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A healthier tan: How to minimize skin damage - [more]
By: Samya Kullab
Date: Saturday, June 01, 2013

BEIRUT: A sure sign that summer is upon us is the sight of avid beach-goers flocking to the coast with an arsenal of tanning oils, moisturizers, bronzers and other such topical products to help acquire that natural sunkissed look.

Skin care specialists caution, however, that sunscreen should be chief among these items. The beaches of Jiyyeh are brimming with people indolently passing the day by alternating between sunbathing and cooling off with a quick swim. Some, however, have come with a strict tanning agenda, as they adeptly turn their bodies over periodically to ensure even sun exposure.

“It takes me a long time to get that bronzed look,” said the fair-skinned and freckled Genevieve.

“I have to be careful not to burn instead, especially around my face,” she says as she evenly distributes a tinted sunscreen on her face.

Her friend Rania has the opposite problem, “I tan so easily!” she says, under the shade of an umbrella. “I have to be careful not to be out in the sun for too long, because I don’t want to come out looking orange.”

Tanning is, in many ways, a delicate balancing act: For some it’s easy to overdo it; for others finding that sunkissed glow requires many sessions under the sun. From the perspective of skin care specialists, however, it’s a trade-off between beauty and harmful UV exposure. But sun worshippers shouldn’t despair, for there are ways to maintain a bronzed summery look while minimizing the harmful impacts of UV exposure.

Dr. Dany Touma, a dermatologic surgeon, has seen the worst of what happens when the trade-off between beauty and skin care goes awry and causes conditions ranging from melasma, the discoloration of the skin, to full-blown diseases like skin cancer.

“Nature is friendly,” he says, “And without excess, people can benefit from sun exposure.”

Touma suggests beach-goers avoid the strongest hours of the sun when tanning – between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other specialists have been less stringent, but caution against heading out between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

That that one should use sunscreen to prevent the harmful effects of sun exposure is obvious, but the question of what kind of sunscreen is best suited and how often it should be applied depends on a each person’s skin type. Touma recommends that fair skin types opt for the more potent SPF 30 and above, because they are prone to showing signs of skin cancer and aging.

SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, is a laboratory measure of how effective a sunscreen can be. The measure itself calculates the amount of UV radiation required to cause a sunburn with the sunscreen on.

“Sunscreen needs to be used in generous amounts to be effective,” he says. “It should be applied 30 minutes before heading outdoors,” to allow the cream to set.

When at the beach, Touma recommends reapplying sunscreen every two hours and immediately after a swim.

Because sunburns over time can increase the risks of melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, Touma says beach-goers should be proactive while tanning, and be on the guard for moles and other spots.

“Once you see sun spots and freckles on your skin, it’s a red flag,” he says.

Our skin is a complex and vital organ made up of many components, including lipids, proteins, minerals, chemicals and water. It’s important to moisturize when intentionally exposing skin to the sun, because it can result in water loss.

With these simple recommendations in mind, Dr. Touma says sun worshippers should not feel dejected, for apart from the dangers of prolonged exposure, when done right, some sun is actually good for the health.

“There have been recent studies that show that the body releases nitrates after exposure to UV light, which reduces blood pressure,” he says, adding that this significantly reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders later on. “The dogma that we should avoid the sun to reduce chances of developing cancer might be changing. But there’s still no question that there are risks, and people should take precautions.”

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Zouk Mikael festival bets on quality - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: Friday, May 31, 2013

BEIRUT: The lineup for the 2013 Zouk Mikael International Festival was announced Thursday during a news conference at the Four Seasons Hotel.

In the last two editions, ZMIF has hosted some of the world’s most acclaimed artists, including tenor Placido Domingo, soprano Monica Yunus, as well as a host of blues and jazz performances.

This year’s edition, which runs at Zouk Mikhael’s Roman amphitheater July 23-August 5, also promises to be a starlit affair.

French pop icon Pascal Obispo will open the festival. Part of his “MillesimeS, 20 ans de Tubes pour Lui et les Autres” (‘Millenary, 20 years for Him and Others’) tour, Obispo’s show will feature such much-loved tunes as “Tomber Pour Elle,” “Fan” and “Mourir Demain.” He will be accompanied by five outstanding musicians, to announce the release of his new album, which is also called “MillesimeS.”

On July 25, Lebanese audiences will be happy to welcome local hero Ziad Rahbani to the amphitheater stage. One of the most acclaimed artists on the country’s music scene, son of Assi Rahbani and Fairouz (aka Nouhad Haddad), has been a key figure in the development of oriental jazz.

Rahbani is a popular figure and his performances always draw large crowds of spectators. He will transport the Zouk Mikhael’s audience with his jazz ballads and groovy tunes.

Soprano Monica Yunus returns to the amphitheater stage on July 31. She will be joined by U.S. musician Jon Batiste, who is said to take an innovative approach to the classic American songbook. Yunus, the co-founder of the organization “Sing for Hope,’ believes in the power of the arts for communities in need. Batiste and Yunus’ combination of jazzy rhythms with soprano voice are bound to amaze.

Lebanese blues legend Otis Grand will close this year’s festival on Aug. 5. Said by Guitarist Magazine to be “one of the top 50 greatest Blues guitarists who ever walked the earth,” Grand will perform tracks from his latest album “Blues 65,” an homage to the tunes that influenced him when he was a teenager.

Grand hypnotizes his audience with his guitar riffs, demonstrating that real Blues never really ages. He will no doubt demonstrate that, as he told The Daily Star in an interview last year, “Blues is a feeling.”

One thing is for sure. Unlike some others festivals, ZMIF places its bets on a yearly program based on quality and not quantity. As with past editions, ticket prices are affordable, in order to give everyone a chance to attend its events.

Everyone needs a little night music.

The 2013 Zouk Mikael International Festival runs from July 23-Aug. 5. For more information, please visit www.zoukmikaelfestival.org/.

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Urbin Beirut Crushes Stinky Cigarette Butts in Style - [more]
By: Tafline Laylin
Date: Monday, May 27, 2013

Cigarette butts are gross – whether they drift onto beaches, pollute our waterways, or endanger wildlife. But many cities in the Middle East, where smoking remains common, neglect to provide outlets for residents to discard their stinky stubs. That’s why three Lebanese electrical engineering students designed Urbin – a sleek disposal unit.

Last September Lebanon banned public smoking, though nobody at the time could have guessed that it would actually come to pass.

But there has been an unintended negative consequence of the law designed to protect non-smokers from having to expose themselves to toxic secondhand smoke.

It turns out that smokers turned outside bars and restaurants with their cigarettes often don’t have a proper way to throw away their butts, so they up chucking them on the ground instead.

This is the origin of the soggy, non-biodegradeable stubs that eventually make their way into rivers and seas.

One of the founders, Akram Harb, shared the genesis of Urbin’s development with The Daily Star.

“I went to London to study for a year,” said Harb, “and it struck me how rare it is to see people throwing their cigarette butts on the floor, because there you have law enforcement. A friend of mine got fined 50 pounds [$75] for throwing a cigarette butt on the floor. It shocked me, because in Lebanon it doesn’t matter, it’s not a big deal.”

When he returned to Beirut, he and his partners Eddy Mansour and Joe Khalifeh started working on stylish prototypical solutions to the pollution problem that people could get behind. This was right around the time of the smoking ban’s onset.

