Tomorrowland Is Coming To Lebanon On July 29th

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Tomorrowland is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world. Held yearly in Belgium, it’s attended by hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts. This year’s festival is taking place from July 21st till the 30th.

However, on July 29th, Lebanon was chosen as one of only 8 countries around the world to be “United” with Tomorrowland in a live broadcast of the festivities from Belgium in an event that start at 7PM and end around 4AM, in Byblos. It’s not yet clear whether this is in the official capacities of the Byblos Festival.

The line-up has not been announced yet, but based on some research I did on their website, guests can expect an event held in a setting inspired by Tomorrowland (a customized stage, decoration and special effects) combined with a massive well-curated line-up of local & international artists (at least 1 international artist).

The special effects in question are synchronised with the show in Belgium adding value to the global connection.

The announcement took place in the following video:

This event, unless Byblos – or some other festival – bring out the big guns by bringing in a top-notch international act, should be the highlight of the summer’s festival circle in Lebanon. It’s a great image for the country, especially given how tremendous the platform of Tomorrowland is, and it’s a great opportunity for those who can’t travel to Belgium to enjoy the festival itself.

To make sure you get tickets, pre-register at this link.

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No Netanyahu, Israel Isn’t The Only Middle Eastern Place Where Christians Can Celebrate Christmas

In his increasingly childish bitchfit against the international political establishment that saw his country’s transgressions through settlements on Palestinian land finally made illegal with a UN resolution banning Israel – yeah, right – from building more of them, the Israeli PM is lashing out at his country’s closest ally and the reason Israel has been off the hook in everything it’s done for years, the United States.

As part of a rant aimed at US Secretary of State John Kerry whose tone was very moderate towards the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with him recognizing the plight of Palestinians and their refugees, the land grab they’ve been victim of, among other things, Netanyahu figured it best to remind Kerry, and by extension of his buzz words that you know will circle Fox News for months to come, other Americans and Westerners who see Israel as the only worthy beacon of civilization in the Middle East that – and I quote:

“Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas.”

In the grand scheme of things, such statements are utterly meaningless, mostly because they’re pure bullshit. But as we’ve seen bullshit can actually get equal bullshit elected. The danger in letting such statements go by unchallenged is that they play right into the rhetoric that Israel and its allies want to put forward: It is the only country in the Middle East that’s, for all matters and purposes, worth anything, everyone else be damned.

It’s precisely not challenging such statements in the past that has turned Israel from the apartheid state existing on occupied territory, turning a blind eye towards all rules of war, ignoring many of the UN resolutions in which it is part, among other things, to this “liberal,” “religiously free” beacon of “hope” in the Middle East that is only “defending” itself against those “Arabs” who just don’t get it. All of this to the backdrop of Christian-centric, Israel-loving, everything and everyone else-hating Trump coming in 3 weeks.

So Netanyahu, and those that seem to believe him, how about you come sit on last year’s Byblos tree? I’m pretty sure it will bring your lot quite the pleasure.

jbeil-byblos-christmas-tree-2015

This year’s tree can work fine too:

byblos-jbeil-christmas-tree-2016

Or how about you come see this year’s tree in Tripoli? In case you didn’t know, that’s *whispers* Muslim territory.

tripoli-christmas-village-1

How about checking out the tree in Downtown Beirut?

beirut-downtown-tree-2016

Pic via @livelovebeirut.

Or the many other ways through which Beirut celebrated Christmas? (Pictures via LiveLoveBeirut).

 

Or how about the tree in my own house where my family gathered for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas lunch, opened presents and then had some of its members go to midnight mass?

lebanon-christmas-decoration-2016-2

Or those pesky Christmas decorations in all our malls?

I also don’t see Israel on that Huffington Post list of notable Christmas trees from around the world but Lebanon has TWO entries there, as does the West Bank. Weird, huh?

I find it odd that the country that sells itself as being the world’s only Jewish state and gets away with it because anyone who tries to challenge that notion is deemed anti-Semitic has the audacity to claim it’s a defender of Christian rights when Christians in Israel are, similarly to Muslims, inherently second class citizens due to the fact they’re not, you know, Jewish. Just an FYI to Netanyahu and his friends, the president in Lebanon is Christian and I, a Lebanese who happens to be Christian (on paper), have the absolute freedom to practice my religion if I want to without worrying about checkpoints, armies oppressing me, a state that deems my religion second-rate, among other things.

And if you thought that Lebanon was a special case, let me remind you that it was less than a week ago that Israeli rabbis had a problem with Christmas decorations at a local mall. Or does that not affect the way Christians celebrate Christmas?

Conversely, when that “scandal” was going down, I was visiting the Jordanian city Aqaba, from which I could see Eilat. The city was Christmas ready with decorations at its hotels and streets, even though its Christian population is minor.

aqaba-christmas-decoration

The fact of the matter is that the best Christmas in the Middle East isn’t in Lebanon or in Jordan, but where it all began: Bethlehem. And even that isn’t in Israel either.

