-12:45PM

625135main_120221-eclipse_946-710So, we get a handful of solar eclipses a year, and this time, many countries in the region will witness a partial solar eclipse in the morning.

Eclipses are fascinating phenomena which have captivated humanity’s imagination for thousands of years. Luckily, today we know it’s not cause gods are sending us a message or whatever our ancestors used to believe. It’s just our beloved moon coming in the way of the sun’s rays. Unfortunately, we won’t witness a full eclipse today, but, it’ll be pretty dark. Also, it looks like we might have a cloudy day tomorrow, so let’s hope it clears up a little between 10:45AM and 12:45PM!

Of course, it goes without saying that don’t try to look at it without proper protection for your eyes. The quickest way to see it nicely is to get a box, cut a square on the side facing the sun, and cover it with aluminium foil and puncture the foil. You should be able to see the shadow projecting on the opposite inner side of your box.

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The #Ma3Leila Finale Is Now A Reality [VIDEO]

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The #Ma3Leila creative collaboration project has been something I’m following closely on the blog for some 2 months now, and I’m happy to announce that the video is now officially out!

Absolut invited fans of Mashrou’ Leila to help the band write their new song, and give input on the storyboard of its video clip. Below is the awesome result

Ahmed Sabbour, Mariam Walaa, Hajar Zegrani, Ali Houjeiry, Khouloud Ouais, Youssef el Beshlway and Magdy Samy are the folks who Mashrou’ Leila selected to complete their lyrics and the twist in the video. This marks the first time this kind of creative collaboration happens in the Middle East, and if I don’t mind saying so myself, it’s pretty awesome.

Looking forward to see it performed live!

Mom Not Mop Campaign Launched Ahead of Mother’s Day

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While we were all outraged at the extremely racist text from the “maid company” that the Labor Ministry has since shut down after this incredibly offensive, slavery-market style ad, we forgot another major segment of society that is being bombarded with archaic stereotypes about gender: our moms.

Almost every single ad for mother’s day is about cooking or cleaning, and it is kinda offensive. Perhaps not as offensive as the Khoury Home ads about women crying or whatever they thought was funny to use for their previous ad campaigns. It’s like we’re in the 1950s, were ads portrayed women drooling over a vacuum cleaner or other back-then “new” appliance. Just take a look at some of the ads while you drive around and you’ll understand. I’m sure moms aren’t exceptionally flattered when they see all the ads for their day are vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens.

A group of university students has had enough, and started the #MOMnotMOP campaign to raise awareness about this unfair stereotype. Why do brands believe you HAVE to buy something to make your mom cook or clean on what’s supposed to be her special day? Get her something fun! Walaw, it’s your moms.

Check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Being Censored or Bullied by the Government? Call MARCH’s Hotline!

10898053_806931809344214_5518369797685785850_nIt is with great pleasure that I announce to you MARCH Lebanon‘s new hotline! This project has been in the works for months, and everything is finally ready.

The idea behind the hotline is to provide support, advice and legal representation for anyone who is being harassed by the government’s security forces, like the General Security censorship bureau and the Cybercrimes division that has been violating every know Lebanese and human right law with their constant bullying and intimidation of journalists, bloggers and users of social media.

Freedom of expression is something sacred to us, and no one has the right to infringe upon that right. And in the absence of a responsible government that respects taxpayers, we believe it is up to civil society and an amazing team of lawyers to make sure no one suffers under the brutal hand of the ISF and GS that is often manipulated by corrupt judiciary and religious organizations.

Over are the days where citizens are lied to and told “to come drink coffee” and then threatened with jail unless they’re forced to sign an illegal pledge in the absence of their lawyers. So, please, if you ever get targeted by this corrupt, under-qualified team that wastes your tax liras on intimidating people speaking their mind instead of actually doing something good, call 70 235 463, and we’ll help you from there. Or if you notice someone being harassed or a new website illegally banned, please report it to us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And soon, a booklet will be available all over Lebanon that highlights your rights, how the law enforcement breaks the law by intimidating you, and what you can do as a Lebanese taxpayer or resident in Lebanon to stop this unacceptable crackdown on Internet freedom in Lebanon.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this a reality. After being summoned and harassed, and this blog banned several of times illegally already, I dreamed of having a hotline like this, and now it is a reality for everyone.

ما تخاف من الحرية، خاف عليها

Call 70 235 463!

Where to Party This Weekend

So, after a few weeks of clubbing and partying in Europe, I miss Beirut! And what an epic weekend we have ahead, with massive names like Ame LIVE in Beirut!

