Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear Lebanon

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As everybody, I am extremely busy this week, so the next post won't come before the 31st of December 2004.
I am not going to write anything today... I just want to thank you for reading my blog and encouraging me.
This testing period was very important and useful for the future of aka "The Lebanese Code".
More things to come in 2005, so check back on the last day of this year for more info.

Best Wishes

Z Lebanese

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Hello, My PC has blown

Working in IT, I have to support the whole network infrastructure. Believe me when I say that most of the time, it is due to stupid mistakes that these machines stop working. Here is a sample of today's call:

Employee: hello
Ziad (me, the tech support): hi
Employee: My PC has blown
Ziad: what?
Employee: My PC has blown today
Ziad: what do you mean by blown ?
Employee: It is not working anymore, you have to fix it
Ziad: Can you turn it on ?
Employee: yes, you have to log in yourself remotely and fix it.
Ziad: So what has blown ?
Employee: The program
Ziad: You mean the program stopped working?
Employee: Yes
Ziad: The stock program ?
Employee: yes
Ziad: nothing has blown ?
Employee: no
Ziad: when was the last time you used it ?
Employee: today in the morning
Ziad: did you do anything to the PC ?
Employee: I was cleaning around it and it suddenly restarted.
Ziad: So the system went off...
Employee: yes
Ziad: ?!@#?!@^&?#$#$!!!... pffffffff...I will re-send the corrupted database by phone. Thank you for wasting my time... and YOURS.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

All it takes is patience!

As usual, whenever it starts raining, drivers in Lebanon get freaky. Instead of getting home in 10 minutes, it took me about an hour yesterday.
As soon as I got out of my company's parking in the Industrial City of Bauchrieh, I noticed that the main road was going to take more time than the usual.
I decided to take a shortcut, going in the opposite direction towards Dekwaneh where the road to Jdeideh is usually less crowded. Unfortunately, an accident took place on one of the crossroads. Result: more traffic jam. Had the driver let the other one pass, it would all had gone smoothly.

But everybody is in such a hurry that we all end up stuck on crossroads. As if this wasn't enough, some smart drivers decide to use the opposite traffic lane thinking they can just bypass the long line of cars. They end up blocking circulation on both ways and adding to our agony.
The chain reaction goes like this: Rain, flooded roads, nervous drivers, accidents, traffic jams.

We have the privilege to be part of this event whenever it rains...
Dear Lebanon, I have an advice for you: BE PATIENT!
Keep crossroads open whenever you can.
We are all in a hurry, so don't think that you have the right to bypass the long line of cars because you believe you are the only smart ass who can do it.
The other drivers are not your enemies, we are your brothers in misery.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Do you know the Law ?

Good morning Lebanon!!!

Well, following the article I previously published concerning my problems with the "Bank", they called me to say they were closing my account and threatened to sue me if I don't remove the article. Not knowing my legal rights, I thought it was wiser to remove it for the time being. The thing is, I don't know the law, whether they are allowed to sue me for telling facts, or whether they can win such a case.
Whether they are also allowed to close my account is not a problem for me since I would have closed it myself anyway.
Nevertheless, if you happen to be a lawyer, I would love to hear your opinion.

I don't consider myself a troublemaker, I just hate to see people taking advantage of us. When somebody advertises something, they should be legally liable toward fulfilling what they promote in their advertisements.

To summarize, I think that most of us Lebanese don't know our legal rights.
One's rights aren't things that other entities are allowed to violate.
There is a lot to be done in order to protect consumer rights in Lebanon.
Maybe we can create a young and dynamic consumer rights organization?
I'll be waiting for your comments...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Lebanon's Phoenician Theme Park

The poll is over, you voted for Fadi Raidi to be our next president. You have got to give this guy some credit... He actually played the role of a government official as known as "7adret el Mas2oul". I always remember when he said, concerning holes in the roads, that millions are invested in parks like "Disneyland" to create attractive and thrilling rides, while in Lebanon we have them all for free.

