Meet The Candidates Of Beirut Madinati

Beirut Madinati Candidates

Beirut Madinati, the independent and refreshing campaign overtaking the Beirut political establishment, has just announced its list of candidates for the upcoming Municipal elections of the city, set to be held on May 8th.

As I wrote yesterday, the work to get to this list at hand was not, in typical Lebanese fashion, a who’s who along the echelons of a political party. It was more than 80 active participants in the movement gathering and discussing for months on ends the wide array of possibilities that they could offer the city. The result is as follows: a list that is equally men and women, 12 members each, representative of all the city’s neighborhoods and communities, and consisting of people who have made a name for themselves in their respective domains.

Not only is the list equally balanced between men and women, but 6 out of 24 are considered of the youth group, 16 are middle aged candidates and 2 are seniors. Compare this with an average age of more than 60 in our cabinet, and the contrast is striking.

The candidates are as follows:

Ibrahim Mneimneh: president, architect and urban planner (Mazraa).

Tarek Ammar: vice president; He’s the CEO of a researching company with over 16 years of experience in the field. (Achrafieh).

Iman Ghandour: Private sector worker, former deputy head of the “IC alumni association,” member of the board of many festivals around Beirut and Lebanon (Bashoura).

Mona Hallak: Architect, Executive committee member of the Association for the Protection of Sites and Old Buildings in Lebanon. Was an activist in the protection of Rawcheh movement and the reason behind “Maison Barakat” being saved. (Mazraa).

Rana Khoury: Advertising creative director and a board member of the Samir Kassir Foundation (Bashoura).

Nada Doghan: Historian and member of the Civil Society. CEO of the Arab project “Kitab fi Jarida” in cooperation with UNESCO. (Msaytbeh).

May Daouk: Interior architect, supporter of Skoon and the Samir Kassir foundation, as well as activist for women rights in Lebanon. (Msaytbeh).

Najib el Dik: Head of the Beirut fishers associations in Ain el Mreisseh and former head of Beirut’s fisherman syndicate, (Minet el Hosn).

Marwan Al Taibi: Journalist, head of the “Al Yawm” newspaper and consultant (Bashoura).

Walid El Alami: Cardiologist who graduated from AUB, the University of Oklahoma and Baylor. He returned to Lebanon in 2012 and is part of the “IC alumni association.” (Ras Beirut).

Levon Telvizian: Architect, professor at the Lebanese University, was head of the urban planning program there. He’s currently an advisor for multiple development NGOs and works with UNESCO for housing in Lebanon. (Rmeil).

Yorgui Teyrouz: Phamacist and founder of Donner Sang Compter (Rmeil).

Abdul Halim Jabr: Architect and urban design expert, as well as part time university professor. Activist against the Fouad Boutros highway and in many other conservation fights in Beirut. (Msaytbeh).

Mark Geara: Real estate developer (Achrafieh).

Houssam Hawa: Agriculture engineer, AUB graduate with a Masters degree from Holland. Activist in many environmental causes. (Achrafieh)

Carole Tueini: Media sector, was an anchor on MTV before joining Disney MENA, where she eventually became an executive producer. (Achrafieh).

Amal Cherif: Art director and advocate for people with disability (Zkak al-Blat).

Nada Sehnaoui: an artist and painter, founding member of the Civil Center for National Initiative (Achrafieh).

Farah Kobeissy: Political science expert and human rights activist (Zkak al- Blat).

Ahmad Kaabour: Renowned singer, songwriter and composer (Mazraa).

Nadine Labaki: Leading Lebanese director, behind movies such as “W Halla2 la Wein” and “Caramel” (Achrafieh).

Maria Manok: Lower school head of division at Ahliyyah School (Msaytbeh).

Rita Maalouf: Expert in forensics, returned to Lebanon from the United States in 2008. She’s the first forensics expert in Lebanon’s Ministry of Justice. (Ras Beirut).

