Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Lebanon - Den of sin

I was reading, via Blog Baladi, this Now Lebanon piece on unmarried couples in Lebanon being unable, or at least having to lie in order to, share a hotel room.

Now, regarding the foreigner-Lebanese couple, that’s not my experience. But I’ve heard it exists. Certainly, all foreigner couple isn't an issue. You know, we're all going to Hell anyway.

However, contained within the article was something I found a little disturbing:
Should a “mixed” couple (one Lebanese and one foreigner) try to book a room at a hotel in Lebanon, they too are turned away, if not for the cohabitation law, then certainly for reasons of social norms.

“We don’t like it,” said a manager at one seaside hotel in Beirut. “You don’t like what?” NOW Lebanon asked.  “Couples with different nationalities, or a Lebanese mixing with a foreigner.” 

My considered response to statements such as the above involves a string of four letter words my mother taught me when I was knee high to a grasshopper and a boot to the offender’s soft parts. Then I’d set the wife on him.

 "Sweetheart, could you go talk to that
lovely man behind the counter? He thinks
you're a hooker."

Now, throughout the article, it’s unclear as to why the hotels are doing this. At various points it’s articulated as follows:

1.      Religious law forbids it (regardless of religion)
2.      General Security appear to be leaning on hotels
3.      Lebanese hotel owners are racists (yes, sorry, but that’s exactly what the quoted            passage above implies)
4.      It’s the law (when it comes to Lebanese couples)
5.      It’s a matter of stopping prostitution

However, the ISF vice squad then say:

But an officer there, who did not want to speak on the record, said the police would never crack down on hotels unless someone specifically called in a complaint. 
“We are mainly preoccupied with enforcing the law against prostitution,” he added.

I’ll quote Blog Baladi’s Najib in order to express my disgust:

I find this policy really backwards and unjustified as this is bad business for them.

Precisely. Only, I’d add the word ass in front of backwards.

However, I have a question for you:

Is the following attitude common among Lebanese?

“You don’t like what?” NOW Lebanon asked. 

“Couples with different nationalities, or a Lebanese mixing with a foreigner.” 

If it is, does it include other Arabs, or is it restricted to honkies like myself?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Arabic football commentary

While giggling like a school girl at prom as I watched France struggle to beat Luxembourg (one of those weird European micro-states) 2-0 after Luxembourg had been reduced to 10 men on around the sixtieth minute, I was inspired to ask a question. It’s been on mind for quite some time.

Are Arab football commentators on speed? Alternatively, do they get paid by the word?

Here’s a brief sample of a typical piece of commentary, mentioning France’s Samir Nasrie:
“Samir Nasrie’s on the ball. Samir plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League. His favourite colour is magenta; his first pet was a Labrador cross called Scruffy, Scruffy died when Samir was seven. Samir was very sad. His mother met his father while working as a waitress in a local shop in 1978, they instantly fell in love and a long courtship began. Samir enjoys soft music, candlelight dinners and long walks along the beach as the stars come out. Samir is single and interested in a long term relationship. Nasrie passes the ball to Malouda. Malouda was born in….”

I exaggerate, but only slightly.

Why? Why, for the love of God, do we need to know about Samir’s parents?

Then there’s the goal celebrations…


This goes on until he chokes and dies of over excitement.


None of my Lebanese friends enjoy it, they all complain, or laugh at their expense.

I’d rather listen to French commentary and that’s a painful admission for me.

Friday, 8 October 2010

How to write about Beirut 101

I just found this piece by Angie Nassar on the Daily Star's blog. Given that I recently posted this little discussion about the British press, I thought it appropriate to share.

Here's an excerpt:

This is a cliché article about why “Beirut is back”
First, I will romanticize Lebanon into a chic, post-war brand so you can buy into this cliché article about why “Beirut is back.” I will tell you that there was a 15-year civil war in the country from 1975-1990, and then contrast several buzzwords and phrases like “battered” “bruised” and “once-divided” with notions of “rebirth” “glamorous” and “united.”

This paragraph begins with one of the four “p” metaphors: pawn, playground, pearl or Paris. Beirut is like one of these. I could also use Switzerland as an analogy, but that is *so* overdone. And take note: I will repeatedly refer to Lebanon’s capital throughout this article as if it is representative of the country as a whole.
Well, it made me laugh.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Christmas cheer

Here's a little something a friend of mine just sent over after reading this post.

Despite relying on word of mouth and dubious ad
placement, Claus was leading the polls with weeks to go

Shot taken in 2007, by Spinneys and ABC Ashrafieh.

Is there nothing the man can't do? Advertising for Coke, delivering presents to children the world over and standing for election ... amazing.


Here’s an interview I conducted recently for a popular expatriate website. Scroll down to ‘Middle East and North Africa’ and there I am.

Like I said, I do my bit for the Lebanese tourism industry.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Visual representation of the social networking world…

Google Reader is my friend.

I thought this was great … 

The world, according to the Interwebz

From xkcd, there’s a huge version here.

Must run, I’ve almost got enough cabbages to complete my super allotment on Farmville*


*Disclaimer: I would rather shove hot pins in my eyes than play Farmville.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Beaten into third (?) place…

Auntie’s running a story on Iraq that,  in my twisted mind, has a little relevance to Lebanon, via here.

Political parties in Iraq have broken the world record for the amount of time taken to form a new government.

In 1977, it took 208 days for Dutch politicians to agree to a coalition.

Correspondents say the Iraqis are likely to take a good deal longer, as more negotiations are needed to resolve March's inconclusive election result.

And there was me thinking that the Lebanese took a long time to form a government…

Does anyone remember that shop at the end of the main street in Gemmayze (just before the crossroads) that held a sale from when they started the process ending when Suleiman was elected…?