Speaking of which, Lebanon has now a new Phoenician theme park called "HabtoorLand". It is located in the Jamhour area, and it is having a soft opening in few days. I personally went there during the construction period, and I found it very interesting. Not to compare with big internationally known parks, but quite impressive for Lebanon. They have a nice website by the way where you can learn about the rides and get more information.

I will be back on Monday.
Until then, have a nice weekend Lebanon!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Looking for a DVD player? Think again...

Gone are the days when we needed VHS players to watch movies.
After a shy introduction of LaserDisc, which diameter was around 30cm, early versions of DVD appeared... It took around 9 years, in 1999, when the DVD became the standard we now use.

As all electronic products, DVD players were very expensive in their introduction stage, and now, at the end of their lifecycle, their price dropped to around 100$ on average.

So what should you ask for when buying a new DVD player?
Here is a list of recommendations by order of priority:
1- It should play DVDs from all zones as known as multi-zone players
2- It should support all DVD types: that is DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW
3- It should support all CD types: that is CD, CD-RW
4- It should support the MP3 format so you can listen to this standard music format.
5- It should support the Jpeg picture format so you can see your photos on the TV.
6- It should support the Video-CD standard so it can play compressed movies.
7- It should have a DVD component output for higher quality videos (your TV should have the DVD component input to support it).
8- It should have a 5.1 surround audio output in order to benefit from movie like 3D effects.

How much to pay for such a player?
Well, not much. Don't go investing in some high end DVD player because it is at the end of its lifecycle.
New DVD formats appeared this year and will be available by the end of 2005. They are Blue-Ray discs and HD-DVD. These new DVD formats can store about 10 times more data, which means significantly better quality videos.
If you think you want a buy a DVD player to last more than 5 years, you will be wasting your money because you won't be using it more than 3 years from now.
Just buy a cheap DVD player for 100$ or less and save your money to invest in new ones in mid 2006.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Lebanese Diaspora

Dear Lebanon

After starting my blog, I started to receive comments from Lebanese people living abroad. Some of them spent most of their lives in foreign countries; others went there only few years ago. I also noticed that most of my university colleagues are now working abroad. While some people find it sad, I believe this is Lebanon's fate. A small country with a lot of brave people.

I don't want to discuss this topic in details now, I just want to inform you about a great website created by Lebanese people. It is called the Lebanese White Pages and its web address is

It is a non-profit website whose only goal is to help Lebanese people in Lebanon and all over the world locate their friends.
Registration is free and they will never sell your details to advertisers. So go ahead and register now... Although the registration process is slow, I believe this site is an opportunity for helping the Lebanese immigrants locate their roots in our beloved country, and for us to locate old friends.

Also note that on Sunday night, around 19:30pm GMT or 21:30pm Beirut Time, CNN's Design 360 will be focusing on Beirut's architecture. In their preview, it appears they will feature the Beirut Central District also known as Centre-Ville and Downtown.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Fighting "zee" (the) French

"France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, moved decisively to ban Al Manar television on Monday, ruling that the Beirut-based channel had repeatedly violated the country's hate laws and ignored its own pledge to avoid making anti-Semitic statements." (International Herald Tribune, France)

However, last week...
"Lebanese media officials on Friday warned France not to suspend broadcasts of Hizbullah's Al-Manar television network, saying authorities may be forced to reciprocate against French stations that enjoy unique privileges in Lebanon." (, Lebanon)

Let me see... If they ban French media, our TELE LIBAN will have to find a new way to replace it's programs since 50% of them consist of re-broadcasting from French stations... The other half is reruns...(more on that in coming articles).

What scares me the most is that by implementing this stupid idea, they will be able to see a real demonstration. Most of the Lebanese youth is fed up with politics, but to deny them to watch interesting programs or famous ones like the French STAR ACADEMY is just about it!!!

This kind of laws wouldn't make any sense, but when did sense have anything to do with our laws???

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Lebanese President

Dear Lebanon, I believe it is time for us to choose our own president. That is why I decided to nominate 5 candidates chosen based on their popularity. In order to vote, you will have to choose your candidate and click on "Vote Now!" in the lower right of the site. It will stay there till next week...

