Archive | Lebanon

Bid Farewell to Long Queues at The Mecanique Centers

No matter how smart you try to be about timing your car inspection visit to the mecanique center in Hadath, it is almost always guaranteed to be like a trip down to hell. I personally utterly hate to take a day off for the sole purpose of waiting endlessly in long queues to get that stupid task done. And I dare call it stupid because all cars end up driving on the Lebanese roads regardless whether they pass or fail.

However, a new service by “Blink My Car” (the app that made car washing a tap away) seems to have found a workaround for that as it currently offers sending one of their officers to have your car inspected.

I got in contact with them and was informed that the process takes an average of 3 hours and costs 50,000L.L (in addition to the 35,000L.L inspection fees). To benefit from it, all you have to do is to request an appointments through the app and provide the officer with the car registration license.

Once your car passes you will of course have to pay the mecanique fees which can be done at Naf3a, Banks, and some certified centers, but if you wish them to pay it on your behalf then you can pay an additional 25,000L.L and also have one of their officers pay it within 48 hours.

I believe this is pretty convenient for employees especially those with strict working hours, and the service fee is both fair and absolutely worth it.

For those who are not familiar with the app, the cool people at “Blink My Car” were kind enough to provide me with a free promo code for people to try their car wash service when I was inquiring them about the mecanique thing. All you have to do is download their app (for either iOS or Android) and enter the code “plus961free” to benefit from a free wash. There’s no limit set for the code so feel free to tell your friends as well!

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9 Lebanese Startups Among The Arab World’s Top 100

Forbes Middle East released its list of the top 100 startups in the Arab World and Lebanon earned 9 spots with Anghami coming 2nd in the overall ranking thanks to $29M in funding. UAE based startup Fetchr was ranked 1st with a funding of $52M.

Here’s a list of the Lebanese startups that were mentioned (Full list available here):

  • #2 Anghami – Music streaming platform
  • #23 Scriptr – IoT application platform
  • #25 Falafel Games –  Develops and publishes massively multiplayer online games
  • #31 Sqwirl Lab – Startup studio
  • #39 Energy24 – Alternative Energy storage and generator
  • #65 Blink My Car – Car care app
  • #72 Risk+ Solutions – Financial intelligence and risk management solutions
  • #77 Loop – Electric scooter sharing technology
  • #85 Myki – Cybersecurity

With the all the telecom infrastructure upgrades we are promised, I hope we get to see even more Lebanese projects and startups in the coming years.

On the other hand, a similar list was also compiled by Forbes for the top 100 Arab companies and 4 Lebanese banks made it to the list (Bank Audi, BLOM Bank, Byblos Bank, and Bank of Beirut).

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Lebanon Ranks 99th in World Press Freedom Index – 2nd Among Arab Countries

Reporters without borders issued their yearly World Press Freedom Index and Lebanon came in the 99th place among 180 countries (dropping 1 spot since last year) and in the 2nd place among the Arab countries behind Tunsia.

Here’s what they had to say about the state of press in Lebanon:

Lebanon’s media are outspoken but also extremely politicized and polarized. Its newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels serve as the mouthpieces of political parties or businessmen. Lebanon’s criminal code regards defamation and the dissemination of false information as offenses. Journalists who are prosecuted and convicted by a “print media court” are usually fined, but a prison sentence is still legally possible. Bloggers and online journalists may receive summonses from the “bureau for combatting cyber-crimes” if something they have posted on a social network elicits a complaint from a private party.

Morevoer, below is a list of some Arab countries compared to us:

97 – Tunisia
99 – Lebanon
104 – Kuwait
119 – UAE
123 – Qatar
126 – Oman
138 – Jordan
158 – Iraq
161 – Egypt
164 – Bahrain
165 – Iran
166 – Yemen
168 – Saudi Arabia
177 – Syria

The country with the freest media turned to be Norway, followed by Sweden, Finland and Denmark, while North Korea came at the bottom of the ranking.

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Lebanon is Calling – DEMCO Properties Ad on CNN is Spot On!

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Following the election of a new president in Lebanon after 2 and half years of vacuum, the general mood among the politicians and people alike has been turning positive with hopes of a stable and flourishing future ahead, and this beautiful ad by DEMCO Properties that was showing every 30 minutes on CNN during their coverage of the presidential elections really nails it at restoring the Lebanese expats’ faith in their country.

The ad shows some accomplished Lebanese businessman in NYC getting an emotional call from his homeland (literally) to tell him that Lebanon is back again on his feet and needs his support to accomplish more and eventually secure a stable future.

Needless to say, the ad encourages Lebanese expats to never lose faith in their country and contribute in its recovery by investing more in it, however the most important message this is conveying is to remain positive (who would have guessed 1 month ago that we will elect a president on October 31st?!), I mean even if some expats don’t have some spare money to invest in Lebanon, watching this ad is enough to give them a warm feeling and an extra push to achieve more!

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Things to Do This Week in Lebanon – April 20th 2016

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Here are my picks from Lebtivity for this week. The annual heartbeat concert is happening this weekend and I highly recommend you book your ticket to help children suffering from heart diseases.

This year’s concert will feature 100 singers, dancers, musicians and comedians, performing live on stage, with decors, costumes, screen projections and lighting effects inspired from several countries. And if you’re unable to attend but still want to donate to heartbeat, you can do so through their website.

