Your 10-Step Official Guide To Becoming The Next Miss Lebanon


It was so unfortunate that I couldn’t watch the much awaited coronation of this year’s Miss Lebanon yesterday, but I’ve since caught up and I believe I’ve reached the perfect formula for you to win next year.

Why apply to Miss Lebanon? Well frankly, because you basically strut around for a few minutes then end up winning prizes worth around $500,000, and once your reign is done you become an actress or a model or a singer or all three together and you’re set for life. So why the hell not?

Step 1: Be Christian

This cannot be stressed enough. Well, every few decades or so this step doesn’t end up helping, but for the most part it’s a fool-proof method for you to make headway. As such, make sure your name is as westernized as possible. I mean, can you even imagine at some point in time several years ago we had a Miss Lebanon named Rahaf? Who does that?

Step 2: Leave Your Common Sense At Home

You want the president to send out Beirut’s garbage to hospitals? You just say it. You want people to, like, get, like, maps, because, like, Lebanon, you tell them! There are no wrong answers here. You will be applauded. You are being graded on a generous curve whereby you will get at least a 9.7/10 regardless of what you say. You will be celebrated anyway, so just express your deepest and most profound id for anyone and everyone to hear.

Step 3: Collect Eclectic Hobbies:

Miss Lebanon cannot be miss-girl-next-door-who-likes-to-binge-drink-in-MM-every-weekend-or-go-to-roadster-with-her-besties-every-other-day. No. You have to be a beacon of hope for every Lebanese out there, male or female, for them to look up to you and want to make something out of themselves. It doesn’t matter if you don’t hike, hiking is now your hobby. It doesn’t matter if the only time you’ve floated was at the Dead Sea, you are now the next Katie Ledecky. It doesn’t matter if the only book you’ve read is “The Secret,” your favorite author is now Nietzsche (or some other person lots of people pretend to read to sound sophisticated).

Step 4: Lebanon Is The Most Beautiful Thing To Ever Exist:

This cannot be stressed enough. It doesn’t matter that it takes you seven hours in traffic to get to your audition, or that you almost vomited on the way from the stench of garbage or that you got there and had to wait for them to kick start their generators because no electricity or that on the way while snapping with that beauty face, goat face, flower crown face somehow Alfa took away 1.5GB of your 3G and you have no idea how. No. The moment you’re on that stage, your answer to any question asked HAS to culminate in how YOU will propagate to the world how Lebanon is the best thing that Allah ever created. Period.

Step 5: Do Not Be Yourself:

You may like civil marriage in the privacy of your own home, or support LGBT rights with your friends, or support a woman’s right to be sexually liberated and to have a choice when it comes to her own body around your besties, but this is not the place to show them. You are to be as conservative as you can, in the confines of not turning into ISIS. To make it passable, bring out the best smile you can. If you can’t smile (refer to our new Miss), pretend to.

Step 6: Leave your personal opinion about everything at the door:

Listen, it’s nice to have character. But please, make it as generic as possible. No one wants a feisty woman with opinions ~shivers~ to represent the country. No. You want world peace. You want to make Lebanon greater again (because it’s already great). You want to support women. You want to help the refugees. You want to decrease sectarianism. The key is broad headlines to get you applause while essentially being worthless.

Step 7: Be a Brunette:

No Lebanese wants a blonde to represent them. That is just not us. If you have blonde hair thinking that’ll make you stand out, make sure you change the color asap. Brunette is the way to go. Look at the past few years. It’s a recurrent trend. And if not brunette, darker colors will work too to a lesser extent.

Step 8: Get your height up to par:

176cm. At least. Get there. How, I don’t know. Deal with it yourself.

Step 9: Learn French to sound more sophisticated:

You may use English in your daily life, but the Miss Lebanon stage is the place to dig up those rustic French skills you last used in your high school bacc exam. Unless you’re a USJ student. It makes you sound more sophisticated, refined. It makes them want to elect you so you’d give the world that doesn’t care about us in the first place a more polished look about us. It’s equitation, not horseback riding. Je jure!

