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. 

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Adeela & Why The Fans Of Nancy Ajram, Elissa, Other Divas Need To Be Less Butthurt With Jokes

Picture this, a sarcastic joke making fun of a Lebanese pop star ends up threatening one of the biggest and funniest pages to grace Lebanese and Arab Facebook.

Over the past few months, and in lightning-speed time, the sarcastic page calling itself “Adeela,” referring to the world’s biggest pop star Adele, was as famous in these parts of the world as the character it’s based on.

What started of as jokes placing a hypothetical Adele in an Arab setting soon became a scathing, sometimes over the top but often always spot on, critique of the state of the Arab pop scene. When Ahlam decided Lebanese were beneath her, Adeela was the first at the guillotines. When Beirut Madinati was running for elections, Adeela was voting for them in full force. The examples are endless.

However, with the evolution of Adeela from an Adele-sarcastic character to an all-seeing basher of Lebanese and Arab female singers, unless they’re called Julia Boutros, the amount of people that started to take offense at Adeela’s jokes started to rise exponentially.

It wasn’t that the jokes attacked their mother or father or religion – gasp – or family.

It wasn’t that the jokes were offensive in themselves to those people’s character.

No. Those people were so butthurt by a joke… about their favorite singing Diva, and at their forefront is the legions of fans of Nancy Ajram, Elissa and Maya Diab who almost managed to get Facebook to shut down Adeela’s page earlier today.

The sad part is that it’s more than likely their respective “Goddesses” couldn’t care less about being joked about. In these parts of the world, any publicity is good publicity. It’s not like Adeela making fun of a singer on Facebook is a Kim-Kardashian-Exposing-Taylor-Swift moment. And yet, the amount of offense that some people take at creative, and yet ultimately useless, jokes is beyond unacceptable.

Some of the jokes are as follows, as you can see few are those about whom there were no jokes:

Isn’t that the Arab way of doing things, though, so when someone “offends” you, your reflex to deal with that person is to silence them? It must be engrained in Arab DNA.

The picture that threatened the existence of Adeela’s page yesterday was the following:

Adeela Nancy Ajram Chicco

There’s really nothing to it. It makes fun of how Nancy Ajram seems to find her way as a spokesperson for everything in the Middle East. It was reported to Facebook as “offensive content and propagating pedophilia.” The extent some people go to is unbelievable.

So to the “fanzet” who think that jokes are something worth getting up in a fit about:

How about you make chill pills part of your daily routine? Why don’t you do some mental exercises to somehow boost your mental capacities to someone who doesn’t take personal offense at a joke targeting someone who will never be affected by it and who doesn’t relate to you in any way other than you fangirling over them releasing a song after Eid el Fitr?

The fact of the matter is we need pages like Adeela in these parts of the world, not only to serve as a much-needed comic relief that never borders on the cliche, but also to maybe, just maybe, shake some sense into our over-botoxed, over-stretched, over-faked scene. Who knows, maybe the next Arab revolution is not about changing political systems but reducing lip fillers?

Lebanon Panics As It Faces Wave of Pokémon Refugees

Pokemon Go

With the advent of “Pokemon Go,” Google and Nintendo’s latest advent into the mobile gaming industry, Lebanese were dumbfounded to find their home country becoming, overnight, a playground for creatures they had thought were long gone from their memory by now.

Home to around 4 million people, this small Mediterranean country now houses over 2 million refugees. As its boundaries are overtaken by Pokemon, security officials are scrambling to make sense of the situation, while calls to strengthen border control remain ever present. Lebanese minister of foreign affairs was overheard saying, according to sources, that the situation has become “unbearable” and that “heida yalli ken ba3d na2esna, ya ma7la yalli ablon.”

The sentiment is echoed in Lebanese streets. An Achrafieh resident who preferred to remain anonymous angrily breathed into my recorder saying “enough is enough! We dealt with those Syrians and Palestinians thinking that was it. But those colored things? What is this? Do they think we’re Japan? Thank God that Vogue reporter was here before those creatures arrived!”

Numbers indicate that most of the Pokemon in question have taken up residence in the area stretching from Downtown Beirut, up to around Jbeil, or what is referred to in Lebanese colloquial terms as “Jabal Lebnen, ard l soumoud wel 3onfouwen.”

