Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Golden Cameras for Beirut

A couple of days ago, a story from Annahar newspaper popped up stating that Beirut municipality is buying around 2,000 security cameras for around 40 Million dollars.
Photo taken from the Annahar article

My friend Elie shared a small research he did, on his Facebook page that I would like to share:
Beirut Municipality is buying 1,500 to 2,000 Cameras at $27,000 per Camera, 40.5 Million Dollars in total !! 

I did some research, based on a case study done by Schneider Electric's security camera brand Pelco (One of the biggest brands in this domain).

The case study is about surveillance cameras installed in Italy to help with the security of the G8 summit (Read here:

The study mentions that two types of cameras were used, so I researched their prices online:
- Spectra III : Costs $1,389.61 (
- Esprit Camera: Costs $1,861.95 (

Let's assume we're going crazy and buying 1,500 pieces of each model (3,000 cameras) instead of a total of 1,500 pieces, and that we're buying them at a full price:

- Spectra III cost: $2,084,415
- Esprit cost : $2,792,925
Total Cost : $4,877,340

Let's assume taxes on these items are 100% + VAT and add some extras, this will bring the total to 10.5 Million Dollars.
Additionally, let’s account for around 7 Millions in Network Design, control rooms, servers and equipment, and another 3 Millions in training and maintenance for the first period. 
Total should not exceed 20 Million dollars with all the above exaggerated costs. I think the offers should be re-considered by the municipality. 

There is pretty much nothing to add to this. What do you think?
It's either we became worthless brains or careless sheep so that this huge corruption takes place.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Baakline Waterfalls

This last weekend, we decided to go discover Baakline's waterfalls and river.
Baakline is a village in Mount Lebanon, Chouf district, 45 kilometers southeast of Beirut. Altitude: 850, 920 high (Source Wikipedia).

How to get there:
Driving from Beirut, you take the Rafic Al-Hariri International Airport road towards the south. You keep going until you get to Damour. Then you take the Deir Al Qamar / Beiteddine junction. It will be around 20 minutes straight drive until you reach the Baakline junction on your right. Here's where you think that you're almost there, but you're not!
It will take you another 20 minutes drive from there to reach the lowest point of the valley where you forget how long this trip was!
You can find it on the GPS as "Baakline Riviere".

What to expect:
The photos will do the job:

Baakline Falls - Chouf Lebanon Baakline River - Chouf Lebanon     Cooold! Baakline Falls - Chouf Lebanon
And here are some from Instagram :D

Yes this is in Lebanon!

  1. The best time to go there is probably during August and the beginning of September, cause you really HAVE to jump in that water! or else you'll regret it later.
  2. Take your food with you, and you can rent tables, chairs and a grill there.
    It will cost you around 15,000 LBP - 20,000 LBP per person (10 USD - 16 USD), depending on the available spot, and if it is during weekends.
    Update (26/08/2015): It costs 20,000 LBP all week long.
  3. If you want to go on weekends, it is better to go on a Saturday. It is usually crowded on Sundays.
  4. If you don't want to spend the day there, Beiteddine Palace, Kaser Moussa (Moussa Palace), Deir El Qamar and even Barouk Cedars Reserve are nearby.
There are 4 different spots (parks or whatever they're called) there, I recommend 'Paradise' (The one in the photos). Call Sleiman on +961 70 013 532
Update (26/08/2015): For more information and reservation call +961 3 924669 and you can check their new Instagram page here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Entertainer comes to Lebanon

Yesterday was the launching of 'The Entertainer' at Cherry at the top in Le Gray - Beirut.
If you like to try new places, you might find this interesting.
The Entertainer is a book containing a big variety of offers in many categories.
It started in Dubai and is now in 17 different countries with 21 different books.
As for the Lebanese version, the book has 400 offers from 200 different merchants, with 3 vouchers per each.
The discounts are mainly a buy one get one free, so it's interesting for couples and it costs 120,000 LBP.
These are the categories:
- Fine Dining
- Up Market Bars
- Family and Casual Restaurants
- Cafes and Nightspots
- Sports, Pleasure & Leisure
- Health & Beauty
- Hotel Accommodation

Offers can be used anytime excluding all public holidays, and you can use multiple when with a group.
For more details, check their website: and all the rules of use can be found here.

The Entertainer is available at Librairie Antoine, or you can buy it directly from their website here, where it's a bit cheaper than its list price.
It might help you survive Lebanon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Lebanese Rocket Society: Watch it!

I've had the chance to watch the 'avant premiere' of the documentary "Lebanese Rocket Society" at Metropolis Sofil - Ashrafieh 2 weeks ago. The official release date is 11 April 2013.

Joana hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige did a great job to gather all information about what seemed to be a vague story, something people has forgot. They succeeded to get photos, newspapers and even good quality videos.
At first, you'd think that a documentary will be boring but I have to say that it was pretty interesting and inspiring!
It shows in details how it all started as a science project at Haigazian university with Mr Manoug Manougian and his students, what was the idea, and how far they went with their rockets construction.
After explaining the ugly truth behind the stoppage of this research, the movie shows an animated projection of the year 2030 assuming that the project never stopped and the Lebanese Rocket Society 'LRS' is today's NASA.
It is a beautifully done documentary that I recommend watching for it makes all Lebanese, especially Lebanese Armenians, proud and inspired.
And I think all schools should take their students to watch 'The Lebanese Rocket Society'.