Step 10: Get your wasta in order:


This makes all the previous 10 steps worthless. It doesn’t matter if you need to sleep with all members of the jury, male and female, or any politician who knows anyone who might be influential in the process. Some things are worth it, even if that politician was the current PM.

And then haters gonna hate anyway when there’s someone who was just SO much prettier who didn’t win because she did not have this secret recipe. 

New Apple Based Knefeh & Maamoul: How Tripoli’s Hallab Is Helping Lebanon’s Apple Farmers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, which I have for the past few weeks, you’d know that Lebanon has added yet another crisis to its list, with the latest being that our Apple farmers have no one to buy their product.

In short, the situation in neighboring Syria caused the export market of our apple produce to stagnate, leading to our farmers being unable to liquidate everything they grew during the season. Couple this with the fact that European countries are wary of importing Lebanese apples because of the use of insecticides, as well as very lax Lebanese governmental regulation towards the import of apple from other countries into Lebanon, and you have a crisis on our hands.

Over the past few weeks, Lebanon’s apple farmers have been protesting in an attempt to get the government to buy their products, even if at a loss to them, in order to offset their losses. The problem will remain, however, as long as our government doesn’t regulate the import of foreign goods that have an equivalent counterpart that is locally produced: why the hell do we need to import apples from France if we’ve got thousands of tons of Lebanese apple residing in warehouses across the country stagnating?

But I digress.

To help the struggling farmers make ends meet, Lebanon’s top sweets producer, Tripoli’s Abdul Rahman Hallab figured the best way to do so was to use our country’s apples into new sweets. It’s a win-win situation for both the farmers and Hallab: on one hand, having their products sold is what the farmers want and need, and on the other hand Hallab would be able to add new items to their menu that aren’t present in other Lebanese sweets manufacturers.

Earlier today, after taking my cat to the vet in Tripoli, I met up with my friend Zaher at Le Palais in order to try out their new “lahm b aajin,” except now it’s no longer just lahm with the advent of the soujouk and chicken varieties. I loved them, and recommend you try them.

Over the past few weeks, and in secret in their Tripoli HQ, Hallab bought over a ton of Apples as a trial phase and worked hard on coming up with new sweets that would at first be available exclusively in Tripoli before being distributed their other branches across the country over the coming weeks.

The sweets are as follows:

  1. Knefeh b teffeh: this includes three kinds –> one with apple and ashta, the second with apple and cinnamon, and the third with apple jam.
  2. Apple pie: not your usual apple pie as the crust is the one you’d typically find in Arabian, not Western, sweets.
  3. Apple maamoul: also not your typical maamoul-like entry, but the texture is very similar.
  4. Apple baklava: this comes in addition to their new chocolate based baklava.

I tried the first 3. The Apple baklava was not available when I was visiting. To say the new desserts are phenomenal would be an understatement. Granted, I like apple-based sweets. Apple pies are always awesome. But there’s something about merging apple with traditional Lebanese/Arab sweets that makes the combination extremely good, and I highly recommend it.

My preference is as follows:

  1. The knefeh with apple and cinnamon,
  2. The knefeh with apple and ashta,
  3. The apple pie,
  4. The apple maamoul,
  5. The knefeh with apple jam.

You can’t go wrong with any of them though, as they are all just wonderful.

To note, this is not a paid post. I’m writing it because I thought the gesture towards the farmers is beautiful and it has culminated in new takes on traditional Lebanese food entries that are worth noting. It’s not every day that we can talk about apple based knefeh or maamoul, and based on what Hallab told me those items will run for a limited time as well.

Here’s hoping Lebanon’s farmers find their footing soon. Other companies that are trying to help them include McDonald’s, Spinneys and Classic Burger Joint. I hope others follow suit soon. Until then, make sure you visit Tripoli for the awesome new knefeh (or be lazy and wait until they arrive to a Hallab near you).


Why Donald Trump Is Probably Part-Lebanese


With each passing day leading up to America voting on November 8th, there’s a growing conviction that gets reinforced in my head, and that is that the Republican bigot and racist nominee cannot but have some part of him be Lebanese. It’s just the way it is, no genetic testing needed. And this is why.

