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Al Rifai Angel Drones is More Like a Stunt Than a Campaign

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The Angel Drones is an initiative by Al Rifai that aims to donate packages of clothes, food, and other essential items to needy families in Lebanon using drones that are labeled as “Angel Drones”. The whole campaign sounds pretty nice as it goes with the spirit of Ramadan in term of helping poor people and feeling with them. Moreover, technically speaking the video is well executed and kudos to whoever made the filming.

However, with the budget that seem to have been allocated for this campaign I really think Al Rifai could have done a lot better.

Even though the video started good and felt very touching, at the end of watching it I was only left thinking about drones and how much weight they can carry around… I bet I was not the only one who thought about that and I really doubt this was Al Rifai’s goal from “The Angel Drones”.

In addition, I really didn’t like the way they displayed the stories of the families they are helping on their website. I mean this is the kind of things that Tony Khalife and Joe Maalouf would do to score with the public… If you want to help poor people then either do it discretely or simply don’t reveal their identities, publicizing it actually goes against the values of Ramadan.

Giving the video a second thought will probably qualify the campaign more as a stunt than a socially responsible campaign. Social responsibility in our case lies in actually donating to the people instead of over-thinking a sophisticated and expensive way to deliver these donations.

In my humble opinion, what Al Rifai could have done instead is producing a video that motivates people to help each other. Take for example the videos that Pepsi Masr produces every year, they touch you really deep and inspire to do good to others or at least be good to them.

The idea is that you do not necessarily have to prove that you are socially responsible in order to score with the public. I think being an inspiration to them can promote your brand much better.

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Cool Aerial Video of Byblos Bay

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Although realtively short, this video shot by Marc Howayek using a DJI Phantom 3 shows some great scenery from the coast of Byblos.

I have also seen a sneak peak of other video he took in different regions of Lebanon and they look really awesome. I hope he uploads them sometime soon so that I can share them as well.

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Things to Do This Week in Lebanon – June 24th 2015

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Here are my picks of things to do this week from Lebtivity. Make sure not to miss the 4-day Ramadaniyat Beirutiya Festival which aims to revive the old traditions of Ramadan in the ancient city of Beirut.

  1. Moules & Frites Special Night at The Hangout Beirut
  2. Ramadaniyat Beirutiya 2015 in BIEL
  3. GREEN STEPS picking Cherries in Baskinta
  4. Open BBQ & Live Band at The Hangout Beirut – Every Sunday
  5. Hermits Trail, Tannourine
  6. “ABWAB” Photography Exhibition – Rosie Nasser
  7. Fashion Business Seminar
  8. Nia® ~ “Joy of Movement”
  9. Kids & Teens Festival
  10. Consumption Exhibition: Prix Pictet – Beirut Exhibition Center

Fro more options you can always check Lebtivity.com.

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Lebanese Taxi Driver Dies of Heart Attack Because of a No-Seatbelt Ticket

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This is one of the weirdest news I lately came across. Lebanon Files reported about a taxi driver named Salem Zgheib who died of heart attack after getting a 200,000L.L fine for not having the seatbelt on.

I’m not sure if it was a bad coincidence and Lebanon Files just dramatized the issue or the man did actually really get mad to the point of having a heart attack and died. Anyway, the whole thing makes you think about people who barely make ends meet and have absolutely no support from the government yet are faced with unfair fines compared to their monthly income. Some may argue the government should treat such people like taxi drivers a bit differently, but then again if it weren’t for the huge fines people wouldn’t really feel like they are forced to abide by the rules.

May Salem Zgheib rest in peace. The policeman who issued that ticket must be really feeling like shit now even though he was just doing his job!

photo via Sietske

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Lebanon Is Finally Getting The Much Needed Internet Infrastructure Upgrade

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I just stumbled upon this really good news about the Ministry of Telecommunications’ plan to upgrade the internet infrastructure by using fiber-optic cables to connect Ogero switching centers to residential and business premises.

The current infrastructures utilizes a fiber-optic network to connect centers together but relies on old copper wires to carry out internet data to the subscribers. The problem with these old wires is that they can handle transferring a maximum of 8Mbps depending on how close to the switching center you live. That’s why 1/3 of internet users in Lebanon cannot get more than 2Mbps to their homes since they simply live too far away from a central office!

The upgrade project will take 5 years to finish as per minister Harb and should allow internet speed to reach 100Mbps. So until that time, expect to encounter a lot of digging around the streets and just pray for the whole thing to finish on time without any major interruption.

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Anthony Bourdain’s Episode on Beirut Was Disappointing

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So I finally managed to watch Parts Unknown season five finale on Beirut (via torrent download) and was quite disappointed.

The show is actually about food and travel, so I was expecting Bourdain to explore some of Beirut’s hidden gems but instead he went to Burj Al Barajneh refugee camp in the first part of the episode to learn more about the Palestinians living conditions here in the country. He then made several people speak about religious diversity and how the different sects coexist happily in Lebanon (especially Sunni and Shia these days!), and he later visited some Hezbollah supporter in Dahieh all while portraying the party as a mighty beast.

Moreover, he never failed during the episode to stress about the threat coming from the east, that is the Islamic state. So it was basically more about politics than anything else. I believe he could have simply aired some recent report about the political situation in Lebanon and spared himself a trip here.

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This Sums Up The Hypocrisy in Our Society

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Every now and then photos like the one above surface on the internet and people start showering the Lebanese police and governmental employees in general with criticism.

