Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year Mood in Lebanon

Dear Lebanon

I will be posting links to interesting stories concerning the current mood of Lebanese people.

1- Hold the Champagne: Lebanon Is in No Mood to Party

2- Lebanese Awaiting Psychics' Predictions By DONNA ABU-NASR (Guardian Unlimited)


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

3-2-1-1 Happy New Year

Dear Lebanon

I am back since the 20th of December to the motherland, and I have to admit that nothing has changed... Or almost nothing.
Indeed, Monot is no longer the "IN" place to go out, since nightlife has moved to Gemayzeh, a perpendicular street to Monot less then 1 Km away. Still, some Monot pubs are there to stay, notably Pacifico and Lila Braun.

I read one interesting story on the net, which states that this year, before switching to 2006, we will be adding one extra second to 2005. A leap second to adjust and synchronize atomic clocks to the earth rotation. While this might seem absurd, it is apparently a necessity because it affects indirectly our daily lives, from GPS tracking to telecom operations...

So, this year, instead of doing a regular countdown before kissing your lover, count 3, 2, 1, Another 1, and then HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

For more info on the 2005 leap second, click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Back for vacation

Dear Lebanon

Few days and I will be back... back to reality...

I cannot express how I felt when I learned the news about the death of Parliament Member and Annahar General Manager Gebran Tueini.
Although I didn't agree with his latest political views and alliances, I still believe that at the time when nobody dared to mention Syria from inside Lebanon, he was never afraid to discuss openly the corruption and dominance of the syrio-lebanese politicians.
A great man is gone...And we are left in shock and awe.

Still, life goes on, and I sincerely hope that we will prevail.

Being Lebanese, I will be going home for Christmas to spend the holidays with my family and friends. Still, the airplane tickets with the cheapest airline will cost me more than a ticket to Brazil with 3* hotel accommodation for 10 days... Go figure...

Well, I guess my next post will be from Lebanon, where I hope my theory of "Lebanon on hold" and "Waiting for Mehlis" will no more be valid. I HOPE!

Until then...

Friday, November 25, 2005

1975: A Catchy Date

Dear Lebanon

A lot of people associate dates with specific events that had an impact on them personally or on society.
While 1975 might be associated with the 3rd Cod War , the release of Jaws or even Armageddon (which obviously turned out to be a false prediction), if you are Lebanese, this date means one thing: the start of the civil war.

A couple of years ago ( I don't remember exactly when), a new pub opened on the corner of the hottest spot in Mono (The heart of the Lebanese nightlife). Among all the pubs that pop-up every now and then in this area, only one managed to achieve worldwide fame based on its concept: 1975

When I first saw it, it reminded me of the dark days of war I lived hiding in the shelters protected by sandbags. I managed to avoid it every time I went out to the nearby pubs in Mono until I decided with some friends to check it out.
With the music of Feiruz in the background, I started to look around in this small two-stories pub which was transformed to a typical war shelter.
Young people were sitting on mattresses layed on the floor... as we used to do... with the exception that they were all smiling and having fun. The place was full so we decided to leave immediately... I didn't like it anyway.

Although the most famous Lebanese club on the planet has always been B018, when I came to France, people were always asking me about that shelter styled pub. I was surprised to see how many people had heard of it. As I remember, it never was an A-LIST pub... Still, it managed to achieve a worldwide fame thanks to its controversial design.

What really amazed me is that now, the worldwide press is now talking about this small pub...1975

- For a listing of events occurring in 1975, click here.
- For more information about the Lebanese Civil War, click here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Beirut - One of the hottest spots for bars and clubs (part 1)

Dear Lebanon

Since I had nothing interesting to write about, I preferred just not to post.
While we are still waiting for Godot... I mean Mehlis, looks like everything in this country is just put on hold. As some people say, Same Shit Different Day!

Anyway, while browsing FashionWeek, a seasonal supplement to BusinessWeek, I came across the word "Beirut". It got my attention so I decided to read this article called "New Arrivals".
Here is how the author Philip Watson started:
"St Tropez? Passé. Ibiza? So over. The hottest spots for bars and clubs in Europe right now are not where you'd expect"
He then describes the nightlife in four cities: Beirut, Lisbon, Berlin and Moscow.