He’s a politician who hates women:

From statements about him just grabbing women “in the pussy,” to making women feel inadequate about the fact they get their period, to calling a former Miss Universe “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight, to believing that pregnancy is a nuisance for his business, to him believing that sexual assault in the military is obviously logical because the two genders are mixed.

The examples are endless. This link (here) is just a brief summary of some of them.

Of course, while such statements are absolutely horrifying for Americans (even though around 43% of them still want to vote for him), they are only second nature to us as Lebanese. How could they not when we’ve got full blown MPs who think women should be blamed for being raped?

He’s racist:

He’s gonna build a wall, a wall that will be so YUGE!, and who’s gonna pay for that wall? SYRIA! Oh wait. Never mind. Had a little mix up there.

From his anti-Mexican statements, to his overall anti-anything-not-American-Blonde-and-White rhetoric, to turning a blind eye to KKK members campaigning for him, to questioning if Barack Obama was born in the United States, the examples are also – once again – endless.

Not to say that *all* Lebanese are racists, but man, those refugees are just ugh! And can you imagine sharing a pool with a maid? What is this, Colonial Africa? And what’s to say about our minister of foreign affairs? Of course he’s right about not wanting to give Syrians or Palestinians who marry Lebanese women the precious Lebanese nationality. America has KKK, we have 961.

He doesn’t pay taxes and is proud of it:

When interrogated by Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate about his taxes, alluding to him not paying them, Trump replied: “that makes me smart.” A few days later, the New York Times risked legal action to leak part of his tax returns showing he didn’t pay anything for over 18 years because of being able to manipulate the American tax code like a pro.

His Republican aids came to his rescue. Rudy Guliani turned him into a “genius” for doing what he did, saying that that alone made him more capable to lead the country than “a woman” (refer to point #1).

Americans (not the 42% still voting for him at least) were outraged. Gasps were reportedly heard among undecided voters being used as focus groups during the debate at his tax statements. How could he get Americans (again, not those 42%) to feel like they are “less smart” for actually contributing to their country?

In this side of the world, however, Donald Trump not paying his taxes doesn’t make him smart at all. It makes him just another regular Lebanese. Income tax? What is that again? Electricity Bill? They don’t even dare enter my neighborhood to collect man. Water? Meh, it’s not like they’re gonna cut me off anyway. VAT? Haha, I’ll buy using my foreign passport.😉

He hates Muslims:

He wants to ban Muslims – all 1.6 billion of them – from entering the United States because a small faction of them, numbered at less than 10,000 individuals worldwide, are terrorizing people.

When his statements were demolished by Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of United States Army Captain Humayun Khan who gave up his life saving his fellow soldiers, Trump’s response was not to apologize, but to allude to Ghazala not speaking to her being an oppressed Muslim woman.

The memory of her son was still, years later, too much for her to bear to address the entirety of the United States.

In these parts of the world, the hate of others for being of a different religion on both sides is existent, albeit not applicable to everyone thankfully. The deeper you go in the Lebanese Bible or Quran belts, the more engrained is the mentality that those who pray differently are to be feared. It takes a lot to break out of that.

He lies about everything all the time:

Global warming is a Chinese hoax, he tweeted a few years ago. Flash forward to September 2016 and he denied he ever said it. He supported the War on Iraq. Flash forward a few years later and he denies he ever did.

He comes up with one lie after the other, believes them, and refuses to be fact-checked. Wasn’t it about 90 seconds before he dropped his first lie at the first Presidential Debate?

His Lebanese brethren practice this dogma to the letter. Fact checking is irrelevant here. If it’s my opinion, then it’s a fact and you better deal with it, Lebanon-style.

His top advisor is Lebanese:

Walid Phares – no relation, thank God – is one of Donald Trump’s top advisors and councils him on a lot of issues, notably foreign affairs. Phares’ personal history is relevant for being a Lebanese Forces officer during the Civil War, and leaving to the United States while still retaining his “Christians are better than everyone else because they are Christians” mantra (read point #4).

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslims. Justified back then, perhaps and debatable, but he hasn’t left that mentality behind. He was also a main contributor to the planning behind the Sabra and Chatila massacres.

