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World's 7 most dangerous and remote islands - [more]
By: Mike Sowden
Date: 12 July 2013

Idiotic TV shows and "latest apps" bumming you out on the 21st century?

Ready for some "me time" on the world’s remotest islands?

Golden sands and swaying palms are for pretenders -- the reality of solitude is different, as these terrifyingly distant landfalls demonstrate.

1. Tristan Da Cunha

1,750 miles from South Africa

Tristan da Cunha
Long way back if you forget your camera.

The British island group of Tristan da Cunha stands profoundly alone in the South Atlantic.

The nearest landfall is South Africa, 1,750 miles east, and to the west, South America is more than 2,000 miles distant.

It’s the world’s most remote inhabited island chain -- so precariously occupied that when a volcanic vent erupted in 1961, the whole population was evacuated to England.

Reaching Tristan Da Cunha

This is no easygoing excursion. To quote the official website:

“There are no package tours for independent travelers, no hotels, no airport, no holiday reps, no night clubs, no restaurants, no jet skis nor safe sea swimming.”

All visitors need to clear their arrivals in advance through the Island Council, and they also need to obtain a Police Certificate (a 40-day wait is typical).

Sailings: around 10 a year from Cape Town/Namibia, each taking five to six days to reach the islands, US$800-1,500 for a round trip. A list of available ships can be found on the official website: www.tristandc.com

2. Bear Island

400 miles off Europe's north coast

Bear Island
Somewhat like an oceanic Chernobyl.

Bjørnøya, better known as Bear Island, is the southernmost island in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, 400 miles north of mainland Europe -- but only on paper, given that it’s almost 150 miles south of the island chain it’s lumped in with.

It’s been a nature reserve since 2002 and has a lively history of failed occupation -- hard to believe for a place comprised of barren cliffs, near-zero precipitation and risk of leaks of radioactive material from the nearby wreck of a nuclear submarine.

Reaching Bear Island

Getting to the heart of Svalbard is a relatively simple matter -- there are daily flights from Oslo and Tromsø to Svalbard’s capital Longyerbyen, on the west coast of Spitsbergen.

Now it gets tricky. Research vessels infrequently call on Bear Island (the Norwegian Polar Institute makes an occasional appearance), while individually chartered boats and the occasional adventure cruise (such as this one from Polar Quest) haul in the remaining visitors.

3. Bouvet

1,000 miles from Antarctica

Everyone welcome -- as long as you have a very good reason.

Tristan da Cunha is the remotest inhabited island in the world -- now, welcome to its uninhabited, far bleaker counterpart.

Its cliffs are sheer. It’s almost entirely covered by a glacier. In winter, its seas are pack-ice.

And its nearest neighbour is Antarctica, a thousand miles to the south. In short, idyllic.

Reaching Bouvet

The entire island is a nature reserve -- so unless you can make a compelling case for visiting, you’ll be blocked by Norwegian authorities.

Get permission and it’s now a simple matter of finding a research vessel, quickly mastering a valuable skill such as arctic geological surveying or marine biology and then getting someone to land you via helicopter (there are no ports or harbors).

If all else fails, try becoming an amateur radio enthusiast: in 1990 a multinational expedition of operators spent 16 days on the island.

4. Bishop Rock

30 miles from England

Bishop Rock
Nice lighthouse, but not much room for anything else.

Regarded by Guinness as the world’s smallest island with a building on it, Bishop Rock stands at the end of Britain’s Isles of Scilly, where coastal waters give way to the fury of the Atlantic.

In 1847, engineers started building an iron lighthouse there -- and it washed away in a storm. Its extraordinary successor, first lit in 1858, stands to this day.

Reaching Bishop Rock

Visiting the most southwesterly point in Britain is surprisingly easy -- the St. Mary's Boatsmen’s Association runs day-trips from the Scilly Isles.

But as Martin Hesp notes here, even on a “calm” day you’re in for serious chop.

The image of Bishop Rock is used under a Creative Commons license, courtesy Richard Knights.

5. Boreray

60 miles off mainland Scotland

Everest is more conquerable than this little rock.

Love the Scottish islands, but want something with a little more bite? Head west of the Outer Hebrides and you’ll find the archipelago of St. Kilda, 40 miles into the Atlantic.

It’s one of Scotland’s five World Heritage sites, with a main island that was abandoned in the 1930s when crops failed. Imagine the surprise of archaeologists when they found that one of its least hospitable islands, Boreray, was occupied in prehistoric times.

Reaching Boreray

Since Boreray comes under the protection of the National Trust of Scotland, you need their permission to visit.

Then? Lots of time and lots of luck -- with a rugged shoreline and savage sea-swell, this isn't an island built for landings.

According to one guide, more people have reached the summit of Everest than have landed at Boreray since the NTS took ownership in 1957.

6. North Sentinel Island

400 miles from Myanmar

north sentinel island
About as close as you want to get to North Sentinel Island.

North Sentinel is one of the 572 islands making up the Andaman chain in the Indian Ocean’s Bay of Bengal.

It’s surrounded by dangerous reefs, but North Sentinel is intimidating because of its inhabitants. The Sentinelese want nothing to do with the modern world and have repeatedly rebuffed attempts to make peaceful contact, sometimes with deadly violence.

Reaching North Sentinel Island

You’re kidding, right? If the above description didn’t put you off the idea, this article about a pair of fishermen who strayed onto the island certainly should.

7. Rockall

270 miles from Ireland

What's the minimum size for an "island"?

If you think Boreray sounds forbidding, try sailing 187 miles west of it. Rockall is the tip of an extinct volcano reaching 20 meters above sea level, in seas with waves recorded as high as 29 meters.

In 1955, it became the final territorial acquisition of the British Empire -- allegedly due to fears the Russians would build a missile battery on it.

Reaching Rockall

In the words of the Rockall Club, “visiting Rockall is difficult, completely weather dependent and not cheap."

Your best bet is contacting Kilda Cruises and arranging a tailormade excursion. Or you could sail there, lash yourself to the rock and claim it as your very own micronation -- but you wouldn’t be the first.

A workspace of calm in the heart of hectic Beirut - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: 12 July 2013

BEIRUT: Imagine going to work every day in an old Ottoman mansion with lush green gardens of olive, pine and palm trees, a pond of goldfish and a turtle. That’s exactly how around 30 Lebanese entrepreneurs will now be spending their days – in the elegant and opulent Sursock Palace gardens.

“This should be a space for the entrepreneur community by the entrepreneur community,” says Hala Fadel, chair of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Forum in the Pan Arab Region, which along with Bader Entrepreneurs is behind the initiative.

Named Co-Working +961 after the location’s country code and having opened at the beginning of this month, the initiative is the first of its kind in the Arab world.

“Living in Lebanon is stressful to begin with, and starting a company is more stressful,” says Fadel, who has initially arranged a five-year lease for the premises, nicknamed the Kiosk.

“Everyone with a different idea should feel attracted to come and make it happen.”

Fadel, who attended the University of California Berkeley as an undergraduate and started her own telecom company while doing her business degree at MIT, says she was inspired by the Googleplex in northern California, the sprawling corporate headquarters of the world’s top search engine. There, the environmentally friendly office buildings are surrounded by tall green trees. Employees are encouraged to bicycle around the facility instead of drive, and they are given extra time to work on their own creative projects.

Although Sursock is a much smaller space in the middle of Beirut, its striking beauty and serenity sets it apart from the rest of the city. The high-ceilinged rooms of the Ottoman villa, originally a Turkish bathhouse, are embedded with marble and wooden mosaics. The grassy courtyards have small picnic tables for informal meetings and brainstorming as well as a pingpong table for recreation. The house’s small garage has been painted and equipped with a table and chairs, a nod to how tech giants such as Amazon started up in a garage.

Co-working spaces are a relatively new phenomenon, having started in the United States and Europe around 10 years ago. The idea is to bring together those who might otherwise be working with distractions at home and give them an office environment where they can find focus and routine and exchange ideas with others. Among the most popular cities for co-working are the technology hubs of San Francisco and Berlin.

Over the past couple of years, the Arab world has seen a number of co-working spaces open their doors – from Morocco to the Gulf. So far, Beirut has three – all centrally located: Alt City in Hamra, Beirut Digital District in Bashoura and Cloud 5 in Downtown Beirut. Lebanon’s latest addition to such collaborative working environments is certainly its most elaborate, maybe even by global standards.

“I went to New York and San Francisco last month, and this is by far the most beautiful co-working space I’ve seen,” says Abdallah Absi, head of Beirut’s Entrepreneurship Club, who was chosen to manage the space. At Co-Working +961, he will be running his new business, Zoomal, a crowd funding platform for the Arab world.

As he worked with Fadel over three months to put together the co-working space, he says he made sure to assemble a diverse group of tenants – working in video production, Arabic editing, online health content and Web development – with the aim of allowing them to exchange their services with one another or commissioning them at lower prices compared with what they would find outside the space. All of this will be done at the highest possible Internet speed in Lebanon.

The entrepreneurs are each paying around $250 a month, a fee that varies depending on their schedules and locations on the premises – a relatively good deal given the real estate and services at their fingertips. In addition to the office environment, those using the space will have direct access to mentors and funders from MIT Enterprise Forum and Bader, both of whom have relocated to Sursock for at least the next year.

And what palatial workspace would be complete without designer furniture to fit in with the theme of a relaxing creative environment?

Interior designer, Nabil Gholam, furnished the space inspired by the colors of the villa, neutral tones of unpainted wood and metal as well as onyx lamps.

Gholam describes his work on the project as “understated” to the point that people shouldn’t even notice the furniture. Instead, his aim was to make his pieces functional and flexible, allowing people to easily move them around.

“You don’t have to sit behind your desk in a formal way,” he said about the entrepreneurs whose furnishings he designed. “They’re dealing with creativity and they’re trying to think outside the box.

In the spirit of the entire space, he said, “I wanted to give it a certain freedom. I wanted it to reflect the people who work there.”

From the Cedars to the coast: Lebanese wedding venues that impress - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: 06 July 2013

BEIRUT: Lebanon might be a small country, but there is no shortage of wedding venues for couples to celebrate their nuptials in style. Whether exchanging vows as the sun sets on the Mediterranean Sea, escaping the crowded coast in favor of a remote mountain location, celebrating at an old family village that carries sentimental significance, or going for quirky at an offbeat location.

“There are good places to get married all over Lebanon. There’s so much different scenery,” says Asma Andraos, co-founder of the event planning service Stree. She has been in the business for 12 years and has planned weddings at a range of venues, including derelict buildings.

“We’ve become experts at putting together weddings,” she adds, pointing to Lebanon’s renowned food and hospitality sector and the country’s penchant for big parties.

As soon as winter comes to an end, the beach resorts that line Lebanon’s coast are alive with the sights, sounds and smells of wedding festivities. Among the most popular are Edde Sands, a luxury resort in Jbeil that should be booked well in advance; Ocean Blue, also in Jbeil; San Stephano resort in Batroun; Les Talus in Jounieh; and Jardin de Vie, which offers a panoramic view of the sea and Byblos’ historic ruins, all set amid tall green trees. In Beirut, longtime favorites include the St. Georges Yacht Club and the Riviera Hotel.

Although beach weddings are no doubt scenic, events planner Aya El Kara, who runs event planners Essence-Ciel, says she prefers to do indoor weddings, where it is easier to control the sound and lighting.

Nevertheless, she says most Lebanese choose to celebrate outdoors – no matter the heat or humidity – so they can have an elaborate fireworks display at the end of the night. Another advantage of beach weddings compared to those in residential areas is that the music and festivities can go on all night.

But when it comes to weddings scheduled for July or August, the peak of Lebanon’s humid summer, many couples opt to celebrate in the more temperate climate of the mountains.

This can be anywhere from the Mount Lebanon villages overlooking Beirut, to the Cedars in the north. Wineries – such as Kefraya, Massaya and Ksara – and quaint villages in the Bekaa Valley are also popular, as are the lush green forests of the south’s hilly region. In the Chouf, conveniently close to Beirut, favorite wedding venues include Chateau Montagne, the Mir Amin Palace Hotel and the summer retreat of Eco Village.

For couples looking for a traditional setting with all the amenities that will accommodate a large party of family and friends, Arnaoon Village is a great option. The Ottoman village dates back more than 300 years and sits atop a hill overlooking the historic Msaylha Fortress near Batroun in the north. Some of the big old houses, complete with logs and chimneys, have been restored and are now used for special events.

“The location and landscape is special because it’s already an authentic village,” says said Rita Faddoul, director of sales and marketing at Arnaoon Village.

“The whole village is restored, and people who get married in Arnaoon feel like they’re getting married in their home village.” She adds that the bride and groom will often spend the entire day beforehand getting ready for their big day in the old houses, just as they would at home.

However, with the country’s deteriorating security situation, wedding planners told The Daily Star there were fewer weddings these days, while the country’s economic woes meant more couples were asking for lower budget options.

