Lebanon’s Arguileh Militia

Soon after I blogged about how the Beiruti restaurant Enab, situated in Gemmayze, was violating the smoking ban despite stickers announcing the place as a non-smoking restaurant (link with pictures), IndyAct Lebanon decided to take matters in their own hands after a growing number of complaints regarding that particular restaurant were met unanswered by our tourism police.

As I said, it’s obvious there’s an under-the-table deal somewhere that benefits off our lungs. Anything for that extra money.

IndyAct decided to use their office space, which is ideally situated next to Enab, in order to set up a huge banner announcing to people who frequent Gemmayze that the restaurant nearby is violating the law and that it is not, in fact, a smoke free place as it advertises. The people of IndyAct were surprised to find their premises violated soon after by employees of Enab who took down the poster. Apparently they wanted to break the law in peace.

And it has all been documented on video:

Soon after the incident, IndyACT procured an official permit from the municipality of Beirut to set up the poster that Enab’s employees forcibly removed. Let’s hope those employees don’t break yet another law by removing the poster.

Enab Gemmayze Smoking Ban

 

It is said apathy is the weakest point in applying the law. It is our duty as Lebanese to make sure our law is enforced, people constantly said. But I have to ask: what’s the point?

When restaurants such as Enab break the law so flagrantly and have no problem breaking it even more to cover up the initial violation fully knowing they won’t face any repercussions whatsoever, what’s the point?

The more I call that magical 1735 number, the less cooperation I find from the tourism police whose job, paid for by my taxes, is to ensure such laws are enforced. The smoking ban is dead, despite some politicians wanting you to believe otherwise.

The amount of restaurants violating the law today is way too big to count. There isn’t a restaurant in Jbeil or Batroun or Tripoli – the places I spend most of my time in, apart from very few select places like Crepaway, which is actually observing the law. And they don’t even care about it. When you ask them about the smoking ban they reply: “that little thing? No, there isn’t such a thing over here. Do you want an arguileh, sir?”

 

The solution that I have found suits me best is to reward those few restaurants that are actually observing the law by frequenting them more often. On the other hand, I have decided that when I visit a restaurant that turns out to be violating the law, I will simply leave making sure they know all the smoke in the air is the reason for my departure. They want to make money off arguileh? Well, it won’t be my money they’ll be taking.

While our minister of tourism panics over the decreasing number of tourists visiting our beautiful country and sets up promotions to boost the sector, I have to wonder: how can you expect those people who come from much more organized countries to visit a place where even arguile has its own mini-militia?

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I will personally never visit Enab, Jbeil’s Feniqia (link) or any restaurant that violates the ban for that matter again. I invite you to do the same.

 

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Meanwhile in Tripoli, Lebanon…

Guns? Who cares!

Missiles? Please!

Violence? Where?

Nicotine? Yes, please!

It’s all about hookah!

The guy looks intimidating enough to steer any bullet away from him. His body has a need for massive amounts of nicotine!

Lebanese Memes: Lebanese First World Problems

We’ve all had that friend – the one who wouldn’t enter a restaurant unless she was present. And if somehow he/she were coerced into entering a place where she doesn’t exist, he/she would make your evening unbearable. He/She’s simply “hook”ed.

This meme has been submitted by Agnes.

Anyone else wondering what those Italian restaurants that offer hookah with your pizza will do when the smoking ban is enforced?

Crepaway Taking Steps Backwards

I was overly happy when the Batroun branch of Crepaway made a separate non-smoking area for those of us who don’t like to inhale with their burgers.
However, as I visited the place with friends, I found the area filled with people who were smoking. I asked about it and was told that they had removed the non-smoking area for the day. The explanation? they didn’t want the smokers to be placed on a waiting list for the smoking areas.

Excuse me Crepaway if I wanted to dine without the smell of cigarettes and without that awful stench getting stuck on my clothes and lungs. I mean, the emphysema I am most certainly going to acquire in this country cannot really be compared to the ten minutes of wait that a smoker has to endure, right?

In Lebanon, non smokers are figuratively run over by their overly dominant opposites in society. After all, clean air is something you’re not entitled to in a country where finding hookahs in American style diners is very common and even normal and where non-smokers have become a distant minority, squashed in almost rodent-like manner.

And let’s talk about the pricing! Back in December, the natural counterpart for Crepaway in Lebanon, Roadster diner, boosted its prices by a considerable amount, causing my friends and I to lessen our visits to a place that was eating away more and more an already tight budget. In the meantime, Crepaway boosted its prices in a lighter manner and they remained quite acceptable for what was offered.

However, I was surprised during my visit to Crepaway that they had increased their prices yet again. The famous Spielmozzarella is now priced at about 17,000LBP, about $11.33 and a Chicken Escalope platter is almost 20,000LBP (about $13.33), with smaller portions of French fries and coleslaw.

I understand fuel prices are on the rise in the country but I am positive chicken is not getting more expensive and nor is meat and, well, I am not going to a restaurant to dine on 95 Octane fuel while sniffing on the “exquisite” scent of a Marlboro.