Nine models and seven prototypes and Urbin is ready to hit the street. The first bin has been installed outside a trendy restaurant in Gemnayzeh, and the group intends to distribute a further 99 to establishments throughout the city.

The butt disposal units are sleek and stylish, but also melt into the surrounding grey urban environment. So it doesn’t interfere with the decor of any businesses that take them on.

In order to make the easy-to-clean units self-sustaining, a small plexiglass window holds advertisements. When the Urbin becomes more popular, the theory goes that advertisers will start paying big bucks to have their message broadcast among this crucial demographic of people.

It’s a brilliant concept and we hope it takes off.

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بترومين تستعيد مملكتها الرومانية - [more]
By: فاديا دعبول
Date: Friday, May 24, 2013

تحولت بلدة بترومين الكورانية بفضل آثارها المكتشفة حديثاً، قبلة لأنظار السيّاح من لبنان والخارج. ‏وكان للصدفة دور أساسي في كشف النقاب عن دهاليز وسراديب وأقبية أثرية متلاصقة ‏ببعضها البعض، تعود إلى ما قبل العهد الروماني، مدفونة تحت الأرض، يمكن الدخول والخروج ‏منها من مدخل واحد، لتشكل عالماً فريداً من نوعه بعيداً عن حضارة اليوم، غارقة في الماضي.‏
الاكتشافات تعود إلى العام 1997، حين عمد رئيس المجلس البلدي حينها المهندس كمال ‏مليس إلى شراء مبنى قديم، وسط البلدة، بهدف ترميمه وتحويله إلى قصر بلدي. وبعيد ‏المباشرة بالأشغال، ظهرت معالم أثرية استدعت التوقف عن العمل والاستعانة بعلماء في ‏الآثار للتنقيب بشكل سليم عن الدهاليز والأقبية المطمورة تحت الأرض. واستكمل بعدها ‏العمل بإشراف مختصين لا سيما المهندس المعماري رهيف فياض، ابن البلدة، والمهندس ‏المدني جورج منصور الذي تابع عمل البلدية السابقة بعدما أصبح رئيساً لها في الانتخابات ‏البلدية اللاحقة. وتمكن المجلس الحالي برئاسة المهندس لويس قبرصي من استكمال أعمال ‏الطابق العلوي، وافتتاحه صيف العام 2012، وهو محط إعجاب كل من يزوره.‏
والمشروع الأثري الذي تعمل البلدية عليه حالياً يتضمن أبنية تاريخية يفوق عددها الخمسين، ‏معقودة البناء، تتصل ببعضها البعض عبر أنفاق تمتد من باحة القصر البلدي حتى كنيسة ‏السيدة وسط البلدة، إضافة إلى أقبية قديمة، وعقود، وقناطر، ومعاصر حجرية للزيت، ‏وأوعية تخزين ومستلزمات ووسائل إنتاج العصور الغابرة. ويؤكد مسؤول لجنة البيئة ‏والتراث في البلدية أستاذ علم الآثار في "الجامعة اللبنانية" الدكتور جورج النجار أن "هناك ‏كنوزاً معمارية لا يزال الكثير منها مدفوناً في البلدة. وهذا ما يدفع البلدية إلى السعي لشراء ‏كامل العقارات التي تشغلها الأماكن التاريخية بقصد إعادة إحياء التراث المعماري القديم ‏والإضاءة على حضارة باتت اليوم على طريق الزوال، لنحافظ على ماضينا حتى يكون لنا ‏حاضر ويكون لنا مستقبل".‏
‏وفي هذا الإطار تتابع البلدية عملها، حيث إنها تجري الدراسات الهندسية لاستكمال العمل ‏في الطابق السفلي، مستعينة في ذلك بخبراء في علم الآثار للكشف على المعالم والمواقع ‏الأثرية التي ما تزال مدفونة تحت الارض. ومن المقرر أن تشمل الأعمال اللاحقة ‏تجهيز الطبقة السفلية من القصر البلدي بمكتبة عامة، وقاعة محاضرات، ومعرض دائم ‏للمنتوجات البلدية التقليدية. وهناك مساع قبرصية مع وزارتي الثقافة والسياحة ‏لوضع بترومين على الخارطة السياحية.‏
وبترومين، التي تقع جنوب شرق مدينة طرابلس، تبدو قرية من القرون الوسطى القديمة، ‏وتسميتها وفق اللغات القديمة، تعني مسكن الرومان. وقد كان فيها مركز للحراسة من الجند ‏للقادة وأشراف القوم. وهو ما تؤكده الأقبية والسراديب السفلية المتواجدة في القرية. ويبلغ ‏عدد المقيمين الفعليين فيها نحو 1500 نسمة، والغالبية الساحقة من أهالي البلدة تعيش في ‏بلاد الاغتراب خاصة أميركا، وأستراليا والبرازيل. ومن أهم عائلاتها القطريب، والقبرصي، و‏منصور، ومليس، وغانم، والديري، والنجار، والفاخوري، وشيخاني، وفياض وحريكي. وهي ترتفع ‏‏324 متراً عن سطح البحر، وتبعد عن بيروت مسافة 82 كيلومترا، وعن طرابلس عشرة كيلومترات. والمعالم الأثرية في البلدة تتوزع في محيط كنيسة سيدة البلدة ومغاور وادي كوة التي تعود إلى العصر الحجري القديم الأوسط.
ويرى عضو اللجنة الثقافية والتراثية التابعة لبلدية بترومين الدكتور نبيل القطريب، استناداً إلى ‏الموقع الطبيعي للآثار في البلدة والنطاق الجغرافي للبلدة، ومركزها الاستراتيجي بالنسبة ‏للمنطقة، أن بترومين تمثل "المملكة الرومانية"، حيث أنها كانت نقطة تواصل بين المناطق ‏الساحلية، التي كانت طريقاً للقوافل بين عكار وطرابلس، والمناطق العليا عند قصر الناووس ‏من جهة عين عكرين ورجدبين. كما ان وجود أكثر من خمسين بئرا في المنطقة، يؤكد على ‏أهمية المنطقة من ناحية الموارد البشرية والزراعية والخصوبة في التربة، إضافة إلى وجود ‏الكهوف خاصة "كهف وادي كوة"، الذي كان مقر سكن الإنسان البدائي الأول في العصر ‏الحجري.
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تشجير جرد إهدن - [more]
By: -
Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013

استكمل شباب «إهدن سبيريت» حملة التشجير في الجرد العالي في إهدن («السفير») أمس، حيث عمدوا إلى غرس 1500 شتلة حرجية في أرجاء الجرد، وذلك بإشراف الناشط البيئي سايد مرقص الدويهي، وبالتعاون مع بلدية زغرتا إهدن، و«جمعية جذور»، على أن يعتني بالغرسات ناشطون بيئيون.
وقد تطوع عدد من الشباب الإهدني في عملية الغرس، التي استمرت طيلة نهار أمس. وقد بات مع انتهائها حرج إهدن، يضم أكثر من خمسة آلاف غرسة جديدة، تم غرسها على مراحل، لمدة سنة، فيما تم غرس عشرة آلاف غرسة حرجية في السنة الماضية. ويتوقع الإهدنيون أن يشهد هذا الصيف حركة سياحية مزدهرة، بالنظر إلى الطبيعة الخلابة التي تتمتع بها بلدتهم، وقد ازدادت جمالاً في السنوات الماضية بفعل أعمال التشجير التي تقوم بها جمعيات بيئية بالتعاون مع المجالس المحلية في البلدة، وكذلك بفعل المحافظة على المعالم النباتية والبيئية في محمية إهدن.

