Tag Archives: lebanese culture

What’s With Lebanon’s Cruelty Towards Animals?

BETA Christmas banner

I spent a lot of summers in Lebanon as a kid. A good number of homes in villages had dogs. Large dogs that were never vaccinated and lived on their owner’s doorsteps or caged in the back yard. They’re main purpose was to deter strangers or thieves or entertain the household’s children.

It’s a very common arrangement here, the kind where the family claims to have a dog but under no circumstance whatsoever would that dog ever be allowed to set paw in the house. The dog slept outside, ate outside, played outside and died outside, come rain or shine.

I always tried to secretly sneak the dogs into the house, would spend all my pocket money on buying them canned corned beef while everyone laughed at me, some even told me to go feed the hungry children instead. I had to get treated myself after I attempted to shower Whiskey, the village’s alcoholic’s dog with the garden hose. You see Whiskey had never had a shower in his life, he was flea-ridden much to my mother’s dismay.

I fought other kids when they threw rocks at the poor dogs or tormented them. When I asked adults why kids in Lebanon hurt animals I was always given the same absurd answer along the lines of “ Lebanon went through years of civil war were people killed each other,  we have more important issues than animals rights”

Well, kids the war is over, and  guess what, it ended in 1990 so some of you don’t even recall it, and even if you did, how on earth does that justify animal cruelty? Really?

And why can’t we multitask? Why can’t we deal with ALL our issues at once, why does it have to be either/or? Why can’t I have compassion for both animals AND humans without feeling guilty?

I write this post after we rescued a cute dog we named “Lucky” from a dumpster next to a residential neighborhood last week. She was a sweet little soul who was clearly starving with protruding bones and weighed no more than a kilo despite her medium size. It was obvious Lucky wasn’t always a stray; she looked like an older dog that wouldn’t have been able to survive in the cruel cold Lebanese streets on her own.


We gave Lucky a hot bath and her own little blanket while she cuddled up next to the heater and wolfed down 3 bowls of food. The next day I reached out to Animals Lebanon who told me to put her in a dog motel and pay for it myself since all their fosters “who are expats have traveled”, while the amazing folks at BETA (Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) told me to drop her off at the Animal Hospital where she was examined by the vet and then handed over to BETA.


Turns out Lucky was indeed an elder dog (10-12 years) and like many cases they have seen she was most likely abandoned because of her old age and all the “nuisances” it ensued.

So many Lebanese kids are going to receive pets as gifts this Christmas. By new year the novelty will wear off when they realize that the pet is not that cute anymore and will have to be housebroken before it serves it’s “purpose”, as a result most of these pets will most likely get abandoned. Please don’t get a pet if you aren’t 100% certain. BETA’s shelters are at over-capacity and they need all the help they can get.

And please don’t lecture me on where I should focus my compassion and instead redirect that energy on doing some good this Christmas.

Donate here to BETA which now accepts PayPal: donatetobeta@gmail.com





The Lebanese Valet; 2013’s Most Fearless Organized Crime Network

valet lebanon

What can I say we’re wrapping up a great year.

Everyone around town seems to be complaining about the same thing but like most things in Lebanon that’s as far as it goes. This post is not meant to undermine any of the other dire causes that need our attention, but I’ve personally reached the end of my rope with the valet mafia that have introduced an unofficial tax on us and have taken over our streets and claimed ownership of our sidewalks.

If licensed valet services want to take full possession of the parking spots right in front of establishments, then so be it, though I highly doubt those are considered private property on city maps.

What I’m ranting about is PUBLIC sidewalks that are meters and meters away or across the street from restaurants, shops and bars that are now suddenly proclaimed off-limits by some thug-like characters who may not even be wearing a uniform giving out generically numbered receipts. Some randoms looking to make a quick buck with no municipal badge and no registration acting like they’re in charge, telling us where we can and can’t park. It sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? But guess what, we are all taking orders from them. We’re all either driving away or handing them the keys to our cars, worse yet we are paying/bribing these nobodies money so that we can park it ourselves and keep the keys to OUR cars with us. Yes, we pay DOUBLE so they won’t take away the keys to our own car. Nuts

They want to call themselves a valet service, whatever. This is organized crime.