Although I tend to have a rather pessimistic view of Lebanon's future (I have my reasons), I am glad to see that some people are still interested in it.

In my next post, I will be talking about 1975.

Click here to read the full BusinessWeek FashionWeek article.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Away From You

Good morning Lebanon

So this is the longest time I have been away from Lebanon (10 days now), but not from Lebanese people. I met quite a few already, on the plane, the train, and even in the city of Bordeaux.
What is even more interesting is that I knew some of these Lebanese people from back home. It is a small world!

Now as you all probably heard, there was unfortunately a big explosion in Ashrafieh, a smaller one in Hamra and a bomb scare in the Sofil center in Ashrafieh also.
Guess nothing will change anytime soon...

Now as I mentioned in my previous post, I will list the (non political) things I am missing the most:

1-The slow Internet connections:
It is at least 20 times faster here for a quarter of the price.

2-Traffic jams:
While a lot of people here complain about the Tramway and Bus system (it breaks down for 10 minutes sometimes), I think having a similar one in Lebanon would be an achievement. It only costs 16 $/month for unlimited rides.

3-Making Missed Calls:
In France as in most countries, you are billed by the second and not by the minute as is the case in Lebanon. Maybe our smart government will notice soon that CHEAPER calls mean MORE calls.

4-The kitchen, the living room and my bed:
I now live in a 20m2 studio near university. Rent is definitely more expensive here, but living in a hip area of Beirut is too.

I'll be off next week to the beach where the school is organizing an integration seminary (that seems fun), and then I will start blogging again about a Lebanese in Bordeaux (that would be me).

Things I will be talking about are how I met some Lebanese here, the perception of Lebanon by international students, and the difference between cultures...


Friday, September 09, 2005

Goodbye my dear Lebanon

Dear Lebanon

For more then 6 months, I have been posting to this blog, and most of the comments I received were very encouraging. I thank you for that.
Now, it is time for me to move on. It is time for me to become another statistic, another 24 years old youngster leaving his homeland to ensure a better future.
Yes, even I am leaving. After seeing all my friends leave one after the other to work abroad, it is now my turn to say goodbye.

This is probably the last post I write before leaving to France.
Although I got accepted to the MBA program of the most reputable university in the region with a full assistantship (American University of Beirut aka AUB), I decided to head to Bordeaux in France for a Masters in Supply Chain Management.

I will definitely keep on posting on The Lebanese Code and hopefully more frequently.
Now I am sure there are lots of things I will be missing. But before I reveal it in my first post from France, I would like to know what you think there is to miss about our dear LEBANON.

Please post your entries in the comment section.

GOD BLESS LEBANON ( or what is left of it ) !!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Explosion in ZALKA

Explosion in Zalka around 10:30pm in the PROMENADE hotel.

Two injuries reported so far.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Lebanese Drill

It is about 10:40 am and I am heading towards downtown Beirut via the famous Dora highway.

Traffic jams are frequent there but something was wrong today.
On the return side of the highway there were almost no cars while on my side, it was really jammed.
I looked around and I noticed heavy smoke coming from the bridge near Forum De Beyrouth.
Then I started seeing army soldiers and hearing sirens...
A man walking in the middle of the highway told me there was an explosion.
In the beginning, I believed the man since it looked like a war zone.
I then headed towards my office in Forum de Beyrouth and started to ask the people there, and they told me it was actually a drill.

Apparently 90% of people I asked didn't know about it. I guess we should be blamed for not listening to the SAME BORING TV news.

As if the worrying for real explosions wasn't enough in this country, we now have to verify whether it is a drill or not.

I think there are better ways for the army, security services, firefighters and the Red Cross to test their effectiveness and speed in order to prepare for such scenarios.

No need to cause panic among the already scared population...

Friday, July 29, 2005

Changing Phone Numbers

While reading THE DAILY STAR newspaper today, I found out that all current mobile numbers will no longer need the 03 prefix (area code) , but will require the 71 prefix starting September 18, 2005.

Earlier this summer, mobile operators launched campaigns promoting mobile numbers with the 70 prefix.
Apparently, the new 70 & 71 prefixes are necessary to meet the increasing demand in mobile lines, previously restricted to some 800 000.