So who are the 5 candidates ?

1- Mario Bassil: famous for his plays with "Marc Kodeih", the tall guy is the best when it comes to saying "YO MAN!!!"

2- Claude Khalil: famous for his appearances on the "Basmet Watan" show, he played police officer "Sayyed Tamem" who says "Ya Mama" and "Stop Stop Stop" and the character of "Mwaffak" who says "Ya wayliii"...

3- Fadi Raidi: famous for his appearances in "S.L.CHI", he played "Youssef 2lay2il" who says "rimone dewikh el 3elam", Fadia el Cherre2a and Jean-Luc...

4- Naim Haleweh: famous for his appearances in "S.L.CHI", he played "Amin 3a Min" who sang "oum bous therese", and played also the "eh eh eh la2" guy.

5- Georges Khebbaz: famous for his appearances in "ta3li2 si Assi", he played "ani Kessim" and "ach biddak Ba3mel"

Lebanon, it is up to you now to choose your next president... Make us proud!!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Military Service

Every now and then, we got used to hear rumors about abolishing the military service in Lebanon. I recall people telling me not to do it back in 2001 because it was a matter of months before they stop it.
Actually, it was the last thing on my mind... Until I faced the truth. Nobody would hire me unless I finished my military obligations.
So I went there, did the training in "Worwar" and served in the ministry of defense as an adjutant. The worse thing for me was sleeping every ten days, but I managed to survive... (by sneaking out most of the times).
Overall, it was fun... Some "wasta" would help when it comes to being dispatched after training.
The only problem I had was that my life was put on hold for one whole year. I studied for a Microsoft certification and took some Spanish courses so I wouldn't feel useless during this period.

The thing is, since the new government took control of the country, the rumor is getting closer to reality. Looks like it is going to be 6 months instead of 12 from now on. How will they do it? Still a mystery. I was actually wondering, what will happen and how they will implement it?
Let's say a guy has already served 7 of the 12 months, and the law comes into vigor. Will he be sent home? Will he continue to serve the full 12? Still unclear.

I am not a selfish person, but I have the right to ask the following: Will the guys from my generation who where called for duty with me and who kept on postponing it be freed from this burden?
Shouldn't it be like all those whose generation hasn't been called yet be the ones who benefit, while the others serve the same as I did?
Guess it's a lost cause anyway.

To sum it up, here are some thoughts!
To all those girls who appear on TV and say that this duty is necessary, just SHUT UP!!!
To all those "only child" males who say this duty is necessary and they wish they could do it, SHUT UP!!!
And to all those advocates of the necessity for meeting people of different religions, Earth is calling you so WAKE UP!!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Price Fixing in Lebanon

A week ago, four executives working for Infineon, one of the largest computer memory makers, were sentenced to jail for terms ranging between 4 and 6 months. They were accused of price fixing, an illegal practice in which competing companies agree, formally or informally, to restrict prices within a specified range. This means that something which price would have been brought down due to competition was sold at a high price since competing companies secretly agreed to fix a high price, avoiding a price war.

How does this concern you dear Lebanon? Let me put it this way. We have no rules for price fixing or at least they are not being applied.
Ever wondered why Pepsi and Coca-Cola are sold for the same price? Why they run simultaneous campaigns when lowering their prices?
What about the ISPs (Internet Service Provider)? In summer 2001, the price of monthly unlimited accounts reached the 13 $ low, when suddenly, all of the large ISPs, Cyberia, Inconet, Data Management and the rest raised their prices to 20$. It really makes you wonder... While they make higher profits by adopting this strategy, we as consumers are the ones who have to pay the price.