Because if you try to resist the intimidation you will find yourself in a nasty confrontation that could possibly lead to threats or altercations.

I give my car to valet drivers all the time, but only when they work directly and exclusively (licensed) for a place and even then I do it with a heavy heart since they exempt themselves from all responsibility for loss or damage to your property. I refuse to pay them if I park it myself on what is considered designated restaurant/store parking spots, and if they do complain then I complain to management. I don’t do this to save LL 5,000 I do it because I refuse to enable this entitlement mentality.

I won’t give my car to valet services that have set up camp on a street and decided to tax customers and citizens. And you shouldn’t either. Maybe if we drive these mafias out of business and walk a little bit more, (like we happily do when we travel abroad) we could rid this city of these sidewalk parasites. Or maybe we just need Batman.

Join the Fight Against Tattooed Eyebrows


Alright. So I’m about to acknowledge the elephant in the country. Someone’s gotta do it already, and I’m taking one for the team.

Two words: Tattooed Eyebrows. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we bid farewell to decades of notoriously pin-thin over-plucked half-moons, little did we know we’d only be paving the way for these jumbo eye-staches? When did it suddenly become cool to have creepy caterpillars on your forehead? Dark, moist, ridiculously thick and worst of all, supernaturally defined and straight substitutes or deformed arches of what was once, hair.

I must have missed the memo, you know the one that incited these poor unsuspecting women to go out in flocks, shave off their eyebrows and replace them with absurd PERMANENTLY tattooed marks on their heads. I woke up one day and everywhere I looked there they were, red ones, gray ones, brownish-orange ones, and very very black ones. The Horror.

No tattooed eyebrows do not look natural. No matter how many times you ask or what ridiculous sum of money you paid for them. No matter what that beautician told you. They just don’t. And they never will. You’ve been punk’d.

Besides, the point of recreating a look is to emulate something that actually exists in the first place. I promise you, the last women that probably sported those things were living in caves and even they felt insecure about them when they discovered the mirror.

And what about when they peel ( yes, those things peel!) if it were up to me, it should be illegal for women to go out in public when they’re freshly inked and their new creatures are covered with this nasty coat of gunk.

I thought long and hard before writing this post. Because I thought of all the women that got them. That’s a lot of women to piss off. But you know what, they should have listened. They had done no justice to their once beautiful faces. You may tell me my opinion is uncalled for. Perhaps.

But there’s one thing I’m sure of, Tattooed eyebrows should be criminalized, if not for the women who wear them then at least think of the  people who have to withstand the pain of looking at them. Because we all know that when you’re speaking to someone with tattooed eyebrows, you can’t look anywhere else but at those things. It’s all you can focus on. And you get caught so many times doing it. And you try and try to look away but you end up staring right at them the entire time.

So ladies, enough is enough, you can fight this, resist the urge to go in for that retouch session, let them go , and in a year or two,  they will fade away like a far distant memory. And if you’re lucky no one will remember that you had the same facial expression for an entire year.

Sign the petition today by leaving your name in the comment section below!

The 4 Characters You Will Meet On A Flight To Beirut


1)      The Trouble Maker with the belly in a tracksuit

You know shit is about to hit the fan as soon as you spot this one making a fuss at check-in. He’s already cut-in line twice while his poor wife and kids tag along, no one has the guts to stand up to him, so they end up giving them the dirty looks. He’s 27 kilos over the limited baggage allowance but he won’t budge. He’s been holding up the queue for an hour until the supervisor gave him the ultimatum ( pay or leave the bags behind) while he glares at him murderously. Back in Beirut, he would most likely have whacked the guy or called-in wasta, but he’s still in Rome and he’s on his best behavior. So he decides to take it all out as soon as he boards the Lebanese flight. He spots an East Indian man on what is supposed to be the seat next to him and flips out. He announces to the flight attendant that he will not be sitting in his assigned seat with no justification, just very matter-of-factly. Things get very tense and messy before the short older male attendant that-looks-like-a-captain-but-is -not-the-captain intervenes, refers to him as “Monsieur” and offers him a seat in the exit row isle. Impressed, trouble maker leaves his entire brood behind as he nestles in his comfortable new seat.