Although no official announcement has yet been made, I called my mobile operator alfa ( the Cellis substitute) and they confirmed the switch to the new code.

So if you used to dial 03-XXX XXX within Lebanon, you will have to dial 71-XXX XXX.
From outside Lebanon, you will have to dial 961-71-XXX XXX.

What intrigued me the most was the following:
In January of 2006, the ministry will release new nine-digit toll-free numbers for services such as gaming or calling television shows to vote for reality TV contestants. Later in 2006, "01" numbers will begin instead with "2," opening up more fixed lines. (Daily Star)

When I called the OGERO (the fixed lines operator) hotline number 1515 to ask about it, they had no idea what I was talking about.

I will update this story as soon as I get more info.

You can read The Daily Star article by clicking here.

Useful Links:
1- The Daily Star
2- alfa
3- MTC Touch
5- Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Bang Bang

Friday night, I am waiting for my friends to pick me up and head towards Monot , the heart of the Lebanese nightlife.
Next thing I know, I get a phone call telling me about an explosion in the Monot area.
In order to make sure this was the case, I did the bomb check test we usually do in Lebanon.
I tried to make a call on my mobile, and I got the "Network Problem" error.
The test proved positive.
This time however, I felt like nothing serious had happened. After so many car bombs, we kinda got used to it, and life goes on. Instead of staying home, we just decided to go towards Jounieh where we could hang out at Crepaway or Schtroumpf.
It is funny, but looks like we got to a point where hiding or staying home isn't an option anymore.
Whether you are at home or on the road, you don't know where the next bomb is gonna blow.
Either we convince ourselves that staying home is safer and wait for the disaster to knock on our doors, or we just continue our lives and believe that our hour will come when God decides it is time.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Lebanese Mentality

I still remember the Mastercard adverstisement where they start showing you stuff like a soccer team T-shirt for X dollars, tickets to a game for Y dollars... And finally a soccer ball signed by the famous Brazilian player Pelé as priceless. And the message at the end: "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else there's Mastercard".

On the other hand, a Lebanese bank has been showing lately a TV advertisement about its plastic cards with the exact opposite mentality.
Usually, advertisers take into consideration the social and cultural beliefs of the targeted consumers... This case wasn't an exception.
As the ad plays, you can read messages such as "The power to give", "The power to lead", "The power to say NO", "the power to decide" and finally you see the numerous plastic cards with the message "The power in your hand".

While some might disagree with the way the message is being delivered, since it clearly states that with money you can do anything you want, I believe it is a reflection of how the Lebanese society is thinking.

Makes you really wonder how materialistic life has become in Lebanon, the land of values.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Hot Dark Lebanese Summer

So the elections are over, a new government is about to be formed, and life goes on in Lebanon.
It is getting hotter every day of this summer, being the weather or the parties on weekend nights and sunny Sunday beaches.

Wanting to increase the excitement in our lives, EDL (the local electric power authority in Lebanon) is managing to increase its power shortages just when we need it the most.
Suddenly, coming back late from a weekend party is an adventure in Lebanon.
Since backup generators are forbidden after 1:00 am , my only source of light was my cell phone's screen. I had to make it to my apartment located luckily on the 2nd floor by using the stairs without tripping. Good thing I was sober that night.
If you think that was easy, (guys) try using the bathroom in total darkness.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

HEAT - The Lebanese Elections

Dear Lebanon

For about 2 months now, the only topic discussed in Lebanon is the parliamentary elections.
It is the first time elections take place after the end of the Syrian occupation.
After the first two rounds of elections (Beirut & the South), in which the result was known way before elections' day, last Sunday witnessed round 3.
The Mount Lebanon and Bekaa parliamentary elections witnessed a fierce electoral battle.
The Lebanese people had the chance to choose between 2 major forces.
And what a choice they made... They chose to change, they chose to express their disgust from the traditional lawmakers.
The losers expressed their worries that the country was heading back to war following the Free Patriotic Movement's win, as if they expected the Lebanese people were in the mood or even ready for another civil war.
With the rise of a new and strong leader, the political scene witnessed a severe reshuffling of cards.
We might be witnessing for the first time in modern Lebanon the switch from sectarian divide to political agenda partisanship.
Next Sunday, the final round of the elections will take place in the North and will be decisive as to who will control the next parliament: The Master of Mukhtara or The Against-All-Odds General.