Birds of a feather flock together, Lebanon style?

Fails at so many things, brags anyway:

From failed universities, to failed steak ventures, to hotels driven to the ground, his career hasn’t exactly been the beacon of bright light that his father’s “small loan” of $14 million kickstarted.

That hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from making sure that everyone and their mother knew that:

  1. He had money,
  2. He has made money,
  3. He has bought stuff with his money,
  4. He can buy more stuff with that money,
  5. He has money,
  6. He will have more money,
  7. The time it took you to read this list has seen him make even more money,
  8. This is a random number on the list because money.

In Lebanon, one may be starving but one would never ever dare show it. One must always buy the fanciest of clothes, go to the most expensive clubs and pretend that life is nothing but instagram-rich-perfect 24/7. Then you go home and decide water is enough for dinner (Evian if with friends, tap if at home alone). Or when you’ve barely made it through your bachelor degree but call yourself a doctor anyway.

A Final Word:

America, 42% is a lot. Wake up.

Lebanon, this doesn’t apply to every one of us, but many have such traits let’s not beat around the bush, as do most of our politicians. Let’s get rid of them like America will (hopefully) get rid of our export to them?

“Ana Mesh Fenneneh” – The Hilarious Song About The Current State of Lebanon’s Music

From Roula Yammout to Rima Dib to Miriam Klink, the current state of Lebanon’s music scene is horrific. We make fun of what is available, hoping that our ridicule leads to them ceasing to exist, but it seems they take the ridicule as attention and use it as fuel to launch even more disasters on our ears.

Enter Sevine Abi Aad, a performer whose own story with Arab record labels mirrors the current scene we’re forced to tolerate. A few years ago, Sevine had a record label interested in her. One look at her and the record label had comments: they wanted to fix her nose, make her breasts bigger and fix her gaped teeth.

She told them no and decided to do her own thing. The result is her debut song “Ana Mesh Fenneneh,” a satirical look at the Lebanon’s music of today where ass and breasts and blonde hair overtake any semblance of notes.

I sat down for a brief chat with Sevine about her song and her song, as well as upcoming album.

What prompted you to write this song and perform it?

I met with a lyricist I love (Nami Moukheiber) and started telling him about the topics I would like to sing about, that I love comedy, and making people laugh during my performances was important to showcase on the album, and how for me, it’s super important that I’ve lived and gone through whatever I’m singing about.

I remember telling him that I’d like to do a song about the fact that it’s very frustrating for artists to get heard if they’re not willing to play by the rules of the industry (i.e change your physical features, act a certain way, sing a certain style). Years before, I had been approached by industry people who, after just one glance at me had said: Bedna na3mellik menkharik, sodrik, nzabbit el fere2 ben snenik etc… without even discussing the music.

And so I told Nami ‘Ya khayye, ana mich fenneneh, tayib! w ma beddeh koun fenneneh!!!’ So, it’s quite autobiographical. The song was also written with Mike Massy.

What message do you want to give across through this song and album to the current musical status quo in lebanon?

This applies to the song, not the entire album. It’s about the dilemma, the temptation faced by ‘unknown’ independent artists to just give up and give in to the formatted way of the industry.

And we might be tempted to do so because we feel that we aren’t recognized and validated enough in the field.

For example, in terms of live music performance, not many venues will agree to host you and your music if they think the audience won’t enjoy it and they base the criteria for audience’s enjoyment on the repertoire and choice of songs.

Sadly, in most venues, they will ask you to play and rehash songs the people already know and love to dance and sing to… and so you get stuck doing what everyone else is doing or feeling frustrated that you can’t play the music YOU want in many places and share it with people.

So, sometimes, for independent artists, it’s a choice between this (becoming a ‘fenneneh’) or to keep playing for a tiny audience, and find other ways of supporting yourself financially – which is so harmful, because it will take time away from the music and creativity… And its a vicious cycle we need to break once and for all.

The thing is there is a whole underlying hub of amazing vocalists all over the country, who write amazing stuff, and who are performing for a tiny niche audience. And they don’t get the recognition from the wider audience that they so deserve.