Tea, meet kettle.

Sorry Jbeil, Lebanon’s Best Christmas Tree Is In Tripoli This Year

At a time when Christmas decorations have become yet another opportunity for Lebanese locales to compete among each other, spending tens of thousands (if not more) of dollars for momentary decorations instead of more needed development.

But I digress. Jbeil, whose Christmas decorations have become a yearly landmark, wouldn’t be too pleased to find out that its (lackluster?) tree this year, which faced stiff competition from the one in Zgharta, is being bested by a very unlikely competitor for the coveted title of Lebanon’s best.

In Tripoli’s unfinished Rachid Karameh expo, a modern-art Christmas tree, inspired by one of Oscar Niemeyer’s landmarks in the expo, merging Ramadan Lanterns with Christmas decorations was unveiled yesterday, to show that the holidays in the country are better celebrated together and that we, as a country, are stronger in being together. This comes from a city that is trying to pick up the pieces from the mayhem it was forced into as a result of years of systematic neglect during which its people were killed, its infrastructure crumbled and its reputation took a beating.

But Tripoli is trying to change all that. Next to its Christmas tree, at 25 meters of height, is an entire Christmas village akin to the one you can go to in Beirut at Train Station. The place is full of local shops trying to sell you goods. I’ve been to that of Beirut yesterday and the one in Tripoli is quite different: the prices are cheaper, it’s more organized and it’s way cleaner. You won’t see people chainsmoking their way indoors up North.

The Christmas village imported the widely popular “Souk el Akel” to Tripoli as well. While the concept of a food market has escaped our Lebanese-ness with the fact that such places should be affordable, with the joke going laban with cucumbers there costing you around $20, this is not the case in Tripoli. The marketplace is half composed of local Tripoli restaurants, and they’re super cheap. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the local moghrabiye.

All of this, including access to the usually closed Rachid Karameh expo, a gorgeous place, costs just 5000LL. The money goes to help thousands of needy children this Christmas season as well as to buy gifts for 2,000 orphans around the city.

The Christmas village will also be hosting a slew of stars in concert this year, as well as Brazilian football player Roberto Carlos who will be there on December 20th:

roberto-carlos-tripoli

So I suggest all of you make the trip up North for the next few days (the village runs until December 22nd) and check out how Tripoli is trying to reclaim its spot on the Lebanese landscape.

Lana Del Rey Coming To Lebanon For The Byblos International Festival on July 10th

Lana Del Rey Byblos Festival Lebanon

 

It’s OFFICIAL (link)

According to Frodo’s Blog who has been actively leaking major performers throughout the past several months, the rumors about Lana Del Rey coming to the Byblos festival this year are true.

The singer who’s famous for her melodramatic songs will be coming to Lebanon as part of the aforementioned festival for a concert on July 10th, beyond her showing up for the opening of Skybar on May 30th.

I’m not a fan of Lana Del Rey but I’m actually surprised the organizers of any festival in Lebanon were able to draw in such a currently “in” name to come perform here. I expect this to be the most hyped concert of the summer, if no other surprises happen.

For those who don’t know who Lana Del Rey is, you may recognize her sultry voice from the most depressing songs you encounter on Lebanese radio (if you listen to it). The songs that I know and which I believe are good enough are the following:

Born To Die:

And The Great Gatsby song, Young & Beautiful:

You can check out ALL of the lineup for the Byblos Festival here.

Scorpions Concert In Byblos (Jbeil), Lebanon – Part 2

The original dates for the two Scorpions concerts in Lebanon took place over the past 2 days, on July 6th and 7th, whilst a third one was added on a prior date on July 4th, the overview of which you can see here.

While I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to attend either of the three concerts, I’ve had relatives attend both concerts.

My cousin attended the July 6th one. He’s a die hard Scorpions fan and even taught himself how to play the electric guitar to their songs. His SMS ringtone is their lead guitarist Matthias Jabs playing a riff and his usual ringtone is for their hit: Wind of Change.

He reported that it was the wildest and most astonishing concert of his life. While he might be biased, that was the sentiment that most people attending the concert came out with. Drumsticks thrown by drummer James Kottak were picked up by the lucky few who were close enough to catch them, as well as lots of guitar picks thrown by Rudolf Schenker.

Their setlist was comprised of the same songs as their July 4th concert, although they replaced their song Dynamite by their hit “You and I” to the joy of many.

Meanwhile, my brother attended the July 7th concert and while he is a big fan, I can’t say he matches up with July 6th cousin. He said they had a blast at the concert and while some of the songs were unfamiliar to him (he’s more familiar with their classics than with their newer hits), he was still able to have a good time. He said the ambiance was electric with the heavy music that was playing and he said that even twenty years later, Scorpions are better able to entertain a crowd than many common bands today.

The setlist for July 7th was similar to the July 4th concert except “Dynamite” was replaced by “Always Somewhere.”

Here are pictures taken by both my brother and cousin of their concerts. I will update this post with video when they’re done uploading. More pictures will be posted as well.