PS: For those wondering, I voted ORANGE.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Explosion in Ashrafieh


2nd of June 2005

A bomb targeting An-Nahar columnist Samir Kassir killed him instantly.
The explosion took place around 11:00 am Beirut Time.
He was in his car in Ashrafieh, a christian town of Beirut.

Later in the evening, Mr. Marcel Ghanem dedicated the episode of his talk show "Kalam El Nass" (Peoples's discussions) to commemorate the martyr of the press.
The show's guests were politicians, journalists and most importantly some of Mr. Kassir's students.
As the show progressed, the students started to give their testimonies of their beloved teacher, which was more like a mentor and a friend for them.
All four students expressed their admiration for their martyr, and their shock and disgust over the use of his martyrdom for electoral and political reasons by politicians.
Rather then mourning the martyr, the so-called opposition decided to benefit from the sad event to promote its political agenda through their speeches and the clearly biased media.

Below is a photo of his wrecked car and his portrait taken from the website:

2- CNN
3- Reuters

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ready for the battle!

Following several days of consultations and tentative artificial agreements, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) finally declared the collapse of negotiations.

Victory!!! I shouted...

Although it might seem sad and absurd to celebrate the division of the so-called “opposition”, I was one of those who never believed that unity can be achieved with other factions of Lebanese as long as the same corrupt leaders were still representing them.
I always looked up to General Aoun as a true Lebanese who represents the last chance to rebuild this country. Had the alliance taken place, I would have lost hope for any future in Lebanon.

I might be described as the extremist who refuses to bargain, which makes me inadequate for politics. But it is my extremism which keeps the balance in this country where our rights are being violated and our intelligence being insulted.
I’ll leave bargaining for those who are able to do it. Me, I want all my rights.

They tried to buy us with some seats at parliament. They even insulted us with the number of seats claiming we are not as many as we pretend to be.
Actually, there is a saying in French which translates into: When the cat is away, the mice are dancing.
Well, now we are back to claim what is ours.

Everybody knows that corruption is the main reason for our huge debts.
Some people however tend to forget who is behind this corruption.
Elections day will be judgment day in few regions including mine.
The maturity of the Lebanese people will decide the fate of our dear country, Lebanon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Ice Ice Baby!

Dear Lebanon,

It was a tough week for me. After a weekend in the hospital, I came back home with the same high fever which caused me to go there in the first place.
There, I did dozens of blood tests and medical mumbo jumbo in order to diagnose my illness. All tests for dangerous diseases my doctor feared I might have proved to be negative, so he let me go on Monday.
During this period, I was forbidden to take any drug to reduce fever. All I had was that old Ice bag on my head which will remain my best companion until further notice.

What I regret the most was the fact that I wasn’t able to greet the General. I as lots of true and authentic Lebanese was waiting for this day for about 15 years. I had to stick to the TV and cheer his return with the cute nurses who were taking good care of me.
At last, someone we can look up to has come to take over the corrupted situation we have been living in since the end of the civil war. I couldn’t agree more with Aoun’s necessity to investigate all the spending which took place under the name of rebuilding the country.
Now why is the idea encountering so much opposition?
Simply put, all those who participated in ruling oppressively Lebanon since 1990 are involved in stealing except for very few politicians, none of which comes to my mind…
They claim they want to forget the past and have a fresh start… Not happening!

The thing that disgusts me the most is the following:
How come the speaker of the house and him only has the right to call for the general assembly of parliament? And how dare he refuse the will of the Free Lebanese People’s will? Did we switch to a shared dictatorship during the TAEF accord?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Park away

Dear Lebanon

Following the series of explosions which shook the country last month, several businesses and centers started taking safety measures in order to protect themselves.
At the entrance of malls and supermarkets, security personnel would search your car for any suspect package and then search you once you get in.
Last Sunday, I went to a pub in Monot for a drink. At the entrance of the street of Pacifico, Lila Brown, 37 degrees (my favorite) and the other famous pubs, a private security checkpoint is set up to search guys and look in girls' purses.
Neighborhood watch programs have been setup by residents to check for any suspect car, and if not identified within minutes, security forces are called.
As if parking wasn't already a major problem all over Lebanon, it is now forbidden to park in front of many stores, restaurants and banks.
The big beneficiaries of this sad situation are private security companies who provide trained security people to scared entities.
As if paying twice for electricity, water and other necessities which the government is failing to provide adequately wasn't enough, we now have to pay for our own security.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