Things are changing, for sure, but it still needs to be valued by a wider range of people who sometimes don’t even know about this independent scene. The bigger message though, goes beyond the music industry. It’s a message to young girls and women to stop trying to alter the way they look and act, just in order to be perceived as more ‘attractive’, ‘popular’, ‘fun’.

There is way too much pressure for women here to go under the knife, and it’s a shame they have forgotten how beautiful a person is by being unique and having their own identity. No one, in any industry should make a woman feel that she isn’t pretty enough or talented enough. And self confidence and knowing yourself and believing in what you’re doing should stay your main way of achieving the success you aim for. No compromise.

Is the satirical style of this present in the rest of your album?

It’s not on the entire album, no. Though, again, I love comedy, I also wanted to showcase other sides of me, so. But it’s definitely present in another Lebanese song called ‘Chaghlet Belle,’ written and composed by Mike Massy, which I hope we’ll be able to shoot a video for before the end of the year. Other songs are very cinematic and theatrical, and they’re in other languages (french and english).

I leave you with the song:

Ana Mech Fenneneh

La2 bass je te jure mich mbayyan! Abadan!

La2 bass ktir tali3 naturel!

We7etik we7yetik, yih walaw ana b2ellik chou!


Ana ana ana ana ana ana

Ana mech fenneneh Ana mech fenneneh 

Ana mech fenneneh w ba3ref ghanneh

Wejje byit7arrak aktar men jesme

Bghanne bsawte mech bi hazzet khasre 

B2adde ghnene bala tanneh w ranneh


Ana mech fehmene w mech se2lene

Ana mech fenneneh Ana mech fenneneh 

Ana mech fenneneh w ba3ref ghanneh

Kel el ness ma beddon gheir masla7te

leh chaklek 7elo w ma 3am tenchehre?

Leh bi Kelna Star ma 3am techterke?

Sawt w talle w haybe bass 2ten3eh 2ten3eh 2ten3eh


W ana

Ana mech fehmeneh

Ana mech fehmeneh Ana mech fehmeneh w mech fer2eneh

Tayib leh ma bta3mle chi CD?

7ki Montana byestmanno 3alayke

Eh lek chou  fiya halla2?

Kella 3amaliyit tejmil machina halla2!

Ya 3layke chou ma-jdoube yekhreb baytik ente

7at dallik hek ente 7at dallik hek!

2al chou 2al? 2al ana badde awwem me2t-eyet el fan


Pfff….chou hableh!

Lezim kabbir 3a2le w kabbir…

7atta ysir sawteh ad3af men khasre

Sar badda chi hamse wghamze w lamse 

7atta el jomhour ya3melneh nejmeh!

Ente mech fenneneh Ente mech fenneneh Ente mech fenneneh w rou7e ndabbeh!

When Gebran Bassil’s Goons Don’t Understand Freedom of Speech

Breaking news: Gebran Bassil turned out to be yet another racist Lebanese politician. I have no idea how this piece of news was in any way a surprise, but over the past few days it’s almost the only thing people are talking about, apart from the fact that our phones now need Maps updates in order to skip the roads where garbage bags have started to take up lanes.

The details are as follows:

A few days ago, Gebran Bassil’s twitter account was quoting a speech he was giving in the United States to an audience of Lebanese expats ($10 says they’re voting for Trump in 49 days). In that speech, Bassil dropped the following:

The speech excerpts translate to:

  • I support giving Lebanese women who marry foreigners the right to pass on their nationality to their children but our constitution and societal fabrics don’t allow to give the Lebanese nationality to 400,000 Palestinians.
  • I support the law that allows Lebanese women to pass on their nationality to their children, with the exception of Syrians and Palestinians to maintain our land.

Of course, it has probably escaped Bassil in that moment that St. Maroun, after whom his sect was named, was Syrian and Jesus, after whom he prays, was Palestinian, but that’s besides the point. Certainly, however, Bassil wouldn’t have had a problem if those Syrians and Palestinians weren’t mostly Muslim. I wonder, how different would his statement have been had those refugees been mostly Christian like him? I can imagine him now, à la Oprah, distributing nationalities left and right: YOU ARE LEBANESE, YOU ARE LEBANESE, YOU AAAAAALL ARE LEBANESE!