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Fete de la Musique celebrations only weeks away - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013

BEIRUT: On June 21, several venues around town – along with 430 other cities around the world – will celebrate the “Fete de la Musique” (Music Festival).

Created in 1982 by former French Culture Minister Jack Lang, this event promotes local and international singers and bands, who will gather for one night only, on the shortest evening of the year. For more than 10 years now the French Institute in Lebanon – under the patronage of the Culture Ministry – has scheduled a wide range of musical talents. This year’s selection will perform in the Roman Baths, Martyrs’ Square, Samir Kassir Garden, the Beirut Souks, Zaitunay Bay and in several churches across the city.

Free of charge, the “Fete de la Musique” is the “celebration of music destined to promote the importance and diversity of musical genres,” as French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli said at a news conference given Tuesday morning.

Last year’s event was awarded best music festival by Time Out Beirut and this year is expected to live up to last. More than 60 bands are scheduled to make an appearance on June 21.

French singer Dalele will bring her accordion to Beirut for the first time, ready to plunge the audience of the Roman Baths into the realm of her popular French music.

Segundo Bloco performed last year and will be performing again this year. Formed by Lebanese students from the school “Filhos de Bimba Escola de Capoeira,” this ensemble of percussionists and dancers will amaze Lebanese crowds with their blend of Brazilian modern tunes and traditional Batucada-Samba.

Martyrs’ Square will be invaded by young talents. From rock, to metal and pop, a range of genres will be gathered here to please the audience. Lebanese band Pindoll gained international fame due to their opening act for last summer’s Red Hot Chili Peppers’ concert. The charm of lead vocalist Erin Mikaelian and the talents of her musicians will no doubt result in a one-of-a-kind performance.

Near Surface will also be present on June 21. Also known as Amy Smack Daddy, they will offer up a rendition of some of their recent tunes as well as songs from their debut album “Crooked Landings.” They also gained a new level of recognition on the Lebanese music scene due to their opening act for last year’s concert of Guns’n’Roses, alongside The Wanton Bishops.

For those more into fusion music, Tanjaret Daghet will immerse the audience into their Arabic rock world.

Samir Kassir Garden will find itself hosting The Lowhighs, Blue Yeast, Nachaz, Postcards, and Camille and Lory. Reggae, pop, jazz, rock and indie folk music will echo in the usually peaceful Downtown garden.

Allen Seif (aka Oak) will go acoustic with his guitar. Singer and songwriter Oak has performed several times in Mar Mikhael’s Radio Beirut, and was also the overture artist for The Wanton Bishops’ concert in Solea V. His musical style is reminiscent of U.K. pop band Travis or U.K. singer Jude.

Other Lebanese bands such as The Coolcumbers, Murphey Lawless, The Banana Cognacs and Al 3arabi Mo5 will present their music to the audience.

As for the Beirut Souks, they will be taken over by such Lebanese artists as Snowslash, Champlain, Nour, The Missing Pixels and Bruno Tabbal (to name a few) who will immerse the spectators in tunes from many different musical genres.

Aficionados of Middle Eastern music will find their Holy Grail with the performance of band Al Kamandjati who will perform at Zaitunay Bay. Composed of 45 children aged 8-18, they will interpret some Arabic classics.

Traditional Lebanese music will be played by Ribal Raya and his band, and fusion Middle Eastern music will be performed by the band Bl 3arabe.

Rojo Del Libano will also be returning this year to present their repertoire of flamenco fusion with Arabic music.

To top it all off the Coralino and CTI Cantores choirs will perform in St. Louis Church of the Capuchins Brothers and St. Elie Kantari Church, alongside students from Ghassan Yammine Musical School.

“Fete de la Musique” will be celebrated in several venues on June 21. For more information, please visit: www.facebook.com/fetemusiquebey

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A fiery program for Byblos International Festival 2013 - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

JBEIL, Lebanon: The program has been unveiled. At the Byblos Sur Mer Hotel Monday morning the organizers of the Byblos International Festival announced the lineup of performers who will tread the boards of this summer’s event.

Byblos will open with a pair of shows by the Greek superstar Yanni on June 30 and 31.

Yanni has played such international venues such as Puerto Rico’s 16th-century Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The concert, part of his World Without Borders tour, will mark his first visit to Lebanon.

He will be accompanied by his talented troupe of vocalists and musicians and is expected to perform some of his greatest tunes, as well as compositions from his latest album “Truth of Touch.”

For those more into guitar riffs, the symphonic metal band Nightwish promise to set Byblos’ stage alight on July 4. This Finnish band, which is now in the midst of its own world tour, combines orchestral arrangements with metal instrumentation. Formed in 1996, the band quickly rose to international fame. They will likely perform “Imaginaerum,” from their last record, along with such classic tunes as “Wish I Had an Angel.”

The multitalented Ceelo Green (aka Thomas DeCarlo Callaway) will take stage on July 8. A vocalist and judge on the U.S. version of televised talent show “The Voice,” Ceelo Green is equally well-known as a record producer and actor. This singer-songwriter has generated such hits as “Crazy,” “Forget You” and “Bright Lights Bigger City.”

Promoted as a femme fatale and fashion icon as well as a performer, U.S. singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey (full name Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) will be at Byblos for a one-night stand on July 10. Her song “Video Games” brought her outstanding international success, which propelled her to join the ranks of the Anglo-Saxon world’s top new musical figures.

Del Rey would like people to know she is more than just a classy bimbo with a nice voice. She says her image has been influenced by such figures as Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin as well as film noir. The performer defines herself as “a self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra.” Now her Byblos audience will be able to find out what that means.

Nowadays in the midst of their Electric Tour, the iconic U.K. duo Pet Shop Boys are scheduled to parachute into Byblos on July 13.

These heroic vestiges of the 1980s have the distinction of having been listed as the most successful duo in U.K. music history by The Guinness Book of Records. It’s assumed they will perform those tunes that sold 50 million records – “West End Girls,” “It’s a Sin,” “Go West” and “Always on My Mind.”

No summer festival season would be complete without a performance of music from the Rahbani songbook. “Rahbani Summer Night” will take the Byblos stage over two nights (July 17-18). Created and produced by Ghadi and Oussama Rahbani, this concert features tunes by the iconic Lebanese Rahbani brothers team.

The show will feature performances by musicians of the Rahbani School, accompanied by the Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Vladimir Sirenko.

Lovers of the music of Andalusia will be pleased to welcome iconic guitarist Paco De Lucia to the Byblos stage on July 22.

The world’s most renowned living flamenco innovator, known for blending flamenco tradition with jazz modalities, De Lucia will be accompanied in Byblos by an ensemble of Spanish and Cuban musicians.

The program veers back to Lebanon on July 24 when soprano Samar Salame performs “Crazy Opera,” a show that blends Western and Eastern orchestras, with the latter led by oud virtuoso Ziyad Sahhab. Professional dancers will also go on stage. “Crazy Opera” is nothing like a classical night at the opera and should amaze the Byblos audience with its originality.

Last but not least, Scorpions will draw a curtain on the festival on July 26-27. Popular demand made the veteran German rockers’ management decide to include a Byblos date on the band’s final world tour, Rock‘n’roll Forever. They are expected to interpret such famous tunes such as “Still Loving You” and “Wind of Change.”

The Byblos International Festival will be on from June 30 until July 27. For more information, please visit www.byblosfestival.org.