United we Diverge

For the last 3 months, I have witnessed the irony of fate in Lebanon. Suddenly, a group decided to support the claims of the extreme other. Although some politicians are famous for changing sides as often as changing socks, some of the current alliances under the slogan of National Unity are beyond my comprehension.

I have never been affiliated to any political party.
The only demonstrations I attended recently were the Human Lebanese Flag Making and the big demonstration of the 14th of March which, let's admit it, was a reply for the government who claimed being the majority.

What I hate the most is when some opposition leaders try to take advantage of such situations. As if they forgot that they were the architects of our post-war misery, they actually consider their old robberies and corruption as national achievements and want a medal of honor for it.

What really amazes me is how the Lebanese population quickly forgot who was behind the colossal 40 billion dollars debt.
Am I the only one to notice how they gave themselves licenses for audiovisual and written media, for ISPs, for public transportation companies, and for the city center building exclusivity?

Obviously, the end justifies the means.
That they might fool simple people with their unity, they will never fool me.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Slap Back to Reality

Dear Lebanon

I went to Dubai last week to visit a friend there.
The image I had of Dubai was a small city built in the desert with a very hot weather.
Well, I guess this was a superficial illusion.
When I got there, I was astonished.
Tall buildings, large malls, wide roads, trees and flowers everywhere...
And the nightlife? My friend took me to pubs and nightclubs which I never thought I could see in an Arab country.
What amazed me was the giant advertisements for several towns being built, some of which are on water.
Life there is easy and organized, which makes it quite impressive for a person who spent all his life in chaotic Lebanon.
On my way back in the airplane, I could see the green mountains of Lebanon.
I had mixed emotions. I was happy to see my homeland and felt sorry for my poor country for what it is and what it could be.
The difference between Lebanon and Dubai?
Dubai is not ruled by a corrupted government like Lebanon.
While I enjoyed a relaxing and fun atmosphere during my trip, it only took a 20 minutes drive home to realize I was back to the land of stress and corruption.

Below are some photos of Beirut I took from the airplane... Enjoy!!!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Broumana Explosion

Dear readers

I am not in Lebanon currently. I heard about the explosion which took place in Broumana.
Below are links for some articles:

1- Naharnet
2- Washington Post

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Explosion in Bauchrieh

Another explosion took place in the upper sector of the Industrial City of Bauchrieh on Friday 26th of March 2005 around 9:30pm.

At least five people were injured.

More info when available...

Below are some photos from

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bomb Explosion in Kaslik


Tuesday night, around 1:30am Beirut time (early Wednesday), a bomb exploded in the Alta Vista center in Kaslik, Lebanon.
Reports indicate that 3 Indian workers were killed.
There are also reports of some injuries.

I couldn't personally take photos, but you can click here to see those which were being forwarded by email.

1- Naharnet
2- ABC news
3- IOL

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

She had a vision

Earlier this year, I read that Lebanon will be participating in the Eurovison song contest where people from all participating countries vote for their favorite candidate.

Aline Lahoud was selected to represent Lebanon. She was awarded the Special Award Trophy of the FIDOF (Fédération Internationale de l’Organisation des Festivals) during the Megahit Festival in Turkey in September 2004.
Jad Rahbani composed the song she was supposed to sing.
WAS ????
Yes, "was", since Télé Liban (the state run TV station covering the event in Lebanon) decided to withdraw from the competition.
Yeah well, apparently, Israel will be participating too and that won't work for the Lebanese government.
But hey, Israel also participates in Miss World and Miss Universe and Lebanon never withdrew from these competitions!
Go figure...

Anyway, regardless of poor Aline's and Jad's shattered dreams, Télé Liban now has to pay a penalty fee for withdrawing late using taxpayers money.