Metropolis Sofil (@Metropolislb) will be the only movie theater showing it, others, till now, think it won't be a good deal.
Maybe with all this buzz, and some conscience, they will change their minds and forget a bit about the money.
You can show your support by adding a Spacetronaut twibbon to your Facebook's profile pic, or your Twitter's avatar.
Don't forget it will be released on 11th of April.

Below is the official Trailer with Arabic subtitles:

For more details/reviews:

Like them on Facebook:

And check out those cool t-shirts on Antoine Online:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The General Situation

It's been a while!
This is my first post in 2013, and unfortunately, the only thing I'm thinking about is how we are surviving this situation. Elderlies, who lived and participated in the Lebanese war, say that surviving nowadays is harder than during war.

The Situation:
  1. Most of the public sector (including teachers), except public authorities and judges, are protesting to get their new grades/salaries lists.
    The schools' parents committee refuses the teachers' protest, and threatens to stop paying to the schools.
    And students turned to vacation mode.
    In my humble opinion, only teachers deserve that raise. Most of the state employees do absolutely nothing at work, and they all leave at 2h00 PM max.
  2. Many restaurants and hotels, in and around Beirut closed or will be closing soon. Zaytouna Bay, Kaslik and Broumana had their shares. And Maameltein is a disaster (not its usual kind of disaster).
  3. Airport is empty, except for Syrian refugees, who are all over the country (Syrians now make up 10% of the Lebanese population).
  4. Gas oil prices are unbelievable.
  5. Real estate prices are ridiculous.
  6. Those public authorities (Politicians) are still living their war dreams, making all the state institutions their own properties!
    Electricity, Communications, gas oil, tobaccos, ADSL, port... and each and every big project (no matter how insane it is to invest in Lebanon these days) has to have a 51% ownership to one of those warlords, depending on the location.
    There must be a map somewhere that shows under which influence each zone falls,  for example:
    Zgharta, Chouf, Batroun, Aakkar, Tripoli, Saida... (All of them are Beiks and Cheikhs of course)
  7. People are being kidnapped everywhere, and the process is well-known now. Kidnappers demand a ransom (1 million dollars usually), the kidnapped's relatives try negotiating a bit, and then give them the amount agreed upon. This process is free of any government/Security Forces intervention, even after freeing the hostage. The same guy will be threatened again in a week or two since kidnappers knew that "2araybino daffi3a".
  8. Crazy drivers, angry valet parking, outraged neighbors...
  9. Al Assir! (No explanation needed)
And the list goes on and on.

The Solution:
None. The country is so corrupted that I don't believe there is a clear solution anymore.
The solution should start by changing how the public authorities think and how state employees work. Job descriptions can do the job!
And of course those responsible must be held accountable, no matter how equipped they were.
Not voting for the same people, trying to breathe before talking to anyone, and get a gutty minister of interior, not an "Abou Melhem" are some useful ideas too.
Note for Abou Melhem: A law is a law, even if it makes some people sad, or unsatisfied! Being a minister of interior requires making some people, especially criminals, sad sometimes!

And for some reason, it's still hard to leave this country.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Huge Dispute with Ziad Rahbani

Ziad Rahbani had a concert on the 20th, 21st and the 22nd of December in Event Hill Dbayeh.
I attended the first day, and actually it was a good jazzy show.
A couple of things were a bit annoying but we, or at least I, understand some of those.

The concert was scheduled to start at 9h00 pm, but it started at 10h50!
The 20th was a very very rainy day, parking was a nightmare, and everyone was late. So somehow people expected a delay, but i can say, not that much. Ziad apologized at the end of the concert.
Things went totally wrong, when they did the same delay on Saturday, when there weren't any excuses for that, and a huge dispute went on between Ziad and some of the attendees.
You can check that in the YouTube video below:
I'm not saying they have the right to do that, but somehow I agree that someone should have pointed that out. It was pretty impressive how he stayed calm, but waiting for everyone to come for 1 hr 20 mins isn't that justifying argument.

A couple of articles were read between the songs, one was criticizing Amine and Samy Gemayel, another one justifying Michel Aoun's alliance, and another describing how God doesn't answer people's prayers.
I disagree with most of his articles, but again, It's Ziad.

Three 30 seconds sketches were also performed by three artists. Those guys were part of Ziad's old plays (Nazl El Sourour...). The jokes were either not funny or déjà vus. It is probably because of Facebook.

What made the concert beautiful was the amazing music Ziad played with 10 other musicians, and the nice artists who sang. There was English and Portuguese songs, with some of his known songs now and then, but he barely included his voice in one or two songs.

All in all, the concert was good, but you can expect more from Ziad Rahbani.

Oh and Merry Christmas! Have a great one! :D

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beirut Scary Drive

While driving to work a couple of days ago, a super black tinted BMW with a 4 numbers plate (of course!) passed by, driving insanely in traffic. So I thought:
What if that car  just exploded next to me?
What if that driver was another Wissam El Hassan (may his soul rest in peace)?
What if I was one of the other 9 persons that died in the latest explosion in Ashrafieh?
How can we still drive to Beirut everyday just like nothing happened or might happen?
Is it all about receiving that salary at the end of the month to keep on surviving?
Is it what our life in Lebanon should be about?
Did we become emotionless zombies?