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الخيارة: افتتاح المدينة الثقافية - [more]
By: -
Date: Monday, May 20, 2013

افتتح النائب السابق عبد الرحيم مراد، فعاليات «المدينة الثقافية الثالثة»، التي نظمتها «الجامعة اللبنانية الدولية» و«مركز حقوق الإنسان» أمس الأول، لمناســـبة الذكــرى الخامسة والثلاثين لانطـــلاق مؤسسات «الغد الفضل». وذلك بحضور المدير التنـــفيذي للمركز الدكتورة خلود الخطيب، وأساتذة وطلاب من الجامعة.
وتميزت فعاليات المدينة، بالجهد الشبابي المشترك، الذي تمثل بتنوع النشاطات والمشاريع المعروضة. واستعرض مراد مشاريع صناعية وتنموية وتجارية من انتاج الطلاب المتخرجين. ولم تغب رسومات الشهيد ناجي العلي عن فعاليات المعرض، فكانت محطة رئيسة توقف عندها المشاركون. وارتفعت اللوحات الفنية لطلاب قسم الفن والتصميم، وعرضت مصممات وابتكارات عبارة عن تجارب للطلاب.

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Virgin Radio launch rocks Beirut - [more]
By: Beckie Strum
Date: Saturday, May 18, 2013

BEIRUT: Creator of the Virgin Group empire Sir Richard Branson joined more than 1,700 revelers this week in Beirut’s White nightclub to launch 89.5 FM Virgin Radio.

Flanked by rows of high-heeled models, Branson toasted the opening of the top 40 radio station with a massive bottle of champagne.

But beyond the fanfare, the official launch Wednesday of Virgin Radio promised a major win for the country’s pop music lovers, who can look forward to concerts and potential music festivals promoted by the station.

Virgin Radio Lebanon will be the only Virgin station in the Levant and the second in an Arabic-speaking country after Dubai. Businesswise, the opening is seen as an encouraging show of faith in the country, despite Lebanon’s embattled economic and political situation.

“When countries are having difficulties, that’s the time for other countries to support them and invest in them and of course visit them,” Branson said at a preparty roundtable discussion at Beit Misk. “That’s the time when countries need to be helped to get on their feet.”

Branson’s visit to Lebanon lasted less than 24 hours, as the charismatic billionaire had a garden party to host back at his England estate Thursday, he told The Daily Star. Aside from a morning stroll around Beirut, the trip was mostly business – if you count a massive rooftop party as work.

Virgin Radio officially started broadcasting on its 89.5 FM frequency on May 1. The station occupies freshly painted studios on the first floor of a new project by Zardman real estate company, which will finish construction by the end of the summer, on Jal al-Dib highway.

At the studio, which is decked out in Virgin’s signature red, white and black colors, artworks of music legends line the halls, where the station will soon invite listeners to come view the show live.

The local station branch is testing the waters in the first month or so with the American top 40 format, said Ian Grace, chief executive of Virgin Radio worldwide, who was also in Lebanon for the opening.

Over the next two months, researchers for the Lebanese station will work to tailor its format, including music and live talk shows, to the local audience, Grace told The Daily Star.

One thing that won’t change: Virgin promotes a worldwide mantra of 10 hits in a row at the top of each hour.

“As we move forward, we see is there room for specialist shows?” Grace said.

“We’re very open-minded.”

The power of the Virgin brand may also have a hand in bringing bigger artists to the country. Both Branson and Grace said the local station is looking into promoting future shows.

“I think it’s very likely that there will be festivals and concert promotions,” Branson said, though neither he nor station executives revealed anything specific.

Talks about opening a station in Lebanon started around two years ago, after the immense success of the station in Dubai, which has helped promote major artists there like Justin Beiber. “The station in Dubai has been a dominant station since it started,” Grace said.

What started as friendly chatter got underway in earnest about a year ago, when the Lebanese government granted the station its frequency, and research about the market competitors and building the radio’s infrastructure began.

The past six months have been dedicated to finding the talent, which Virgin has drawn from all over the world to give the station what Grace described as an international flavor. Most of the hosts are of Arab descent, including a Lebanese Australian standup comedian and several radio hosts who previously worked in Dubai.

As he launched the station in Lebanon, Branson encouraged similar business in the country, calling on young entrepreneurs to brave the bleak economic situation.

“They have to have an idea that they think can improve other people’s lives,” he said. “Give it a go, see whether you actually have any traction. This is actually quite a good time.”

Virgin’s fearlessness in opening in Lebanon is clearly due in part to Branson’s overwhelming optimism. He said he thought the country could avoid getting sucked back into conflict; and speaking in general, said foolish political leaders shouldn’t dictate the fate of an entire population.

“People should invest in this country. ... It’s a wonderful country with wonderful people, and it’s taken 20 years to rebuild,” Branson said. “I think the people who are old enough and remember what happened in Lebanon won’t be foolish enough to let it happen again.”

Branson had already had some experience with Lebanon’s arbitrary political bureaucracy back when he opened the Virgin megastores here. Though Virgin Group has since turned the entertainment outlets over to different management, he recalled the censorship they underwent.

“It was painful to have everything, the books and the music, vetted,” he said. “People should be able to read the books that they want to read.”

Yet, always the optimist, Branson saw a bright future for Virgin Radio, which is also planning possible expansions into Oman and Qatar.

“It just feels good, everything feels right about it,” Branson said. “My instinct is that it will do enormously well. Lebanon deserves Virgin and Virgin deserves Lebanon.”

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أميون: اكتشافات جديدة في شير مار يوحنا - [more]
By: فاديا دعبول
Date: Friday, May 17, 2013

اكتشفت نقوش ورسوم ورموز بالألوان على جدران هذه الغرف المحفورة في الشير الصخري تحت كنيسة القديس يوحنا المعمدان في بلدة أميون. وبعض تلك الرسوم «شبيه بالرسوم البدائية لدى شعوب ما قبل التاريخ (أي أقدم من 3000 سنة قبل الميلاد، وربما أكثر). وهناك نقوش تمثل رؤوساً بشرية تعتمد نمطين فنيين مختلفين شبيهين بالنمط الفرعوني والنمط الرافدي.
وتعود الكنيسة إلى الحقبة المملوكية، بين القرنين الرابع عشر والخامس عشر. وهي مبنية على طراز العقد، يتوسطه قبة على شكل قرميد مثمن الأضلاع، وفي أسفل كل ضلعٍ نافذة. وتحتوي على 55 أيقونة، يعود أقدمها إلى أوائل القرن الثامن عشر، ومنها الملكية البيزنطية والملكية اليونانية الحديثة والغربية.
أما الشير الصخري الذي تبرز النوافذ المحفورة فيه ويبلغ عددها 26، فيحتوي في باطنه غرفاً بعضها متصل ببعض، ويمكن دخولها عبر الفتحات الخارجية، وبعضها الآخر منفرد. وعملية التنقل في ما بينها تتم عبر فتحات لا يتعدى قطر بعضها 40 سم.
وقام ابن البلدة شكرالله النبوت، أثناء دراسته التلة الصخرية الشمالية للبلدة، بإحصاء وتسجيل 13 مغارة طبيعية مع دهاليز عميقة أو مغاور محفورة بالصخر كالتي تظهر على الشير الصخري الشهير تحت الكنيسة، غير أن البحوث والدراسات الحالية تدل على أن العدد يفوق 30 مغارة.
ويبقى أهم اكتشاف أثري موجود على الشير الصخري، هو ما قام باكتشافه الفنان التشكيلي نقولا العجيمي أثناء إجرائه تشريحاً فنيا وجماليا للواجهة الصخرية مع الفتحات الـ26 في دراسة حديثة. هذا الاكتشاف يتمثل ببروز نقوش بشرية وطيور ضخمة يصل ارتفاع بعضها إلى أكثر من ثمانية أمتار. فالأشكال الفنية متنوعة المدارس، إذ يمكن مشاهدة نمط فرعوني أو رافدي أو إغريقي. وثمة طائر ضخم ذو رقبة طويلة على تلك الصخور، يرجح أنه أحد أقدم النماذج التصويرية لطائر الفينيق الأسطوري (أو طائر العنقاء) الذي ورد في ملحمة هيرودوتس.
ويضع أبناء الكورة عموما وأميون خصوصا هذه الاكتـــشافات والمعلومات برســـم وزارتي الثقافة والسياحة.