For Andraos, the most crucial part of finding the right wedding venue for her clients is making it personal, which she believes is best done when it’s at an old family home. If the couple is having their wedding at a place that’s “overdone,” which she says is the case 50 percent of the time, she tries to do something different for them.

Yet even after all her years in the events planning business, her clients surprise her with their creative selection for a wedding venue. The most unusual: a steel factory near Karantina – something even the most seasoned planner wouldn’t have dreamed up.

Baalbeck Festival relocates to Metn - [more]
By: The Daily Star
Date: 02 July 2013

BEIRUT: The Baalbeck Festival committee confirmed Monday that it would relocate the 2013 festival to the outskirts of Beirut. As happened with Fayrouz’s performance of “Sah al-Noum” in 2006, it happens that the festival must “adapt to the difficulties facing the region,” the committee announced.

“This year, we announced a program that makes us proud. Unfortunately, the soprano Renée Fleming canceled her concert on June 30 and, in mutual agreement with the committee, Assi Hallani preferred to postpone his show in the Baalbek Citadel. In view of the developments, and after consulting the authorities, we have decided to proceed anyway, by relocating other shows exceptionally.”

Marianne Faithfull, Eliane Elias, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Fadia Tomb El Hage, Marcel Khalife, and those who accompany them, will perform just outside Beirut.

For the first time in festival history, concerts will be staged in Jdeideh al-Metn, in the magnanery (silkworm nursery) of the village’s 19th-century silk factory.

“We chose this place because it is still unknown to the public,” the news release said. “It is located on the outskirts of the capital and it is available in all regions.”

The venue may have changed, but performance dates remain fixed. Marianne Faithfull will perform Saturday Aug. 17; vocalist and jazz pianist Eliane Elias will take the stage Friday Aug. 23; Marcel Khalife will perform with his oud Saturday Aug. 24; Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s dance piece PUZ/ZLE, with the participation of vocalist El Hage, will be held Friday Aug. 30.

“In times of crisis, art and artists are the only ones able to soften the day.” – The Daily Star

Tickets will be available for purchase from Thursday at Virgin Ticketing box office. For further information you can contact the festival office at 01-373-150/1/2 or call the Virgin Ticketing box office at 01-999-666.

Late-night feasting at Souk el Tayeb's Tawlet - [more]
By: Beckie Strum
Date: 01 July 2013

BEIRUT: Mar Mikhael's Tawlet restaurant has grown and is staying out late tonight – and every night for the foreseeable future (beside Sundays). The extension of the popular farmers market Souk el-Tayeb has for four years offered a traditional Lebanese lunch buffet, but officially opened for dinner and aperitifs last week, including an exhaustive list of local wines, a new craft beer, and jugs of fruity cocktails.

Tawlet by Night also brought in a new member of staff from Spain to help shape its evening morsels, such as platters of veggies, fresh mezze dips and herb rotisserie chicken.

By day, Tawlet invites home-cooking gurus from the country's disparate villages to serve up their extra-local cuisine unadulterated by "fusion" – a word Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Tawlet, sneered at as he uttered it.

By night, Tawlet's a la carte menu includes cuisine Mouzawak coined "modern mezze" – though one spoonful of the hummus or the mutabal and it was hard to taste the modern.

That's sort of the idea behind Tawlet's first dinner menu, "Jasmine Nights," he said. The staff has attempted to perfect rather than play with the classic recipes, while adding a few original cocktails and mezze that while not traditional, are so simple and locally sourced they very well could be.

"It's very traditional cuisine. The idea is to come here after work and have a drink and nibble. But why nibble on peanuts. Why not nibble on a very traditional kibbeh Zghortawiyeh [from northern Lebanese town Zghorta]?" Mouzawak asked.

Mouzawak sees Tawlet by Night (called officially by its Arabic translation Tawlet bil Leil) as a sort of stopover before heading home or a starter before a night out.

While we waited for the food to arrive, the quiet, dimly lit atmosphere was clearly conducive to the kind of deep (or not) exchanges that often follow several glasses of wine or accompany a shared meal. That seemed to be what Mouzawak was aiming to promote: a restaurant with a cafe mentality that accommodates people sipping slowly and eating whatever and whenever they want.

"We're very flexible. You can order five, 10, 15 plates: cold things and hot-cooked. You don't have to order a minimum," Mouzawak said.

He equated the concept to tapas bars in Spain, an appropriate comparison given that the creator of the menu happens to hail from her own resto-guest house there.

Gioconda Scott, a Brit by blood but born and bred in Spain, is an heir to a well-noted, family-owned guesthouse called Trasierra, located in the farmland north of Seville.

Christine Muhlke, a writer for Bon Apetit magazine, called Scott's food at Trasierra traditional Spanish, but lighter and brighter. The same could be said for her take on Lebanese cooking, which she learned directly from the women that run Tawlet's kitchen during the day, Scott said.

For example, the makanek – Armenian sausage with pomegranate sauce and pine nuts – is prepared using less fat, making the end result slightly lighter though still rich and savory sweet.

Similarly, the fattoush contains the traditional pomegranate flavor, but instead of a super-sweet dressing made from molasses, a scattering of fresh pomegranate seeds gives a subtler pop of sweet tartness.

There are, of course, things she did not dare mess with, she said, like the mutabal. The authenticity of Scott's traditional mezze was a real testament to her efforts learning Lebanese cuisine.

Though traditional mezze often contains less than five ingredients, Scott said, that's what makes them so easy to screw up. The slightest alteration in method, proportions, timing or temperature will cause recognizable change in taste.

"The simplicity of that dish [mutabal] means you have infinite methods of screwing it up," she said.

The word fusion is neither allowed nor appropriate to describe Jasmine Nights. But Scott's background in Spanish cuisine has crept its way into the menu in delightfully subtle ways.

The nibbles that come with drinks included a bowl of boiled quail eggs – so miniature and beautiful you don't want to eat them. Quail eggs are a common Spanish starter. Scott gave these a Middle Eastern flavor with a little bowl of cumin salt for dipping.

Back at Trasierra, snack-drink pairings included apple sangria and almonds. Tawlet by Night's drink menu includes several sangrias, only sold by the jug, accompanied by a plate of garlic-rosemary roasted almonds.

So after gorging ourselves on the new menu, The Daily Star recommends ordering the garlic-lemon mushrooms, for which manners were cast aside and forks were plunged directly into the hot saute pan. The crushed baby potatoes were also deliciously simple, as was the tomato salad with a hint of sweet golden raisins and the organic roasted chicken, which made us to pause to smell roasting being done in their outdoor rotisserie by the entrance.

Tawlet's flair for discovering talent also brought in something a little more central European to taste. Christine Codsi, an owner at Souk el Tayeb, found ultra microbrewery just south of Adma in the home of Emile Schruntz.

Emile, of Czech and Lebanese decent, brews several hundreds of bottle of Schruntz beer with his wife per year in an operation meant only as a hobby for friends' sakes, Codsi said.

Tawlet is the first outlet offering the beer for sale, and it is more flavorful than anything produced by the country's three major breweries. It's a beer that you want to drink and that makes you grateful for the influence of the Lebanese diaspora.

Tawlet by Night is open until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 01-448-129.

بنهران الكورانية كنز تاريخي منسيّ - [more]
By: فاديا دعبول
Date: 01 July 2013

لا يختلف الوضع الإنمائي لبلدة بنهران كثيراً عن وضع سائر بلدات قضاء الكورة التي لا توجد فيها مجالس بلدية لقلة عدد سكانها الذي يبلغ نحو 386 شخصاً. إنما المفارقة في هذه البلدة الصغيرة هي غناها بأبنائها الغيورين على مصلحتها، وقد تمكنوا من النهوض بها في مجالات مختلفة، بالرغم من غياب الدولة.
بنهران لا يمرّ فيها غير قاصدها، من أميون باتجاه بحبوش صعوداً عبر الطريق الجبلية، حيث تستكين على تلة في الجهة الجنوبية الشرقية لقضاء الكورة على الحدود مع قضاء بشري. ترتفع البلدة عن سطح البحر نحو 650 متراً. وموقعها في منطقة وسطية بين المعبد الروماني في بزيزا ونظيره في عين عكرين جعل منها مركزاً للاستقرار البشري، منذ فجر التاريخ، وقد ساعد على ذلك وفرة المياه في المنطقة. وهذا ما يشير إليه اسم البلدة الشعبي قديماً «بين النهرين»، لوقوع البلدة على جبل يمر على جانبيه نهران صغيران.
وبالرغم من توفر المياه الطبيعية في البلدة ومحيطها إلا أنّ أهلها يعانون من شحّها في منازلهم، نتيجة وجود شبكة قديمة مهترئة، حيث تختلط مياهها بمياه المجارير، ما دفع «مؤسسة جهاد البناء» إلى حفر بئر ارتوازية تؤمن من خلاله المياه لأبناء البلدة.
بنهران تبعد عن مدينة طرابلس نحو 22 كيلومتراً، وعن بيروت نحو 90، وعن مركز القضاء أميون نحو ستة كيلومترات. وقد كانت في ما مضى مقراً لحكام محليين عندما كان الحكم العشائري سائداً في الكورة وسائر المناطق. وهي تضم مواقع قديمة أثرية، مثل دير مار أدنا، ودير مار بطرس إضافة إلى دير مار قزما ودميانوس. إضافة إلى وجود مغاور محفورة في الصخر غرب القرية وهي تعود للعهد البيزنطي.
وإذا كان في البلدة نحو 115 عائلة إلا أنهم جميعاً ينتمون إلى عائلة الحاج يوسف التي قدمت إلى البلدة منذ العام 1572، وما لبثت أن انتشرت في بلدات بحبوش، ديربللا، متريت، زغرتا وراسمسقا.
إلاً أن أبناء بنهران بدأوا يهاجرون منذ نهاية القرن التاسع عشر، هروباً من الاستبداد التركي، وقسوة الإقطاعيين المحليين، وكثرة الضرائب، إضافة إلى طموح ابن بنهران إلى تحسين وضعه المعيشي بعدما تراجعت مداخيل المحاصيل الزراعية لا سيما الزيتون.
وتميّز من أبناء بنهران المقيمين الشيخ خليل محمود حسين الذي كان أحد مؤسسي الحركة النقابية في لبنان منذ خمسينيات القرن الماضي، وأنشأ مع زملاء له نقابة موظفي منشآت النفط، وحاز الوسام البابوي من حاضرة الفاتيكان في العام 1959، وأسس مع عدد من أبناء بلدته «الجمعية الخيرية لإنعاش القرى الخمس» في العام 1963، ومن ثم أسسوا مدرسة مهنية في بحبوش. وهو من المؤسسين لـ«المجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى»، ومن المؤسسين لحركة المحرومين وواضعي ميثاقها. وتقديراً لخــــــدماته الوطنــــية قلــــده رئيس الجمهورية إميل لحود وســــام الشرف يوم وفاته في العام 2002.
يعيش أهل بلدة بنهران في أمن وودّ مع قرى الجوار لا سيما في عين عكرين. وخير دليل على ذلك الثريا التي قدمها أبناء بنهران هدية إلى كنيسة عين عكرين عند بنائها. ويذكر الأهالي أنّ جرس كنيسة عين عكرين كان يقرع ظهراً، عندما لم يكن أحد يملك ساعة إلا كاهن البلدة، ليعلن وقت إفطار الموارنة في صيامهم، ومساء في وقت إفطار أبناء بنهران المسلمين.
وفي حين أنّ بنهران منتعشة في نواح معينة، إلا أنها تحتاج لاهتمام الدولة على صعيد البنى التحتية لجهة تحسين الطرق وتوسيعها وتعبيدها، مد شبكة مياه حديثة، تأمين الإنارة العامة، شق طرق زراعية، بناء جدران دعم على الطرق الضيقة، تسوية أرض الملعب العام الذي تمّ ردمه وصبه بسبب تحول أرضه المنخفضة إلى مستنقع للمياه في الشتاء، اذ «تتسرب مياهه الى اساسات المنازل المحيطة مهددة إياها بالانهيار»، وفق أمين إبراهيم.
ولا يخفي حمد حسين حاجة البلدة إلى أمور أساسية وهي بناء برج مائي إضافة إلى مد شبكة حديثة للمياه، تعيين مأمور أحراج لحماية كروم الزيتون من الرعي، ووضع خطة عامة للتخلص من النفايات.

(Best Arab Tourist City) in Lebanon Offers Lessons in Greening too - [more]
By: Tafline Laylin
Date: 26 June 2013

The world’s oldest continuously inhabited city in Lebanon has been named the Arab world’s best tourist city by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and it offers a host of lessons in greening too. Called Jbeil or Byblos, this World Heritage site 37km north of Beirut has evolved from a 6th century BC fishing village into a thriving tourist destination that looks nothing at all like its concrete brother, Beirut.

Mayor Ziad al-Hawwat has received great accolades for making Jbeil a pleasure for both local and foreigners to visit.

