Author Archive | Rami

Beit Misk – The First Smart City in Lebanon with Fiber To The Home Infrastructure

Beit Misk was pronounced over the last weekend as the first “Smart City” in Lebanon after Ogero enabled internet connectivity over fiber optics to the residents there.

Earlier this month Ogero announced it will be¬†offering residential fiber connection to the people of Hamra and Achrafieh but it came as a no surprise to have the Beit Misk residents getting it ahead of everybody else since the project developers took a fiber infrastructure into consideration during construtions, which eventually made Ogero’s job easier to provide this service there.

Speed tests conducted by Chairman Imad Kreidieh during the launching event in the presence of minister Jamal Jarraj reached ~900Mbps which is quite impressive, and I believe it would be great if households there got >50Mbps connections.

Still, the ultimate challenge is of course to provide the same service to Beirut and the other major cities in Lebanon, and I really hope to see some tangible results in the near future.

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Foreigner Tries Swimming in Beirut, Gets Covered With Shit (Literally)

This cool guy, Georgie Fechter, is Masters of Dirt’s organizer and thought it would be a good idea to go for a swim in Ramlet El Bayda along with his friends while they were here in Beirut during the “BEASTS” event.

In the video you see him walking with excitement all the way from Raouche to Ramlet El Bayda despite a knee injury, and gets all cheerful once he gets to the water. However, moments after he starts swimming, a friend tells him the water tastes awkward and the two get back to the shore only to discover dead fish and pieces of shit everywhere… From there onward their reaction is absolutely priceless! ūüėÄ

Start watching at the the 2m08s mark.

I always knew the sea is quite dirty in Ramlet El Bayda by the way but I never knew it was really THAT bad!

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Mandatory IMEI Registration is Coming Back – Mobile Phones to Get More Expensive

I was at a mobile phone shop in Beirut yesterday when I heard some people claiming that the Ministry of Telecommunications is bringing back the mandatory registrations of mobile phones IMEI in a new attempt to fight smuggling of mobile devices. (*ahem* Amhaz…)

As soon as I came back home I searched a bit and found that the thing is unfortunately real as per the below report by MTV (thanks Techie Dad), and it is quite surprising that the ministry didn’t bother alert the subscribers yet about the new decision!

For those who don’t know, a similar decision was taken in 2013 by the telecommunications minister back then Nicolas Sehnaoui and was cancelled by Boutros Harb in 2014 due to how complicated the registration process was. However, unlike now, the ministry back then launched an awareness campaign to let people re-activate their old handsets in order to keep them from being banned on the network once the registration process is put into work.

The MTV report mentions the risks of duplicate IMEIs but the ultimate purpose for enforcing IMEI registration will definitely be fighting smuggling of mobile phones, all at the expense of making our lives harder with the registration process and of course increasing the mobile phone prices (since they will all be subject to import tax and VAT), instead of tightening the controls at the customs.

It isn’t clear yet though when this thing will be put into effect but this guy on Facebook claims it will be as of September 15th. Still, let’s cross our fingers and hope the ministry thinks it over!

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The Day Batman Came to Beirut

I was on Reddit the other day when I landed on a thread about an issue of Batman from the 80s titled “A death in the Family” in which Batman pursues the Joker all the way to Beirut and the Bekaa valley!

The story is full of misconceptions about the Lebanese people and relates a lot to the politics back then (and unsurprisingly now as well). In the comic book, Batman and Robin go to Beirut and cooperates with a Mossad agent named Sharmin Rosen¬†in order to stop the Joker from selling a nuclear missile to a “Shiia” terrorist group who intends to use it against Israel. They eventually succeed but at the expense of the Joker killing Robin and escaping to Ethiopia where¬†he meets with Iran’s Khomeini and gets offered to become his ambassador at the United Nations (LOL?!).

Putting politics aside, especially if you Support Hezbollah, “A death in the family” is a fun read and is regarded as one of the highly rated Batman comics. If you are interested in checking it out you can do so in high resolution graphics on the below links:

Also check Claude El Khal’s post about the same comic book story here.

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Ogero is Now Offering Residential Fiber Connection in Hamra and Achrafieh

You’re so lucky if you live in Achrafieh or Hamra because Ogero announced two days ago that they started offering fiber connections there, and you can apply to the service by sending an email to thepeople@ogero.gov.lb.

I don’t imagine the procedure to be very straight forward because it certainly involves changing the wiring and Ogero didn’t provide any further explanation about that yet.

Anyway, while this is a big step forward for the residents in these two areas, you can’t but think about the big gap being created among the users of the same phone network, and you can clearly see it in the comments on Ogero’s page. Some can’t benefit from more than 1 or 2Mb connections and others can’t even have DSL installed at their premises, while others on the other hand are benefiting from open speed plans and now fiber connections…

And let’s not forget also the problems that need miracles to be fixed such as mine which has been trailing with IDM and Ogero for more than 5 months now. At some point I’m starting to think it will only be solved once I move to Beirut!