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ربيع وثلج في محمية حرش اهدن الطبيعية - [more]
By: -
Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ربيع وثلج في محمية حرش اهدن الطبيعية ...
Archeologists believe Roman gate found in Beirut - [more]
By: Van Meguerditchian
Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BEIRUT: Archaeologists said this week that after working for seven years on Downtown’s Riad al-Solh Square they have reason to believe that ruins there include the remnants of a gate that served as a main entrance to the ancient Roman city that once occupied modern Beirut.

Archaeologists said that if a link between the Roman gate of the ancient city, dating back to the 1st century A.D., and the ruins can be confirmed, it would constitute one of the most significant archaeological findings in Lebanon.

“The remnants uncovered on the site, among others, have various characteristics that we believe are part of the southern Roman gate of the ancient city of Beirut,” one archaeologist with knowledge about the excavations said on condition of anonymity, as he wasn’t authorized to speak about the findings yet.

Findings from archaeological digs on the site of the $149 million project in Riad al-Solh Square are not supposed to be disclosed, according to regulations from the Culture Ministry’s Directorate General of Antiquities’ orders.

Similar to other excavation sites in Downtown Beirut, this one in particular brought a halt to the Landmark Project, a multipurpose development initiative announced in 2005 and designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel.

While media outlets and photographers are not allowed to enter such sites due to the DGA’s policies, The Daily Star managed to take a photo of the alleged Roman gate of Beirut.

Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun and DGA Director Asaad Seif paid an unanticipated visit to the site along with a group of archaeologists over the weekend. According to participants at the meeting, discussion focused mainly on the importance of the archaeological findings and the future measures the DGA should undertake for the site.

“Although Directorate General of Antiquities’ President Asaad Seif said it was necessary to continue digging on the location where the Roman gate was found, Layyoun disagreed and said the Landmark Project must be revived,” the archaeologist said.

But the archaeologist said that more work needed to be done to unearth what is left of the ruins and to understand their historical importance.

The archaeologist also argued that an arch-shaped wall is very similar to ancient Roman gates that were built between 100 B.C. and 200 A.D. “Our findings could be very similar to Palmyrene Gate Dura-Europos in eastern Syria,” the archaeologist said.

Originally built in the Hellenistic era 2,300 years ago, Dura-Europos functioned as a Roman border city near the Euphrates River, known as the village of Salhiye in modern day Syria.

Meanwhile, the destruction of other archaeological findings in Downtown Beirut continued this week after the Culture Ministry approved a demolition order for a number of other ancient sites just blocks away from Riad al-Solh Square.

A bulldozer razed through part of an archaeological site Tuesday afternoon. Officials on site said the order came after the culture minister approved another project, called District S, which requires the sites of some ruins to be overhauled and reconstructed.

“The minister approved the continuation of the [District S] project’s work today and the [area of the] ruins will be included the project,” said Ziad, an official supervising the excavation work.

When The Daily Star reporters attempted to check on the site, they were forcibly pushed out by DGA employees.

“Get away before I break the camera, I am on strict orders from the ministry not to let anyone in here,” one man said as he closed the site’s gate, behind which a bulldozer continued its work.

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وادي قنوبين: قداسة ونسك وتراث ديني - [more]
By: ألموقع
Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013

تتعدّد تسمياته، فالبعض يقول إنه وادي قاديشا، والبعض الآخر يطلق عليه وادي قنوبين، ليشير آخرون إلى أنه وادي القديسين. لكن برغم كل التسميات، يبقى هو الوادي الذي سكنه بطاركة وقديسون، وحفروا صخوره لتتحول إلى مناسك ومغاور، لا تزال صامدة حتى اليوم في وجه كل العوامل الطبيعية. وهي تتكشّف يوماً بعد يوم، بفضل جهود أبناء المنطقة والجمعيات التي تعنى بالحفاظ على الوادي.

وبالامس رد المكتب الدولي للتراث العالمي في الاونيسكو على طلب البطريركية المارونية المتعلق بتأهيل الطريق الترابية الى قرية وادي قنوبين داخل وادي قاديشا، بالموافقة انما بشروط فنية تراعي خصوصية الوادي المصنف على لائحة التراث العالمي  .

وكان موضوع تأهيل الطريق الى الوادي قد استمر موضع اخذ ورد حتى بادر البطريرك الماروني مار بشارة بطرس الراعي بعد زيارة ميدانية له شملت انحاء الوادي الى الطلب من مختصين اعداد دراسة هندسية متكاملة حول وادي قنوبين "قرية نموذجية للحياة الروحية والسياحة الدينية" ، وتقترح الدراسة التي تمت الموافقة عليها اقامة ممرين حجريين عرض الواحد منهما نصف متر على جانبي الطريق، مثبتين بالكلس والاسمنت على عمق 20 سم، على ان يبقى الفاصل بينهما ترابياً فيما يحدد عرض الطريق بين مترين ونصف وأربعة أمتار مع الموافقة على اقتراح الدراسة بايصال معبر الى محيط دير سيدة قنوبين من الجهة الخلفية ناحية مزار القديسة مارينا حيث مدافن البطاركة شرط ان تعكس الاشغال المقترحة للتأهيل صورة الممر الريفي البدائي وليس صورة الطريق بمعناها المتعارف عليه.

بالمقابل تتوالى اكتشافات المغاور والمحابس الطبيعية  في الوادي ويؤكد مسؤول الإعلام في «رابطة قنوبين» الزميل جورج عرب، الذي رافق المستكشفين في كل جولاتهم واكتشافاتهم على أن «بعض المغاور التي تم اكتشافها كان الوصول إليها صعباً جداً، وهو لا ينصح أياً كان بمحاولة تسلقها، «إلا إذا كان يملك الخبرة والمعدات اللازمة». ولفت إلى أن «المرحلة التالية بعد استكشاف المواقع، إجراء الأبحاث العلمية لتحديد الحقبة التاريخية التي سكن فيها الإنسان، ولدراسة الحقبة الجيولوجية التي تشكلت فيها تلك المغاور ـ المحابس، خصوصاً أن فيها ترسبات وتحجرات مائية، وبقايا حجارة كلسية، بالإضافة إلى جماجم وفخاريات وغيرها من الأدوات التي كانت تستعمل في القدم».

