Simit Sarayi is Opening in Lebanon

I was at the Spot Choueifat last night when I noticed that Simit Sarayi is set to soon open there on the ground floor. I’m sure those who have been to Istanbul are familiar with the place, but for those who are not, Simit Sarayi is basically a chain of coffee shops / bakeries best known for their simit (circular bread similar to bagels encrusted with sesame seeds).

Wherever you go around Istanbul you are guaranteed to stumble upon one of its branches, so it is more like a Turkish version of Starbucks. Their prices are a bit higher than other places and street simit vendors though, but from my experience the service and the pastries freshness were always well worth it.

The only other place in Beirut that serves simit is a Turkish restaurant in Hamra called Mado but they never serve them fresh, so I hope Simit Sarayi commit to better quality standards.

On a side note I’m personally finding it a bit weird for F&B companies to launch some of their brands from the Spot Choueifat. The mall doesn’t have an ideal location and driving to it is not really a pleasant experience especially at night. Still, IHOP opened last week and now Simit Sarayi is expected to do so anytime soon…

Update:

A friend told me they are also opening soon at Citymall Dora.

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Things to Do This Week in Lebanon – August 9th 2017

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Here are my picks from Lebtivity for the 2 coming weeks. Plenty of events are taking place all around the country as almost every town is hosting its own festival this year.

  1. The Cocktail Festival – Jounieh Edition 2017
  2. Catch a Hot New Ride at City Centre Beirut
  3. Cabriolet Film Festival – Byblos 2017 / 4th edition
  4. Holi Festival of Colours – Beirut 2017
  5. Sangría Night at Casa Lucia
  6. TOTO Concert in Lebanon – Part of Baalbeck International Festival 2017
  7. Michel Sardou in Concert at Ehdeniyat
  8. Bonnie Tyler | Batroun International Festival 2017
  9. Daly Gana Live In Concert at Phoenicia Hotel
  10. Wonderland A Magical City Of lights – Part of Jounieh Summer Festival 2017
  11. Mza’art sous La Tente
  12. Mzaar Summer Festival The X10tion
  13. Wonderfly – Faqra Club 2017
  14. Escape Games Beirut – The New Smart Fun Activity!
  15. Magida El Roumi in لا تسأل | Beiteddine International Art Festival 2017
  16. Summer In Nature By Ahlam Golf & Mountain Village
  17. KARAOKE NIGHT @ POZOT
  18. Arnabeat Night at View Bar
  19. Batroun to Anfeh morning ride With Mountain Bike Lebanon
  20. Kul-cha reggae festival 2017

Make sure to check Lebtivity.com for much more options.

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Not Every Occasion Calls for Witty Slogans

It was cool around 2009 and 2010 when Almaza used to advertise witty phrases and taglines on holidays and special occasions, but it became really annoying nowadays with every single brand in the Lebanese market attempt to do the same. To be fair some are coming up with creative stuff, but the majority end up appearing like an assignment done at the last minute.

Below are some example (read disasters*) that were done on the occasion of Army Day last week and did absolutely nothing to convince me spend a lira on the advertised goods.

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Valet Parking Fee Officially Set at 5,000L.L.

If there’s one thing that unites the Lebanese people then it must be their hate for the Valet Parking workers. They’re overpriced, always rude, and they have the capability to doom a whole areas just like what they did in Gemmeyze and Mar Mkhayel! I seriously pity the people living in that surrounding as I personally do my best to avoid going there at night…

And unfortunately, just as in the case with illegal internet and cable TV providers, the government couldn’t keep the valet parking thugs from hijacking public spaces so it simply resorted to “regulating” their activities. For years now they have been imposing ridiculous prices up to 10,000L.L and sometimes more at lush venues, but a recent joint memo by the ministry of interior and the ministry of tourism fixed their service fee at 5,000L.L. So let’s hope it gets applied!

I’m not sure though if hotels are also subject to this memo.

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So Did Your DSL Speed Improve?

It’s been three days now since the new plans recently announced by Ogero became effective, and with them came the “open speed” packages which allow subscriber to benefit from the maximum speed their phone lines can handle.

All other ISPs have updated their existing plans well, and the most flexible ones are offered by IDM and Cyberia. Others like Sodetel and Wise have less options, but no matter what provider you are subscribed too you can get a decent plan for ~$20.

I  have tested the speed upgrades at a friend in Achrafieh who is now getting ~3.5Mbps instead of the 2Mbps he was originally subcribed too, and at my parents in Kaskas area who are now getting ~6Mbps (The latter spoiled my kid by the way because YouTube videos were loading pretty fast on is iPad! 😛 ). On the other hand, people who live relatively far from the exchange offices will be limited to 1 or 2Mbps.