2)      The Flight Attendant en route to an 80’s Glamor Shoot

Fuchsia. That’s the first thought that pops in your head when both her and her lips welcome you on board. She wears her scarf and outdated green ensemble proudly as she ushers you to your seat.

She thoroughly enjoys going though each aisle to check if passengers have in fact followed the rules. And she lives for the moment when they don’t so she can finally practice the executive powers bestowed upon her. She is especially nice to the gentlemen and especially unpleasant to most women. She has a way of making chicken or meat sound like cocaine or hash. She’s happy to serve you but NEVER make her feel like it’s her job, just pretend she’s some hot chick that randomly volunteered to be on this flight and you’ll be fine.

3)      The Lebanese expat

He’s the most successful of his class having moved to Rome for university, landed a great position in his field and never left. He travels back and forth on occasions to visit family and friends but he spends most of his time in Rome. He’ll never move back home and every time he gets on this flight, he  reaffirms it. He dreads the noise, the chaos and the fact that he never gets any room in what is supposed to be his overhead bin space. Yes, he’s Lebanese, but he’s 100% converted to civilized. His strategy is to make the least eye contact possible and minimum interaction with his surroundings. It helps that he could easily pass for an Italian and he will not utter a word of Arabic. He dies a little inside every time passengers applaud post-landing.

4)      The Negligent mother

She has to put up with her brats every day, so cut her some slack if she decides to disown her children on this one and make them everyone else’s problem, alright? Besides, she’s been dying to watch that flick starring Catherine Zeta Jones playing on the flight. And while everyone else is complaining about her kids kicking their seats and screaming, she hasn’t had this much quiet time in almost a year. Not only does she watch the entire movie unfazed by the ruckus, she is also impressively immune to the judgmental stares of fellow passengers urging her to control the situation. They can hate all they want. She allows those kids to roam the aisles and bump into people’s arms or legs as long as they don’t interrupt her until the attendant finally corners her into seating them for landing. Even then she considers letting them loose.

Have I missed any?

Celebrity Copycats: The Lebanese Edition

The Lebanese entertainment industry is no stranger to recycling. That’s right, when it comes to borrowing ideas both directors and celebrities don’t hold back. I’m not sure what goes on in their heads when they decided to blatantly reproduce the work of some of the world’s biggest names in music. I mean, come on they got us a fake PSY (Gangnam Style) this weekend and thought we wouldn’t notice. That’s insulting and pretty racist if you ask me.

Here’s the thing, Beyonce, Britney and Lady Gaga are international superstars. If they think that they can sneakily “borrow” a scene from one of their videos without getting noticed then they must assume we don’t own TVs or computers which is also quite insulting. Either way, they’ll deny these allegations to the last minute and may even claim they’re the ones getting copied.

Check out these scenes and make your own conclusions.

( Click on images to enlarge)

Exhibit A

maya diab angelina jolie

Left: Angelina Jolie in a scene from Alexander the Great

Right: Lebanese host/ singer/ entertainer Maya Diab in her Shaklak MaBta3raf Video (truly groundbreaking btw) watch it here

Exhibit B

Beyonce versus Myriam 1

Left: Beyonce dressed as BB The Homemaker in her video for Why Don’t You Love Me?

Right:  Lebanese singer/entertainer Myriam Fares in her new video for her song Kifak Inta. Myriam has mastered Beyonce’s dance moves by the way. Watch it here

Exhibit C

layal vrs britney

Right: Britney Spears dressed as an flight attendant in the iconic airplane scene from her video for Toxic.

Left: Lebanese entertainer/singer Layal Abboud dressed as an attendant in a train in the video for her song Ya Ana Ya Ana.

Exhibit D (and the biggest offender you can read more about this one here)

britney and Claudia

Left: Britney Spears in a diamond encrusted revealing bodysuit from her Toxic video

Right: Lebanese singer Clauda Chemali in her comeback song “Bowsa Qatoulieh”– meaning- “Toxic Kiss”


Also see Celebs Separated at Birth


Ivy Reviews: SUD


Beirut’s been buzzing about two new hot spots conveniently situated on Mar Mikhael’s main road, BarTartine and SUD. They’re actually separate entities but share the same hidden gem of a terrace in an open court-style alley complete with small trees and beautiful stone walls. Sud also boasts a rooftop cocktail lounge.