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Ancient Moroccan Granaries Revived as Thriving Civic Centers - [more]
By: Tafline Laylin
Date: Monday, May 13, 2013

Salima Naji has been recognized by the Aga Khan Development Network for her efforts to revive a series of earth buildings in the lesser Atlas Mountains, Morocco.Working with the Ministry of Interior, Naji hired and trained local unskilled workers to restore a network of fortified citadels and granaries in southern Morocco that are both historically and spiritually important to the local population. She then added a few extra touches so that these once abandoned sites function once again as thriving civic centers that celebrate Berber culture.

The Berbers were once renowned for their architecture. Having thrived in harsh desert conditions, they knew all about water management, passive solar design, and insulated earth construction.

But modern interventions and globalization have rendered their culture somewhat obsolete and Salima Naji sought to reverse that unfortunate trend.

Not only did she restore two important sites at Agadir of Amtoudi, but she also oversaw the rehabilitation of Qsar Assa and rescued sections of Agadir Ouzrou.

The beautiful stone and earth buildings won’t necessarily resume their former function as warehouses for grain. Instead, they have been revived to honor their former cultural and spiritual significance, and to provide a space for Berbers to reawaken their rich and colorful heritage.

Village squares, public walkways and outdoor theaters have been added to the sites where poetry contents, feasts, and song and dance festivals are held, creating a whole new sense of pride.   

Naji is one of 20 nominees for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture – a prestigious prize awarded every three years that comes with some serious financial rewards.

While other North African and Middle Eastern countries have watched important historical sites destroyed in the turbulent aftermath of the Arab Spring, Morocco has undertaken a host of preservation projects – including therestoration of synagogues throughout the nation mandated by the King.

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UNESCO to renovate Qannoubine Valley village - [more]
By: Antoine Amrieh
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2013

BSHARRI, Lebanon: UNESCO has agreed to finance the Maronite Patriarchate’s project to conduct rehabilitation works in the Qannoubine Valley village, part of an area classified as a World Heritage Site.

The project is taking shape following a series of visits by Patriarch Beshara Rai to sites in the Holy Valley. Rai had asked two local architectural firms to prepare plans to rehabilitate the entire region and turn the village of Qannoubine Valley, whose lands are owned by the patriarchate, into a model village to highlight the region’s history of spiritual activity.

The dirt road, which will be rehabilitated by UNESCO, is 4 kilometers long and links Saint Lishaa monastery and Qannoubine Valley village in the qada of Bsharri.

Tony Khattar, a mukhtar for Wadi Qannoubine, welcomed the news that the project had been approved.

“Our only demand was to rehabilitate the road, and when the region was listed as a World Heritage Site, government authorities only procrastinated even more – they always argued that the UNESCO rejected any changes in the Holy Valley,” Khattar said.

“The situation remained as is until the patriarch visited our village and met the residents and told us that the valley and its residents should not be abandoned under the pretext of protecting it, and UNESCO’s approval confirmed his point of view.”

The head of Union of Bsharri Municipalities, Elie Makhlouf, said that the rehabilitation of this road leading to the Qannoubine Valley village will meet the needs of residents, as well as pilgrims and tourists,

The report suggests constructing a path to the vicinity of Our Lady of Qannoubine Monastery from behind, near the shrine of St. Marina. It stresses that all the paths to be constructed should maintain their rural character. It proposes constructing two stone paths along the sides of the road, which will remain unpaved following the renovation.

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Youssef Beyk Karam gets a new outfit, 120 years later - [more]
By: The Daily Star
Date: Friday, May 10, 2013

BEIRUT: Italian experts have replaced the garments on the preserved body of the national leader Youssef Beyk Karam, to treat it for symptoms of decomposition. Karam was famed for leading a revolt against the Ottoman authorities in the 19th century.

In April 1889, Karam passed away in exile and was buried in Naples, Italy. Five months later his body was exhumed and brought back to Zghorta and later moved to Mar Gerges Cathedral in Ehden. Almost 120 years later, Karam’s body remains in good condition despite the fact it was buried elsewhere and later transported by sea to Lebanon.

An Italian team of experts led by Dr. Louigi Capasso is working to keep Karam’s body in good condition at a specialized unit in Our Lady Hospital in Zghorta.

Father Estephan Franjieh, Zghorta’s rector, and the Italian team signed a cooperative protocol to treat the body after it appeared to be decomposing. The body’s clothes were then replaced with a sterile uniform that dates back to the time when Karam lived.

To locate the new outfit, Capasso and his team member Dr. Fadi Finianos, who coordinates between the hospital and the Italian team, paid a visit to the heritage museum where the group toured a section dedicated to Karam’s life, with 19 of his personal garments on display, along with other items that he owned.

The experts thoroughly examined the garments to choose a suit that would best preserve Karam’s body.

Simon Khazen, the exhibition’s director, said that the administration would give the outfit to Zghorta’s vicar general, Bishop Joe Mouawad, so that it could be sterilized to preserve Karam’s body.

Khazen said a celebration would be held when the body of Karam is returned to the cathedral in Ehden after its treatment.

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Baalbeck Festival promises two months of magical shows - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: Friday, May 10, 2013

BEIRUT: The Baalbeck International Festival will open with a concert by Grammy Award-winning U.S. soprano Renee Fleming, just one of the 2013 edition’s lineup of acclaimed Lebanese and international artists announced at a news conference at The Phoenicia Hotel Thursday.

Despite the tense political situation in the Bekaa Valley, festival spokesmen insisted upon the importance of maintaining the artistic and musical events that formed the cultural heritage of the country.

BIF will stage its program of concerts between June 30 and Aug. 30.

Fleming, whose curtain-raiser will take place at the Bacchus Temple, has participated in many acclaimed events, including the televised 2009 concert “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.” For her Baalbeck show, the soprano will be accompanied by Polish pianist and composer Maciej Pikulski, a member of the elite Paris Superior Conservatory of Music.

Between Aug. 9 and 10, BIF acquires a distinctively Lebanese flavor with Joe Moukarzel’s musical extravaganza “Assi ... El Helm.” An interpretation of some of Assi Hellani’s best-loved tunes – such as “Hait Kalbi,” “Sa’alouni” and “Ma Li Sabir” – along with a new composition written specifically for the festival, the show will see the renowned Lebanese vocalist accompanied by a chorus, orchestra and dancers.

The storm of musical performances continues on Aug. 17 with a concert by U.K. singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull. Over the course of her decadeslong career, Faithfull has collaborated with such acclaimed artists as David Bowie, Nick Cave and Serge Gainsbourg. Presumably this concert will sample some of the dozens of tunes she’s composed since the 1960s.

For the jazz aficionados, the Bacchus Temple will resonate with the melodic rhythms of pianist, vocalist and songwriter Eliane Elias on Aug. 23, who promises to interpret classic jazz standards with a Brazilian twist.

Renowned oud virtuoso and composer Marcel Khalife will perform a pair of shows on Aug. 24-25. Among the top musical figures in the country, Khalife is famed for having freed the oud from the instrument’s strict technique, and introducing its wide repertoire to an even wider audience.

The BIF closes with “PUZ/ZLE,” a contemporary dance show choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The piece debuted at the Avignon Festival 2012 and wrestles with themes of identity and religion via the symbol of the stone – a metaphor for modern culture.

What better place than the stones of the Bacchus Temple to tackle such a subject? Cherkaoui will be accompanied by Japanese musician Kazunari Abe and Corsican group “A Filetta.”

This year’s BIF will be an opportunity for the Lebanese to escape the daily mayhem of this tense time. BIF organizers want to demonstrate that the present turmoil shouldn’t prevent audiences from appreciating the best that international culture has to offer.