“When will MTV or LBC or any other Christian outlet discuss this horrifying rampage?” Joseph, a resident of the Keserwani city of Jounieh, was heard saying. “The threat to our Christian areas is increasing by the moment. ISIS is at our border. You’ve seen what they just did in Nice! The Syrians are here and those leftists hang you if you say anything. But now those Pokemon are among us, and next thing you know those Pikachu will be taking our jobs in electricity, among other things. Is this acceptable? We fought all kinds of barbaric invaders to stay here, it’s like they want us to leave!”

His friend Georges agreed, further saying: “How will we keep our lands now? It’s been horrible enough to try and prevent sales to others. The Lebanese government needs to intervene, this is a matter of national security.”

Pokemon Go is an app whereby, using augmented reality, the real world becomes filled with those Pokemons we grew up watching. In order to catch them all, you need to walk around your neighborhoods and city, wait until those creatures contact you, and try to capture them. The goal is to become the master of all those Pokemon and to hold as many gyms for your team as you can.

“If Sheikh Saad wants us to host these Pokemon, then we will.” Omar from Tarik El Jdide commented. “Bass beine w beinak, l wad3 ma ba2a ye7mol.”

Beirut’s leftists, on the other hand, are having a field day trying to quench the Lebanese desire to assault the Pokemons and establish curfews. “Municipalities want to register them, enforce curfews upon them, and we’ve also received intel that some municipality officers have lined up those Pokemon for illegal questioning. Pokemon rights need to be respected above all. This kind of hateful attitude towards these creatures seeking refuge in our country is unacceptable,” Alaa Sabhani, a prominent activist went on record saying.

Alaa’s colleague, Ramez, further added to the aforementioned point saying: “We have to grasp and appropriate the level of horror that these minorities are withstanding in our communities. What have we become other than soulless creatures roaming around this capitalist corrupt imperialistic-designed piece of land they call a country?”

Further South, Hussein Nasrallah was adamant about Hezbollah’s readiness to fight this invasion: “If we need to go all the way to Japan to stop them from coming here, we will.”

The image up North is entirely different, however. While the majority of Pokemon decided to take up residence in Mount Lebanon and the Greater Beirut area, crossing the Madfoun towards Batroun and Tripoli reveals nothing more than a perfectly deserted land.

“Honestly, who gives a shit,” Ismail – from Tripoli – went on record saying. “But at least now people in the country are more worried about that than Tripoli’s municipal council not having any Christians.”

Indeed, similar to their real-life counterpart, North of the Madfoun is an area devoid of Pokemon or facilities in which those Pokemon could train, eat or do what it is that those Pokemon do. When Niantic, the Google subsidiary responsible for the app was contacted, their reply was as follows: “What is Lebanon and why are you concerned about its North?”

Foreign journalists are flocking into the country to report on the matter as well. “I’m so glad to be given new material,” Justin Jones, a reporter for the New York Times was overheard saying at one of the overpriced pubs he was paid to visit in Beirut. “This Lebanese joie de vivre cannot be more correlated and exquisitely manifested than with these wonderful new additions to their country.” Rumors say he was romantically involved with a Jigglypuff.

Of course, the Lebanese joie de vivre is best exemplified by the lala-landers of the country who couldn’t remotely care. “Ben oui, j’pense que they aghe totally adoghable! Main’ant I have captured a Squirtle. J’aime squirting. C’est tres in!”

How will Lebanon handle the continuing influx of Pokemon into its land? Time will tell.

When Arabs Think The Apocalypse Is Near Because The US Legislated Same-Sex Marriage

I’m so honored and flattered to be living in the most open-minded and widely-accepting region of the world. Not only is everything peachy, wonderful and exceedingly rainbow-y around this place, but people in the region are adamant that their quality of life is obviously the way to go for everyone else, and that any deviation from it is quite clearly going to bring about the end of days, Allah-style.

It only took a couple of hours after the United States legislated same-sex marriage on Friday for Arabs across the Middle East to rise in outrage. Obviously, the outrage was restricted to Facebook and Twitter, but some of them were absolutely seething.

Here’s a sample:

How can anyone fathom living in a place where people are equal and requested?

I mean look at Iceland. They have more books published per person than any other country in the world while still being the second happiest country in the world. They legalized same-sex marriage in 2010. How dreadful.

Look at Belgium. The UNICEF called it the best place for children in the world. They legalized same-sex marriage in 2003. How atrocious.

Look at Canada. They are, according to studies, the most educated country in the world. They legalized same-sex marriage in 2005. How horrifying.

Look at New Zealand. They’re the second least corrupt and fourth safest country in the world. They legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. How abysmal.