Context to Bassil’s tweets, however, remains important. His statements do not come from void. They emanate from a public sentiment that has only managed to gain popularity over the past few years with around 2 million Syrians seeking refuge in Lebanon. Of course, as is the case with Lebanon’s statistics, numbers do not exist. But it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that Bassil’s speech is not at odds with what the prevalent majority of Christians believes to be true, and a sizable portion of Lebanon’s Muslim community.

Yet again, the sentiment in the aforementioned denominations arise from their incessant need for self-sectarian preservation and are devoid from any national affinity towards a more global Lebanese state. Either way, I digress.

The uproar towards Bassil’s statements has been deafening. Human Rights Watch issued a statement whereby they found what he said to be abhorrent, in contradiction to the international treaties that Lebanon has signed in regards to women rights, and shameful to come from the minister of foreign affairs who is, whether we like it or not, the face of Lebanon to the world. Sorry #LiveLoveBeirut, you’re not it.

A slew of tweets and Facebook posts criticizing Bassil were also widely circulated, of which the satirical Facebook page Adeela led the forefront with a bunch of posts addressing Bassil’s tweets:

Lebanese blogger Mahmoud Ghazayel had a tweet (now deleted) in which he corrected Bassil’s statement to this:


So far so good, right? Except this didn’t remain as just a manifestation of Lebanese online degrees of freedom because before you knew it, the situation – thanks to massive reports by Bassil’s online henchmen – became as follows:

Every single post that criticized Bassil about his racist tweets was removed because of Facebook reports, while the social media platform never bothered to check for the background upon which those reports were being filed in the first place, or the statements being criticized to begin with.

As a result, if you try and say something negative about Bassil’s statements, thousands will end up putting you in Facebook jail for at least 24 hours because you somehow violated the terms of being on that website, by simply expressing an opinion.

Maybe it’s fear of  exposing how ridiculous Bassil’s proposition – even if echoed by many – is. Maybe it’s wanting to keep his image pristine in their eyes, albeit it being irrevocably damaged in the minds of many others. Maybe it’s them wanting to keep a semblance of pride.

What Bassil’s goons seem to fail to grasp is that with every post they manage to bring down, ten more will spring up in their place. As it is their right to believe and want to defend what Bassil said, it is the right of every other Lebanese who categorically and irrevocably disagrees to not only criticize but mock those statements until kingdom come, whether they like it or not.

As the stench of garbage and filth overtakes their nares in every cubic meter of air in Beirut, as they spend countless hours without electricity, as they pray for the heavens for internet to be fast enough to load the images in this post, as they debate whether to flush or not because water is scarce, let them have all of that pride and the politicians whose image they want to keep. Let them have their “holy” land, their “better-than-thou” attitude towards anyone and anything they deem lesser. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many Facebook reports are issued, common sense will prevail.

PS: Dear Facebook, re-assess yourself, why don’t you? 

#AnaTarablos: The Triumphant Video That’ll Make You Love Tripoli


If there’s anything that this blog has gotten people to think about me, it’s that I’m one of the staunchest advocates for Tripoli, one of my favorite Lebanese cities, and the capital of my mouhafazat. I know its streets all too well. I pride myself on being able to maneuver its shortcuts. I feel jubilant whenever I’m deep in conversation about it and can converse well in its history.

Tripoli also instills sadness in me when I see its current state, and the massive could-have-been that it is. I hope that future days are kinder on this city whose potential knows no bounds, which boasts some of Lebanon’s most impressive architectural and human feats, and whose imprint in our history as a country cannot be denied.

From its maarad, to its old souks, to its citadel, to the river running in its midst, to its restaurant, to its people. I’ve written about it many times. I’ve told you how awesome it is countless times. I’ve defended it against those who don’t understand its dynamics as many times. I’ve invited you to visit it as often as I can, and I still do, especially now that kinder weather is approaching.