Baalbeck International Festival runs June 30-Aug. 30. For more information, please visit www.baalbeck.org.lb.

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مهرجانات بيت الدين و بعلبك - [more]
By:
Date: Friday, May 10, 2013

أطلق وزير السياحة في حكومة تصريف الأعمال فادي عبود، أمس، برنامج مهرجانات بيت الدين الدولية في وزارة السياحة، بمشاركة وزير الثقافة في حكومة تصريف الأعمال غابي ليون، ورئيسة لجنة مهرجانات بيت الدين نورا جنبلاط.
وعرضت جنبلاط برنامج المهرجانات، معلنة افتتاحها بعمل من إنتاج بيت الدين، أنجز خصيصا ليقدم في 21 و22 حزيران بعنوان: «على خطى ماركو بولو رحلة موسيقية على طريق الحرير».
وتُستكمل في 26 و27 و28 و29 حزيران، وكاظم الساهر في 4 و5 تموز، ولاعب البيانو رامسي لويس في 17 تموز، وأصداء من سوريا «حيا على الياسمين» في 19 تموز، باليه بريلجوكاج في 1 آب، باتريسيا كاس في 10 آب.
وذلك إلى جانب عدد من المعارض وعرض موسيقي ضوئي وحفلة موسيقية أخيرة.
وفي مؤتمر صحافي في «قاعة قرطاج»، أعلن عبود عن إطلاق مهرجانات بعلبك الدولية. وتبدأ عروض المهرجانات مع رينيه فليمنغ، إذ ستغني ليلة 30 حزيران، يرافقها عازف البيانو Maciej Pikulski ويلي ذلك عشاء احتفالي. ويحيي عاصي الحلاني ثلاث سهرات غنائية راقصة في 8 و9 و10 آب، علماً أن الأولى مخصصة لأهالي بعلبك. وفي 17 آب تطل فنانة «الروك» Faithfull Marianne ، وفي 23 آب المغنية والعازفة البرازيلية إيليان إلياس. وفي ليلتي 24 و25 آب مع مرسيل خليفة، في معبد باخوس. والختام في 30 آب، إذ تخصص الليلة للرقص الحديث، مع الفرقة البلجيكية ايستمان «بازل».

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بورا بورا... جزيرة الاحلام - [more]
By:
Date: Thursday, May 09, 2013

تجسد جزيرة "بورا بورا" مشهداً خيالياً لأحد الروايات الرومانسية، بزرقة سمائها الصافية، وخضرة أشجارها اليانعة وتدرجات مياهها الهادئة، لترسم جميعها مشهداً أخاذاً جعل من بورا بورا واحدةً من أجمل الوجهات السياحية في العالم، يلجئ اليها الكثيرين الذين يريدون تمضية شعر عسل فريد من نوعه والتقاط صور من الاحلام. تقع هذه الجزيرة الساحرة بعيداً عن التلوث والضوضاء التي يصنعها الإنسان في مكان منعزل منتصف جنوب المحيط الهادي، وهي جزء من مجموعة جزر ليوارد التي تتبع فرنسا كجزء من الأقاليم الفرنسية التي تقع وراء البحار (أي أنها تابعة لفرنسا ولكنها خارج القارة الأوروبية). وتقع جزيرة بورا بورا على بعد 265 كيلومتر شمال غرب جزيرة تاهيتي، وهي جزيرة بركانية تتكون في الأصل من بقايا براكين خامدة أما عن غرابة اسمها، فتعني بورا بورا باللغة التاهيتية "الولادة الأولى"، حيث كانت الجزيرة الأولى التي تظهر بعد جزر رياتيا. تتميز بورا بورا بأنها محاطة بالشعب المرجانية من أغلب اتجاهاتها، بينما توجد بحيرة كبيرة غرب الجزيرة. أما عن عدد سكانها فلا يتعدى الـ9,000 نسمة، ويعتمد سكانها بشكل أساسي على السياحة كمصدر للدخل، بينما تقتصر منتجاتها على المنتجات البحرية ومحاصيل أشجار جوز الهند وثمارها. وسائل النقل العام المعتمدة في الجزيرة محدودة، تتألف من حافلة واحدة في منتصف الطريق التي تذهب في جميع أنحاء الجزيرة، وتعود كل ساعة تقريبا، وتعتبر الدراجات وسيلة نقل اساسية في بورا بورا، أيضا توجد متعة صغيرة لتأجير السيارات في Vaitape. "بورا بورا" مكان مرصود للغطس والغوص في وحول البحيرة، ويتميز فيها وجود أنواع كثيرة من أسماك القرش.

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2013 Beiteddine Art Festival announces varied lineup - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: Thursday, May 09, 2013

BEIRUT: The Beiteddine Art Festival has announced its lineup for the 2013 edition. BAF aspires to be more than a simple slate of concerts, and its June 21-Aug. 10 schedule of performances, ranging in genre from jazz to ballet, will play out in counterpoint to exhibitions of visual art.

BAF will open with director Alain Weber’s musical “On the Steps of Marco Polo, A Musical Journey on the Silk Road.” Conducted by maestro Lubnan Baalbaki, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra will accompany the troupe of vocalists who will recount the story of the famed Venetian explorer – played by Rafic Ali Ahmad – and his travels on the Silk Road.

From June 26-29, “Splendid!” will feature the multitalented China National Acrobatic Troupe in a 12-act program that combines music, dance as well as such acrobatics as hand and glass balancing, and trapeze.

Beiteddine has programmed shows by several Arab artists. On July 4-5, Iraqi vocalist Kazim al-Sahir – depicted as “The Caesar of Arabic music” – will return to his adoring Chouf audience with his blend of sonorous arrangements and Arabic poetry.

For jazz lovers, singer-songwriter Dee Dee Bridgewater and pianist Ramsey Lewis will perform a duet show on July 17. These acclaimed artists – whom have won three Grammy awards apiece – will enliven Beiteddine Palace with groovy melodies.

BAF will pay homage to Syria’s cultural heritage on July 19, with the trio performance featuring clarinetist and composer Kinan Amzeh and vocalists Ibrahim Keivo and Rasha Rizk, the latter of whom may be recalled for her work on the soundtrack of Nadine Labaki’s “Caramel.”

Beiteddine will usher in August with ballet, thanks to French ballet troupe Preljocaj’s staging of “Les Nuits” on Aug. 1. Choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj for a cast of 18, this piece takes its inspiration from “1,001 Nights,” and in particular the erotic role of women in the tales.

French vocalist Patricia Kaas will bring her homage to Edith Piaf on Aug. 10. The concert marks the Levantine leg of Kaas’ “Kaas chante Piaf” tour, which was rapturously received in Russia.

The visual art component of this year’s festival features a photographic tribute to Lebanese film director Maroun Baghdadi (1950-93). The photo exhibition will hang alongside a show of wooden, stone and metal sculpture by Anashar Basbous, which will see a bit of Rashana (the artist’s hometown) temporarily migrate to Beiteddine.

Two of BAF’s events will focus on younger audiences. On June 1, students from the Lebanese School of Fine Arts will present Georges Schehade’s show “Etincelles” (Sparkles). On Aug. 4 a concert by the Youth Symphonic Band of the NGO LeBAM is comprised of musicians from 12-18 years old.

The Beiteddine Art Festival runs June 21-Aug. 10. For more information, please visit www.beiteddine.org or call 01-373-430.