Whereas Beirut’s citizens are constantly fighting for every inch of green space as parking garages and shopping malls and other concrete monstrosities overwhelm the place, al-Hawwat has added an 18,000 square meter public park, planted trees and flowers, and even created a car-free zone from noon to midnight during the height of the tourist season.

This pedestrian zone gives safe access to the city’s numerous sites, including a Roman theater and an old sea fort, a Persian fort and a Crusader castle – all testaments to the city’s sinuous history.

And this completely shocked us: there are nine electric vehicles in the city that are used to shuttle tourists from parking garages to the old city, where they can stroll among the ancient marketplace.

Additional mass transit modeled after the French city of Carcassonne is also planned, according to deputy mayor Ayoub Barq, who told Al-Shorfa that the new system best matches the Lebanese city’s unique character.

Nor is the greening complete.

Jbeil’s municipality will spend a further $2 million to restore the facades of ancient buildings and renovate the marketplace in an effort to de-clutter the center and preserve it for posterity.

A citywide trash recycling program is also in the works.

“The award corresponds to the projects we are implementing and puts greater responsibilities on us,” Barq told the paper.

“It encourages us to work harder and [see to it that] civil society share in the responsibility so that Jbeil remains the center of attention of the Lebanese and tourists.”

This is refreshing talk in a country that, like Turkey, has pursued development at the cost of all else. Where money is more important that peace of mind, clean air, and navigable streets.

This is the Arab world’s best city for tourists. Now you might want to check out 10 of the best beaches!

Beirut Terraces Make Sustainable Vertical Villages for Lebanon City - [more]
By: Margaret Stoner
Date: 25 June 2013

As part of a larger master plan to rejuvenate the downtown Beirut area, Swiss Architects Herzog & De Meuron have designed “The Terraces,” a green waterfront apartment tower in Beirut lush with vegetation and hanging gardens

The project is defined by five main principles: layers and terraces, inside and outside, vegetation, views and privacy, light and identity.

Designed as a complete “vertical village,” the structure will include amenities such as exercise facilities, a pool, common areas, and storage rooms.

The multilayered high rise will utilize five modular floor slabs to create individual residences set either backwards or forwards to create terraces and overhangs. Apartments are grouped into different formations, creating a sense of unique “neighborhoods” on the different levels. The structure will include 129 single, duplex and townhouse apartments, and will be supported by columns on a 14.7 meter grid.

The vegetation, clearly the building’s most striking feature, is more than just aesthetic; it provides necessary privacy, shade, and climate control (the plants create microclimates that help temper the effects of the hot Lebanese sun).

In keeping with the principle of “inside and outside,” the vegetation also serves as a continuation of the downtown neighborhood’s green boulevard.

The entrance, a key feature of the building, includes views of the sea and ponds, and thus “develops a consistent transition between the open, public landscape and private, green residences,” the architects stated in a recent news release.

The “light” in the principle of “light and identity” is clearly expressed through the building’s large distinctive windows. As far as “identity” goes, that is something the residents will have to cultivate themselves. In a place like the “terraces,” we can only imagine that it will be quite esteemed.

Address: Plot 1801 and Plot 1802, Block 18, Beirut Central District, Lebanon The project is on schedule for completion this summer.

This post is sponsored by ABI LED Lighting – your source for energy-saving LED lighting for home, office and commercial venues as well as grow lights for sustainable farming. www.abilights.com / info@abilights.com

Grow Your Own Living Clothes with BioCouture During Beirut Design Week - [more]
By: Tafline Laylin
Date: 22 June 2013

If you are a designer eager to find more sustainable material choices for your creative inventions, you might want to hit the BioCouture workshop during Beirut Design Week. Fashion visionary Suzanne Lee will give participants a glimpse into the future of conscious design by teaching participants how to grow their very own living materials from microbes such as bacteria.

BioCouture is a London-based design consultancy that is exploring a more sustainable way to develop materials. Forget plastic that doesn’t biodegrade. Forget wood that depletes our forests.

Nature offers a bounty of more renewable materials that simply require a little love to cultivate.

Founder and director Suzanne Lee has turned to living organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae, as well as cellulose, chitin and protein fibers like silk to pioneer materials for future consumer products.

And now she is going to share her knowledge with Beirut’s forward-thinking design community.

In each interactive three hour workshop, where food and kitchen utensils are the only materials required, Lee will demonstrate how to grow a culture using a specific recipe.

She will also encourage discussion about local alternatives and potential applications for the material grown – be it in the fashion world or design.

Everyone will be given a culture so that they can continue to experiment at home.

For a sense of the bio-designed future towards which Lee is heading, check out the BioCouture-grown shoe currently on display in Paris as part of the “Alive/En Vie” exhibition.

Also, take a peek at her book Fashioning The Future: tomorrow’s wardrobe.

The workshops will be held on Thursday and Friday, the 27th and 28th of June from 9am to 12pm at the Tawlet Souk El Tayeb in Mar Mikhael.

A modern, sustainable campsite in the Chouf - [more]
By: Beckie Strum
Date: 22 June 2013

DMIT VALLEY, Lebanon: Plans for a 24-hour trip to the Chouf’s Ecovillage campsite took a turn as a left down a narrow, cliffside dirt path suddenly evoked scenes from thriller film “Final Destination.” We weren’t sure we would make it. A rather understated sign hung before the turn casually telling cars not to go any further. In spite of this, the SUV made it to a valley’s bottom without tipping over the edge and sending its passengers to an abrupt end before their minivacation even began.

The campsite, however, left us pondering whether the car had indeed flipped over and landed in an alternate universe full of bamboo treehouses, 24-hour electricity, organic farming and quiet, garbage-free public swimming.

If that wasn’t enough, coming from a city where trash of all sorts overflows indiscriminate steel bins, Ecovillage tested our bad habits with not one but three methods of trash disposal: nonrecyclables, recyclables and organic food waste destined for a compost pile.

For anyone living in Beirut without a village escape this summer, Ecovillage is a pocketbook friendly retreat from just about every vice and misery present in the city.

There were even 2-month-old puppies by the reception desk ready to great us with their fluffy bundles of unconditional love.

Ecovillage was founded by a group of friends interested in environmentally friendly living, founder Karim al-Khatib writes on Ecovillage’s website.

None of the managers were present at the site over the weekend, and the camp’s owner had recently traveled back to Germany, where he lives, said a volunteer, Patrick, manning the reception desk.

A first look around Ecovillage made it clear the place was well suited for children and families.

A small playground, an outdoor arts and crafts corner, shallow river swimming, a short – but nonetheless entertaining – zip line, a so-called yoga hut and lots of land to explore were among the most obvious family-friendly offerings.

A member of the kitchen staff directed our attention toward a poster advertising a music and arts festival scheduled for next weekend called Leo and the Seeds of Love, which will target children and families, as well.

Ecovillage’s dedication to green living extends to its accommodations, which are made from natural, renewable resources like mud and recycled wood.

Some of the cabins are honest-to-goodness tree houses, accessible by elaborate, raised bridges and equipped with impressive balconies. Ours, however, was a two-story bamboo hut with a single light per room and basic double bed, which we were relieved to see covered in white mosquito netting.

Though you won’t be bringing a hair dryer to Ecovillage, the campsite was better equipped with electricity than most of the country.

Sheikh Hasan, a local dressed in traditional Druze garb, works with Ecovillage in a role described only as “integral.” He gave a tour of the water-powered generator, which harnesses the force of falling water to turn a propeller, the movement of which is then converted into usable energy to power lights and the basic utilities at Ecovillage, he said.

The Dammour River powering the campsite is so clean that Hasan filled a plastic bottle’s worth and passed it around to drink fresh and cold.

Hasan lives with his family on the mountainside above Ecovillage and knows a fair bit about the history of the mountain. He led a short but tiring hike through the brush, passing a natural pond so secluded he assured it was common for campers to swim in the nude.

He led the hike through abandoned stone shelters, which the Druze used as hideaway homes during times of persecution or war, he said. The Druze people have inhabited the Chouf area for almost 1,000 years, since before the Crusades.

Our guide’s knowledge of the area extended to its diverse vegetation, from which he sporadically picked or pointed and explained its medicinal use.

Based on Hasan’s tour of Ecovillage’s natural flora, seemingly every ailment from obesity to basic lethargy could be cured from the Dmit Valley’s dense forest. Upon returning to Ecovillage’s main building, a volunteer explained he’d broken out that morning in a rash to which Hasan had applied a bundle of brush that immediately diminished his outbreak.

Beside the smell of fresh greenery and dirt, about an hour before each meal the center of Ecovillage was filled with the aroma of home-cooked food made with veggies picked from the site’s organic farm – fragrant garlic, tomatoes, onions and eggplant.

It was the kind of seductive smell that makes you stop whatever you’re doing – be it swimming in the fresh-water river, exploring the farm or playing a board game from their on-site collection – and slowly gravitate toward the kitchen.

That night, it was fava beans in tomato sauce, soy rice noodles and carrots, freshly made pizza, cauliflower in some dreamy garlic sauce, white rice and chocolate-vanilla sponge cake still warm in the center.

It was the kind of meal that was delicious and filling without leaving you hunched in an over-satiated stupor. A member of the kitchen staff even prepared traditional cardamom-infused Arabic coffee upon request.

This was the kind of unexpected but welcomed treatment we found from the minute we walked onto the campsite. There is nothing luxurious about Ecovillage, and it guarantees you will leave with scratches, bug bites and the humbling realty of peeing in a hole disguised as a toilet. But every staff member and volunteer will go out of their way – and happily – to make you a part of the village.

The real night cap, however, was a group of a half-a-dozen volunteers and campers cuddled up around a massive fire singing “Wonderwall” by Oasis and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” lullabies that finally sent us off to bed.

A night in an Ecovillage tree house or hut costs $40, including breakfast. All visitors and overnight visitors pay a $10 entrance fee. Buses from Cola to Beiteddine pass by the village of Kfar Heem, where drivers from the camp regularly pick up campers and transport them to the site.

For more information, visit Ecovillage’s website at ecoecovillage.com

افتتاح مهرجان جونيه الدولي بعرض العاب نارية - [more]
Date: 21 June 2013

اليوم مهرجان جونيه الدولي تحت شعار "جونيه تعد ...جونيه تفي" وجاء حفل الافتتاح هذه السنة خاطفا للأنفاس. ففي الأمسية الأولى للمهرجان، سطعت سماء المدينة الساحلية بروعة أضوائها ضمن عرض متناغم من الألعاب النارية أعلن عن انطلاق احتفالات حاكت بريق الأحلام، وضمت هذه السنة باقة من النجوم العالميين، أمثال، "ميشال ساردو"، "ميكا"، "راغب علامة"، وحتى نجوم نهائيات برنامج "ذو فويس" (أحلى صوت).

وعلى امتداد مساحة 8 كلم من خليج جونية، وبعد عد عكسي زرع التوق والإثارة في نفوس الجميع، انطلقت الألعاب النارية لتنور ليلة عيد الموسيقى وتتلألأ على مياه البحر المتوسط في قلب خليج جونية، حيث تجمعت السفن والقوارب والمنصات العائمة استعدادا للاحتفال.

ومن على متن أحد اليخوت، تصاعدت أنغام لاعب الأغاني والموسيقى المشهور سعيد مراد، لتبعث الحماس والحياة على طول الخط الساحلي. في الواقع، وبفضل نظام صوتي متطور، تمكن كل المشاركين المتواجدين على ضفاف الخليج أن يرقصوا على أنغام الموسيقى الرائعة.