Retroclash Present Ame (LIVE)

11024652_344362829105005_8606741543866905078_nAme need no introduction. For me, their live performances are something I’ll never get tired of, and my YouTube playlists and SoundCloud likes are littered with their live sets. What I love about Ame is that the music is deep and dark, just how we like it, but also very soulful. I was incredibly happy that my first weekend in Beirut for a while, is headlining Ame <3 with local loves Technophile, Ralph & Hicham and Ramzi & Rami.

Entrance at Art Lounge is gonna be 20 bucks with 1 drink till midnight, then 30 bucks with a drink after that.

And here’s an awesome Ame remix that made our summer, and a recent set B2B another favorite, Solomun, at BPM festival in Mexico earlier this year!

And after that, we’re probably going to Off and On for the after!

Paris Mixe Beyrouth w/ Noze at TGF

11029505_615070868594471_3687538507788617808_nIt’s quite the LIVE performance weekend. On Saturday, The Grand Factory will be hosting Noze for a 90-minute live performance! Entrance is 20 bucks with 2 drinks (before 10.30PM), 1 drink after 10:30PM. 30 bucks with 2 drinks before midnight, and 30 bucks with 1 drink after midnight.

RSVP here

Then after that, it’s the gorgeous b018 bunker till the morning with 3LIAS!

Write A Mashrou’ Leila Song with Absolut Starting Today

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So, Absolut is collaborating with Masrhou’ Leila on a project dubbed #Ma3Leila. The idea is to invite fans to co-write the lyrics of an upcoming song and to pitch with the storyboard of the song’s video clip.

Mashrou’ Leila is of course a massively popular Lebanese band, who has risen to mega-stardom in the Arab-speaking world and sell out shows across the region and Europe. Their lyrics speaks a lot to the region’s younger generation, and I myself deeply identify with one of their songs from the “Ra’asuk” album, “Lil Watan”. Their use of mainly colloquial Lebanese dialect and the violin have made their music standout from similar Arab pop bands, as well as their eccentric and outspoken frontman, Hamed Sinno. And no one can deny Mashrou’ Leila has achieved levels of success few others in the region have, and are a source of pride, and sometimes controversy, in Lebanon. I like the pair-up with Absolut too, I feel like for once, the brand and the stars they collaborate with make sense.

Anyway, I think it’s pretty cool people get to help write an upcoming Masrhou’ Leila song. As of today, Absolut and Mashrou’ Leila started posting on their Facebook pages part of the lyrics with blanks in them. All you have to do is to fill in these blanks in the comments section with the hashtag #Ma3Leila.

Here’s the first one, and make sure you post it on the Absolut or Mashrou’ Leila Facebook pages, not here!

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Cedar Rehab: A Perfect Example of How to Combat Substance Abuse in Lebanon

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Drugs are a nightmare issue in Lebanon. You might think it’s because of the detrimental effects substance abuse is having on Lebanese people, but, it’s actually not. The main reason it’s a nightmare is how the police and judiciary are handling it: in a barbaric, human rights violating, corrupt and completely incompetent way.

I’ve covered this topic for several years. The abuse, the broken system, the lives ended or ruined. It’s been a source of unhappiness, hopelessness and anxiety for me and many other Lebanese people. The absence of any proper oversight, and the massive amount of money that changes hands in bribes to “make things go away”, make the police and judiciary focus on entrapping college kids as much if not more than they do terrorists and actual criminals.

Even when laws are passed to protect the lives of drug users and help them get over their addictions, the police and judiciary purposely refuse to apply the law, and have the nerve and rudeness to say “we’re just applying the law, don’t blame us”. Please. What about the millions of other laws you don’t enforce? Not enough $$$ in that, huh?

Anyway, enough about that. This post is about Cedar Rehab, which I visited recently and had lunch with the addicts getting treated there, addicts who had graduated the program, as well as the people behind the ambitious project.

Lebanon lacks a rehab center that goes beyond the very basic detox mandate. When most rehab centers are either charities or government-run, the level of corruption and sticking to proper standards might become lax. Rehab centers with a more comprehensive approach are much-needed, and Cedar Rehab is just that.

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It’s nestled on a mountain-top near Dahr El Baydar, with gorgeous panoramic views of Lebanon’s coast, mountains and valleys. It’s a very quiet area with plenty of greenery all around. Addicts seeking help to overcome their dependence spend 3 months there, and after they complete the in-patient program, they gradually ease back in to society as out-patients at the center.

The point of such an intensive 3-month program instead of a longer one, is to make sure the addicts, mostly young people, don’t miss out on too much of their lives while getting help, and to ensure they resume being productive members of society ASAP, with all the support they need still available even after they no longer reside at Cedar Rehab.

