Author Archive | Rami

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 Electricité 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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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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