Earlier today, a friend of mine linked me to a magnificent video about Tripoli that I felt I needed to share with all of you. It’s the kind of videos that I wish our government knew how to make – and they tried to before, but decided to exclude anything and everything Northern from it. It’s the kind of videos that can get any Lebanese, no matter where they come from, to be absorbed in the history of that city, learn in the space of a few minutes about its rich past, feel the same sadness that I feel at its present, and yet also feel triumphant at the fact that it’s still standing on its feet despite all.

Nader Moussally, the creator and director behind the “Ana Tarablos,” should be commended on conveying onto his society a sense of humanness that few before him have managed to do. Although I’m not from there, his “Ana Tarablos” video makes me feel the sense of pride and even hope that I know any person from Tripoli would feel watching it, believing the future in store for this city is better than the present it has been forced to deal with through systematic negligence from the part of successive governments that don’t care and its own politicians that see it as nothing more than conquests to be rationed.

I couldn’t write this post before talking to Nader to help him further convey his vision. Like many people from Tripoli, Nader took his own city for granted before he moved to Beirut for his studies. The longing he felt to his city, as well as the sadness that overtook him as he started to further notice how forcibly deprived it is, Nader, away from the politics that he knows is killing his city, decided to support his city in the way he knows best: a movie that conveys how he feels about his city: one that is more like a mother than a town, inspired from the conversations with his own mother, to make his sentiment towards his home relatable to every Lebanese.

The video is that in which Nader imagines Tripoli to be a person and this is the message he believes Tripoli the person would tell the country in which it exists and the people that constitute it. It’s the message of a lover, of a disappointed friend, of a city that has known what it is for times to change and leave you behind.

Nader wanted Tripoli’s story to be narrated by someone whose voice echoes the history and depth that Tripoli is. The only person that seemed like a perfect fit was Khitam Lahham whose sighs in the video will penetrate your soul.

The text is glorious, and jubilant and worthy of the city it portrays :

عمري اكتر من٤٠٠٠ سنة… عندي اكتر من ٤٠٠ الف ولد… ما بحياتي فرقت ولد عن ولد… فتحتلن كل بوابي، هديتن أجمل صيغة، المع نحاس، احسن صابون، اشهى حلو … غسلت قلبون بالحمام و عطرت روحن بزهر الليمون … خيطلن أجمل تياب بالخان زرعت العِلم فيّن و عملتلّن اغنى مكتبة…

و لخفف عنّن خلقتلن اكتر من 20 صالة سينما عملتلّن ساحة و منشية تصارت نبضات قلبن تدق ع ساعتها…هندستلن احلى بيوت… جمعتن بالقهوة عَ لقمة كعكة و عصير خرنوب و تركت الحكواتي يخبرن عني و عن تاريخي بأخبارو لي ما بتخلص… خليت نهر ابوعلي يِبَوردلن قلبن عالمايلتين…

و لانن موهوبين و مميزين قلت ليش ما بعملن معرض … و ايه عملتا … اكبر معرض بلبنان و بالشرق ربيتن عالمحبة بالجامع و الكنيسة. خفت عليّن، ولإحمين عملتلن قلعة و سميتا عَ اسمي . عطيتن كل شي …غنيتن بكل شي و عكتر ما غنيتن سموني أمّ الفقير. مابذكر عذبوني ولادي هنه و صغار

… بس عكبر …هه… خليني ساكته . يمكن من كتر همومن نسيوني، هملوني و تركوني تصرت خايفي ع حالي مننن… آه… بس معليه… انا مني زعلانة لاني انا هون … باقية هون أنا العلم … أنا المعرض… انا العِلم … انا الفن …انا الفيحاء… انا القلعة… انا ام الفقير …انا .طرابلس

The English translation:

I am over 4,000 years old. I have more than 400,000 children I have never preferred one over the other.

My doors I opened wide, and gave them only the best Fine jewelry and copper Fancy soaps Delicious sweets Hammams to cleanse their hearts, the fragrance of orange blossom to fill their souls, exquisitely woven attire, deep-rooted education, and the richest library.

For them, I built over 20 cinemas and theaters, a square and a great clock to whose chimes their hearts beat. Beautiful homes I gathered them in my coffee shops. Fed them cookies and carob juice.