Look at Norway. They legalized same-sex marriage in 2001, and they’re #1 on the UN’s Human Development Index. How disgusting.

Look at Ireland. In May 2015, they became the world’s first country to legislate same-sex marriage via a public referendum. They’re the #10 in the best places to grow up in. How nauseating.

Obviously, a #GAY_HOUSE is not a suitable place for humanity, because it will destroy everything that we’re about:

Arabs US - 15

 

So, because those horrible same-sex-loving countries are downright appalling at how they do things, I think that we should tell them what “natural” is, because they don’t know, and because we’re excellent at keeping things natural:

  1. It’s okay to have ISIS in your backyard. Clearly, there’s nothing wrong or unnatural about a clan of beheading-loving terrorists who are emanating from our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  2. It’s okay if you marry an 8 year old girl. As long as the person you’re marrying has a vagina, you’re okay. Also, it’s not pedophilia in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  3. It’s okay if you beat your wife to death. The law allows it. No one will bat an eyelash on the news of her ending up in the hospital, brain dead. No one will also care about the bruises on her face. This is how we roll in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  4. It’s not okay for you to marry someone who inherited a different set of religious beliefs. Sunni and Shiite can be okay, even though you wouldn’t want that for your children nowadays also. But Muslim-Christian? This is not how things work in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  5. You will not be naturalized in our countries unless you’re from a certain religion. It doesn’t matter how good of a person you are, how hard-working, law-abiding and national. We don’t want any strangers in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  6. If you hear someone talk about the idea of civil liberties, call them a heretic and hang them at your nearest town square. Civil marriage? Equal right? Human rights? These are foreign concepts in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  7. If someone dares to mention Western countries, you will point your finger to his or her face and accuse them of being a follower of the Great Big Shaytan. This is not an insult to anyone’s intelligence in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.
  8. You will bring up Gaza and other violations of human rights in casual conversation about irrelevant topics, over shisha with your friends, to show you care. We are compassionate in our #NATURAL_HOUSE.

Once upon a time, I used to be a homophobe bigot. I used to think what people did in the privacy of their homes was my own business, and that I was allowed to have an opinion into how other people lived their lives, and that their lives are supposed to go on the track of values that I was exposed to all my life, never challenging, never looking at another realm of morality that existed beyond the confines of that little town, nestled on the hills of Batroun, in the heart of Christian Lebanon.

This extended to the way I dealt with things as well: when the only thing you know is that different is not okay, that “other” is frowned upon, that anything existing beyond your moral code is cringe-worthy, you slowly but surely regress into not being human.

But then I left home, and I realized that there were a lot of things I didn’t know. I realized that being challenged, morally, by things I had never been exposed to wasn’t only mind-boggling, it was also exhilarating. And slowly, over the course of many years and friendships in between, I not only do not recognize the boy that I was a few years ago, but I cower at the idea of that person still existing in some people’s memory.

I’ve seen some people say that discussing the new American legislation should not be done by people not living in the United States. I believe it’s the exact opposite. The most heart-warming story I’ve seen over the weekend is how a friend of mine, whose mother thought homosexuality was an abomination only a few years ago, is now a person who just wants people to live and let live, because what they’re doing does not affect her in any way whatsoever.

The more we discuss such topics and issues that challenge what we know, the more we inch towards truly bettering ourselves as societies, crawling slowly but surely towards a better state, one where people realize that the people who are different in all aspects are not an issue, but not accepting them is.

How The New 50,000 Summarizes Lebanon

20131115-184534.jpgCome on people, is there anything more suitable than that 50,000 to describe the state of Lebanon lately? If anything, we should look at this positively: it might be the first time ever that those in charge of running things are aware of how dismal they have made things to be, even if only with a representative bill. And they have decided to describe things. Here’s an attempt to explain what went on with their brains.

All Those Festivities:

I really don’t know what’s special about the number 70 for it to warrant an honorary bill. Why not 71? Even better, why not 69? I’m positive that number means much more to so many Lebanese than simply 70. Zeros are so overrated if you ask me. Yet again, our currency has so many of them.

I guess we have always been a country to celebrate whenever we had the opportunity. Oh, look – can we turn this into a festivity? Sure, why not, let’s do it!

Identity Crisis:

One look at that bill and the entirety of our Lebanese existence is summarized in front of you with the monetary version of our infamous “hi, kifak, ca va.” Arabic, French and even a word of English thrown in there by mistake is the perfect summary of how this country is: lost in translation, unaware of what it wants to be or what it is.

