Friday, January 02, 2015

Berlin, the city that I cannot describe but will always try to

It's quite difficult for me to recover after Berlin. This city has something magical to it, it's not the pretty city of Paris, the musical city of London, the party capital of Ibiza or the old city of Vienna. In fact, it's none of those and all of those. Almost every person who has been to Berlin answers the "what do you think of Berlin" question the same way:

It has character.

Street Art - Berlin March 2014

Friday, August 01, 2014

Tips & Tricks about making the best of your time in Croatia

After my trip in Croatia with friends this July, I learned a lot about what we should've done and how best to do it (optimizing for next time). Along the way, felt it would probably be beneficial to others who are planning to visit it to know them as well, specially that now there is a direct flight from Beirut to Dubrovnik for the summer.

Monday, February 17, 2014

100 Arab Powerful Players - 2014 Edition

Who are the 100 most powerful arabs? What does power mean and how did Gulf Business assemble these results?

Power, according to Gulf Business, means everything. It's crucial for every business. Power translates into the influence needed to make things happen. It's the fuel that shapes people, plans and profits. This is the 3rd year Gulf Business run this, they assemble a team of expert from within Motivate's broad business division. Based on the events in 2013, and the power merit of those individual. Politicians and royalty have been excluded. The spheres of influence they looked at were the following:
  • Financial capital
  • Human capital
  • Expansion plans
  • Personal fame levels

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The only إخلال بالآداب العامة is your twisted brain

Let me get this straight, some media and politicians in Lebanon are upset with Lebanese Olympic skier Jackie Chamoun (currently competing in Sochi 2014) for showing off her tits in an artistic way during a photoshoot for an athlete's calendar. And this is not the issue. The issue is that they think it's a scandal, and it misrepresents Lebanon and portrays herself as a bad idol.

Misrepresenting Lebanon
Misrepresents Lebanon! You're right. Lebanon is not about arts and sports and creativity, it's not about the freedom of what one can do with their body on their own without harming anyone.

Lebanon is about Suicide Bombers.
Lebanon is about Explosions and Assassinations.
Lebanon is about war.
Lebanon is about economic regression.
Lebanon is about 0 tourism.
Lebanon is about lack of electricity and water.
Lebanon is about slow internet.
Lebanon is about corrupted politicians.
Lebanon is about idiots running the country.
Lebanon is about not absorbing refugees and treating them inhumanely.
Lebanon is about warlords.
Lebanon is about following politicians blindly like sheep.
Lebanon is about immigrating to find proper jobs abroad.
Lebanon is about women with no talents suddenly becoming singers because they're pretty and... wait for it, have nice sillicon boobs.

So kindly, do not misrepresent Lebanon with boobs. Represent with bombs.

3ayb 3laykoun kif ilkoun 3ein te7ko.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Country of men

Inspired by this article by Yara Zgheib, adding a little bit to it.

I have been avoiding to write about this so I don't feel, because when I do, it will make these thoughts real. 

As a Lebanese expat, you don't leave because you want to. You don't leave because the world is out there and opportunities are waiting to be explored by you, you leave because you feel that whatever mass is around you is increasing in size, leaving you with no space to exist and pushing you out to the Mediterranean sea. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

8 volunteers to climb Kilimanjaro to raise funds for UAE cancer patient

On November 28th, 8 determined volunteers will attempt to summit the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Mount Kilimanjaro.

They will be climbing for the beautiful 9 year Shahad who is suffering from a brain tumor. They'll be climbing for cancer patients.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Help needed for Roger Dahan

Being in the US for a while now, we saw homeless people on the streets all the time. In Los Angeles, there is actually a neighborhood just for homeless people where they can literally install their tents or whatever form of habitat they have put together. It's too expensive to help these persons as they will always go back to the streets, municipality decided to make an area for them as it would be better to put them away from more popular shopping streets, that would affect the look of the street and the sentiments of tourists to spend.

In Lebanon, once more, it has proven to be a small village. My eyes filled up with tears when I saw this Facebook page created by few people who care about the homeless man Roger Dahan who usually walks around in Mar Mkhael and was found laying on a street corner with blood coming out of his head.

It is very nice and of good intentions from them to make this page and gather help in different means to be able to provide medical care for Mr. Dahan.

Lebanon is still a small country where people care for each other, something great to see, and with the help of people like those behind of this page, we might do a little on a national scale but it sure matters to the individual.

Update on Donations:

For donations, you can send money through Western Union to Lea Maria Comaty and then inform her with the reference number on this phone number: +961 71 395 343. If you are living abroad, you will need to provide an address while making the transfer, address is the following:

Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Qobayet Street, Haddad Building.

Also Jihan Khoury is collecting clothes donations, you can call her on +961 3 464 542. Currently collecting:

  • Pants size 42
  • Long sleeves shirts size XL
  • Slippers size 45
  • Blankets
  • Other personal and hygienic items.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Governmentlessness, explosion-ful, terrorists and more sectarianism.