There, the storyteller recounted my history and told his never-ending stories. My Abou Ali River ran on both sides, refreshing their hearts when they grew talented and unique, I exhibited their work. What an exhibition! The largest in Lebanon and the East!

Both my mosque and my church taught them to love. I feared for them so I built a fort to protect them and named it after myself. I gave them everything. I kept granting them riches until I was named “Mother of the Poor.”

When they were young, my children were always good. But when they grew older…  Ah Things got worse. Perhaps worries burdened them. They forgot me, neglected me, left me all alone. Now I’m afraid they might hurt me. But that’s okay I am not saddened. Because I’m still here, and here I’ll stay.

I am History. I am The Exhibition. I am Knowledge. I am Art. I am Al Fayhaa. I am The Fortress. I am the “Mother of the Poor.” I am Tripoli.

I leave you with the wonderful video:

Seven Sisters Beirut Bans Veiled Woman From Entering Because International Football Players Were There


Pic via Daily Star.

It’s perfectly legal for any private institution in the country to pick the clientele it wants to admit, that’s a given. But that doesn’t mean that some practices should go by unchallenged or even accepted just because they are legal, such as Iris banning men under the age of 24 but allowing women, because who knows why?

The Seven Sisters Bar and Grill in Beirut reportedly barred entry (link) for a couple with a veiled woman despite being told, before coming to the place, that they would be allowed to sit at the bar if they arrived between certain hours, which the couple had done.

While trying to negotiate their way into the place, the couple was surprised to see many unveiled women enter without even having their names checked on a reservation list. A recording, according to the Daily Star, saw the Seven Sisters Beirut establishment say: “We’re not allowing anyone with hijab tonight because it’s a special night.”

Find a link to the recording here

The special night they were referring to was a football-themed gathering whereby international football players who were coming to Lebanon for a charity game against Lebanese players were meeting fans for photographs and autographs, among other things.

It seems the Seven Sisters Beirut establishment didn’t want those football players from being exposed to any culture that they probably deem “not fit” for the reputation they want to perpetuate about the country. You know, the reputation where everything everyone does in Lebanon is party and drink and enjoy this joie de vivre everyone believes is what makes Lebanese special.

Guess again.

This kind of discriminatory behavior is appalling  and, quite honestly, will stop people like me – the non-veiled clientele that you want to bring into your establishment – from ever stepping foot there again. You should be ashamed of wanting to hide away essential and predominant figures of Lebanese society in order to paint a fake image for a football player who couldn’t remotely care.

But isn’t this how we do business in this country? We perpetuate fake-ness and masquerade it as authenticity in the belief that the “Western” way is the way to go, essentially annihilating everything about this country that makes it  unique, starting with banning veiled Lebanese women entry to certain restaurants just because “they don’t fit.”

It doesn’t matter if the place served alcohol or pork or any other food that Muslims tend to avoid. The fact that that couple was there willingly meant they were okay with being exposed to whatever it is Seven Sisters offered, and were doing so whole-heartedly. This kind of behavior from the Seven Sisters establishment only serves to further widen the divide between the Lebanon they want to convey and the Lebanon that actually is, one veiled woman being stopped at the door at a time.

So on the night when Luis Figo, Michel Salgado, Carlos Puyol and Roberto Carlos were being pampered left and right by a bar and grill in the heart of Beirut, some Lebanese who may have wanted to see them were falling victims to Islamophobia and prejudice in the heart of a country where Islam is not an anomaly.

Shame on Seven Sister Beirut’s establishment for such derogatory measures. The sad part is they probably couldn’t care less.

The hardships facing veiled women in this country are not only exclusive to being banned from entering certain restaurants. It’s perpetuated to work opportunities whereby some companies would outright refuse applicants just because they’re veiled, to various other aspects of daily Lebanese life that many of us take for granted, which is unfortunate as well as surprising in a country where being veiled isn’t exactly rare. Being non-veiled is beginning to be turned into a privilege. With each passing day, the spectrum of freedom allowed to Lebanese is shrinking.