جباع قرية الينابيع وجنّة الجنوب - [more]
By: عدنان طباجة
Date: 20 June 2013

ربما يعود اسم بلدة «جباع الحلاوة» في قضاء النبطية إلى «جبع» وتعني التل أو الجبل، وهو اسم كان يطلق عليها حتى وقت سابق، ولم تعرف باسمها الحالي إلا بحلول القرن العشرين، وهذا ما يميزها عن «جباع الشوف». أما الحلاوة فيرجع إلى جمالها الطبيعي الأخاذ. وقد يعود اسمها لجب ماء عميق جداً كان يسمّى «جب القاع» الذي غرقت فيه إحدى عرائس البلدة في الزمن الغابر، وفق الروايات، وقد تم ردمه إثر تلك الحادثة، ليدل ذلك على أن اسم جباع يشير إلى غزارة المياه والينابيع التي تكاد لا تخلو قطعة أرض منها، ويربو عددها على ثلاثمئة وخمسة وستين ينبوعاً، ومصدر مياهها جميعاً جبل صافي، أو جبل الشوك، أو جبل جباع المشرف على جباع من الجهة الشرقية، حيث تعتبر هذه المنطقة تجمعاً لأكبر خزان مائي في لبنان، بما يجعل من جباع «جنة الله على الأرض وأجمل بقعة على أرض الجنوب».
كيفما سرنا وأينما اتجهنا في أنحاء جباع نرى الاخضرار في كل ناحية، وأحراجها جميلة مترامية «على مد عينك والنظر» يتقاسمها السنديان والسرو والشربين والحور والملول والصنوبر والدفلى والخروب والصفصاف، وبساتينها الزاخرة بالجوز واللوز والتفاح والزيتون والتين والمشمش والخرمة والخوخ والإجاص والريحان والعنب الزوطراني الأحمر الذي يندر وجوده إلا في كرومها، ما دعا المؤرخ فيليب حتي للقول عن جباع «إنها أرض الفاكهة».
ويقول ابن البلدة المؤرخ والباحث مصطفى كركي: «لما كان أهالي جباع يعتمدون اعتماداً كبيراً على مواسم الاصطياف، فقد كانوا في الماضي يتركون منازلهم في الصيف ويعمدون إلى نصب أكواخ من أغصان الأشجار وأوراقها بالقرب من الينابيع المنتشرة في أراضيهم، ومن ثم يسهرون على ضوء الشموع والقناديل، في الوقت الذي كانوا فيه يؤجرون منازلهم للمصطافين للاستفادة من بدلات الإيجار في تموين أنفسهم للشتاء».
يتمتع أهالي جباع، وفق كركي، بثلاث ثروات في البلدة، الأولى «جوزة الفرن»، وكانت تنتج ثمانية وأربعين ألف حبة جوز في الموسم، ويستمر العمل في قطافها وجمع محصولها ثلاثة أيام، والثانية «زيتونة البريك»، ولا تزال معمرة حتى الآن، ويبلغ محيطها ستة عشر متراً مربعاً، وتنتج طناً من حبوب الزيتون في الموسم الواحد، واثنتي عشرة صفيحة زيت، والثالثة «إجاصة سمر القنديل»، التي كانت تعطي حمولة اثني عشر بغلاً، أي ما يعادل ألفاً ومئتي كيلوغرام من الإجاص في الموسم الواحد.
كل هذه الخيرات يعود فضلها إلى مياه وينابيع جباع التي تقسم إلى قسمين، الأول يملكه الأهالي لأنه ينبع في أراضيهم ويعتبر ملكاً خاصاً بهم، والثاني يعرف بالينابيع العامة والأميرية التي تملكها الدولة أو البلدية، وهو يخضع للاستعمال العام ويمتاز بغزارة مياهه، وأهم هذه الينابيع العامة هو «نبع القبي» أو «نبع عكيتا» الذي يعتبر من أشهر ينابيع جباع على الإطلاق، ومن أغزر المصادر المائية فيها، ومنه يشرب الأهالي بواسطة شبكة تصل إلى كل منازل البلدة منذ العام 1955. أما بقية الينابيع المهمة في جباع فهي: المرجة، عين الركيز، عين التينة، البسيس، الشيخ، المغارة، كسار الصباغين، المشارع، البوار، المغاريق، الرز، جليمة، الكسارة، عين الزرقاء، عين أبو عز الدين، عين الجبل، الحواصل، وادي الحيز، وادي حين سعدى، الأطرش، الذهب، البيزان، الضمير، شقة العجوز، المنفر، القعقور، شير المارد، الوادي، عين حويلة، عين عبود، بستان السيد، العين، الياسمينة والحمام وغيرها من الينابيع الصغيرة.
ويوضح رئيس بلدية جباع عدنان نعمة أن جباع تعلو عن سطح البحر ثمانمئة وخمسين متراً، ما يجعل مناخها بارداً في الشتاء ومنعشاً في الصيف والضباب لا يفارق سماءها، لذلك اشتهرت قبل الحروب الإسرائيلية على الجنوب بمواسم الاصطياف عندما كانت مقصداً للمواطنين من المناطق كلها، فكان أن انتشرت فيها وبالقرب من ينابيعها المقاهي والمطاعم والمتنزهات التي كانت تعج بالمصطافين، وقد أعيد بناء وتجديد هذه المطاعم والمتنزهات غداة الانسحاب الاسرائيلي من الجنوب في العام 2000 في محاولة من أصحابها لإعادتها إلى عز أيامها الغابرة التي شهدتها مطلع السبعينيات وحتى منتصف الثمانينيات، عندما هجرها أصحابها وروادها بفعل الاعتداءات الاسرائيلية التي بدأت تتعرض لها جباع بعيد انسحاب قوات الاحتلال من جزء من الجنوب في العام 1985 وتمركزها مع عملائها على التلال المشرفة عليها لتصادر الحياة منها، إلا للقليل من السكان الصامدين وحفنة من المقاومين الذين كانوا يحرسون تخومها من الأعداء.
ولفت نعمة إلى قيام البلدية الحالية بتمديد شبكة مياه الشفة لبعض الأحياء والأماكن السكنية المستحدثة في جباع وعين بوسوار، وزيادة تمديدات إضافية على الشبكة القائمة، وهي ستقوم ببناء خزان كبير بالتعاون مع مجلس الجنوب تصل سعته إلى ألف متر مكعب لرفد المزارعين والمواطنين بكميات المياه اللازمة لري حقولهم ومزروعاتهم لتبقى جباع خضراء زاهية على الدوام.

Meet the last potter in Beit Shabab - [more]
By: Michelle Ghoussoub
Date: 20 June 2013

BEIT SHABAB, Lebanon: Fawzi Fakhoury’s hands are calloused and brown. Hours of shaping tough clay and standing in front of a burning wood oven have stained them shades darker than the rest of his body and toughened them so they are like leather. He is a short man with salt and pepper hair and bushy eyebrows, dressed in simple, mud-stained clothes. His weathered hands stand testimony to the thousands of pots he has created for the better part of his life.

Fakhoury is the last working potter in Beit Shabab.

The scenic village is nestled in Lebanon’s mountains just outside of Beirut. Sixty years ago, dozens of Beit Shabab families produced traditional pottery, and the heat from 40 burning ovens could be felt on the streets during the summer, he explains.

The town’s name was synonymous with pottery, and people came from around the country to purchase the artisanal clay pots, used for storing everything from arak to grains, olive oil and wine.

Now, he is the only one left.

Fakhoury’s workshop resembles a hermit’s cave. Though dark and dusty, it remains well used and loved. Perched precariously on the edge of a small but steep ravine, Fakhoury’s working space has a crumbling old stone facade nestled into the mountain itself.

An elegant stone archway frames the entrance, with rusted scrap metal and broken pieces of mortar piled on top to prevent rainwater from flooding the small room. Bits and pieces of fragmented pots are piled haphazardly in a back corner.

A traditional stove, or babour, Arabic for kerosene burner, commands the center of the room. It doubles as the only heat source during the winter months, when nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing.

An old television set crackles in the background, the colors and shapes on the screen disfigured by poor reception. A fine, white film of dust covers every surface, and it puffs out of antique pillows on the faded couch when it is sat upon.

No one knows or remembers exactly how long the workshop has been running. Fakhoury believes the family folklore and says that Roman potters trained his forefathers when they came to construct the ancient, colonnaded citadel of Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley around 300 B.C.

When the Romans left, his ancestors searched for the purest clay in the country, and eventually settled in Beit Shabab to be close to the best natural source: a small and muddy lake in the forest beneath the village.

Fakhoury’s creased wrinkles deepen and his brown face cracks into a crooked smile as he recalls a childhood of running among the clay pots. He’s worked as a potter for 60 years. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather all worked in this same space before him.

At no moment in his life did Fakhoury, now 66, wish for an alternative career path. He loves this job, he says.

Years of hard labor have given him a worn appearance and demeanor, but they have also kept him strong and tough. Toiling in the workshop where he was raised, he cuts the figure of a surviving Chinese terra-cotta warrior, stained by the mud that has defined his livelihood for half a century.

Fakhoury left the village temporarily during the Lebanese Civil War and worked in trade in West Africa. He always dreamt of returning to his workshop to continue his family’s legacy.

“I lived there, but I dreamed in Lebanon,” he says with a smile.

Fakhoury returned to find a wall of the workshop blown out by a bomb, but his tools intact. He wasted no time in repairing the room and reopening his business.

His wife and he have three daughters, all of whom are married and have long since left the house. Women don’t do pottery, he says, at least in Beit Shabab. His face falls, however, when he reveals that he has no heir to continue Beit Shabab’s trademark industry when he retires.

“This workshop has been running for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and when I go, it may all have been for nothing,” he lamented, looking wistfully around the chamber.

Though customers used to flock from across the country to hand pick his pots, the advent of plastic containers has slashed demand massively.

Nowadays, customers are often decorators seeking a rustic look, or tourists looking for authentic Lebanese craftsmanship.

He still ships a couple of hundred pots every year to a Jordanian arak producer, who uses them to store the anis-flavored liquor.

Producing pottery is like cultivating a crop, he muses. The clay is collected in the spring when it has the right consistency, then handspun into pots using a potter’s wheel. The kiln, an oven designed especially for pottery, is fired up in August, the hottest month of the year, to accelerate the baking.

During these scorching weeks, Fakhoury stays up throughout the night to monitor the ovens and rotate the pots, making sure that months of intensive craftsmanship and exertion do not go up in flames.

The work is hard, and the fruit of his arduous labor much less plentiful than it once was. While his father would light the oven seven or eight times in one summer, he now only produces one batch of pots a year.

A pottery festival and exhibition in Normandy, France, once invited Fakhoury to learn different pottery techniques. He says it was an honor to be recognized, but that he found himself underwhelmed by the developed industrial techniques of French potters. Having made thousands of pots in his life, he says he prefers to stick to what his father and grandfather taught him as a child.

Nassar Fakhoury, Fawzi’s neighbor and former landlord, shares his surname but is not sure exactly how they are related. Family lineages and histories go so far back in the village that they are sometimes impossible to keep track of or untangle.

“Fawzi is a part of this village in the same way that these streets are. He’s always in his workshop and his family has always been there. The children call him ‘the pottery man.’ There’s just no other way to describe him,” Nassar says.

When asked what has changed about the business since he began over half a century ago, Fawzi’s answer is simple: “Nothing. I still do business the way my father and grandfather did.”

It’s a legacy that may end without an apprentice or heir devoted to following in his forefathers’ footsteps.

It is almost impossible to picture the village without its main attraction, and for now, Fakhoury will continue to fill that role. He says he cannot imagine himself anywhere else.

“My grandfather and father died here, and one day, I will join them,” he says. “What I want is to die here.”

Venomous Lionfish Set to Invade the Mediterranean - Are You Ready? - [more]
By: Maurice Picow
Date: 19 June 2013

A new "invasive species" of marine life may be on its way to the Mediterranean – one that is both attractive as well as unpleasant – and even poisonous. Known as the Lionfish or Pterois Miles, this colorful and exotic looking fish has already invaded both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It is now becoming quite common as far north as the American state of North Carolina, and is competing with other forms of marine life for food.

The seas and oceans of our planet are full of unpleasant marine creatures; including tiny by highly venomous Irudandji jellyfish which recently killed two Australian eco-bloggers off Western Australia's beachfront.

Other unpleasant sea creatures include certain species of phytoplankton which under certain climatic conditions cause a condition known as Red Tide that can kill thousands of fish and other forms of marine life.

While the Mediterranean Sea does not have such deadly creatures as the Irukandji jellyfish, it definitely does have its share of common jellyfish which literally invade Eastern Mediterranaean coastal areas during June and July and have clogged up the intake pipes of desalination plants.

Simon Nemtzov, Coordinator for International Treaties and Scientific Authority for the CITES Convention, notified Green Prophet about recent Lionfish sightings in the Eastern Mediterranean, with specimens caught off Lebanon.

Nemtzov, who is connected with Israel's Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), forwarded an article that appeared in the Mediterranean Marine Science website, dealing with this fish species that is native to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Although not yet seen in large numbers in the Mediterranean, this fish species is characterized by its mane – like fins and poisonous venom that can cause violent reactions in humans unlucky enough to be "finned" by one of these fish.

People who are allergic to bee stings and other similar poisons are especially vulnerable. The lionfish is a voracious predator and feeds on a variety of marine life, especially crustaceans.

Upon contacting Nemtzov, he told Green Prophet that so far this fish species is not yet considered to be threatening to the Mediterranean; and that it probably entered the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal, like many other 'foreign' marine species. Nemtzov saw the report and decided that it was worth mentioning to ecological organizations and news sites in Israel and elsewhere.

One of his colleagues, Ruth Yahel, a marine ecologist also with the NPA, told Green Prophet that so far she has not seen or heard much about this fish species being present in the Eastern Mediterranean but will "keep a lookout for it."

Along with this, we suggest that our readers keep a lookout for it too.

Hammana's Cherry Day sparks culinary creativity - [more]
By: Beckie Strum
Date: 18 June 2013

HAMMANA, Lebanon: Electric red cherry-based syrup brightened Khaled Hamza’s table of clear herbal medicinal potions and dried teas on sale at Hammana’s Cherry Day festival Sunday. “It’s our special invention,” Hamza’s sister translates. She said the sibling pair researches the curative properties of the country’s indigenous and plentiful flora. Their homemade cures included energizing liquid shirsh al-zallouh and unorthodox flower blossom distillations to help everything from irregular heartbeats to flatulence.