Nice way to reduce government expenses...
What a civilized image of Lebanon we are showing to the world...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Car Bomb in Jdeideh

It was late Friday night, around 12:30 am. (Saturday morning actually)
My parents were asleep and I was browsing the Internet when I heard a strong explosion.
The doors and windows shook so strong. First, I thought it was Israeli airplanes breaking the sound barrier. My mother woke up and we called my brother to make sure he was okay, not knowing the exact source of the sound yet.
We turned on the TV and started zapping between CNN, Euronews and local stations waiting for some news flash.
Meanwhile I was searching the net and asking on chatrooms if anybody knew what happened.
Around 12:40 am, LBC, a local TV station, said there was a car bomb in Jdeideh... We were shocked. Jdeideh is the 1km2 city where I live.

I quickly jumped into my car to try to locate the area.
I asked some people on the streets and they told me where it happened.
I parked my car a bit far so I could easily get out on my way back and avoid traffic jams.

On my way, I saw an old friend who was rushing to the scene. He told me his father's medical clinic was damaged, but all I could see was lots of people and firefighters trucks.
I then saw glass shattered all over, cars deformed by the blast, and the passenger seats of the car which was blown away.

After sneaking-in between two of them, I saw the remains of the car in which the bomb was planted.
I then turned left and I saw the front side of the building completely damaged.

The building in front of which the car bomb exploded

The remains of the car about 20m away from where it exploded

One of the passengers seats of the car that exploded

Cars deformed by the blast around 20m away

The next day: the aftermath

The building in front of which the car was parked

The destroyed infrastructure of the building

The street in which the explosion took place

A destroyed Jaguar from the rental company nearby

Monday, March 14, 2005

You Want Quantity ?

Following calls made by opposition figures, the FREE Lebanese people decided to take on the streets of Beirut heading to Martyr's Square aka Freedom Square on March 14th, 2005.

Below are some photos and links... Enjoy!!!

Martyr's Square aka Freedom Square, Beirut

Charles Helou Avenue, Quarantina

Bechara el Khoury Avenue, Monot

1- Reuters
2- BBC
3- USA Today

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Free Lebanese Flag

Location: Martyr's Square aka Freedom Square, Beirut
Date: March 12th, 2005 @ 2:00pm
Operation: The Free Lebanese Flag
Tools: 50x35 cm colored cardboards
People: Free Lebanese people

Earlier this week, calls were being made among the Lebanese population in order to make a human Lebanese flag in Freedom Square, Beirut.
I decided to go with some friends to take part of this event.

I got there around 2:00pm, and the area was almost filled by participants.
The red parts of the flag were already full, and a small area of the white part had yet to be filled. The organizers gave us a white cardboard and directed us to the designated area. After some tests, the crowd was ready.

The ceremony started with the national anthem.
Upon the signal, all the participants raised the cardboards to form the Lebanese Flag.
The crowd then called for "sovereignty, freedom and independence".
Green, white and red cardboards were being flipped to their black side when the speaker referred to the Syrian government or its Lebanese representative.
Then, when demanding for independence, the cardboards were flipped again to the colored part and form the Lebanese flag.

Below are some photos of the event. I will post more as soon as I get them.

Free Lebanese Flag with Cardboards

Free Lebanese Flag with Cardboards

Free Lebanese Flag with Cardboards

Free Lebanese Flag with Cardboards

2- Reuters

Monday, March 07, 2005

The ZOOM OUT effect

Dear Lebanon

A new term has been added to the Lebanese political jargon : ZOOM OUT.
In order to downsize the estimations of protesters in Lebanon, some politicians are arguing that the cameras are not taking wide shots, and only zooming on smaller groups of people.

Being Lebanese, a synonym of pride, protesters are now defying these politicians by branding "ZOOM OUT" signs in their demonstrations.

Regardless of the actual number of protesters, I believe that at least, with a closeup or ZOOM IN, we can actually see Lebanese people... Unlike the ZOOM OUT of the "1 million person" demonstration held last November.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Shots fired in Beirut

I heard today some stories about provocations and shots fired in Ashrafieh, Beirut on Saturday night.

I searched on the Internet and found those articles:

1- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
2- Fox 2 KASA
3- Naharnet

No political comments are allowed !