The solution for all of this is certainly an infrastructure overhaul, but given how slow our governments tend to be with fulfilling promises, I really hope we get to see this during our lifetime.

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#UberTOUR: Plan a Day Long Trip in Lebanon for $50

Over the last few months I’ve been relying more on Taxi Hailing apps such as Uber to get around Beirut especially when I’m out with my kid and don’t really want to care about finding a parking spot. The apps are quite convenient and frequently run promo codes, so you end up riding most of the time at a discounted rate.

A new offering by Uber recently caught my attention so I thought of sharing it here. In an attempt from them to promote tourism within our country, they’re offering what they call the UberTOUR between August 28th and September 11th which basically allows you to hire a driver for 7 hours to take you wherever you want around Lebanon for a $50 flat rate. You can also extend the trip for a maximum of 3 hours at $7.2/hour.

$50 might sound like too much for some, but when thinking about the gas price and the less stress you have to endure in weekend traffic, in addition to the fact that you can share the ride with a couple of friends, I guess it quickly becomes to sound very reasonable!

If you intend to use the service simply open the app during the above mentioned period and make sure choose to slide to “UberTOUR” to request an Uber and enjoy your next outing!

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Wissam Kamal to Host “Ridiculousness Arabia” on Comedy Central

I’ve been following Wissam Kamal on YouTube since the early days of his channel and have always loved the series he does such as “Lebanese Father and Son” and “Lebanese Ads: F**k Logic”. The guy solely relies on conveying fun messages instead of clowning around to make us laugh at him like Lebanese TV comedians do, hence why I have always wished to see him running his own show.

Earlier this year he earned some exposure when he appeared with on a hilarious ad for Datsun, and Comedy Central Arabia recently seems to have given him what he deserves by getting him on-board season 2 of “Ridiculousness Arabia”, which makes him the first Lebanese comedian to host a show on this international channel.

The show features viral videos from the internet that are usually failed do-it-yourself attempts at stunts, to which the hosts add their own mock commentary. It will start airing on September 3rd on Comedy Central Arabia which is part of OSN in our region so make sure to tune in!

You can follow Wissam on both YouTube and Facebook for new videos and updates about his work. Also, check the below interview with him and his dad on Min El Ekhir 2 days ago.

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It’s 2017 and The General Security Just Started Accepting Debit/Credit Cards

Although the General Security is probably the only governmental institution that you feel is actually efficient with its smooth operations, but no one can deny that fee payment there can really be irritating sometimes.

You probably have been through it too, each time I renewed my passport I had to bring that exact renewal fees in Lebanese Lira in addition to -god knows why- a photocopy of the bills! And yes, carrying dollars instead is guaranteed to delay your application a bit until you go exchange the money… but it seems like those days are long gone.

I was on my way to work this morning when I noticed several billboards announcing that the General Security has just started accepting payment cards to settle application fees. I know it may sound silly to some but it’s definitely a life saver for others, especially those who do not have the luxury to spend an extended time to submit a simple application form.

And now that this governmental institution seems to have caught up with “modern” payment methods, let’s hope for others such as municipalities or Electricit√© du Liban (HA HA HA!) to follow suit and hopefully even offer online payments. It’s 2017 for god’s sake!!

P.S: I couldn’t find any online article about this new service except for this post on Blom Bank’s FB page announcing their partnership with the General Security to make it happen.

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Here’s How Much You Should Now Pay When Leaving Beirut Airport

The minute President Aoun pased the salary scale and tax hike laws 2 days ago, the civil aviation authority at Beirut Airport instructed all operating airlines to start collecting an exit tax as of Wednesday (August 22nd). But unfortunately people remained clueless about the exact fees and exceptions since no details were provided by the government except for the article published in the official journal which (almost) no one reads…!

As per article 9 of law #45, here are the fees to be paid:

  • For economy class 60,000L.L ($40)
  • For business class 110,000L.L ($78)
  • For first class 150,000L.L ($100)
  • For travelers aboard private jets 400,000L.L ($266)

Note that passengers aboard flights with distance less than 1,250Km are exempted from this tax, so you’re clear if you fly to Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, and other nearby destinations.

I assume those who have already purchased their tickets before Wednesday are paying the exit tax in cash at the airport, but I’m not sure whether it is going to remain like that in the future or airlines will simply add to their tickets prices…

A lot of posts/messages are circulating about the new taxes by the way but most have incorrect figures, so make sure to refer back to the this issue of the official journal for the exact figures and consult your lawyer for additional info.

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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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