Australian 60 Minutes Show Crew Arrested for Documenting Children Abduction in Beirut

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News outlets reported yesterday morning that two kids were kidnapped in Hadath by gunmen while waiting for the school bus with their grandmother. As hours went by, the police claimed that their Australian mother was behind the whole thing since she was separated from the father and the two were apparently fighting over the custody of the kids.

Such affairs are not unusual in Lebanon and they sometimes get eventually settled between the parents at a police station, but I was quite surprised this morning to read that it wasn’t really that simple as it turned out the mother planned the abduction in coordination with some private child recovery agency from Australia that helps recover parentally abducted children, and wanted to get them out of Lebanon through the sea to Cyrprus. And it doesn’t end here, she even got the Australian 60 Minutes show involved to film the whole operation as it happens.

The Lebanese police however uncovered the whole thing and ended up arresting the abductors and 60 Minutes crew including presenter Tara Brown (the Australian media is currently buzzing about it by the way) while the mother managed to escape to the Australian embassy along with her children.

I’m not sure how legal this children recovery thing and if journalists are even allowed to document such operations, but it definitely sounds baffling! Let’s see how things will unfold for those in custody right now.

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Things to Do This Week in Lebanon – April 6th 2016

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Here are my picks from Lebtivity for this week. The annual “Museums Night” event is taking place this Friday which allows you to access 11 museums around Lebanon for free, some of the participating museums have some really interesting stuff to see and know about so this event is definitely not to be missed.

  1. The Social Media & Internet Workshop for Moms
  2. Easter at CityMall
  3. Lebanon Career Expo 2016
  4. HORECA 2016
  5. MEGA 2016 – MENA Games Conference
  6. Jardin d’amour: Performance Theatrale
  7. Nuit des Musées 2016 – Museums Night 2016 – Lebanon
  8. Discover Monot-Huvelin Car Free Day – By Achrafieh 2020
  9. Bankmed YOUTH RACE
  10. TECHNIC Career Expo 2016 – Part of Lebanon Career Expo
  11. Ecrans du Réel – 12ème édition
  12. Anna Mattar’s Jazz Quartet at Onomatopoeia
  13. Saving the Beauty of the World – Art Exhibition
  14. George Nehme @ Junkyard Beirut

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

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Game of Thrones Season 6 Premiere at Metro Al Madina

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Game of Throne season 6 is almost here, and if you happen to be a fan of the show then you’re most probably already planning how to watch the first episode as soon as it gets aired on April 25th (Beirut time). At the end, we’re all eager to know Jon Snow’s fate!

Being 19 days ahead of the first episode, I thought I should share a couple of things with the Lebanese fans of the show. First, there’s a group on Facebook called “Game of Thrones – Fans in Lebanon” where Lebanese fans discuss the episodes  and exchange their views of the events, they also respect the time people take to watch the new episodes and refrain from posting any spoilers until Monday night. I recommend you join it if you like to engage in debates about GoT with like-minded people.

Second, the group admins are organizing a screening of the first episode on April 25th in Metro Al Madina Hamra at 6:30PM. So if you would like to watch it with a group of cool people in a near cinema style setting you can call Metro Al Madina on 76-309363 and reserve your seats. Tickets are sold for 10,000L.L with one round of popcorn. You can check all the event details here on Facebook. (Note that the finale will also be

And while we’re at it, I will soon be writing a separate post to share with you the setup I have at home to get the new episodes automatically downloaded as soon as they’re out on the internet, and the media server I use to play them on my TV.

Valar Morghulis!

Update:

The event has unfortunately been cancelled following complaints by OSN.

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We Are The Joke For April Fools’ Day This Year

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On the occasion of April Fools’ day, today’s caricature in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat was simply our Lebanese flag as a statement that our republic is nothing more than a joke.

Not sure whether we should laugh or cry.

Update:

Asharq Al-Awsat ended up removing the caricature from their website following the rage expressed over it on social media.

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Lebanon to Participate in The 15,000Km Peking to Paris Challenge

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I just stumbled upon this article from Biser3a about a Lebanese team participating in the 2016 Peking to Paris motor challenge from June 12th to July 17th.

The first version of this race was held in 1907 from Beijing to Paris when a french newspaper challenged car owners to do it as a proof that a man can do anything and go anywhere as long as he has a car. Since that time, the race was re-enacted 5 times in 1990, 1997, 2005, 2007 and 2013, mostly using vintage cars.

This year, Charbel Habib and Walid Samaha are going to represent Lebanon in this challenge aboard a beautiful classic 1964 Porsche 356 C, and will attempt completing the challenge along with 119 other teams from more than 25 countries. The 15,000Km journey will eventually start in Beijing before the drivers head to Mongolia to cross into Russia and the Republic of Belarus, they will then go through Europe to reach Place Vendôme in Paris at the end.

The Porsche 356 C looks absolutely gorgeous and I found the straps on the front to be pretty cool, I just hope it reaches Paris unscratched!

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Is The Government Indirectly Imposing A New Tax on Gas?

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Following the huge decrease in gasoline prices during the last year, there has been a lot of talk about the possibility for he government to fix the price at 22,000L.L per 20 liters or introduce a new tax of 5,000L.L to increase the revenue, but it was claimed a couple of months ago that the cabinet is not going to approve such thing and we all got relieved.

