Archive | Politics

Syria Street – Everyday Life Stories From Jabal Mohsen and Bab El Tabbaneh

Jabal Mohsen and Bab El Tabbaneh are two neighborhoods in Tripoli that got popular over the past 10 years for all the wrong reason.

Following the assassination of PM Rafic Hariri, the residents of the two neighborhoods got into more than 10 armed clashes mainly due to their division among different sects and having different political affiliations, and the rounds of violence eventually intensified with the start of the Syria war in 2011.

The two areas are separated by Syria Street, also known as Bab El Dahab, and it is a proof that while people in general think that their residents are vertically divided, they in fact share so much in common. Many of them run shops on both sides of the street, and they simply just rely on each other to get on with their lives. People from Bab El Tabbaneh go to Jabal Mohsen for good and services that might not be available in their area and vice versa.

What they also share the most though are their problems, concerns, and daily struggles. The residents of both sides suffer from poverty, bad living conditions, and lack of jobs which is unfortunately motivating their youths to search for any source of income even if it was coming from politicians in exchange of firing arms at their neighbors…

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Lebanon recently collaborated with photographer and filmmaker Brandon Tauszik who’s well known for GIF-based storytelling, in order to convey the real image about the people from both Jabal Mohsen and Bab El Tabbaneh. Brandon spent a week listening to residents from both sides and the result was some quite expressive visuals along with interesting stories from their everyday lives.

To explore more about this project, check SyriaStreet.com in hope that these two areas never take part of another rounds f violence, and that their representatives in the parliament stop abusing them every time they want to make some political gain.

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What’s All The Fuss About Automotive Inspection Fee Hike?

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Have you ever been through the horrible experience of taking your car to one of the “mecanique” inspection centers in Hadath or other areas? The last time I went there 2 years ago I spent 6 hours there waiting in endless queues. The whole experience makes you pray for your car to pass the inspection not because you hate going to your mechanic, but rather because you want to avoid wasting another day over such silly task!

A while ago, it was announced that a new company called Autospect won the bid for running the existing inspection centers, and that part of its plan over the next year is to increase the number of inspection centers from 4 to 17 across the country which will help reducing the time needed to go through the inspection to 15 minutes, with the possibility to book your appointment online. This however will be at the cost of increasing the current fees from $22 to $33 out of which $5 are a new government tax.

Next thing we know, public transportation drivers started protesting the price hike by closing vital roads around Beirut every week or so. Disregarding how much I hate it when a group of people start blocking streets to make their points, I found their protests to be utterly weird.

Out of all the fuck ups in our country, this $11 or 16,500L.L  increase is seriously the reason why these drivers are wasting their precious time to organize these protests? I bet each and every one of these people earns more than that amount per day, but given how sensitive they are about such increase, how on earth can they afford sacrificing their income by going to such all day protests?

I personally think it must be one of two things, the protesters are either not public drivers but rather people who for some reason believe the new developments are not of their interests, or the transportation unions are simply controlled by some influencing figures/businessmen who didn’t win the bid.

Either ways, whoever is willing to reduce the inspection time to 15 minutes can take my money because I’m tired of finding a “simsar” each time I have to take my car to the Hadath center! Protesting against such progress is ridiculous, and no please don’t demand for the government to handle the inspection process instead!

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Bachir Gemayel The Series

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Bachir Gemayel is probably the most controversial Lebanese figure of our modern history whose personality was admired by his allies and opponents alike, and for the 34th commemoration of his assassination MTV Lebanon is showing a 5-episode documentary about him.

I personally have always felt curious to watch segments about Bachir’s short political life and rise to power, and there are several available documentaries on YouTube about that matter, but I believe this one is a must watch for those interested in our recent history because it was prepared by George Ghanem who already provided several great documentaries about Lebanese political parties and figures during his days at LBC. Moreover, the used material was provided by Bachir Gemayel Foundation and includes footage and speeches that were never shown before.