What I meant with the whole CEO post (posted 3 days ago): 
Ministries should be treated / behave as departments; at the beginning of every quarter, half of year and year, goals are set, and if they are not met over and over, consequences are due. It's about incentives and setting out goals, having the right team work on things with the right tools and support and taking responsibility for their own actions and being accountable for them.

One of our biggest problems in Lebanon is trying to form a government of all colors:
A government where all colors exist because we want to please everyone (that's super ironic though). Last time I checked, there is a system and it is called democracy. If this is followed properly, governments will end up having a certain color, and that's okay, it's democracy and that is why opposition is crucial to the matter, because we need to have constructive criticism and improve for the best. Idealistic demand? Perhaps, but the trick here is to educate every single person in Lebanon to eventually have such high standards and expectations from their government and the opposition and hold them accountable to their actions and decisions.
Coalitions to hold politicians responsible for their decisions & actions:
The amount that politicians steal from us is not that much of a problem. Honestly, go ahead steal, as long as you still do your job and help this country. Do 50% of what you're supposed to because right now you are doing nothing. The salaries we pay for parliament members; we will get to a day where we hold you accountable for what you should be doing. We should form coalitions focusing our own ministers and parliament members, set goals for them and see them through, put roadmaps and check on them.

Media to be neutral in critical times:
Finally, I would like to see the media in Lebanon be on such coalitions' sides as opposed to promoting hatred and sectarianism for viewership. F*ck viewership, use your power and influence to change this country to the better. Because we are not at a place where we can afford propaganda, we have reached survival mode and we cannot regress anymore. Coalitions shouldn't have one color and one sect, because the purpose should be far away from criticizing a politician because he/she belongs to the opposing political party of ours. We should reach a point where we criticize politicians no matter what their political affiliation or sect is.

My 2 liras.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CEO to run Lebanon as a company

One day you were working for a company where you had to pay for your coffee there, another day you find yourself working for a company that has a “walking workstation”; a desk that allows you to walk on a treadmill while working to help you circulate the blood in your body and keep you fit and healthy.

When you reach a point where you see luxury redefined and experience first world problems (free burger restaurant closing at 3pm or free snack stand missing your favorite snack), one look back to “messy and deprived” home can give you an electric shock with high voltage. 
Source: Lara Sakr
What is my home? My home is a place where people stick papers on their window shops asking “them” not to place explosions near by as they are already in debt and can’t afford to lose more. Excuse me, say what? Insurance? Let us all laugh together at that shy thought that just occurred to you. 

After working for such a big company, you see the way it operates and you realize that if such a multi-national company serving more than 1 billion monthly active user can operate successfully, structure its organizations and give their employees a great and challenging environment to work for, then there is hope for a country with 4 million to do this same.
The trick is to hire talented people, promote integrity within the team, encourage ambition, provide you with enough tools and freedom to think outside the box, push to change course quickly and remain flexible to fix a problem before it gets big. 
If I want to see my Lebanon function properly, we need a good CEO whose sole purpose is to see this country grow, its people work together for a better Lebanon but at the same time work independently on own projects and succeed. We need a good CEO who hires ministers that are competent and qualified, who in turn hire competent and qualified people for their ministries (as opposed to: bayyo mse3ad bayye, w hayda min yamna...). We need to show the citizens that your sect, your background, your gender, any definition of who you are besides your drive, qualifications and skills, is not a factor in getting the job. When they see this revamp in our government, we will encourage those people to vote for adequate and trust worthy parliament members, away from the political party they belong to.

Source: Unknown (Most probably photoshopped) - But you get the idea behind the sarcasm
There should not be “political” parties anymore; there should be departments and teams. For our country to thrive and reach its best version, we need to treat it as a multinational company.
If you allow your people to be free and creative, they will do it for the benefit of all. Negative competition and vibes will vanish and become trivial. Everyone would get to a point of being ashamed of such thoughts that you won’t need to impose rules and laws, ideas and slogans to prevent them. It’s not about you or me, it’s about us all. 
Lebanon right now sounds like the company where we have to buy our own coffee. Remember, we are all employees, and there is no chance to hire or fire. Fact is, we are all in this together, and we better start being polite, peaceful and kind to each other, develop skills and work from the bottom up while hoping that in parallel some good CEO works from up to bottom to fix this country.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Freedom speaker or Karantina sex worker?