Serge Yazegi: Architect, urban planner and lecturer at ALBA (Achrafieh).

Good luck to these people on May 8th. Change is possible. Change needs you – if you can vote in Beirut – to go down to your precint on May 8th and choose those that have fought for you for years, choose those who know how it is to lead the city in the proper direction, choose those who are not the status quo.

Write down their names.

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Congrats Lebanon, We Have The World’s 9th Worst Passport

Oh so close. We almost dropped out of the top ten this year, but no such luck.

After all the hassle secondary to our General Security deciding out of the blue that a good bunch of the country’s passport would no longer be functional, it’s safe to say that apart from that useless bureaucracy, very minimal improvement has occurred to the state of our travel document over the past year. After all, how could it given that the only semblance of governance we get is when Saudi Arabia is upset at us?

Henley & Partners, the world’s leading Citizenship research consultancy firm, published their yearly report about passport strengths – the same one that gets us upset every year – and we’re at #96 when it comes to the worst passports of the world, in a list that tops at #104 with Afghanistan. We share the #96 spot, which translates to the 9th worst passport in the world with Bangladesh, Congo and Sri Lanka.

The bottom 10 is as follows:

  1. Afghanistan,
  2. Pakistan,
  3. Iraq,
  4. Somalia,
  5. Syria,
  6. Libya,
  7. Sudan, Palestine, Nepal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran,
  8. Kosovo, South Sudan, Yemen,
  9. Bangladesh, Congo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka,
  10. Burundi, North Korea, Myanmar.

Meanwhile, a slew of European and American countries top the list with passports that give them access to more 170 countries visa-free. We are allowed access to 39.

The highest ranking Arab country is the UAE at #38 with a passport that grants them visa-free entry to 122 countries. The highest ranking regional country, however, is Cyprus at #17 with 159 visa-free country, bolstered by the fact it’s in the European Union. Our enemy to the South, meanwhile, comes in at #25 with around 147 countries its citizens can enter without a hassle.

The situation is not that bleak, however, because our passport rank has actually gone up from last year, mostly because a bunch of countries fell below us such as Syria, South Sudan and Iraq:

Lebanon Passport

We have, however, gained two more visa-free countries to travel to in the past year, up to 39.

There’s nothing more indicative about how being born somewhere is detrimental to your “worth” as a person as the hierarchy behind passports, a yearly reminder that if you happen to come from a place that is not Europe, not America, and not completely in the good graces of either of those two entities, your worth is inherently lower.

But that’s not the full explanation behind how low our passport and citizenship ranks. This rank is a reflection of the unstable political situation in a country that hasn’t had a president in almost two years and doesn’t seem like it will have one anytime soon, hasn’t managed to vote for a parliament in over 1000 days, has garbage piling up on its streets, has one of the most incompetent ruling classes to exist, has a militia roaming its lands with the ability to shake the country up at will (as in protests because of a caricature on a TV show).

Look at the UAE. A few years ago, they had only access to 64 countries without visas. In 2016, their citizens can visit double that number. Why so? Because their ruling class – new-age dictators and whatnot – have a clear vision for a future that enables their citizens to be the best version of themselves (within the limited freedom confines offered of course). We can make fun all we want of how fake Dubai is, of how silly it is to have a “Happiness” minister, but the fact remains that not only are Emiratis leagues above us now, they are also in an upward trajectory while we slumber in our lower ranks content that we have real snow and not a fake slope built inside a Dubai mall.

United Arab Emirates Passport

What can we do to fix this?

We need to be more aware citizens. We can’t bury our heads in the glories of days past and pretend that is a representation of our present. When the time comes to vote, we shouldn’t go back to what we know thinking it’s what we need – we need to see that there are alternatives to the parties that have been ruining our lives for years. As long as our politicians keep getting a blank space from us to do whatever they want, they’ll be content with keeping a status quo that enables them and disables us, including a passport that forces everyone to stay put – unless they were lucky enough to have a second one on the side to use at will.