Let’s stick to our frenchiness would say the people who only know the ca va to every kifak. Except we barely know how to speak French lately as is evident by that hilariously shameful typo on the bill. Side note, is there any other country with a typo on their bills, regardless of what that typo is?

No, let’s move on to English man. That is where the future is. Never. We are Arabs. Mutliple personality disorder, perhaps? Who cares, it’s unique.

Inefficiency:

Let’s leave the fact that the new 50,000 will still be big enough for you to use as a picnic mattress. Shouldn’t they resize all our money into something that fits in normal wallets before redesigning the bills at every possible opportunity?

Anyway, I’d hate to think our bills can get less efficient than they are. There are just so many zeros there and they’re as useless as they come. That 50,000 bill is so inefficient that it cannot afford you a burger at Roadster’s anymore.

Inefficient… I like it.

Blame others:

Our central bank head decided to blame the British company that printed the bill for the fiasco. Typical, I guess. Let’s always blame others for our mistake, as long as it makes us feel better about ourselves and about the messes we keep finding ourselves in. We get into a war, we blame some mysterious entity. Our economy goes to the trash, we blame some other mysterious entity. Our 50,000 gets a tasteless makeover? Let’s blame the company that printed it, not the Lebanese who must have overseen the design (or lack thereof) process, the Lebanese who did not notice the mistakes and the people with a horrendous taste who OK’ed it.

Intact Joie de Vivre:

But no worries, ladies and gentlemen, our Joie de Vivre is still well-represented in that bill. Our love of life, love for drinks and parties and getting high is well defined within those mutliple colors that fill that monetary canvas. Pretty nifty, eh?

Lebanon, summarized:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t but notice that Lebanon has been on a downward spiral lately. Culture is dying, sometimes at the hands of the ministry of culture. Fundamentalism is rising across the board. The country is losing whatever it has of itself with each passing day. Looking at all of that, our new bill cannot but stand and shout that infamous line: shou we2fet 3laye?

Our country is the gift that keeps on giving. Can you imagine living somewhere where life was boring? What would we blog about? When it comes to that 50,000 bill I have to ask: why not use it as our national flag instead?

The Church Explosion Derivation

On Sunday morning, an explosion rocked the Syriac church of Saydit Al Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) in Zahle. Every Lebanese official denounced the explosion, naturally, as a barbaric act, against the “example” of coexistence that is Lebanon, bla bla bla.

Now let us start our derivation of who is responsible for this attack.

Naturally, it can’t be a non-Lebanese because most Lebanese barely know of the existence of the targeted sect, let alone those who are foreigners and don’t know Lebanon has Maronites or any other major Christian sect to begin with.

Now that the non-Lebanese people have been taken out of the equation, this leaves us with those who hold the beloved and cherished citizenship. Of those, say 50% are Muslims and 50% are Christians. Now since we’d like to be optimistic, let us assume that our fellow Muslims would not do such a thing because it would break this example of coexistence.

Of the remaining 50% of Christians, no one would act except upon an act issued by their correspondent political leader. You have a bunch of irrelevant leaders who can’t get their followers to hurt a fly and then you have the big quartet.

Michel Aoun was probably still sleeping, long dreaming about him being Lebanon’s president, a dream that doesn’t seem to let him go. Add to that the fact that his supporters don’t know what a bomb is and you rule him out of the equation as well.

Sleiman Frangieh’s followers know very well what a bomb is. But Zahle is just too far away from his radar that you can’t make him a serious contender for the top prize. Add to it him being clueless most of the time and you definitely take his name off the list.

Amin Gemayel was still probably mourning his son. Or in the midst of the conversation that started on Friday evening. Either way, I don’t see him as someone who would issue the bombing as well.

Samir Geagea, however, *evil smile*, this man can definitely blow up a church. I mean, out of the whole bunch of politicians today, he is the only criminal, right? And he has blown up a church before. Granted, he was exonerated, but he did blow it up, no? His party is also made up of a bunch of high school dropouts who don’t know how to write their names, so naturally, they know how to handle bombs. Also, as a wise person from Bsharri would say: If Geagea thinks a church needs to be blown up, then the church needs to be blown up.

Meanwhile, the seven Estonians are still missing. Telecom minister Charbel Nahas is still in his cat-fight with Ogero CEO, Abdel Menhem, and the country is more prosperous than ever. Some Lebanese stupidheads took the headlines with their pro-Syria protests… why would anyone care about a silly Church getting blown up?

PS: In case you didn’t notice, let me hashtag it for you: #sarcasm.