Anthony Bourdain Returns to Beirut

While it’s absolutely true that Beirut makes no sense, especially these days with all the chaos happening in the region, the city has a charm and energy that are undeniable.

Check out some pics from the upcoming episode.




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You may think you’re speaking Lebanese, but some of your words are really Syriac | News , Lebanon News | THE DAILY STAR

You may think you’re speaking Lebanese, but some of your words are really Syriac | News , Lebanon News | THE DAILY STAR.

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FT: The rise of female entrepreneurs in Lebanon

Hala Fadel©Thierry Van Biesen

In Bachoura, a rundown quarter of central Beirut, a quiet revolution is gathering strength. From the balcony of a new office block, the Mediterranean sparkles behind a row of cranes. On a freshly painted roof patio next door, entrepreneurs work at picnic tables laden with laptops and lattes. Amid walls still bearing artillery scars from the civil war a quarter of a century ago, the Beirut Digital District is rising — one of a growing number of spaces in the Lebanese capital dedicated to 21st-century start-ups.  Read more….

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WSJ: Lebanon’s Long Road to Freedom

Two Lebanese soldiers watch as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators fill Beirut’s Martyrs Square on March 14, 2005.

The Cedar Revolution exploded just as the Internet was beginning to transform how mass movements communicate with their supporters and with the outside world, and the Lebanese provided a template for the pro-democracy uprisings that would rock the region in subsequent years. This tiny nation of 4.5 million gave birth to the Middle East democratic awakening.  Read more….

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Turkey’s Other Atrocity: Lebanon’s Great Famine

Now that some around the world are acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, the world should also remember the Ottoman’s other atrocity: Lebanon’ Great Famine.  Read more…

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The Armenian Genocide: Time for Turkey to Face Up to Its Own History

A line of naked, crucified Armenian girls The Armenian Genocide Museum

A line of naked, crucified Armenian girls
The Armenian Genocide Museum

No matter how much Turkish leaders today try to sugarcoat the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, the result will always come out bitter. Turkish President, Erdoğan can bemoan European imperialism as much as he wants, but that will never whitewash his own people’s history. It is time for him and his people to admit that the Ottomans, who they are often fond of praising, were some of the most ruthless imperialists humanity ever witnessed. The Ottomans were invaders and occupiers who wreaked havoc on the indigenous population of the eastern Mediterranean for centuries.

The Ottoman rule was cruel and barbaric, especially on the Armenians, who commemorated on April 24 the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. But, they were not the only ones to endure discrimination, starvation, displacement and slaughter. The Greeks, the Cypriots, the Assyrians and other Levantines, especially the Christians, the Alawites, Druze, Jews, Shia, and of course the Kurds did, too.

While the Ottomans were killing hundreds of thousands of Armenians, they were also blockading the entire eastern Mediterranean coast, especially the very important port of Beirut, preventing any food or medical supplies from reaching the Levant. The blockade caused thousands of deaths from widespread famine in the Levant. In Lebanon alone, one third of its population died. That was genocide in itself!

It was not only murder that the Ottomans committed. They systematically prevented the education and intellectual development of the population they ruled. Travel to any country that was formerly occupied by the Ottomans, from Greece to Lebanon, and one would not find one school or university built by them. Sultan Selim I, regarded as one of the greatest sultans of the Ottoman Empire, even passed a law that punished with the death penalty anyone who used the newly-invented printing press in his empire. The shrewd Italian merchants who were selling him the printing press convinced him to allow non-Muslim subjects to use the printing press. He acquiesced, allowing some minorities to use the new invention. The first Jewish press was established in 1494 in Istanbul and the first Christian press was established at the Convent of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya in Lebanon in 1610. Muslims, however, would not be allowed to use the printing press for centuries. The first Turkish press was only established in the 18th century, almost 300 years after the invention of the printing press. Thus, as Europe was going through the Age of Reason, which was a direct result of the invention of Gutenberg’s press, the population of the Ottoman Empire lay dormant in ignorance thanks to its sultans.

Moreover, the Ottomans committed a number of environmental atrocities. Their army, for example, cut down entire forests to fuel their trains. In Mount Lebanon 60% of the cedar forests were cut down in three years.

This is our truth, and Turkish denial will never change it. C. Northcote Parkinson once said, “Delay is the deadliest form of denial” so Turks can delay the apology, but it is inevitable because we will always insist on it. Turkey as the inheritor of the legacy of Ottoman Empire must apologize for its neighbors, starting with the Armenian Genocide but not stopping there. The Greeks, Cypriots, Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Kurds are all waiting for apologies, too.

Ignoring history does not make it go away. It only helps repeat it as we have seen over and over again, and most recently against the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq. It is time for Turkey to face up to its past. When Pope John Paul II apologized for the actions of the Crusader attack on Constantinople in 1204, he said to the Patriarch of Constantinople, “Some memories are especially painful, and some events of the distant past have left deep wounds in the minds and hearts of people to this day.” The wounds that the Ottomans left in the Armenians, Greeks, Lebanese, Cypriots, Kurds and other Levantines are centuries deep and passed from one generation to another. If Turkey wants an honest and a functioning relationship with its neighbors, an apology can go a long way. As Lynn Johnston, the Canadian cartoonist once said, “An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.”

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Beirut’s Bright Future As A Tech Hub For MENA, If Its Politicians Will Allow It

Why is the internet so slow in Lebanon? “The reasons for this are simple. It’s entirely due to local politics. Youssef, the head of the public-private organisation (OGERO, set up by the late Rafik Hariri) has blocked the utilisation and distribution of the IMEWE and other cables that have been hooked up.” Time to end Ogero’s monopoly. Read on…

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BBC: Political impasse stops Lebanon exploiting oil resources

An interesting article from the BBC:

The announcement was supposed to bring with it the magical solution for many of Lebanon’s ills, among them chronic public debt, power shortages and poor public services.

Back then, the prospect of major oil discoveries off the Mediterranean coast triggered dreams of a prosperous future, but today it seems like the Lebanese were the victims of false advertising.

Read more…

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Bike paths in abandoned tunnels?

When a population is not obsessed with Medieval sectarianism like the Lebanese are, one can imagine and innovate like they do in the city of London.

Bike paths in abandoned tube tunnels: is the London Underline serious?

Could the answer to London’s congestion be a network of subterranean cycleways? A new project from design firm Gensler suggests that maybe – just maybe – it might. Dubbed the London Underline, the project would turn London’s abandoned tube tunnels into living streets beneath the city. While there’s still a speculative, utopian look to the proposals – renderings showing the tunnels packed with youthful Londoners resemble an updated version of Logan’s Run – the London Underline is being taken seriously enough in some quarters. Earlier this week, it won the Best Conceptual Project gong at the London Planning awards.  Read full article.

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Beirut Film Festival Defies the Odds and Censors

Forget Dubai and Doha, it’s only Beirut that can showcase truly boundary-pushing, issue-driven films!

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