We are definitely lagging behind when it comes to rules and regulations in our ever-weakening economy. We are already having trouble with the current laws not being applied.
Unfortunately, I see no immediate solution. Maybe we ought to create consumer rights organizations... Ones which can make a difference, not just boycott the mobile sector without affecting the government.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Technical Support

Dear Lebanon,

I had a problem with the "alfa" GSM services provider (previously known as "Cellis") yesterday.
Unfortunately, My problem could not be solved directly. It all started last Thursday and they still can't figure out the problem. I'm not angry because of the time it is taking since I learned to be patient when dealing with Lebanese people even if they work for foreign companies.
The real issue is the number of people I have to explain my problem to before I can reach the specialized person who will eventually call me back... And they rarely do... So I have to call back again and go through the same shit.

As if this wasn't enough to add more stress on a usually cool person like me, each time they put me on hold, I have to listen to their stupid music which keeps on repeating itself every 10 seconds. I dare you to listen to this music for more than one minute. It will drive you nuts... I ended up calling the "alfa" salesperson and telling her to have technical support call me without putting me on hold anymore. She could tell by the tone of my voice that I was very pissed off.

Maybe it is their strategy to reduce the numbers of technical support seekers during peak hours... Or maybe someone really stupid actually loves this music.
The US army uses music from "Metallica" to tease prisoners in order to retrieve the information they want... They probably haven't heard the more effective "alfa" jingle yet...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Parking in Beirut

Good morning Lebanon!!!

It was Saturday night, and I decided to meet my friend in downtown Beirut for a beer.
Around 11:00pm, I got there and headed straight to the secondary parking knowing that the first one would already be full. However, they guy in charge told me there was no place... So I went back to the first parking hoping to get lucky... A big road block was put on the entrance signaling the lack of spaces.
After doing a couple of turns, I went back to the secondary parking, and made a deal with the guardian. I paid him the 1750L.L. fee and told him I was going to wait inside the parking for someone to leave. Next thing I know, I was head to head with a "valet parking" guy waiting for a car to leave. I was there first, and there was no way I was going to give it up for him. Luckily, the guardian saw us before I could unleash my anger and told him to leave it for me. It took me around 15 minutes to reach Beirut from my house, and around 25 minutes to actually park my car.
Giving the car to a "valet parking" is something I will never do... You won't either if you ever see how they drive....
In less than one year, when a couple of new restaurants or pubs will open, I bet that parking in downtown Beirut will become a major headache.

Even worse, I went last night to the Abraj center to watch a movie. A year ago, free parking spaces were created under the nearby bridge. But to my surprise, it was closed yesterday. Looks like the center's owners managed to convince the municipality to close it so visitors will pay to use their own parking.
What about Bliss street? Try to find a parking in the AUB area around 10:00am. It is just impossible...

I also heard there was a plan to install parking meters on roadsides all-over the Greater Beirut area.

Well Lebanon, looks like we're going to start walking again. I already have a monthly budget for paying my car parking fees, but looks like the shortage in supply and boom in demand is going to cost us extra dollars in the near future.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Lebanese TOP 5

Friday at last... The weekend is here and it looks like it's going to be sunny with few clouds on Sunday.

First of all, I would like to thank my friends Tony, Anthony and Roy for helping me improve the website. I also want to thank all those who commented on the stories, and those who sent emails to encourage me...

Now that I have a good number of readers, I want to introduce a new section.
I want to create the "The Lebanese TOP 5".
For example, I will put the names of 4 people I believe the Lebanese people hate the most.
You as visitors of the site will have to choose among the 4 choices or select the 5th choice for "other" and name it.
At the end of the week, I will reveal the results and start another poll.
The topics will be diversified, and hopefully it will reflect the opinion of most Lebanese.
I expect to start this section by the end of next week.

Please email your ideas for "The Lebanese TOP 5" to

Until then, Have a nice weekend and see you again on Monday!!!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

HIV, AIDS and Lebanon (part 2)

Location: Forum De Beyrouth
Date: December 1st, 2004 @ 8:30pm
Operation: HIV/AIDS fundraiser

I got there a bit late, around 9:30 pm.
Bought tickets for 12,000LL each and headed for the entrance. A young girl handed me around 9 Trojan condoms, a promotion by the company to promote safe sex among the Lebanese youth.