I personally was quite excited when the plans were originally announced in May, but unfortunately shortly after that I started experiencing disconnection with my home connection that lasted several hours everyday, and extremely low speeds whenever I get lucky and my modem connects. So I followed up with IDM (my ISP) and Ogero to troubleshoot the problem for over a couple of months until I was recently informed by Ogero that the problem is due to a defected cable in my area which cannot be replaced anytime soon, and that I have to deal with my current connection until further notice.

This is quite frustrating to be honest since the monthly subscription we pay for our landlines is at minimum supposed to cover the technical failure that might occur on the network, and that should of course include main cables feeding a whole area…!

Anyway, until a miracle restores my connection, I am currently considering switching to a wireless solution such as Connect which recently updated their plans with higher data caps.

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Horsh Beirut is Open Again to The Public

Horsh Beirut has been closed down by the Municipallity of Beirut for several month now ever since a disease spread among the pine trees there and was threatening the whole area. Fortunately, the municipality back then took the matter seriously and closed down the park to treat the issue by cutting down and burning the infected trees, which eventually resulted in containing the disease.

Accordingly, Horsh Beirut has been officially opened again to the public as of yesterday except for some areas where the municipality is still working to clear the invasive insects.

For those interested, the park will be open from 7AM till 1PM on weekdays, and from 7AM till 7PM on weekends. Barbecue and Shisha are of course still forbidden inside, and thank god for that!

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#TogetherAsOne Alex Demirdjian Racing at Spa Francorchamps for Lebanon and Armenia

After racing for Lebanon at Monza, and racing for Armenia at Paul Ricard, Alex Demirdjian and his team are racing this time at the Circuit Spa Francochamps in Belgium in the name of both countries raising the slogan #Driveforlife.

This stage of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Belgium is Total 24 Hours of Spa, and Alex along with his team will be revving the Ferrari 488’s engine for an ultimate test of endurance in the Pro-Am category race. So let’s wish them a good luck and hope for a good result!

I have already uploaded a video of Alex making a full lap around the circuit last night, and you can also follow the race live today on www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live.

Update:

Alex and the team scored a new milestone with a third-place finish in Spa Francorchamps’ 24-hour race! It wasn’t all easy for them though as they received three penalties throughout the race but still managed to make it.

They originally took off from the 7th position but thanks to their successful strategy and the alternation of drivers especially during the last four hours of the race, Dermidjian and the two other drivers managed to finish on the podium and eventually raise the Lebanese and Armenian flags together.

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Lebanese Identified as The Modern-Day Descendants of Canaanites

A paper published in the American Journal of Human Genetics yesterday revealed that more than 90 percent of the genetic ancestry of modern Lebanese is derived from ancient Canaanites.

This revelation is quite intriguing now since historical records about the Canaanites are relatively limited. What we know about them from the Bible is that they were annihilated, and most facts about their community are written by their enemies (ancient Romans, Greeks and Israelites) while their origin and fate remain mysterious.

Researchers were able to sequence the Canaanite genome from the remains of five individuals buried in the ancient city of Sidon (Saida nowadays) around 4,000 years ago, and analysed the genetic relationship between the ancient Canaanites and modern Lebanese by sequencing the genome of 99 modern-day Lebanese.

It’s worth noting though that some historians consider the Phoenicians a sub-group of the Canaanites, but a study earlier in 2016 concluded that we are not related to them… I have no idea how can one interpret this.

Anyway, you can read more about this interesting study here and here.

Photo via National Geographic

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President Donald Trump is Clueless About Lebanese Politics

It seems like Donald Trump is absolutely clueless about Lebanese politics, and listening to the things he said in the below video makes you really wonder how does he take decisions when it comes to our country and the whole region…

As you all know, PM Saad Hariri is currently on an official trip to the U.S. and has met with President Donald Trump at the oval office yesterday. Following their discussion, the two held a press conference during which Presidend Trump claimed that “Lebanon is on the frontlines in the fight against ISIS, Al-Qaeda AND Hezbollah” (watch at the 1m05s mark) while in fact Hariri’s cabinet in fact has a couple of ministers from Hezbollah, and later even calls the party a menace to Lebanon and the middle east (at the 3m35s mark).

And it didn’t just end here, when Denise Rahme Fakhri asked him about his opinion when it comes to Hezbollah and their role in Syria, Trump appeared just like he has no idea what to answer by simply claiming that he will be expressing his opinion on the next day after meeting with his “very expert military representatives”. (watch at the 10m52s mark)

I bet PM Hariri silently went through several WTF moments during the press conference.

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Everybody is Riding The Game of Thrones Wave

There has been a lot of posts on social media over the last week celebrating the new season of Game of Thrones, and some brands just felt obliged to post GoT themed material for the sake of joining the conversation.

I personally found most of the posts dull except for the two by Chevrolet and McDonald’s, the rest appeared more like when Al Rifai feel the urge to post something for Valentine’s day…

Snapshots via Samsoum

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