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الشاطئ المخفي من عجائب الطبيعة - [more]
By: agencies
Date: Wednesday, May 08, 2013

يقع الشاطئ المخفي على عمق عدة أمتار من إحدى جزر ماريتا في المكسيك، وهو واحد من العجائب الطبيعية الفريدة، ولولا صوت الأمواج التي تمسح بلطف رمال الشاطئ، لما علم الناس بوجوده. يعتقد أن جزر أرخبيل ماريتا الواقعة قبالة سواحل بويرتو فالارتا في المكسيك،  قد تشكلت منذ قرون بسبب النشاط البركاني في المنطقة. وخلال بداية التسعينيات من القرن الماضي، استغلت الحكومة المكسيكية هذه الجزر، وهي غير المأهولة لإجراء اختبارات عسكرية عليها. ولكن بعد سنوات من البحث والجهود المبذولة لتوفير حماية قانونية للأرخبيل، نجح العلماء بقيادة جاك كوستو الشهير في إقناع السلطات المكسيكية على إعلان ماريتا حديقة وطنية محمية ضد الصيد وأية أنشطة بشرية ضارة. وإلى يومنا هذا، لا تزال الجزر غير مأهولة ويمكن لمقدمي خدمة القوارب المصرح لهم فقط بنقل السياح لرؤية العجائب الطبيعية من مسافة قريبة. وعلى الرغم من التفجيرات الكبيرة التي نفذت على مدى عقود في المنطقة والتي قضت على حياة الكثير من النباتات والحيوانات في هذه الجنة الاستوائية، يقول البعض انها ساهمت مع ذلك في خلق واحدة من أجمل الصور الطبيعية وهي - بلايا ديل آمور أو "بحر الحب"، والمعروفة أيضا باسم الشاطئ المخفي في المكسيك. هذا المكان السحري لا يمكن الوصول إليه إلا من خلال نفق طوله ثمانين قدم يربطه بالمحيط الهادئ. وعلى الزوار مواصلة طريقهم عن طريق السباحة للوصول إلى هذه الجنة المنعزلة. عندما نشرت الصور الأولى لهذا الشاطئ على الانترنت لم يصدق الكثيرون وجود مثل هذا المكان في الواقع، واعتبروه من فبركة الفوتوشوب. ولكن  الشاطئ المخفي هو حقيقة من عجائب الطبيعة يتوافد عليها السياح للاستمتاع بهدوئها ورومنسيتها ونقاء جوها.

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بيت الاشباح... روعة وفن غريب - [more]
By: -
Date: Thursday, May 02, 2013

يقع دار ضيافة Hang Nga في فيتنام ويعتبر من اغرب البيوت الموجودة حيث تم تصميمه بشكل فريد وغريب من نوعه ما جعل سكان فيتنام يطلقون عليه اسم "البيت المجنون". تعود ملكية هذا المنزل الذي يعمل كفندق أو دار ضيافة، إلى ابنة رئيس فييتنام السابق Hang Nga، وهي نفسها من قامت بتصميمه، حيث تم منحها الحرية الكاملة في تصميم فندقها، فكانت النتيجة أن أبدعت ببناء غير مألوف. يبدو المنزل للوهلة الاولى إنه بني في جذع شجرة عملاقة، لكنه في الحقيقة تصميم تم بناؤه باستعمال أساليب غير تقليدية، فهو بني بالاعتماد على أشكال عضوية وغير مستقيمة، لذلك لا يتوقع زواره أن يجدوا نوافذ مربعة الشكل أو دائرية، كما به العديد من مجسمات الحيوانات والعناكب. غرف النوم مصممة بشكل غريب كمدينة الاشباح او كهف لذا من يلجئ لتمضية فترة في هذا الفندق الغريب يحسب نفسه في مغامرة من اروع المغامرات التي قد يعيشها خلال حياته، كذلك حديقة المنزل المزروعة بالازهار الملونة والاشجار المختلفة تضفي على هذا الفندق رونقاً يخفف من حدة غموضه. وحسب ما يقول زوراه "انه يشبه كهف علي بابا لذا يجعلنا نعود بالذاكرة الى الوراء والتمتع بالروح الاستكشافية التي كنا نحلم ان نحققها في صغرنا".
"منزل فيتنام المجنون" مختلف كليا عما قد يتصوره الفكر البشري المعتاد على البيوت التقليدية والبيوت الحديثة الا انه يعتبر من اجمل البيوت والاكثر ابداعا بتصاميمه في العالم.

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فندق ..."الأمعاء البشرية" - [more]
By: -
Date: Wednesday, May 01, 2013

"فندق كاسانوس البلجيكي" فندق غريب من نوعه يمنح زواره فرصة لمعرفة شعور الوجود داخل الجهاز الهضمي البشري حيث يمل البعض من الأشكال الفخمة التقليدية للفنادق ويبحثون عن تجربة غريبة وجديدة لتمضية ايام العطلة واستكشاف مواقع اثرية غريبة.
يقع هذا الفندق على جزيرة صغيرة في بلجيكا حيث تم تصميمه ليبدو من الخارج والداخل كجزء من جهاز هضمي عملاق على يد الفنان الهولندي "جويب فان ليش أوت" الذي جعله مثل "قولون" ينتهي بفتحة إخراج في نهايته. ايضاً لا يبدو هذا الفندق سيئاً من الداخل، اذ يحتوي على أسرة مزدوجة وحمامات وتدفئة مركزية، ويقوم بإدارته اثنان من محبي الفنون قاما بشرائه كجزء من مجموعة فنية وعبارة عن متنزه يحتوي على العديد من الأعمال الفنية. يجذب هذا الفندق "الغريب من نوعه" أعداد كبيرة من الزوار، حيث يتمتع الافراد بمشاهدة العديد من الأعمال الفنية الرائعة التي توجد داخل هذا المكان وايضاً بالتعرف على جمال المنطقة المحيطة به من الخارج، فأن زوار هذا الفندق يبدون دوماً سعداء للإقامة في مكان يتمتع بهدوء شديد ومحاط بالطبيعة والمناظر الخلابة، و يمكنهم من مشاهدة البجع والضفادع والاستمتاع بمشاهدة النجوم ليلاً والشروق صباحاً. 

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الدامور : جسر الشوف الى الجنوب - [more]
By: -
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013

على ساحل قضاء الشوف وضمن محافظة جبل لبنان تقع بلدة الدامور ، يرجع أصل تسميتها إلى كلمة داموراس التي تعني ديمومة بالفينيقية ، تتمتع الدامور بطقس معتدل واوتوسترادها يشكل صلة الوصل بين الشوف بالجنوب اللبناني.

وابرز ما يعتز به اهل الدامور بالاضافة الى التضحيات التاريخية التي قدموها الجسر القديم الاثري في البلدة الذي دمرته اسرائيل والذي كان عرف شهرة واسعة قديما اذ كانت تقام عليه المهرجانات الفنية وتنصب فوقه اقـــواس الــنصر.

قبل عام 1975، كانت الدامور مدينة ناشطة مزدرهرة الا ان الحرب هدّمت كنائسها ومنازلها ومؤسساتها وهجّرت أهلها الذين لا يزالون اينما حلوا يحملونها ذخيرة.

اعتمدت كعاصمة لجبل لبنان في القرن السابع عشر ومنها خرج فنانون وادباء ومشاهير.

الدامور بعدسة وائل لاذقي في تصوير خاص لموقع المرده

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