No one is sure yet how authentic this photo is since the ISF hinted on twitter that the policeman might have done this stunt on a closed highway as part of some training. It would be really ugly if it turns out to be true, I mean this is the kind of stuff you expect zouzou ebba guys to be pulling on the highway, so having this officer acting the same way is just plain unacceptable…!

But thinking about the photo and the reactions it got for a moment make you realize it actually sums up the hypocrisy in our society…

The man is basically in charge of fining those who violate the law by performing such stunts, yet he enjoys doing them himself! Likewise, we tweet myriads of photos showing ISF officers texting on duty, while we fail to drop our phone when driving. We even argue that the new traffic law should allow us to check our phone on red lights!

We report tens of ISF officers on motorcycles without helmets, yet we also hate to wear them because it’s too hot and they mess our hair! We also break twitter writing about people bruning red lights around the city, but we are of course allowed to do it after 10PM because we know better. Oh and the best of all we also hate when people take advantage on us through “wasta”, but we absolutely have no problem using the same “wasta” to break the rules too!

So yeah, the photo is still ugly, and the officer still deserves to be punished for it, but next time you see something similar, don’t react as if it’s something out of this world, because what you will be seeing is just a reflection of this hypocrite society we live in.

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Beirut Will Be Featured in Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain Tonight

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Anthony Bourdain is back once again in Beirut to uncover more of the less known destinations in the city on CNN’s Parts Unknown.

The available photos show him at military the military themed bar Abu Elie, interviewing Michael Elefteriades and exploring Music Hall, as well as going on a tour with a group of motorcycle riders on the corniche.

The first time Anthony Bourdain came to Beirut was in 2006 and he was not able to finish his episode due to the 33-day Israeli war that broke out in July, so he later came back in 2010 and filmed it again. Back then he featured places like Pierre and Friends, Souk El Tayeb, Le Chef, Onno, Chez Maguy, and Falafel Sahyoun. I hope this episode features more places of the unbeaten path.

PArts Unknown airs very late at night our time by the way so you can catch the episode tomorrow morning on CNN’s website.

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The Ultimate Guide to 2015 Summer Festivals in Lebanon

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The good people at Lebtivity have the full program for nearly each and every festival going around the country this summer. So I thought it would be nice to compile them all in one post to help both tourists and locals better know about them and pick the concerts and events they would like to attend. Clicking on each event will lead you to its respective program on Lebtivity.com.

Byblos Festival

The International Festival has been held annually since 2003, in July. It takes place by the seaside in the historic quarter, in front of the castle built by Crusaders in the 12th century.

Baalbeck International Festival

The festivals date back to the mid 20th century with the first organizing activities being held in 1955. After one year, presiden Chamoun named it the Baalbeck International Festival, which became a governmental institution whose goal was to promote tourism and Lebanese culture.

Beiteddine Art Festival

The Beiteddine Festival was launched amidst war and destruction in the middle of the 80’s. It came as an act of faith in Lebanon’s cultural specificity and its power of creativity and artistic freedom. It was a call for normality in the middle of the chaos and madness of the civil war. The festival takes place in the large 200-year old Beiteddine Palace.

Jounieh International Festival

Jounieh International Festival was launched in 2011 is now famous for the opening ceremony marked by the synchronized fireworks show along the bay of Jounieh. The festival takes place at Fouad Chehab stadium.

Zouk International Festival

Zouk International Festival was launched in 2010 and attracts guests from all over the country and abroad. Zouk Mikael is 10 minutes away from Beirut, perched on a hill of Kesrouwan overlooking the Mediterranean. Its roman styled amphitheatre with a capacity of 2500, built for major events, hosts the festival.

Batroun International Festival

The festival had a shy and amateur debut in the early 90’s until it acquired international standards and earned its place among international cultural festivals. In 2009, the Batroun International Festival was born and started hosting leading local and international artist from all over the world.

Ehdeniyat – Ehden International Festival

Ehdeniyat, which started in 2004, flourished from a local and national event to an International festival of Music and Art. But above all this, Ehdeniyat became an experience of glamour, culture and tradition; “An Experience that Never Ends”.

Beirut Holidays

Beirut Holidays is a series of concerts and shows in the heart of Beirut Souks. Launched in 2012, the festival brings together diverse musical performances and talents, local artists and international performers, from East and West mixing varying genres and tastes.

Cedars International Festival

After almost half a century, the Cedars International Festival will return this summer to Bsharri. The northern town will host several of Lebanon’s top artists as part of an effort to revive tourism in the district. The four-night festival will feature a wide range of musical and artistic performances.

Dbayeh Festival

An enchanting event taking place in Dbayeh this summer. An initiative by Tajammo Ahel Al Mahabba for the fifth consecutive year to raise the voice of hope and peace in Lebanon.

Moreover, the below smaller festivals will also be happening.

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Marrouche is back!

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Chicken sandwich lovers rejoice! I just learned today that Marrouche has reopened again but is now located in Manara near the International College instead of Sidani street in Hamra.

The best thing about this reopening is that they retained the same staff. The man on the right is actually the one who used to make the sandwiches in Hamra for as long as I can remember. And knowing that they have been operating since the 1920s, I really doubt they will be compromising the ingredients quality now, so I think we’ll be having the same awesome chicken garlic sandwiches just as before. But I’m not sure though if the sandwich price has increased or is still the same (7,000 L.L).

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