Tag Archives | government

The one Lebanese town that feels like the rest of the world

power generator

Believe or not, Kherbet Selem, a small village in south Lebanon, now enjoys 24/7 electricity after it used to suffer from up to 12 hours power cuts!

The municipality there simply bought its own diesel generators that switch on automatically when the power cuts, and the village is now having 24/7 electricity for the first time in history. So basically that’s the only place in Lebanon that feels like the rest of the world!

Meanwhile, our government has been failing to fix the electricity sector in Lebanon for more than 20 years now, and will definitely keep on doing so for at least the next 200 years.

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Mobile phone prices in Lebanon increasing already

mobile phones

As you all know, and in order to stop mobile phones smuggling in Lebanon, the ministry of telecommunications is now requiring all traders to register the IMEI (a unique ID assigned to each mobile device) of every legally imported mobile phone or tablet.

The collected IMEIs will then be used as of today June 1st to filter the devices that are allowed access to our mobile networks (alfa and touch). So typically speaking, a legally imported mobile phone with its due taxes paid will be allowed to connect to the mobile networks, while other smuggled ones will be denied access since their unique identifiers are not registered at the ministry.

The weakest ring in the process is of course the group of people who will be responsible of the data entry of the registered IMEIs. Since they will be easily able to register and IMEI of some untaxed mobile if there was not much control over them.

As a result, mobile phone prices ended up notably increasing over the last week. For instance, the guy who sold me my mobile was listing the iPhone 16 GB for around $650 since mid-May I guess, then he increased the price 2 days ago to $745. Logically due to the fact that the handsets he’s currently offering were legally imported and subject to some import tax.

Everybody is eventually complaining about all of this, especially that it gets a bit complicated when you buy some used handset from abroad. And I know it’s wrong to complain about a price increase when it’s a result of complying with the government taxation rules, but still, a $100 increase totally sucks!

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On Fouad Boutros highway

fouad boutros highway

According to an article on Now Lebanon and another on Beirut Report, it seems like the post I wrote back in March on the new highway in Achrafieh connecting Hazmieh to Charles Helou is true, since the project has already been given a green light and works might start in a month or so.

And ever since the news was spread, “Save Beirut Heritage” has been opposing the project as it requires destroying 28 old buildings. But how true is that?

fouad boutros highway 1

I mean let’s assume each building has only 3 to 4 families living in it, then the government should currently be in the process of buying a minimum of 90 apartments in order to later destroy them and be able to go forward with the project. But 90 isn’t a small number, that’s 90 families who can easily coordinate a protest or at least appear on TV to oppose being evacuated from their apartments, which is not the case right now.

That means the number of buildings is either much lower than 28, and therefore a large chunk of the highway will be underground, or the government is offering a really large sum of money for the families and they’re simply happy with it.

fouad boutros highway 2

And let’s be real for a moment, the highway might be seriously endangering Beirut’s heritage, but old buildings in the areas of Achrafieh and Mar Mkhayel are rapidly disappearing anyway to make way for high rise towers! So are we over-reacting a little bit here..?

Anyway, I personally don’t really see the need to connect Charles Helou with Hazmieh through a highway passing by Achrafieh, since there’s already another highway connecting Hazmieh to Karantina which is pretty close to Charles Helou!

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Gibran Bassil’s new comic book – A nation’s dream

This is hilarious! I’ve been searching for some PDF version of this book ever since Bassam Abou Zaid tweeted about it a few days ago, and just last night, he made a news report about it. The Lebanese ministry of energy and water published a comic book called “A nation’s dream” starring minister Gibran Bassil and his son, telling a story that takes place in 2020 after we became an oil-producing country.

The story starts with Gibran Bassil and his son boarding a metro from Batroun towards Beirut passing by all the projects that Bassil has started, from dams to gas pipes and Beirut’s solar snake, then shows how Zouk became much less polluted and how the public dump in Dora turned into some touristic destination. The story then ends with Gibran Bassil telling how proud he feels to be among the few people who actually contributed into realizing the dreams of this country!

I’m not sure who advises minister Gibran Bassil on such things, but is he/she effing serious?! Morever, I wish the story has started by telling how exactly did Bassil accepted handing over the ministry of energy to someone else.

I totally loved the sarcastic comment by Bassam Abou Zaid at the end of the report by the way.

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3G Capacities to increase by 50% for the same prices

Sehnaoui

Great news to all 3G users! Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnaoui announced at NDU today that capacities for all 3G plans will be increased by 50% for the same prices.

It isn’t clear however whether the increase will be immediately effective or it has to wait until we renew the service.

Update:

According to The Daily Star, capacities will increase as of May 1st. Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui claimed on twitter that capacities will increase as of May 7th.

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OMT knows more than it should!

I got this SMS from OMT a few days ago informing me that my mecanique fees which are due this month can be paid at some of their branches.

While I know this makes one’s life easier, I can’t but wonder how did OMT know my mecanique fees are due this month? And how exactly did they get hold of my phone number? It’s clear they have a deal with the ministry of finance, but that doesn’t justify giving them such kind of confidential data for marketing purposes!

I’m sure some employees at OMT can make copies of these data, so don’t be surprised if you find them online anytime soon.

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4G soon in Lebanon

According to this article in Annahar today, telecom minister Nicolas Sehnaoui announced that live 4G tests will start on Novemeber 16 at Beirut Digital District, and the service will be commercially launched on April 23rd 2013 in selected areas.

It’s definitely about time we get 4G, but I admit I wasn’t expecting we will be getting the service anytime soon given how slow such projects go in Lebanon! I also hope its commercial launch is not going to witness the same mess that happened when we first got 3G.

Anyway, you can read about Sehnaoui’s announcement here and watch him tonight talking about it in Talk of The Town on MTV.

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Lebanese Olympic team were not provided with a formal attire!

I’m not quite surprised with our government not providing the appropriate support to our Olympic team this year, but to disregard providing them with a formal attire is too much. Swimmer Katya Bachrouche wrote that the team had to make their entrance in warm-ups with duct-tape to cover the excess logos!

Still, we were of course laughing at the Egyptian team because they were provided with fake suits ignoring that our team had nothing to wear.

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Boycott Spinneys?

Looks like there’s a campaign building up to boycott Spinneys because of treating their employees unfairly.

According to Abir Ghattas, Spinneys refused to abide by the government’s decision to increase wages, and went further by firing the employees who dared to voice their demands to the management by signing a petition.

Unfortunately, Spinneys is not the only firm who refused to give that increase to its employees, in fact many others also did the same, but luckily for them very few or even none of these cases made it to the media since these companies knew beforehand that their employees will prefer to keep their mouth shut than risking their job by making a trouble about the matter.

Anyway, now that the minister of labor is aware of the issue, let’s see if he will really have the guts to do something about it as promised!

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