The show had already started, and SEVEN SPIRITS were playing their great music, with the crowd getting bigger and bigger. I loved their music, unfortunatly, they were almost done.
I headed with a friend to the Heineken stand for some refreshing beer, and watched the band finish their show in style.

After a small pause , the audience became wild... Rayiss Beyk and his band AKS'SER got on stage, and started to sing their famous Lebanese Rap songs. Uncensored, they started to talk about the Lebanese society and way of life through their music, not shy to show their finger or shouting the equivalents of "fuck you" or "screw you" in Lebanese, sometimes giving the fans the pleasure of continuing the words of bigger insults. All in all, they were awesome, and one thing that caught my attention was when they started to say "3roft kif" with an o, the way the syrian people say it. After they thanked the audience for such a warm welcome, we started to hear their fans shouting "pizza msa23a, pepsi sokhneh" (cold pizza, hot pepsi).
It was all it took for them to finish again with this hit song which lyrics are really amazing.

Another pause, longer this time, and the Lebanese rock band BLEND appeared. It was already late and lots of people had already left, but those who were still there were applauding the strong and beautiful voice of the lead singer. I listened to three of their songs, but I was very tired and decided to leave.

During all three performances, pictures and messages to explain about the HIV/AIDS disease were being projected on a large screen. A short movie showing a discussion taking place between young Lebanese on the threats of this disease was also played on the first pause.

We have to give full credit to the organizers of this successful event.
The best way to prevent HIV is to learn about it and to know how to protect ourseleves.
And as AKS'SER said: "...proceeds from this concert aren't for the sida, but against the sida..."

Below are some pictures, click on them to enlarge

Seven Spirits
Seven Spirits



Wednesday, December 01, 2004

HIV, AIDS and Lebanon

Dear Lebanon, looks like there is some hope for you after all.

While driving on the Dora highway yesterday, I noticed an interesting advertisement on Forum De Beyrouth's unipole. It is for a concert called "AIDS UNCENSORED", featuring Blend, Aks'ser and Seven Spirits.

Proceeds from this event will go to the HIV/AIDS fund at AUBMC and Hotel-Dieu.
Yes dear Lebanon, it's a fundraiser for a good cause. Tickets are for 12.000 L.L and will be sold at the Forum De Beyrouth, so try to make it there and encourage the Lebanese youth in achieving what others failed to do.

I will be there tonight to take some pictures and I will post them tomorrow hopefully.

Date is tonight, December 1st, 2004
Time is 8:30 pm
Place is Forum De Beyrouth

AIDS Uncensored

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Quantity over quality

Okay, no story today since there is an important event taking place:
  1. Government and Syria’s allies called for a "1 million person" demonstration.
  2. Lebanon’s capital Beirut will be the place.
  3. Lebanon’s population is around 4 million persons, so one fourth of the population is what the government is expecting to see.
I hope there will be some Lebanese flags to remind us that it is actually a Lebanese demonstration…

For those who forgot what it looks like ...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Writing Lebanese

Yo Lebanon!!! Wazzzzzzuuuuuuuuuup?

Another Monday, another week... I hope everybody had a nice weekend...

When the Internet was introduced in Lebanon, it was impossible to write in Arabic. Email programs and chat rooms only supported few non-Latin languages, and Arabic wasn't one of them. We had to stick to English or French when typing until we found a way to overcome this problem...

We started to write Lebanese*... Lebanese!?

Yes Lebanon, and by writing Lebanese, I mean using Latin characters to write Arabic words. We had already done so a million times... Since schooldays, we had to write the names of our cities and villages in French and English on non-Arabic forms. Even now, my home address contains the word "Jdeideh", the Lebanese equivalent to "new".

Having the reputation for adapting to all situations, Lebanese people started to write Lebanese in chat rooms... We even created characters for the sounds not available in Latin. So instead of using "h" for writing "habibi" (which means "my love"), we started to use the number 7 to write "7abibi". This way, translating from characters to sounds was faster and clearer. We also used the number 2 for the Arabic "A" and its variations, and the number 3 for a previously written "aa" sound. For example, the translation of the word "crowded" became "3aj2a", a word impossible to write previously.