An 18 years old wounded by shots fired on Sunday Night.
Here are the articles:
1- Naharnet
2- The Daily Star
3- IC Wales

Yet other stories of youth being beaten:
1- Naharnet
2- The Daily Star

Monday, February 28, 2005

The "Lebanon Today" series (2)

Monday February 28, 2005

Since I don't like talking about politics, and since it is hard to write about any other events, I offer you this summary for now:

Two weeks after the tragic events, a parliamentary session was scheduled for that day.
Opposition figures called for a gathering in martyrs' square, aka freedom square.
Government closed the whole central district for "security" reasons.
Although the government was trying to ban this gathering, tens of thousands of people managed to get there by foot, with the help of the army and security forces who were tipping them on how to get through.
Opposition deputies accused the government of being unable to manage the country.
At 6:30pm, the current prime minister resigned.
Later that night, people were driving around Lebanon chanting for what they achieved.

UPDATE: For an insider's view and some photos, check out Mr. Roy Saad's blog by clicking here.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Shock and Awe

Last week, Lebanon was on the headlines of all major international Medias.
After the heightened tensions between the government and the opposition, the bubble finally burst.
Wanting to eliminate the former prime minister at any cost, the murderers planted an explosive device on a major road in broad daylight causing the death of 15 people and injuring around 130.

I won't comment on the political issues resulting from this infamy. Politics is a dirty game I decided not to get involved in.
Still, it makes me wonder. It is a road I take so many times... as a lot of Lebanese people do.
So no matter what your religion or political opinions were, you could have been blown away for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, as many poor people were.

What I make of all this sick situation?
I realize that Lebanon is probably not worth it after all.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Not Over It Yet

Last week, I was at my friend's Internet cafe when we decided to order some food. I decided to chat on the good old mIRC program while waiting for the delivery guy. I usually use mIRC to meet Spanish girls in order to practice the language. This time however, I was automatically logged in to channel Lebanon, so I decided to have fun by trying to find an interesting Lebanese girl to chat with... and I did. Her name was Maya.

After the regular questions, she told me she lives in Beirut. Unconsciously, I wanted to know her religion, so I started asking her tricky questions, and she was replying in even trickier answers. I admit it is wrong to think this way, but I am sure that most Lebanese people of my generation do the same. After failing to discourage me, she finally started criticizing me for being sectarian, and she said it was a shame that some people still feel the way I do.

After realizing I was talking to a mature person, I apologized and changed the topic. Surprisingly, she brought back the conversation to this topic again and again, and when I told her so, she explained her philosophy to me. She believes that there should be no barriers between people from different religions except for marriage. I was surprised to hear it from her. This made me realize that no matter how much people brag about not being sectarian, there is still a long way to go to abolish this feeling. I believe admitting a problem and trying to resolve it is better than acting as if it didn't exist.

I decided to write about this experience in order to get some feedback from you. I would love to hear and share other people's experiences on this topic. I would also like to know whether you want me to keep on discussing this subject.

  1. The title refers to the sectarian feelings Lebanese people (including me) still have 15 years after the end of the 15 years long civil war.
  2. mIRC is an Internet program used for chatting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Snowing in Beirut !!!

Dear Lebanon,

I just wanted to post some photos taken in Bauchrieh, a coastal suburb of Beirut, on Tuesday 8th of February 2005, around 10:00 am Beirut Time. The temperature was around 5 degrees Celsius and it started snowing.
Yes !!! Snowing in BEIRUT !!!
I managed to take some photos near my office and here they are:

Click on the photos for larger size.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The "Lebanon Today" series (1)

Good morning Lebanon,

Finally, the Lebanese government is about to decide on the parliamentary election law. And I say finally because it took around 3 months for the government to finally decide on adopting the 1960 electoral law. It is a good thing we didn't reinvent the wheel and used instead something already available, but what if we had decided to do so a bit earlier... Nah, where would be the suspense then?

I don't like the way things are going since I have a different approach for selecting decision makers, but what the heck... As long as WE can choose the ones WE want, it is a good start.
More on that in the future...