  1. The Moment (Sar wa2ta) with Milad Hadchiti
  2. Startups Success Stories: A Hands-on Experience from IE & Friends
  3. Stress Management workshop at Skillz
  4. Heartbeat Concert 2016
  5. Curro De Candela
  6. TEDxNDULouaize – Main Event 2016 – Unknown Variables
  7. The Voice Kids Tour 2016 in Lebanon
  8. The Happiness Program With The Art of Living Foundation
  9. Walk with Al Younbouh 2016
  10. The French Macaron – Cooking class with Lamina’s Kitchen
  11. Carina Live at Zico House
  12. Live Concert at l’appartement
  13. Braderie du Livre à la Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture a Zouk Mikael
  14. Rupture à Domicile – Comédie

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

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Lebanon Has The Highest Number of Billionaires Per Capita

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Forbes Middle East released their list of the world’s richest Arabs in 2016 headed by Prine AlWaleed Bin Talal (17.3 Billion) and 7 unsurprising names from Lebanese made it to the list this year.

12. Najib Mikati, 2.5 Billion
12. Taha Mikati, 2.5 Billion
15. Bahaa Hariri, 2.2 Billion
23. Robert Mouawad & family, 1.5 Billion
25. Saad Hariri, 1.4 Billion
31. Ayman Hariri, 1.2 Billion
32. Fahd Hariri, 1.2 Billion

With these figures, Lebanon turned out to be the country with highest number of billionaires per capita in the Arab world.

But for some reason I always have a hard time believing that these lists report the exact number of billionaires in Lebanon and the other countries simply because we lack transparency here in our region. The Mubarak family of Egypt for example never made it to any “Richest Arabs” list, and we only knew about their billions after they were overthrown.

In our case, we have politicians who have been active for more than 30 and 40 years now like Berri and Joumblat, and I highly doubt these two have not been able to make a couple billions throughout their long years of “serving” the nation.. so yeah there’s definitely more to add to that Forbes list.

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Things to Do This Week in Lebanon – April 13th 2016

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Here are my picks from Lebtivity for this week. The 5th edition of Beirut International Platform of Dance is taking place this week and Souk El Akel lands is landing in Zouk Mikael!

  1. Rupture à Domicile – Comédie
  2. BIPOD 2016
  3. Celebrate Spring in Zouk Mikael with Souk El Akel
  4. AUB Job Fair 2016
  5. Avo Demirdjian live in Concert
  6. Beirut Corporate Games 2016
  7. Clue Club – Save the world
  8. Low calorie desserts workshop
  9. Kirtan, Calming Chants in a Chaotic World
  10. Stress Management workshop at Skillz
  11. “After School: What’s Up?” Fair

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

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Remembering the Lebanese Civil War Day by Day

Today marks the 41st anniversary of the Lebanese civil war which lasted 15 years from 1975 to 1990 resulting in 150,000 people killed and thousands of disappeared.

On this occasion I thought it would be good to share with you an interesting group on Facebook called “La guerre du Liban au jour le jour” where Georges Boustany and Kheireddine El-Ahdab share on a daily basis old videos, images, and news articles from war time to recollect both major and tiny events that happened during those 15 years.

I highly recommend you join the group not only to learn more about the Lebanese civil war but also because Georges and Kheireddine sometimes shares rare videos that were not shown in the released war documentaries so far. I once saw a video showing the neighborhood we used to live in during the 1980s, so you never know what’s in it for you!

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Central Bank of Lebanon Prohibits Prepaid Cards

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If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Central Bank of Lebanon issued intermediary circular nb415 a couple of weeks ago requesting banks and financial institutions to stop issuing and offering prepaid cards to their customers.

This decision comes as a response to the recent international recommendations after the bombings that hit Europe, since it appeared that terrorists were using these anonymous prepaid cards to cover their identity when buying the needed materials to execute their crimes. The problem here is that some cards are sold off the shelf at bookstores and supermarkets as internet and gift cards with no need to supply any personal information, therefore anybody can use them to buy almost anything without leaving a trace of his identity. That’s why the European Commission is currently working to regulate the usage of prepaid cards and virtual currencies, and Lebanon is following their steps by simply banning dealing with these cards all together.

Needless to say, this is going to upset a lot of people who used to get things done with cards like BLOM’s Visa Mini or Bank of Beirut’s SKIP card without the need to have an account with the issuing bank. Some people still don’t trust the internet with their credit card info and resort to using these prepaid ones whenever they need to purchase stuff online, while others simply use them because they don’t have a bank account like students. And knowing how BDL is usually serious about its decisions, you currently have no option other than opening a bank account and then going through the usual procedure of applying to a credit/internet card that gets linked to your account and eventually traces back to you each time you use it online or at a POS terminal.

However, if your main concern is anonymity, then you can use a service like MaskMe which allows you to generate a virtual card number for the amount you need to spend online in order to use it with the web merchant. This way, your real credit card statement will show a payment to MaskMe, and the merchant will not be able to know your real identity.

This new measure might be necessary to stop the terrorists’ access to funds, but it totally sucks for people who opt for more practical solutions… and until regulators introduce some new control over these cards before offering them again, you will have to bond a little more with your preferred bank!

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