But the super ingredient of the day was Hammana’s famous cherries, and in keeping with the theme, the Hamzas had made their special cherry-apple-grape concoction.

“Cherries are good for digestion,” Hamza said. “Lebanon is full of natural medicinal fruits and herbs.”

Hammana is located smack in the center of the country and has a historic reputation for its cherry harvesting, which took a crippling blow during the Civil War as scores of locals emigrated. Since the late ’90s, the village’s June Cherry Day has offered a yearly opportunity for the town to emphasize its reputation for cherries by drawing crowds from around Lebanon and providing family activities and samplings from other local products, like fasouliye.

Souk al-Tayeb, a heritage-preserving, Beirut-based farmers market, has been responsible for helping Hammana Municipality sponsor the event. And the presence of Souk al-Tayeb’s vendors, who hail from disparate villages around Lebanon, brought a cosmopolitan touch to the festival as they put their own spin on Hammana’s defining product.

Take the Hamza siblings, for example, who came to Hammana from the Mount Lebanon town of Abey, where the pair usually forage for their natural ingredients. On Sunday, their cherry-apple-grape concoction stood out among the scores of fresh cherry-filled plastic crates.

Many Lebanese will agree that the country’s best cherries come from Hammana, a notion supported by the hundreds of festival-goers who were willing to pay double the average price for a kilo of cherries, so long as they were freshly picked from the orchards on the outskirts of the town.

Several kilometers from the event, roadside fruit vendors were also set up sporadically selling their own boxes of dark red cherries on the highway leading back to Bhamdoun.

Jounieh-native Terese Sarkis tended to her display of preserves and baked goods and extolled Hammana for its cherries: “The best,” she declared.

In honor of the festival, Sarkis topped her massive fruit muffins – packed with oatmeal and a boggling list of preserves and fresh fruit – with dark red Hammana cherries.

Sarkis also showed off a box of naturally sundried cherries, a recipe passed down from her mother, she said.

Fruit-based baked goods are a relative rarity in the country – outside of Beirut’s French bakeries and hipper restaurants. Rather, tradition dictates eating raw, ripe fruits. So, the presence of cherry topped tarts, homemade cakes and fruit bars at Sunday’s festival signaled the special event had motivated people to get creative.

For the fruit-cake beginner, Sarkis recommended baking a basic white sponge cake and topping it with fresh, local cherry jam.

One such peddler of homemade jam was Nadia Jamal, an English teacher also from the town of Abey. Jam from cherries requires some patience as the cook has to remove the pits from a kilo or more of fresh fruit.

After that, simply add half a cup of sugar per kilo of fresh cherries, plus the juice of one lemon. Stir over low heat, chill and voila, Jamal said.

Less than a dozen cherry farms remain in Hammana. But the farmers who are left grow a variety of cherry types with grand figurative names like bird’s heart (alb al-tayr), wine-like (khamri) and mukahal, which refers to the dark line down its center that looks like eyeliner, “kohol” in Arabic.

Marie Zaharan sold from her family’s stand boxes of tart, deep-red alb al-tayr cherries, as well as much rarer mukahal cherries, which ripen to a lighter pink and taste mild and sweet. “Cherries from Hammana are the tastiest ones,” she said.

25 best foods for summer - [more]
By: Elizabeth Leigh
Date: 17 June 2013

In some countries, the coldest, sweetest dishes are considered the best foods for summer.

In others, the hottest -- in both senses of the word -- are considered the best way to beat the heat.

Whatever the logic, we're ready to dig into all these summer foods.

kulfiThe matka (clay pot) keeps the kulfi insulated.


This will probably upset gelato fans, but of all the icy, creamy desserts out there, kulfi's our pick for the best one for summer.

A traditional Indian ice cream developed to melt slowly in the heat of the Indian subcontinent, kulfi tends to be creamier and denser than its Western counterparts, with flavors such as rose and mango.

It's served in matkas (little clay pots) that keep it even more insulated.

Best at: Mumbai restaurants and dessert shops. Street vendors sell popsicle-like versions.

eloteIt’s hard to go back to plain old butter after trying seasoning like this.


The Mexican version of corn-on-the-cob may be higher in calories than other styles, but the taste makes the extra weight worth it.

After being grilled, sticks of golden corn are slathered with cheese or mayonnaise. Chili powder and lime juice are sprinkled on top.

Best on: the streets of Mexico.

naemyeonMul naengmyeon goes best with some hot galbi.

Naeng myeon

These Korean cold noodlesare served with ice cubes in the broth to keep the dish chilled while you eat.

Chewy buckwheat noodles are mixed with slivers of cucumber, pear, boiled egg or beef and submerged into icy broth for a tangy concoction laced with sharp mustard oil.

Best at: Woolaeoak branches in Seoul.

GazpachoGazpacho is thought to have Arab roots.


A cold tomato and bread-based soup that originated in Andalucia, gazpacho bursts with summery flavors.

Traditionally pounded under a mortar and pestle to a creamy consistency, the soup's main ingredients are tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and most importantly, stale bread. That last one is what gives it body and distinguishes it from being just a liquid salad.

Best in: a Seville tapas bar.

vichyssoiseThese days it can be difficult to find vichyssoise -- the fat content is too high for the health-conscious.


Vichyssoise is an elegant cold soup made from potatoes, leeks, cream and chicken stock.

Possessing a beautiful vanilla color and a silken consistency owing to the heavy cream, it's served at a cold temperature, which keeps the taste light and refreshing.

Although French recipes with similar soups have been around for centuries, the late chef Louis Diat says that he first coined the name “vichyssoise” at The Ritz-Carlton New York in 1917.

Best in: New York restaurants that claim the soup as the city’s native invention.

AcarajéAfrican influence.

Acarajé and vatapá

From the land of eternal summer, acarajé is Brazil’s representative street food.

It comes from the country's northeastern regions, where cuisine is influenced by African culture.

Black-eyed peas are crushed and made into a ball, then deep fried, and formed into a bread-like base to hold vatapá, a creamy mix of shrimp, ground peanuts and fragrant coconut milk.

Best in: Salvador de Bahia during the Dia da Baiano festival.

som tumOne bite of this flavor bomb will get your energy flowing.

Som tum

Thailand’s green papaya salad combines briny fish sauce, tart lime juice, the kick of chili peppers and the freshness of unripe papaya.

It's all pounded under a mortar and pestle to form a delicious antidote against hot-weather lethargy.

Basically fat-free, som tum is a favorite for Thais trying to lose weight.

Best at: Somtum Der in Bangkok.

Great summer meal in Korea: beer with a side of chicken. Or is that the other way around?

Korean fried chicken

A trendy food in South Korea that’s caught on around the world, Korean fried chicken has won us over as a crunchy finger food for hot weather.

Koreans have perfected the holy fried chicken trinity: crispy, thin skin that still retains some gooey fat underneath, a strong spicy flavor and delicious moist meat.

We recommend it with cold beer or soju and a side of pickles.

Best at: 3 a.m. in Seoul's hip Hongdae district.

bun chaHanoi is obsessed with char-grilled pork served with cold plain rice, vermicelli and a bouquet of fresh herbs and greens.

Bun Cha

Two summer favorites, barbecue meat and salad, come together perfectly in this dish.

The explosion of flavor comes from Vietnamese food's ubiquitous dipping sauce, nuoc mam pha, made of fish extract, sugar, chili, lemon juice, garlic and a generous dose of MSG.

Best in: Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Live on brain freeze and sugar highs all season.


The name of this Filipino dessert means “mix” and that’s just what it is -- a jumble of sweet and colorful ingredients mixed together.

Halo-halo got official Anthony Bourdain approval when the intrepid eater tried Jollibee’s version in Los Angeles on a recent episode of “Parts Unknown.”

It can include anything from sweetened beans and chickpeas to preserved fruit and ice cream flavored with mango, taro, coconut or other summery fruit.

Best at: the Peninsula Manila.

36 hours on a Philippine bus

spam musubiThere are lots of ways to enjoy Spam.

Spam musubi

A slice of fried spam on top of sushi rice wrapped with nori is one of our favorite foods for summer because it reminds us of the beaches in Hawaii, the backdrop to all our fantasy summer vacations.

Best after: riding a wave on the beaches of the Big Island.

Bruschetta dates to the 15th century.


An antipasto that can be eaten as a light summer dinner.

Not many better ways to showcase one of summer’s best products: ripe tomatoes, scarlet and bursting with flavor.

Best at: your favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant.

chongqing hot potSpicy hotpot from Chongqing may be the last thing Westerners expect on a list of favorite foods for summer.

Chongqing hotpot

Chongqing is one of the hottest corners of China and residents believe that Chinese spicy food forces diners to sweat, thereby helping to expel heat and excess moisture to help cool the body.

It's therefore natural that hotpot is a favorite summer food for locals -- the bubbling pot of spicy broth comes filled with scarlet chilies and heaps of mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns.

Best at: night markets in Chongqing.

Fluffy and creamy, cotton ice should be served with dollops of syrup and fruit.

Shaved milk ice

Known as “cotton ice” in Chinese, this Taiwanese dessert has become popular across East Asia in the last few years.

Instead of plain crushed ice, this version is made with frozen condensed milk that's run through a shaving machine to create thin sheets of white milk ice that piles up in folds.

Best at: a Taipei night market.

cevicheCeviche is one of South America's most popular seafood dishes.


This raw dish originated in Peru and is consumed throughout Latin America.

It’s so fresh and so good, Peru has a national holiday in honor of the dish.

Best at: Lima restaurants on the Day of Ceviche.

sobaJapanese noodle fans believe the best way to experience the texture of quality handmade soba noodles is to eat them cold.

Zaru Soba

To make Zaru Soba, buckwheat noodles are run through ice-cold water then drained on a bamboo sieve known as a “zaru.”

The noodles are served directly on the zaru with a topping of shredded nori and a dipping sauce made of dashi, soy sauce, mirin and a dab of wasabi.

Best at: a Tokyo izakaya with a flask of cold sake.

watermelon rindSummer’s ambassador: the noble watermelon.

Sliced watermelon rind

When it’s hot outside, watermelon is one of the first foods we crave.

The rind is usually thrown out, but it can be saved to make pickles or dressed to make a salad -- the extra crunchy part of the melon makes an excellent juicy substitute for boring old lettuce.

It's also good stir-fried or stewed.

Best at: a Beijing restaurant during one of the city’s legendary heatwaves.

affogatoSimply good.


Affogato means "drowned" in Italian, and we really wouldn’t mind being dunked into a sea of this Italian dessert.

A scoop of vanilla gelato is scooped into a cup and a shot of hot espresso is poured on top.

The result is a beautiful swirl of semi-solid ice cream and streaks of golden, bitter coffee.

Adding a shot of Amaretto or coffee liqueur ups the flavor.

Best in: Italian outdoor cafes.

satayBarbecued meat on sticks -- essential summer eating.


The national dish of Indonesia, satay can be made from any type of meat.

Turmeric is added to give satay its characteristic yellow color.

It’s likely an adaptation of Indian kebabs, as it became popular after the influx of Indian immigrants in the 19th century.

Best at: street stands in Java.

peach cobblerSouthern-style cobbler with Georgia peaches on homemade biscuits -- perfect for summer nights.

Peach cobbler

Peach cobbler is a timeless, simple American dish that coats cooked peaches in a blanket of biscuit crust.

Summer gives rise to the best peach cobblers, as intense heat is needed for the plant to mature and produce a perfect, succulent sweet-tart peach.

Best in: Georgia during the Georgia Peach Festival.

Don't be put off by the smell. There's a reason why durian is called the king of fruit.


This famously challenging fruit is the alleged king of all fruits in Asia.

Durian addicts who love the fruit's distinct rotten-garbage odor look forward to durian season every year -- the fruit can be grown only in tropical areas and is available between June and August.

Of 30 varieties of durian, the most expensive is mao shan wang, which sells for up to $10 per kilogram in Singapore.

Best had: fresh from a market in Singapore.

mezeA spread of small dishes for a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern breakfast, lunch or dinner.


The meze plate is usually served as an appetizer platter throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East and has a little bit of everything.

It can be as simple as a piece of feta cheese with a few kalamata olives, or an impressive spread of hummus, tarama, cacik, baba ganoush, falafel, dolma and haloumi cheese.

All foods are served cold and go well with a light beer by the sea.

Best at: a seaside tavern in Santorini.

salmonBaked salmon -- one of the easiest dinners to make.


We can fish for salmon all year round, but the biggest sport fishing season for wild salmon (most of what we eat is farmed) is in Alaska during summer and early fall months.

That’s when wild salmon spawn and run back to rivers.

Once that fish is caught, there are a bewildering number of ways to prepare it for a summer dinner. Poached in champagne or grilled outdoors, it’s all delicious.

Best at: a beachside barbecue after a fishing trip in Alaska.

injeraSalads are sometimes served on injera.


The national bread of Ethiopia, injera is a flatbread with a spongy texture and sour taste.

The acidity perks up appetites and the porous texture makes the bread a great carrier for sauces and wet salads.