However, it seems like the tax is going to be gradually imposed one way or another. Over the past 3 weeks, the price of gasoline has increased by 1,700L.L even though the price of crude oil decreased from $41.5 to $38.3 over the same period.

What’s also worse is that the media is not reaching out to the ministry of energy to inquire about these increases, but you really can’t blame them when Ahlam and Adel Karam are keeping them busy with their nonsense…!

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Things to Do This Week in Lebanon – March 30th 2016

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It’s time again for the weekly picks from Lebtivity. HORECA 2016 will take in BIEL next Tuesday for 4 days and is promising to be packed with workshops and competitions, so make sure not to miss it!

  1. HORECA 2016
  2. Ayoun Samak Hiking with Vamos Todos
  3. The Dream Matcher Experience – Beirut
  4. Souk El Tayeb in Gefinor – Every Wednesday
  5. 80s & 90s Night at Harbor 201 – Every Friday
  6. Film in Metro – Movie Night Every Monday
  7. Antika Night @ Feb30
  8. Karaoke Night at Royal Velvet
  9. Super Sunday Lunch at Le Royal
  10. La cuccina Italiana at Gefinor Rotana
  11. One-to-Three Social Media Workshops with Right Service

Make sure to check Lebtivity.com for more options.

 

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13 Lebanese Among The 100 Most Influential Arabs Under 40 for 2016

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Arabian Business published their list of 100 most influential Arabs under 40 for 2016 and it included 13 Lebanese from different industries. Chaker Khazaal, a Palestinian refugee who used to live in Lebanon before emigrating to Canada, was named as the most influential Arab for this year.

Below are the Lebanese that were mentioned. You can check the full list here.

15- Maher Zain 34, Arts and Entertainment
21- Amal Clooney 38, Law
30- Rafi Demirjian 39, Business
39- Abdallah Absi 23, Technology
48- Nancy Ajram 32, Arts and Entertainment
66- Fahd  Hariri 35, Banking and Finance
76- Mahmoud Kabbour 37, Media
78- May Habib 24, Technology
81- Philippe Ghanem 35, Banking
84- Jihad Kawas 19, Technology
92- Diala Makki 32, Arts and Entertainment
93- Aya Bdeir 33, Technology
98- Myriam Fares 33, Arts and Entertainment

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It’s Official: Assafir Will Stop Publishing

Several people from Assafir confirmed the rumors we all heard last week about a possible closure of the newspaper. Sanaa Khoury, a journalist in Assafir, was among the firsts who announced it on twitter.

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Assafir has been in print for 42 years now and was among the leading newspapers in Lebanon, so it’s definitely odd to see it closing down with its employees getting laid off. But then again, it’s only logical for the publishers to halt their operations if there’s not enough revenue.

Throughout my teenage years I got used to reading Annahar as it was my parents favorite, but that was up till 2005 when Gebran Tueini was assasinated and they then switched to buying Assafir. And although I personally enjoy flipping through the physical copy, I never felt the need to subscribe to a newspaper when I got married and moved out in 2011, mainly because I was staying up to date with news through the available news websites and feed readers.

This actually brings me to a related news on ministers Sejaan Azzi and Ramzi Jreige calling for support to media outlets suffering from financial difficulties. Times are changing, and any support a newspaper will be getting is going to be temporary in my opinion if people simply don’t feel like buying a physical copy anymore, just like stone tablets were abandoned for documentation hundreds of years ago. Moreover, the closure of a newspaper will not affect the culture in Lebanon if journalists kept expressing their opinions online because it’s the content that matter and not the medium. Publishers should simply adapt to the changing news consumption habits and act accordingly, and if the government feels like being nice then it should probably consider helping the laid off employees.

Photo via Al Arabiya

Update:

It was reported today that Assafir got some financial support and will keep publishing at least for the next few months. A press conference will be held by the management on Wednesday to talk about the issue with the public.

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Beirut Hippodrome in Danger of Closing Down?

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I was a bit surprised to read this news on several news outlets reporting that Beirut Hippodrome is facing financial difficulties and is in danger of closing down due to lack of funding by the municipality of Beirut.

According to the report, the mayor of Beirut Bilal Hamad is reluctant to invest additional money in the racecourse because betting that is prohibited in Islam takes place there, which sounds quite absurd to me. Regardless if a religion prohibits a certain practice or not, if it is legal by the law then no one should be allowed to keep people from practicing it, otherwise it’s definitely a case of abuse of power.

Better yet, Hamad said he will authorize additional funds to Beirut Hippodrome only if it was turned into what he calls “Beirut Central Park” consisting of a golf course and a riding school. So he basically wants to shut down the racecourse and turn it into a second park just like Horsh Beirut where no one is allowed most time of the week.

If things continued to go downhill for the Hippodrome,  then it won’t be weird to read about some development company taking over it someday and starting some mega structure there, just like the resort that was planned in Ramlet El Bayda a couple of years ago.

At a time when we still can’t figure a permanent solution for our garbage, I know this is isn’t a priority but governmental institutions should really consider maintaining places like Beirut Hippodrome before they deteriorate further. I recently came across the below photo of the Sports City Stadium on Facebook and it looked absolutely awful, notice the missing seats in the stands area. We deserve a bit better than that for our tax money!

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