Lebanese became the standard for writing in chat rooms, and later the same thing happened with mobile phones’ messages known as SMS.

Few years later, the option to write Arabic became available, but apparently, few are the people who can type it quickly on a computer or a mobile phone. The Lebanese language proved to be more practical, faster and more effective when it came to expressing ourselves in writing.

We think Lebanese, we speak Lebanese and we write Lebanese.

Some say we are Arabs, others say we are Phoenicians (I know I say so), but one thing is for sure... We are LEBANESE!!!

* I believe Mr. Said Akel was the first person to come up with the Lebanese language idea, but he encountered opposition by the advocates of the Arabic Lebanon ideology.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

NASCAR Drivers Only

Dear Lebanon

About a year ago, I was fed up with the same daily news we see on TV and in newspapers... "1 received 2" , " 3 said so " , " 4 replied " , " 5 protested " and so on. I had to change my news sources.
I still read the headlines on and The Dailystar online, but my interest shifted lately to what the foreign press is saying about us...

While doing my regular news' search yesterday, I found a tourist's report about Lebanon. YES my friends, Lebanon's tourism sector is growing... However, a great deal of work is needed to improve our image, not only on the security/safety issue, but on all aspects.

In her article dated November 26, Elinor Garely* from New York was talking about visiting Lebanon and describing her experience there. One funny thing she mentioned was the following: "There is much to see and do, and unless you are an expert NASCAR driver, you may not want to get behind the wheel of a car rental."
To those not familiar with NASCAR, it is a high speed car race in the USA where bumping to other cars is allowed.
Come to think of it, she is absolutely right.

A German guy visiting our company once asked me: "Why does the taxi driver stop only on few red lights and not on the others ?"
The truth is... We make our own rules...

Lebanon, you turned us into experienced NASCAR drivers in the eyes of the West...I thank you for that.

Well, have a nice weekend Lebanon, and I'll see you again on Monday.

* You can read Elinor Garely's article by clicking on this link.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Wet Wet Wet and Motorcycles Cemetery

Dear Lebanon, looks like another storm has started last night. Again, I try to do my best not splashing/wetting people walking on the sides of the river (oops I meant road).

Well, I have some photos (in the bottom) to show you today, and since a photo is worth a thousand words, I won't comment on them... But I bet you will laugh and email them to your friends. They will probably be emailed all over the world, and one day someone will send them back to me.

Emails forwarding...That's something good to talk about.
How often did you receive the same messages and pictures from different people?

Even better, how often did someone email you images you originally sent?
In order to analyze this issue, I will do some tests with my photos...
And of course dear Lebanon, I'll keep you updated with the results.

See you Next time Lebanon !

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Good Morning Lebanon !!!

Hello Lebanon, and welcome to my blog.
I will be referring to Lebanon as a person throughout this blog...So I don't have to name a lot of people and hurt their feelings...

Looks like winter has officially started this week... Heavy rains, strong winds, low temperatures... All the natural signs of winter... Plus our regular share of flodded roads and traffic jams.
As if driving in Lebanon wasn't adventurous enough, we have the privilege of testing our driving skills on river-like roads, specially on my way to work in the Industrial City of Bauchrieh.

Lebanon, I have so many things to tell you but I don't know where to start...

Well, today is a big day... I finally got my Hotmail upgraded to 250MB.
unfortunately dear Lebanon, I had to give you up for that and change you for another country ... It appears that Lebanon will be one of the last countries where storage will be upgraded from the ridiculous 2MB.
However, I can't blame Hotmail... It is taking more than 14 years to rebuild you and so far, I would say we haven't made you the Lebanon we hoped you'll be.
Now I can be assured that my mailbox won't be full when my friends send me emails with pictures. I don't really need 250MB, since 10MB would have been enough... Specially on our cheap and reliable state of the art Internet connections...

See you tomorrow Lebanon...And don't forget to comment on my stories...

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