Best in: an Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles, where there's a high concentration of Ethiopian diaspora.

summer smorgasbordDidn't think it was a real dish, did you?

Summer smorgasbord

The Scandinavian buffet has seasonal versions.

The summer smorgasbord retains all the classic items, such as grav lax, rye crispbread, pickled cucumbers, cheese, and the quintessential pickled herring, but hot foods are omitted.

Best in: Sweden where wild strawberries are usually added to the spread.

More on CNN: World's 50 best food

طرابلس: حملة مدنية لدعم صمود الأسواق - [more]
By: غسان ريفي
Date: 17 June 2013

خطا المجتمع المدني في طرابلس خطوة إيجابية تجاه أسواقها الداخلية بعد المواجهات المسلحة التي شهدتها على هامش جولة العنف الرقم 16، التي عاشتها المدينة في مناطقها التقليدية الساخنة واستمرت ثلاثة أسابيع. وتمثلت الخطوة بإطلاق حملة دعم مدنية ـ أهلية للتجول أسبوعيا في أرجاء الأسواق الداخلية والتسوق من محالّها التجارية. وذلك بهدف إعادة الروح إليها، وكسر الحواجز النفسية التي رفعت أمام المواطنين والزوار بعد حال الخوف التي تسربت منها بفعل الاشتباكات الأخيرة، والتأكيد أن أسواق طرابلس لا تزال القلب النابض الضارب في عمق التاريخ والحضارة، والمتحف الحي الذي يجب أن يبقى على تماس مباشر مع كل مكونات المجتمع الشمالي واللبناني.
وقد فتحت الحملة التي دعا إليها كل من: «مجموعة طرابلس آراء وأفكار»، و«جمعية عبدالله حازم درويش»، و«أصدقاء الأحياء»، الباب واسعا أمام مزيد من التواصل والتفاعل بين تجار الأسواق وهيئات المجتمع المدني والأهلي في طرابلس، بما يؤدي إلى تفعيل حركة الأسواق وجذب الأنظار إليها من خلال الأسعار المخفضة، وإقامة بعض الأنشطة فيها، لا سيما عشية شهر رمضان، الذي يعطي أسواق المدينة قيمة مضافة تساعدها على تشكيل عامل جذب كبير لمختلف شرائح المجتمع.
وذلك من شأنه أن يساهم في تطوير هذه الحملة وتوسيعها لتشمل زوارا من كل المناطق اللبنانية، بما يعيد لأسواق طرابلس رونقها ويمحو عنها الصورة الأمنية القاتمة التي أساءت الى سمعتها وشوّهت صورتها وعطلت مصالح تجارها وضربت قيمتها الأثرية.
عند العاشرة صباحا تجمع عدد كبير من ممثلي الهيئات المدنية والأهلية والناشطين والمواطنين عند مدخل السوق العريض في السرايا العتيقة، يتقدمهم رئيس بلدية طرابلس نادر غزال، وعدد من نقباء المهن الحرة السابقين ورؤساء الجمعيات، وانطلقوا باتجاه أسواق: الكندرجية، والذهب، وخان الصابون، وحمام العبد، والجامع المنصوري الكبير، وحمام عز الدين، وجامع القرطاوية، وسوق العطارين، والبازركان، والحمام الجديد، وخان الخياطين، وخان المصريين، وسوق حراج والدباغة. كما حرصوا على القيام بجولة في الأحياء التي شهدت اشتباكات وعاينوا الأضرار.
واطلع المشاركون في الحملة على ما تختزنه الأسواق الداخلية في طرابلس من قيمة أثرية وتراثية، ولمسوا جودة البضائع المعروضة بأسعار مخفضة جدا تتناسب مع كل الميزانيات، وكان تواصل بينهم وبين أصحاب المحال الذين قدموا عروضات إضافية، وعرضوا لواقعهم المرير الذي عاشوه خلال الأسابيع الماضية. وأكدوا أن تلك الأسواق هي قلب طرابلس التجاري وأن أي محاولة لتعطيلها أو ضربها أو تشويه صورتها ستؤدي إلى انهيار الاقتصاد كلياً في العاصمة الثانية. ورأى غزال أن الحملة تشكل اعترافا من جميع أبناء طرابلس بضرورة الحفاظ على ما تختزنه مدينتهم من كنز أثري وتراثي يتمثل في هذه الأسواق. وقال: سنسعى بكل جهدنا للقيام بأي مشروع ينعش الحياة الاقتصادية في المدينة، والبلدية بالتعاون مع المجتمع الأهلي تحاول دائماً التحضير للنشاطات الاقتصادية والتجارية. ولكن الظروف الأمنية في كثير من الأحيان تحدّ من هذه الأنشطة، مع ذلك نأمل أن نتمكن من تحقيق المشاريع الحيوية للمدينة.
وأضاف: هناك كلمة حق يجب أن تقال، وهي أن طرابلس تعيش في هذا اليوم واقعها المعتاد، طرابلس الفرح والحياة، وكل ما يقال في بعض وسائل الإعلام عن المدينة مضخم، إما عن قصد أو بغير قصد، وما جرى من أحداث أمنية يحصل في العديد من مدن العالم لكن الفرق تضخيم وتظهير الأمور في حين تستر في غيرها، فمثلاً تطلق الصواريخ على عرسال ولم تظهر الأمور إعلامياً، في حين أن مشكلة أمنية بسيطة بين القوى الأمنية وأحد الأشخاص تظهر وتكبر وتقفل المدينة. وتابع: المسؤولية الأمنية تقع على عاتق المسؤولين الأمنيين، والمسؤولية الاقتصادية على الاقتصاديين ولكن تبقى المسؤولية الأولى على رأس الهرم، لذلك كانت لنا زيارات لفخامة الرئيس والقيادات السياسية لنؤكد لهم ضرورة أخذ زمام المبادرة وقلنا لهم ان لم تقوموا بالمبادرة فالمجتمع الأهلي سيقوم بذلك.

قرية على بحر صور - [more]
By: حسين سعد
Date: 15 June 2013

لا يغيب رضوان يوماً واحداً، عن شاطئ صور الجنوبي، عند الخيم البحرية. أدمن منذ سنوات على ذلك المكان، حتى أصبح جزءاً منه. يرى في البحر ورماله وشمسه وناسه وأسراره، حلمه الوردي.
يقيم هناك، أربعة اشهر، تبدأ مع انطلاق موسم الخيم البحرية، إلى حين فكّ الخيم التي يوضبها المستثمرون في بيوتهم إلى حين حلول موسم آخر.
هذه المتعة، لا تقتصر على رضوان فحسب، إنما تعيشها مجموعات من عشاق البحر، المواظبين على زيارته صيفاً وشتاءً.
فشاطئ صور الجنوبي الواقع ضمن محمية صور الطبيعية، بات يحمل اسما آخر، اعتاده أبناء المنطقة وزوارها، هو الخيم البحرية، وقد بدأ العمل بها قبل 19 عاماً، قبل أن يعاد تنظيمها مع الانتخابات البلدية في العام 1998، وإنشاء محمية صور الطبيعية بعد ذلك.
مع كل موسم بحري، أي من أوائل أيار، إلى أواخر أيلول، يصبح الشاطئ الصوري الجنوبي، الذي يتفرع غرباً إلى منطقة رأس الجمل، التي يقصدها الزوار ومحبي السباحة من المناطق كلها، ملاذاً هادئاً وهانئاً، لعشرات آلاف المواطنين والمغتربين، على مدار الموسم.
تلك البقعة المفتوحة، باتجاه فلسطين المحتلة، تتحول إلى قرية قائمة بذاتها، حيث تجتمع فيها كل الأهواء والطبقات والأفكار، في ظل توفر خدمة الإنترنت للسنة الثانية على التوالي.
ويجمع المستثمرون والزوار وبلدية صور، على أن الخيم البحرية تشكل عامل استنهاض للحركة السياحية التي تنعكس بدورها على دورة المدينة الاقتصادية.
ويشكل المنقذون البحريون المتعاقدون مع البلدية في كل موسم، وعمال الخيم المياومون من لبنانيين وسوريين، وكذلك المستثمرون الـ 49، وبائعو الترمس والفول والذرة وسواها، إضافة إلى موزعي المشروبات الغازية والروحية، يشكلون حلقة متكاملة في إنجاح الموسم البحري، يضاف إليهم فريق الإنقاذ في الدفاع المدني اللبناني والصليب الأحمر. ويخضع الموسم، كل سنة، لتعديلات عدة بحسب الظروف والتطورات الأمنية والسياسية في لبنان والمنطقة، التي تحجب عودة المغتربين الذين يراهن على عودتهم مجمل القطاع السياحي .
وتحرص البلدية، التي ينتقد أعمالها العديد من المستثمرين والزوار، على إطلاق أعمال البنى التحتية في المنطقة مع بدء موسم الخيم البحرية، إظهاراً لوجه المدينة الحضاري والأثري، من خلال هذا الموقع الفريد من نوعه على طول الشاطئ اللبناني. وتنشر البلدية يومياً أكثر من 35 شخصاً من الشرطة والحراس والبوابين والمنقذين البحريين، لتأمين سير العمل في المنطقة التي يوجد في قسم منها مسبح شعبي، تمنع إقامة الخيم فيه إفساحاً في المجال أمام المواطنين غير القادرين على تمضية نهارهم في الخيم، إذ يشكو بعضهم غلاء أسعارها.
وتستوفي البلدية، التي تستفيد من مردود موقف السيارات التي يصل عددها إلى أكثر من ألفي سيارة في أيام الآحاد، رسماً شهرياً من المستثمرين، وذلك على أساس حجم كل خيمة.
فتستوفي عن الخيمة التي يبلغ عرضها 12 متراً مليون ومئتي ألف ليرة لبنانية، ومليون ليرة عن كل خيمة عرضها عشرة أمتار، وثمانمئة ألف ليرة عن كل خيمة يبلغ عرضها ثمانية أمتار، بينما يتكفل المستثمرون بتسديد اشتراكات مولدات الكهرباء، وشفط الجور الصحية وبدلات المياه.
«الفاتورة غالية»
تدير داليا فران، الانثى الوحيدة بين مستثمري الخيم، خيمتها منذ عشر سنوات.
هي متفائلة دائماً، ولا تخشى أي تعثر قد يصيب الموسم.
الزبائن يأتون من كل لبنان، وهم باتوا يعرفون مدينة صور أكثر من ذي قبل بعد ترددهم إلى الخيم البحرية، التي تجذبهم إلى تمضية أيام عطلهم الصيفية، وفق فران.
تقول: «نحن نتقيد بالأسعار، التي تضعها البلدية، في كل موسم، ونعمل على تطبيق القوانين في هذا المكان، الذي يسوده الانضباط والهدوء».
ويستثمر نجيب زبد خيمته منذ 19 عاماً، أي أن أكثر من ثلث حياته، يمضيه على شاطئ صور سنوياً.
بين نجيب والبحر، أكثر من عمل ومردود مالي يعيله مع عائلته، فتلك السنوات راكمت صداقة بينه وبين البحر وزواره وعشاقه.
لا يخفي نجيب الشكوى من بعد المسافة بين الخيم ومياه البحر. يعتبرها مسافة بعيدة تجعل الناس يترددون في زيارة الخيم، لا سيما العائلات، الذين يخشون الابتعاد عن أولادهم.
يقول مبتسماً: «دعونا إلى لقاء في محمية صور، بحضور ممثلين عن البلدية ، وطلبو منا استبدال اللمبات الحالية بلمبات خضراء اللون، كونها تريح السلاحف البحرية».
ويؤكد أن الأحداث الأمنية المتنقلة، لا سيّما في صيدا، تنعكس على زوار المنطقة، وهذا احد أسباب تراجع العمل.
تقصد رولا الخيم البحرية في صور كل موسم، كما المئات الذين يقصدونها من بيروت والجبل والشمال، وذلك للاستمتاع بالبحر وشاطئه وحرية الحركة في أرجائه، وتتذوق الأطباق البحرية وفي مقدمها السمك، وتناول المشروبات الروحية في العديد من الخيم.
تعبّر رولا عن إعجابها ببحر صور وشاطئه الرملي المميز. تقول: «لقد اعتدنا على زيارة الخيم منذ أكثر من عشر سنوات، وكل سنة نرى فيها مزيداً من المتعة والراحة». لكنّ رولا لا تخفي، في المقابل، انزعاجها وتأففها من الفاتورة العالية للعديد من الخيم التي ترتاده.
ويلفت رئيس لجنة الاشغال في بلدية صور محمد حرقوص إلى أن البلدية تقوم بكل ما يلزم لإنجاح موسم الخيم البحرية، بدءا من النظافة العامة للشاطئ، الذي يضم الخيم والمسبح الشعبي، وتأمين مواقف السيارات وحفظ الأمن، والحفاظ على سيارات وممتلكات الرواد الذين يأتون إلى البحر من كل مناطق لبنان، كذلك احترام الحريات الشخصية ومنع الفوضى والتعديات.
ويشير إلى أن البلدية اتخذت إجراءات تتعلق بالسابحين، فعمدت إلى نشر 18 منقذاً بحرياً تلقوا تدريبات عدة، وهؤلاء بدورهم يقدمون الإرشادات للسابحين عن المناطق التي يمكن السباحة فيها عندما يكون الموج مرتفعاً، مذكرا بأن شخصين قضيا غرقا مع بداية الموسم.
ويوضح أن فريقاً من الصليب الأحمر موجود على مدار الساعة على الشاطئ، بالتعاون مع البلدية، وهو مجهز بسيارة إسعاف وسيارة للدفع الرباعي.
وفي ما يخص الانتقادات في شأن تأخر الاشغال في الطريق الرئيسي المقابل للخيم البحرية، يوضح حرقوص أن البلدية تتابع العمل لحظة بلحظة، معيداً أسباب التأخير التي مضى عليها أكثر من أسبوعين إلى قلة عديد ورش العمل من ناحية، ومن ناحية ثانية بسبب الأعمال الإضافية التي طلبتها البلدية، وهي غير ملحوظة في الالتزام، ومنها مد شبكة صرف صحي للخيم البحرية، وتمديد شبكة كهرباء تحت الأرض وإعادة العمل بقسم من الطريق.
وانتقد حرقوص المتعهد الذي ينفذ في الوقت نفسه وصلة الحوش صور التي لم تعبد بعد، بالرغم من مرور أكثر من شهر على تأهيلها، وذلك بحجة انتظار مد شبكة الألياف الضوئية التابعة لوزارة الاتصالات.