Although it’s been open for a few months Sud’s reputation precedes it, hosting a full house during peak hours and an almost always packed guest list.

The menu is namely Mediterranean with a varied list of French, Italian and Catalan cuisine. We booked a table for four and headed down on a Saturday for lunch. I was drawn by the beautiful modern décor ,stainless steel lamps, open-style kitchen layout, bar and loved the entire look and feel of the place.

However, the staff still looked like they were adjusting to keep up with the constant traffic. An empty beer bottle seemed to have found its way right under my friend’s chair as we were seated on a table. We handed it to an apologetic waiter and then asked him to point us to the Catalan items on the menu. He sported a blank face and we knew we’d have to explore our own way.

We started things off with two Antipastos which I recommend, whole mushrooms marinated in a sweet balsamic sauce with toasted baguettes, and eggplant and black olive molasses also served on miniature toasted baguette.


We also had the Crevette Ter Mer tapa , shrimps and some fantastic little pieces of chorizo (sausage) with fresh herbs.


Next, the grilled calamari salad with artichoke hearts, porcini mushrooms, chick peas spring onions and cherry tomatoes and black olives drizzled with a lemon dressing. Although I’m a fan of grilled calamari I didn’t particularly enjoy the mix of ingredients in this dish nor did I like that the calamari tasted more boiled than grilled, as it was on the softer side of things and sported no grill marks or taste. It was missing a kick to it that just didn’t come.


My friend went for the burger that came in a fresh bun and medium-sized patty. The meat seemed freshly ground as the soft patty fell apart with every bite however I didn’t particularly enjoy the spice mix used and the very thin cheese that seemed processed as it sat unmoved and un-melted. It was good but didn’t move me the way a gourmet burger should.


My other friend went for the Risotto-style saffron paella which was absolutely delicious both visually and sensory with its scrumptious shrimp and fresh mussels. This dish is a definitive must-have for anyone who’s a fan of this traditional Valencian dish.


My man went for the Salt Baked Sea Bass, which came in its full fish form in a hard crust cover that exposed a soft white flesh when cracked. It came with a side of sautéed potatoes. It was good but bland and slightly over-cooked for my taste.


I had the Linguine Aux Crevette , a pasta dish of sautéed shrimps, shredded courgettes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, pepercino in a tomato sauce. And again it was good, it hit the spot, but it was missing something more, a flavor that would set this place apart from the rest and mark it’s gastronomic stamp on the scene, but again it failed to deliver.


However, whatever flavors Sud lacked in the savory department, it made up in its dessert menu. The delectable glazed Pain Perdu left me in a trance topped with a heavenly scoop of vanilla ice cream from the ice cream connoisseurs over at  Oslo.

IMG_6015The soft Profiteroles drizzled with warm milk-chocolate sauce were mouth-watering and the ice cream really impressed.


We washed the meal down with some a foamy rich cappuccino.


I found that Sud’s prices are very reasonable compared to the other restaurants in town with appetizers ranging from $5 to $15 and main dishes ranging from $18-$30 so a meal for four with soft drinks without dessert would total to around $120.

I will definitely be back for to Sud’s rooftop soon for some of those promising cocktails. Have you been?

More Reviews:

Frosty Palace

The Roof


La Petite Maison Dubai

P.F. Chang’s

The Grill Room

é Café

Mir Amin Palace Terrace

Punta Del Este

Haifa Wehbe or Maya Diab: Who Wore It Best

fashion faceoff

Left: Haifa Wehbe performing on Dancing With The Stars back in January in this sheer netted and embellished Nicolas Jebran creation that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. She paired it with an over-sized blingy hair piece.

Right: Maya Diab in almost the same dress by her all-time go-to-designer Nicolas Jebran at Cannes in May. Maya wore her signature big hair and accessorized her look with de GRISOGONO earrings.

So who goes home a winner? Haifa, Maya or should they both get jail time for crimes against fashion?

More Who Wore It Best posts here

Also see Kim Kardashian and Sheikha Mozah of Qatar