Tonight is a special night for lots of Lebanese. The local basketball derby between long time rivals Sagesse (7ekmeh) and Riyadeh will take place at 9:45 pm Beirut time.
For those who didn't know, some changes were made before the start of this controversial season. After Sagesse's president quit, Fadi el Khatib along with most key players left the green club. All that remains is the icon Elie Mchentaf.
As for Riyadeh, well, that's another story. They adopted a new strategy. If your team can't win, drop it and buy one that can...The club bought all players and coach from Champville, and kept only few Riyadeh players from last year.

No more comments for today. Hope we'll see a nice game!

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Lebanese Code: Facts and Figures

Dear Lebanon

I think it is time to summarize the blog's situation so far.
  • With about 30 posts written during a month period, I managed to get about 300 readers daily.
  • A bank who closed my account threatened to sue me.
  • I proposed we create : A consumer rights organization, a restaurant rating website, and an About Lebanon section on the blog.
  • We got a review from Mr. Connor Coyne, an American blogger who reviews blogs. The Lebanese Code was one of the 4 blogs out of 100 which he recommended for reading.
While I liked all of your comments, I consider this one important because it is from a foreigner who knows little about Lebanon. Here is what he had to say:

My name is Connor Coyne and I was referred to your blog through Globe of Blogs.
I'm intrigued by your stories of life in Lebanon, and am going to link to you. I have a limited understanding of your country and culture, but am excited to learn more. You relate anecdotes in a way that is poignant, engaging, and is a pleasure to read. Even though I am currently reading with little familiarity, your writing is evocative, and I feel like I can relate.

Although I am not writing lately, I can assure you that I will work harder in order to continue what I started with this blog.
Between my work and applying to graduate schools, I have too much on my mind.
I'll keep on posting weekly until the daily inspiration comes back in the near future.

To see Mr Connor Coyne's Blog, go to

Thank You

Z Lebanese

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Foreign Perspective on Monot

Dear Lebanon

Sorry for not writing lately, but I have been a bit busy and uninspired.
While reading news online, I found an interesting article on Monot street written by Katherine Zoepf of The New York Times. It was published in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.
While I found this article more or less objective, I believe that the interviewed waiter's comment was inappropriate. He said that most people would spend the whole night on 1 beer.
I am not here to discuss whether this is an actual fact... But I want to make it clear that drinks in Lebanon are not cheap. While a bottle of beer costs around 750LL ( 50 cents) in the supermarket, it is sold between 5000 LL (3.3 $) and 10 000LL (6.5$) in pubs.
That is 10 times more on average...

You can read the entire article on the IHT site.

By the way, the BINGO game is now the latest entertainment wave to hit Lebanon. I will investigate that and get back to you with details.

Until then...

Monday, January 03, 2005

Size Does Matter !

Happy New Year Lebanon!

Sadly, when I asked people how they spent new year's eve, they replied with an "okay".
But I hope this year will be different, and Lebanon's situation will ameliorate.

I went out last night with my friends to a coffee house in the Greater Beirut region, which is supposedly one of the "In" places in Lebanon. I wasn't hungry, so I decided to have my favorite desert, an apple pie.
When the waiter asked me whether I would like a vanilla ice cream on top of it, before I could reply, my friend who wanted a piece of it replied with a YES.
20 minutes later, all my friends got what they asked for, and I was still waiting for my pie.
So I gently asked the waiter about it... After my friends were almost done with their meals, the big surprise came. A plate with a round thing in it was put on the table. The waiter referred to it as "The Apple Pie"...
Few seconds of silence, and then everybody on the table started laughing out loud. We couldn't believe it. It had a 9 cm diameter, no ice cream, and barely One slice of apple. (one single apple could be cut into more than 20 slices).
It took 6 tiny bites to finish it. (It usually takes 4 but I wanted it to last longer).

So much for an apple pie. Maybe it was my mistake, since I am used to the Apple Crumble at the famous Casper & Gambinis restaurant. I was expecting something bigger and tastier in return for the 6500L.L. price tag.

By the way, the ceiling was leaking and there was water under our table. So much for quality and service. I decided not to name the Coffee House, but a great idea came to my mind.

What if I created a section in this website where people can rate restaurants and cafes, give their comments and check what other people think about them? It will be the first true Lebanese tourisitic guide based on real experiences.

I am waiting for your ideas and comments...

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