AFKART showcases art, crafts and designs made in Lebanon - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: 15 June 2013

BEIRUT: At the end of this month, anyone chancing to walk through Beirut Souks will stumble upon a wide range of objects, all displayed in the open air. They will soon know they have found AFKART. This yearly summer event – part of Beirut Designers’ Week – seeks to promote the art and other handiwork of young, emerging artists, craftsmen and fashion designers from around Lebanon. AFKART Public Relations Manager Maha Kazan spoke to The Daily Star about the objectives of, and the challenges confronting, organizers in putting together this year’s event.

Q: When was AFKART founded and what are its objectives?

A: I’m the organizer of AFKART. The organizer is in fact Beirut Association for Social Development. We organize this [event] and do the selection. We’ve been working on this project since 2002. We started before in 2000 on a smaller scale and then it grew bigger.

Its aim is to promote Lebanese designers; to help them meet the public, to let them interfere with a larger public. Most of them don’t have shops.

We started this mission as a communication project. The idea is for development, culture. Most of the designers are women, but there are a few men designers. There will be everything in the exhibition.

The nice thing about AFKART is that many of them are settled. They are known in Beirut. They grew up here. It’s a family spirit. Sometimes we do exhibitions abroad where they travel with us. ... Some of them are well established. They are [also] giving workshops [during] the exhibition ...

The [interesting] thing about AFKART is that there are new designers who are still at university, for example. Some of them have been doing this exhibition for a long time and others have stopped [participating].

Q: Did you have any financial trouble to organize this year’s edition?

A: BankMed has always given us their support. Now, everything has become much more expensive, but we need to go on. In BASD, we [established] a center for disabled children [in Badaro] called “Al-Majal,” which helps these children with activities also. If there are profits [from AFKART] they will go to this center.

Q: Have you noticed any differences in the type of art exhibited? Are the Middle Eastern artists influenced in their designs by the situation in the region?

A: We feel that there used to be much more in the artistic part – such as paintings. Now, it’s fashion designs which are [developing] more.

What we feel from the designers is that the Lebanese are divided between their Middle Eastern origins and the fact that they traveled a lot, studied abroad. So, it is very mixed between Middle Eastern and Western [influences.] But it [results] in nice [pieces].

There is also an economic problem. [Many] are afraid to invest because they say that nobody will buy.

Q: How many artists will participate in this year’s AFKART?

A: Around 100 from every field – fashion, accessories design, clothing, paintings, crafts, traditional art. Most of them are from Lebanon. We would have liked to have some [contributors] from abroad but there is a risk of inviting them. [Lebanon’s security] situation is not helping us.

The idea for this year was to show each country’s designs, but we couldn’t do it because of the [security] situation. And we have two fashion shows from designers who started with AFKART – like Paula K. and Atelier G. by Grace Rihan. They have very nice stuff. And we have painting-on-wood workshops with Nevine Mattar. And Ashekman will be giving an Arabic graffiti workshop.

We’re trying to include music. There will be a food court and a kid zone. It is a family exhibition where everybody can come and enjoy themselves.

Q: Did you have any specific criteria for the selection of the designers/artists selected for AFKART?

A: We want things to be handmade. If not, they have to be made in Lebanon. It should be designed in Lebanon, except for designers coming from abroad. The point [of AFKART] is to show the artistic work of the people here, what they can give. And it is important to see how they started and what they became now.

AFKART takes place in Beirut Souks from June 26-30. For more info, please call 01-566-707 or visit the AFKART Facebook page.

كفردان البقاعية سهل مزورع بسنابل الحنطة فيها مقام للنبي يوسف ومغاور تعود الى العهود اليونانية والرومانية والبيزنطية - [more]
By: امينة التويني
Date: 12 June 2013

في سهل البقاع الخصيب ومن بين حقول القمح الذهبية تطل بلدة كفردان، منظر ساحر، سهل واسع مزروع بسنابل اعطت حنطة للانسان كما احبته الطيور والعصافير.

كفردان كلمة سريانية مركبة من كفر ودان، اما الكفر فهي "تجمع البيوت" ودان تعني آلة القمح" فالبلدة منذ القدم تؤكد جدارتها وتميزها في انتاج القمح وهو من اوائل النباتات التي زرعها ابناؤها واهتموا بها حيث بنوا الاهراءات لتخزينها والاستفادة منها.

تقع بلدة كفردان في سهل البقاع في القسم الاوسط منه غربي بعلبك ضمن محافظة بعلبك - الهرمل، يمر فيها طريق عام دير الاحمر- بيت شاما.

محاطة بعدة قرى شمالا بلدة السعيدة، غربا بلدة جبعا، جنوبا بلدة حدث بعلبك وشرقا بلدة حوش بردى لتبلغ مساحتها الاجمالية حوالي 1000 هكتار مربع.

ترتفع عن سطح البحر حوالي 1080م وتبعد عن العاصمة بيروت حوالي 80 كلم وعن مدينة بعلبك حوالي 17 كلم.

من اهم عائلات البلدة: حيدر- الزين- حيصون- زعيتر- مشيك- يزبك وعبيد.

تميزت بلدة كفردان بتربتها الصلصالية الحمراء، ووفرة الابار الارتوازية فيها، اضافة الى مرور قناة مياه اليمونة للري في وسط سهلها، مما جعلها بلدة زراعية بامتياز.

من اشهر مزروعاتها منذ القدم القمح والتي تميزت به كما زراعة البصل والبطاطا والحبوب على انواعها، وفيها ايضا اشجار مثمرة مثل الكرمة، الزيتون والكرز، اضافة الى الاشجار غير المثمرة مثل الصنوبر والسرو والكينا والزنزلخت الهندي التي تزين مدخل البلدة وطرقاتها.

وفي خراج بلدة كفردان مركز ابحاث للتجارب الزراعية يسمى "المشغل الزراعي" وهو تابع لوزارة الزراعة.

في البلدة مقام للنبي يوسف حيث يزوره الناس من مختلف المناطق اللبنانية والعربية للتبرك وايفاء الندور. كما هناك عدد من المساجد والحسينيات التي تتوزع على احياء البلدة، اضافة الى وجود بعض المغاور التي تعود الى عهود منصرمة كاليونانية والرومانية والبيزنطية.

يتراوح عدد سكان البلدة حوالى اربعة آلاف نسمة، المقيمون فيها حوالى 1500 نسمة والباقي موزعون بين بيروت وبعلبك وزحلة، وبعض بلاد الاغتراب بهدف العلم والعمل.

اقتصاد البلد يعتمد بالدرجة الاولى على الزراعة اضافة الى الوظائف العامة، ويوجد بعض المحلات التجارية الصغيرة والمتفرقة، ولكن معظم حاجات السكان يتم شراؤها من المحيط.

بلدة كفردان تتبع اداريا بلدية شمسطار الموحدة غربي بعلبك والتي تضم عددا من القرى ضمن نطاقها البلدي، ويمثل البلدة عضوان بلديان لدى مجلس هذه البلدية حيث يتابعان الامور الانمائية التي تعني بلدتهم على الصعد كافة، كما يوجد في البلدة مختاران، اما عدد الناخبين فيها فيبلغ حوالي 1438 ناخبا.

Lebanon's beaches swimming with waste - [more]
By: Stephen Dockery
Date: 10 June 2013

BEIRUT: Flush a toilet in Beirut and the waste water is piped out a kilometer into the Mediterranean and expelled into the sea. Flush the toilet just about anywhere else, however, and the waste is deposited just a few meters away, using the nation’s coastline as a giant toilet bowl.

Beach-goers are swimming in dangerous levels of their own filth at many public beaches and resorts in the country, according to testing conducted by Environment and Development Magazine that measured fecal levels in swimming water in 19 areas along Lebanon’s coast. The report found the water unsafe for swimming, well above international safety limits, in seven areas. Two other areas were borderline unsafe for swimming, according to the results.

“The pollution in the Lebanese sea is from sewage, it’s fecal coliforms,” said Najib Saab from Environment and Development Magazine.

Water samples that the Environment and Development Magazine took from swimming areas in Nahr al-Kalb, Jounieh and Tabarja measured above the 100 fecal coliforms mark considered no longer safe for swimming.

Samples from swimming areas in Ramlet al-Baida, Antelias and Jbeil contained so many fecal coliforms laboratory scientists stopped counting; the areas are filled with sewage water. Samples in Mina, and Sidon came back borderline toxic.

The results given to The Daily Star reveal a widely polluted coast undermining Lebanon’s image as a beach and resort destination. Unsafe levels of fecal coliforms can lead to rashes, diarrhea and vomiting and can spread disease depending on the extent of exposure.

Results can vary widely in the same city based on where the sample is taken, it often depends on where waste is exhausted, which is not widely regulated. Environment and Development Magazine conducted their studies at the American University of Beirut and will publish full results in next month.

“This is an emergency,” said Nada Zaarour, president of Green Party, about the study. “People shouldn’t be swimming at Lebanese beaches.”

“It’s a very serious problem that the Lebanese people are dealing with since we have some of the most expensive resorts on the Mediterranean coast,” she added.

The problem, environmentalists and water experts say, is water treatment.

There are almost no water treatment plants in operation anywhere along the coast. Wastewater from all the major coastal cities is exhausted straight into the sea. Even water from the hinterland goes into the waterways untreated and eventually pollutes the coast.

Water experts say there is very little regulation of wastewater. Some cities, such as Beirut, have long exhaust pipes that move waste a kilometer away from the shore. Some municipalities deposit wastewater directly on the coast, others a few meters into the sea. Private companies often have their own, also unregulated, waste exhaust.

There is no city that is treating all of its waste, said Manfred Scheu a civil engineer and environmental management specialist from GIZ, a German government-owned international development organization.

There are three “outfalls” in Sidon and southern and northern Beirut that discharge waste a safe distance into the sea, Scheu said. All of the others are discharged directly on the coast, and he said that posed a particular danger.

“It means if someone is carrying a disease, the bacteria will reach the sea,” Scheu said.

The national government, municipalities and international organizations have been working on building a slew of waste treatment plants on the coast for years. Treatment plants are in various stages of development in Tripoli, Shekka, Batroun, Jbeil, Tabarja, Dora, Ghobeiri, Sidon, Tyre and several other areas. But various delays continue to slow the projects.

Scheu says he expects the Tripoli plant to become operational this year. Other waste water plants are years away from entering service.

“It’s going to change soon, but not this year,” Scheu said.

What's fresh at Lebanon's top beach clubs - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: 08 June 2013

This might be one of the hardest summers for Lebanon's tourism industry, but that hasn't stopped some of the country's top beach clubs from offering their customers luxurious new features – from new spa facilities, to beach activities for all ages to a variety of international restaurants.

Edde Sands: One of Lebanon's most luxurious beach clubs and resorts, Edde, on the shores of the historic city of Byblos, is living up to its reputation for five-star year-round service by adding the following new features:

A renovated outdoor spa: Already renowned for its health and beauty treatments, its outdoor spa has just gotten its own makeover this summer.

New suites on the beach: Their nearly completed "green suites" will be a new addition to their bungalows and "blue suites" – but this time the new accommodation will have indoor hot tubs.

A new souvenir shop: Selling beauty products, such as organic soap and scented candles, this new shop will cater to the resort's well-groomed year-round customers.

A new indoor pool: Due to open in October, this vast indoor pool will be ready for water lovers as soon as summer is over.

White champagne will be a new item on their menu.