Apart from the clinical and medical treatment, programs such as art therapy, yoga, sports and many other hobbies and skills are part of life at Cedar Rehab. The center even has its own fields, where recovering addicts plant and tend to the vegetables and fruits they eat. Even the construction work on some of the amenities are done by the recovering addicts themselves, helping them keep busy and learn new skills. (Kinda reminded me of my scout days)

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All in all, I was extremely happy to see such a place in Lebanon. It all started after years of struggling to find a proper rehab center in Lebanon, Jordan and other neighboring countries. None of the options worked, so the family and friends decided to start their own after learning everything wrong with our rehab centers, and fixing those problems in their own project.

So, the only way to curb drug abuse is to start treating it as a health issue, not a criminal one (like Portugal has done). Unlawfully arresting, beating, torturing and locking up users in prisons such as Roumieh where we all saw the impressive list of drugs easily available, is not only stupid, it’s evil. I hope the drug users who graduate from Cedar Rehab will help the Lebanese people and the government realize the error of their ways, and focus on helping people with addiction, instead of punishing them for no viable reason.

Check out their Facebook page and website here, and if you know someone who needs help, know there’s now an option to get them some in Lebanon instead of being forced to go far away. We need places like this to be successful, and transform this major health, human and civil rights crisis into a success story for the rest of the region.

THE Ranks LAU 2nd, AUB 5th in Regional Rankings

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Times Higher Education has released the top 5 rankings ahead of their conference later this month, and it lists the top 5 as follows, according to how many citations publications from each university got, and how many it is projected to get this year.

  1. Texas A&M – Qatar
  2. LAU – Lebanon
  3. King Abdulaziz University – KSA
  4. Qatar University – Qatar
  5. AUB – Lebanon

Now, many might be surprised that AUB didn’t beat LAU, as is the traditional thinking in Lebanon, but, a university is more than how difficult it is to get in or how tough the exams are, it’s also about the research it puts out. It’s like the age-old question: are we studying just to pass the test, or actually learn or create or discover something?

We’ll wait to see what the full report is like at the end of this month, but till then, here’s some food for thought, and cause for celebration for LAU students tired of being the butt of jokes like Nemr’s “What’s the common thing between AUB and LAU students? They both applied to AUB”

Still love you AUB =P <3

Where to Party This Techno Weekend

 

Friday: LUCIANO at O1NE
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First time I saw Luciano was when he came to the Train Station in Mar Mikhael before it was a venue. It was an epic, epic night, and Luciano was an epic, epic man. His set was out of this world, and he overstayed on the booth, pushing the event way after the sunrise in that iconic location. So, I can’t wait to see him again tonight! The Chilean techno master’s sound + the trippy visuals at O1NE should make for a pretty cool night, and I’m glad O1NE is focusing on these talents, and hope their usual crowd quickly gets accustomed to good music!

RSVP here, and see y’all there!

Oh and best part? Anyone who uses the Uber code: “LucianoAtO1ne” will get 20USD free to go down to O1ne, and not drink and drive! (Existing and new users!) So, please, don’t drink and drive <3

Saturday: Julian Jeweil LIVE at Rubik

10676208_324434197761229_9075444358739882932_nI saw Julian the first time in some forest somewhere in Lebanon as part of a 3-day rave. He played a live set there as well, and I was in awe most of the rainy night besides the river banks at the bottom of a lush valley… This time, he’s gonna be in Rubik, and it sorta makes getting my visa refused and staying a few extra days in Beirut worth it! Such a beautiful Techno weekend!

RSVP here, and see you between the cubes!

 

Where to Party This Weekend

So, the holidays fatigue is finally over, and we’re back on schedule when it comes to big names and big parties in and around Beirut!

ODYSSEY Presents: Kate Simko (LIVE) at Concrete 1994

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Few folks combine so many things I love in one person. Kate Simko is from Chicago, where House music took its first steps, and influenced by the neighboring birthplace of Techno, Detroit’s scene. But, she’s a classical music composer originally, so, you can imagine the fireworks on stage when she’s gonna play LIVE tomorrow tonight at Concrete 1994 along with Ronin, Phil and CAB.

Best part is? It’s free before 11:00PM!

RSVP here

Saturday: JAMIES JONES at O1NE Beirut

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I’ve never been to O1NE, but this is gonna change this Saturday. Jamie Jones is in town! Resident Advisor’s number 1 artist of 2012 is coming to Beirut for some intensive Deep House therapy. I embedded a couple of tracks of his below, so I don’t really need to explain to you why it’s such a big deal and the highlight of this weekend’s events in Beirut.

RSVP here!

See y’all on the dancefloor!