The episodes are being aired every Tuesday at 8:45PM with 2 episodes already out, and you can also watch them online here on MTV’s website.

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Beirut Madinati – Some Things Are Easier Said Than Done

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Beirut municipal elections will take place this weekend and I’m definitely voting for Beirut Madinati against the traditional coalition of ruling political parties that has been winning since 1998 and did absolutely nothing significant for the city.

I honestly didn’t care much about Beirut Madinati’s campaign at the beginning and didn’t even feel curious to know their candidates assuming they’re a bunch of attention seeking activists, but later noticed how wrong I was after they unveiled their list and showed how serious they are about their agenda.

However, that doesn’t mean I see them as perfect as some people portray them on social media, not due to anything they did wrong, but simply because some points in their electoral program don’t make much sense to me.

Affordable Housing

With the skyrocketing prices nowadays, it’s no longer easy to buy an apartment in Beirut. I’m an authentic Beiruti, I was born and raised in this city and never imagined that I will be living anywhere else, but I was unfortunately forced to move to Aramoun when I got married due to the prices increase after 2006. So talking about affordable housing in Beirut definitely relates to my problem and thousands others like me. Beirut Madinati is addressing this issue by promising affordable apartments.

Now let’s get real for a moment, the real estate market in Lebanon is a free one and the set prices follow the rules of supply and demand. It’s quite simple, there’s a huge demand for apartments in this city and little supply of constructed units so it only makes sense for the prices to be high. The only way for the municipality to provide these affordable apartments is by financing their construction itself and sell them at cost price, and in order to satisfy half of the demand the municipality will eventually have to turn into one giant construction company.

I simply don’t see it feasible to do. Apartments are also so expensive in many other cities around the world and you don’t see neither municipalities nor governments intervening, on the other hand the transportation system is enhanced so that people can adapt to living in surrounding areas. And this brings us to the next point…

Transportation

Beirut Madinati wants to enhance the transportation system around the capital by introducing new bus lines and reorganizing the already operating buses, micros buses, and taxis.

This is seriously much needed in Beirut, and I would give up using my car during weekdays if there was a reliable system to get me in and out of the city. But I highly doubt the Beirut Madinati people have previously tried using public transportation and know how the buses around Beirut work because they apparently think their plan is going to be easy to implement.

Truth is that the transportation system in and out of Beirut is actually ruled by mafias. Those who use it know better about the clashes that happen between drivers over a certain line, and how the departure time of each bus is set deliberately by designated agents on the road in order to maximize the number of passengers. Needless to say, these mafias are backed by political parties, and everything that works the same way is very hard to fix. The ongoing case of illegal internet is the biggest example about that.

Do you seriously think the “van ra2em 4” gang is going to abide by any new system? Dream on.

Green Areas and Parking Spaces

This is not exclusive to Beirut Madinati, actually every candidate is promising more green areas and parking spaces around Beirut. Beirut Madinati is going the extra mile of promising a green space for each neighborhood in Beirut.

I seriously would like to know how on earth are we going to create a new green space in Tarik El-Jadida, Mar Elias, Ras El Nabeh, Basta, and other neighborhoods where there are barely any lot left that is large enough to accommodate a 150m2 apartment building. It would be good to support these promises with a map showing the locations of the parks to be.

As for parking spaces, I think it would be enough to just claim back the hijacked spaces from valet parking thugs in several areas of Beirut. That alone would be a major achievement for the new municipality.

I’m still voting for Beirut Madinati

Yes I do have some reservations over their electoral program, hell I even disliked some of their candidates, but I’m voting for them because I’m bored of the same party ruling the city for 18 years now with no significant achievements.

I’m voting for Beirut Madinati neither for an affordable apartment in Beirut, nor a better transportation system, I actually lost hope that things would get better in this corrupt country, I just want them to come in power because we have the right to try someone new and see how they are going to manage the available resources and proceed with new projects for the better of our city.

And you also have nothing to lose, it isn’t like the previous council did wonders to you, so give other people a chance and vote for Beirut Madinati.

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