Observing Lebanon and mostly the online twittersphere the last couple of days one cannot but say something about it:
  1. Defamation and freedom of speech have nothing to do with one another. I understand that by removing this law you get to make fun of the president as you like, but really, what good will it do except for more satire lame shows on TV and funny frustrated tweets.
  2. Perhaps the president should be focusing on other things than having police force investigate with a guy that has foul language. Nonetheless to wake up and see the whole online twittersphere create a dedicated hashtag "كلنا جان عاصي", by that we ended up putting this “tweep” on the same level of Egyptian Khaled Said, the guy who was "beaten brutally to death" by the police because he stood up for his country. Unlike our own who was just taken for half a day for an investigation. He broke a law people, calm down!
  3. Finally, the online community is becoming cheaper than a Karantina sex worker! Stop being so easy to manipulate and so cheap to lure into a campaign. Give it up already, the drama and the misplaced excitement. 
The thing is, what they do is let the people breathe so they don't explode. They give us random acts of chaos which we react to with protests or online campaigns supported by a hashtag that would one day be forgotten. We are not bottling up. We are not picking the right battles to fight. We are wasting our energy on small trivial things. We need to save our energy and let things bottle in (this does not apply on marriages, in fact we should do the complete opposite). But for the state of our country, we need to wait and keep it inside until we find a battle both worthy of fighting and that will win us big if won.

My 2 Liras: Pick your battles, stay quiet,  listen and only speak up when the time is right and the cause is worth it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Time to zip it

The problem about me and blogging is not an emotional issue here. It can be easily rationally explained. Here's why:

News type of posts, obsolete now
For new readers, you probably don't remember the days when I used to blog about recent events and political news, back there were no twitter or facebook in the density used now and people didn't share and spread a word. So, I was one of the few bloggers who acted as the middle man for what's happening in the country.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Lessons I learned this past year

Dublin - August 2012
2012 taught me 10 things:

  1. You can never predict your future. 
  2. A decision can truly alter your life one direction or the other. Weigh pros & cons, but at the end, go with your instinct.
  3. Eventually you are bound to go back on the path you were supposed to be on
  4. Do not underestimate. Do not expect a lot. Keep the balance
  5. Make the best out of wherever you are
  6. People will only see what they want to see in order to justify / explain / make sense out of things they are going through. Therefore whatever they're feeling, it's their problem and not your responsibility.
  7. Never regret, as difficult as things may get.
  8. Cherish distance for it will reveal true friends.
  9. Cherish distance for it will make new friends.
  10. Lists are always more impacting when they contain 10 points.
Here's a bonus lesson I learned from someone at work: "If you don't find it challenging, it means you're not learning anything new". 

And another bonus one, something I wrote a while ago, in response to the previous bonus lesson: 
 "Walking away is not always giving up, sometimes it's just moving on."

Friday, November 30, 2012

جرّب هذا الصباح

جرّب هذا الصباح
أن تستيقظ على غير عادة
تخرج الى الشرفة
تنظر الى البشر وكأنهم فراشات،
افتح ذراعيك وكأنها أجنحة..

أن تجدّل الغيم ضفائراً للسماء،
أن تمسح الدمع عن خدّ الشمس
وساعدها في وضع أحر الشفاء،
اهمس في أذنها كم الحرائق مثيرة،
وتفرّج عليها تضحك بخجل،
امش على الأرصفة
وكأنك تمسّد التعب الذي خلّفته
الأحذية التي عبرتها،
افسح متسعاً للكون على كتفك،
ليتكئ ويرتاح،
كل شيء سيكون على ما يرام،
جرّب أن تنظر في وجه البشاعة
أنك منذ زمن بعيد
لم تخبرها كم تبدو جميلة
في الصباح...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why we shouldn't be making fun of Lebanon's independence

What is very noticeable on this day is the level of cynicism present among the people with voices online today. Because sadly nobody cares to make a change or point out something new or old that no one mentions so we can fix. Everyone just cares to be cynical and funny.

We might laugh that our country is celebrating being independent for 69 years now since the French انتداب, but let me remind you that a country is not made of walls, it's made of men, and men are personalities. So if you think that Lebanon is independent, and then laugh and point a finger, let me remind you that a personality takes a lot from the education it gets and the culture it lives in and people it is exposed to.

So as my friend Wissam Y. said and I add to it, when we as Lebanese, one by one, stop being so dependent on the other, on what the other thinks of us, on seeking attention, approval and ackowledgment from our surrounding, when we stop judgimg everyone else because it's how we feel better, when we stop caring about driving the best car, when we move out of our parents house before 40, when we make our own lunch and stop waiting for our mothers to cook for me and my husband, when I have a baby that I make more time to see him... No wonder our politicians are dependent, no wonder our country is dependent, because no doubt how pathetically dependent we are.

In 2000 we marched to the street and asked Syria to get out, because back then we thought that this was our problem. Sadly it's a psychological one that we need to work on. But hey, at least we protested in 2000 when army still opened fire brigade's pressured water on us and even hit us.

What is scaring everyone today? Of course, we are scared to face the truth that we are also a big chunk of what we call fake independence.

On this day, I tell you, go on, like and share in thousands silly content and memes, while we could be trying to make the next generation more intelligent than us.

Happy independence day Lebanon, nevertheless, some people are independent and one day we will get there. We are more than a comedy show, we can be change. Remember that.