New gift and loyalty cards will allow customers to more easily purchase services for themselves and their friends.

C Flow: On the beach of Jbeil, this scenic resort for adults appears more concerned about pleasing its discerning customers than anything else. The managers say that every year they go over their customer feedback forms and brainstorm how to improve their services and facilities. This year, they're going all out. Here's what's new this summer:

Two restaurants: Zahr el-Laymoun, a Lebanese franchise, will be offering a special seafood selection for C Flow customers. Their other new restaurant, Water Lemon, will serve a variety of international dishes, including hamburgers, pasta, pizza and mixed fruit juices.

Drinks during the club's new happy hour will be half price between 6 and 8 p.m.

Women get to enter for free if they arrive before 11 a.m. in the morning (the club opens at 9 a.m.).

- At their newly renovated outdoor spa, they will now be offering massages by a Thai-trained masseuse.

- Their renovated hot tubs that surround their swimming pools will now allow users to modulate the temperature as they bathe.

- The club's surround-sound system has been upgraded with higher quality speakers.

- A new sewage treatment plant (an upgrade from the previous one) is treating all of their wastewater to minimize pollution. They have also upgraded their solar system, which heats their shower water.

- The club is considering adding new bungalows this summer, but say that this will depend on the ever-changing security situation.

Praia: One of Lebanon's newest beach clubs, Praia opened last year just north of Beirut near Kaslik, and say 2012 was something of a trial run. This year, they are offering a range of features following last summer's session:

- Their new outdoor spa offers customers massages right by the beach.

- The club is now for adults (over 21) only. They've replaced the children's pool with a lawn, tables and chairs.

- A new outdoor restaurant serves customers breakfast, lunch and dinner.

- They now offer seasonal and corporate memberships.

- Customers now receive a toiletries kit.

Cyan: A family beach club near Kaslik, Cyan is seeing its worst season since it opened in 2004. It reported a 50-percent drop in customers since this time last year. This summer, they're putting in the extra effort to make their customers happy with the following new features:

- For kids: The "Saturday Club" will have educational shows and games for children.

- New entertainment at the "Sunday Club" for adults will have fashion shows, music and well-known stand-up comedians.

Riviera: Beirut's landmark Riviera Hotel and Beach Lounge, located just off the capital's bustling Corniche, acknowledge that the country's security situation has already affected business this year, but they are giving their loyal customers a few new reasons to spend their days in the sun with them.

- The reopening of their Sunset Bar, with a full view of the sea and of course the sunset in the evenings, is a business risk they say is worth it to bring back some of their old clientele.

- Their new pitchers on offer allow groups of customers to mix their drinks with whatever ingredients they wish: fruit cocktails, coffee, chocolate, with or without alcohol.

- Four new private rotating sunbeds and hot tubs have been added, slated to open this week.

Lazy B: Just south of Beirut in Jiyyeh, Lazy B is a favorite among young people. The club has just finished putting the final touches on its newest attraction: Scheduled to open this week is a wooden yacht that will serve food and drinks, host parties and take customers on short sailing trips.

Movenpick: Beirut's five-star hotel and beach resort located in Raouche will be featuring a new bar and narguileh cafe right on the shore.

Pangea: Located in Jiyyeh, Pangea is scheduled to open a sushi restaurant in approximately two months.

Knafeh Recipe, for the Most Fabulous Middle-Eastern Dessert - [more]
By: Miriam Kresh
Date: 05 June 2013

Does a vision of rich, creamy, sweet and cheesy dessert with a crunchy topping totally seduce you? Well, it seduces people with a sweet tooth everywhere in the Levant. In Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Greece and Turkey, good housewives make knafeh, the most luxurious dairy dessert. (You might also find it spelled knafe, kunafeh, knafah, konafah, konafeh – it’s all the same stuff!).

We love traditional recipes like knafeh, the beautiful Iraqi watermelon rind jam and goat’s cheese with dates.

Many stuff the pastry with locally made soft cheeses. Our recipe, different from our previous one, offers you a pudding-like cooked filling with ricotta cheese.  Some call their dish knafeh and serve it like a pie, in wedges or squares, while others call it kadaif and create individual stuffed rolls. For the crunchy part, everyone uses shredded kadaif noodles. And  it’s essential to infuse the pastry with plenty of syrup perfumed with rose- or orange flower-water.

The only part of the dish that isn’t home-made is the kadaif noodles, which require skill and experience to make properly. They are found in the freezers of Middle Eastern stores. It’s said that shredded wheat may be used instead, but it needs to be soaked in milk and then set on towels to dry. But I can’t say if it approximates the real thing or not. In the open-air markets and bakeries, knafeh’s crunchy topping is colored a violent orange with food coloring. Use it or not, as you please – we don’t.

This is our version of knafeh, served at festive get-togethers and always accompanied by tea or coffee.


Yield: about 40 pieces

2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons rose water or 2 teaspoons orange flower water
900 grams – 2 lb. ricotta cheese
450 grams – 1 lb. kadaif noodles
1- 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup syrup (recipe below)
2/3 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Combine milk, cream, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until dissolved.

When it begins to boil, stir in rosewater or orange blossom water. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick.

Remove from heat. When its cool, add ricotta cheese, stirring until it’s all blended.

Preheat oven to 175 C – 350 F.

Shred the noodles in a bowl by hand, or whiz them briefly in a food processor until the pieces are cut as small as rice grains.  The size of the strands is just a matter of personal preference.

Melt butter over low heat, cooking only until it’s melted.Skim off any foam with a spoon and don’t let it turn brown.

Pour butter over noodle strands, avoiding the milk solids that have settled at the bottom. Mix with hands, rubbing the butter into the strands to coat them well.

Spread half the strands onto the bottom of a 3-quart – 3-liter baking dish. Flatten this layer firmly with your knuckles and palm to cover the bottom up to the edges.

Spread ricotta mixture over noodles. Spread remaining noodles on top of the ricotta mixture and press down.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until top is golden. Remove the knafeh from the oven and pour the cold syrup over it immediately. Sprinkle pistachios over the top. Cut into pieces with a large, sharp knife. Serve right away.

Yield: 2 cups


3 cups sugar
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater or orange flower water

Combine sugar, lemon juice, rosewater and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.

Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture boils. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the syrup thickens enough to coat the spoon.

Let cool, then chill in the fridge until the knafeh is ready.

القموعة جنة عكارية تخاف التعديات - [more]
By: نجلة حمود
Date: 04 June 2013

تستعيد منطقة القموعة، بعيداً عن الضجيج الدائر حول ملكيتها بين بلدتي فنيدق وعكار العتيقة، مع بداية كل صيف، حيويتها وزوارها الذين يتوافدون إليها خلال عطلة نهاية الأسبوع للاستجمام والاستمتاع بالمناظر الطبيعية الجميلة.
ويعجّ سهل القموعة بالزوار من مختلف المناطق، إضافة إلى الفرق الكشفية والشبان من محبي السياحة البيئية الذين يمضون أيام العطل في اكتشاف غابات المنطقة وجبالها، ويقطعون مسافات طويلة سيراً على الأقدام في جبال عكار المحيطة بالقموعة من كل صوب، وذلك بإشراف مع «مجلس البيئة في عكار».
وفي جوار السهل ترتفع أصوات الموسيقى من مدينة الملاهي التي تعج بتلامذة المدارس والزوار، إضافة إلى التنزه على صهوة الخيل التي يتم استئجارها مقابل مبلغ مالي زهيد يشكل مردوداً لبعض العائلات.
لكن الأجواء السياحية في المنطقة تترك مخاوفاً لدى البيئيين ورؤساء البلديات في المنطقة، من تحول السياحة من نعمة إلى نقمة، في ظل تزايد التعديات على الغابات وتقاذف التهم في شأن الجهات المسؤولة عن هذه التعديات في وقت تغيب الرقابة. فعلى الرغم من وجود مركز للجيش عند مدخل القموعة إلا ان عمله لجهة تغطية المنطقة يبقى محدوداً للغاية، نظراً إلى اتساع الغطاء النباتي.
وتتصل القموعة بمحيطها، من خلال حدودها الشاسعة الممتدة من منطقة أكروم عند الحدود اللبنانية ـ السورية مروراً بعندقت، القبيات، عكار العتيقة، وفنيدق، وصولاً إلى قضاء الضنية. وهي تتصل ايضاً بمحافظة البقاع.
وتتربع القموعة فوق القرى العكارية، إذ تتدرج في الارتفاع من 1500 متر حتى 1700 عند السهل الفريد من نوعه في حوض المتوسط لوجوده على ارتفاع عال، وتحوطه مجموعة من التلال والهضاب تلفه بشكل شبه دائري. وتغطي الثلوج السهل شتاء، بينما يتحول إلى بحيرة طبيعية في الربيع، وتتجمع المياه بفعل ذوبان الثلوج التي تغطي المرتفعات المحيطة به، وأبرزها تلة قلعة عروبا التي يصل ارتفاعها إلى 2300 متر. والبركة بمثابة خزان مائي لمحافظة عكار بأكملها، تنبع منه الأنهر الرئيسية في المنطقة (نهر موسى، والنهر الكبير الجنوبي، والأسطوان..)
وتضم المنطقة أكثر من أربعين نوعاً من الأشجار الحرجية وعدداً كبيراً من أشجار الأرز التي يصل عمر بعضها إلى نحو ألفي سنة، إضافة إلى أشجار الشوح والعرعر النادرة التي يصل ارتفاعها إلى نحو ثلاثين متراً ويبلغ محيط بعضها ستة أمتار. وتضم ايضاً غابة العذر التي تضم نحو أربعة آلاف شجرة سنديان من فصيلة آرون أواك الكثيفة والعملاقة، فضلاً عن غنى المنطقة بالثروة الحيوانية، والآثار التي تعود إلى العهود الفينيقية والكلدانية والرومانية والبيزنطية والعربية، والكهوف التي بقيت مأهولة حتى العهد الاسلامي.
ونظراً إلى أهمية المنطقة من الناحية الطبيعية والبيئية والحيوانية، ترتفع الأصوات باستمرار للمطالبة بإعلانها محمية طبيعية، والمحافظة عليها من أعمال القطع المستمرة والممنهجة التي تطال أشجارها النادرة، حيث سجل في العامين الماضيين قطع ما يزيد على 400 شجرة من أشجار الشوح، والعرعر، والسرو.
ويلحظ الزائر مدى التحول الحاصل في المنطقة التي أنشئ فيها بعض المنتجعات السياحية، من مطاعم، ومدينة ملاهي، ومحال تجارية، إضافة إلى المقاهي المنتشرة في أرجائها. وتعاني المنطقة، في الآونة الأخيرة، من مشاكل التلوث الناتجة من رمي الأوساخ، إضافة الى قيام العديد من المواطنين والرعاة باستعمال الأراضي المجاورة للسهل لإقامة حظائر للحيوانات.
واللافت أن المنطقة لم تحظ بأي اهتمام من الجهات المعنية، بالرغم من صدور العديد من القوانين القاضية باعتبارها محمية، إلا انها بقيت أسيرة الأدراج وسط غياب الوزارات المعنية، واستهتار نواب المنطقة بالموارد الطبيعية.
ويشير رئيس «مجلس البيئة في عكار» د. أنطوان ضاهر إلى «أن غابات القموعة ما زالت تصنف من أهم الغابات الموجودة في منطقة حوض البحر المتوسط، نظراً إلى غناها الإيكولوجي وتعدد أصناف أشجارها، إضافة إلى مئات أصناف النباتات الحرجية والحيوانات والحشرات والفراشات النادرة».
وأعرب عن قلق المجلس «من تزايد وتيرة التعديات على أشجار المنطقة والعبث بكنوزها، ومن تراكم النفايات على جوانب السهل وفي محيطها، ما يعطي فكرة واضحة عن حجم الإهمال اللاحق بالمنطقة. التي من المفترض أن تكون من أهم المواقع السياحية في لبنان نظرا إلى الآثار التي تحتويها».
يضيف: «نحن نرفع الصوت ونطالب بالإسراع في حل النزاع العقاري القائم في القموعة، وإعلانها محمية طبيعية يحظر العبث بمكوناتها وثرواتها النادرة».
ويؤكد رئيس بلدية فنيدق ورئيس إتحاد بلديات جرد القيطع عبد الإله زكريا «أن البلدية، مع بداية فصل الصيف، تقوم بالعديد من الإجراءات التي من شأنها المحافظة على نظافة المنطقة، إن كان لجهة وضع حاويات للنفايات أو إرسال عمال نظافة بشكل دوري لتنظيف السهلة ومحيطها». وشدد على «ضرورة قيام القاضي العقاري في الشمال بترسيم حدود القموعة وخراج بلدتي فنيدق وعكار العتيقة، كي يصار من بعدها الى إعلان القموعة محمية طبيعية».
وأشار إلى «أن الاستثمار الذي يقوم به أبناء فنيدق في المنطقة يتم بعلم وزارة البيئة ومن دون أي أثر سلبي على المنطقة».



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