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إطلاق مهرجان تبنين التراثي الأول - [more]
By: -
Date: 09 July 2012

طلقت جمعيتا "مدى" و"ألفا"، و"مجموعة سوا للسلام"، أمس الأول، "مهرجان تبنين الأول التراثي"، بعنوان "تراثي لبناني"، في باحة قلعة تبنين الأثرية، برعاية بلدية تبنين، وبالتعاون مع وزارة الثقافة. وقبل بدء الاحتفال، شهدت القرية مسيرة للموسيقيين والسكان المحليين بالثياب التقليدية، انطلقت من "كنيسة جورجيوس" إلى القلعة. وبدأت نشاطات اليوم الأول برقصة فنية من التراث الماليزي، قدمتها مجموعة من الكتيبة الماليزية العاملة في قوات "اليونيفيل".
وفي حين قدم شباب حاصبيا الدبكة الشعبية، قدمت "فرقة سما القاع وتبنين" عرضا مسرحياً غنائياً، ثم عرضت مجموعة من الموسيقيين موسيقى "الجاز". أما الفنان وسام حمادة وفرقته، فقدما مجموعة من الأغاني الوطنية. حضر الاحتفال كل من رئيسة بعثة "الاتحاد الأوروبي" في لبنان السفيرة أنجيلينا إيخهورست، وممثل قائد الجيش العماد جان قهوجي العميد محمد ترو، ورئيس البلدية نبيل فواز، ورئيس "اتحاد بلديات صور" عبد المحسن الحسيني، ورئيس مكتب المخابرات في منطقة بنت جبيل العقيد الركن عدنان غيث، وقائد قوة الاحتياط للقائد العام في "اليونيفيل" الكولونيل الفرنسي فيليب فرانسوا، وحشد من الشخصيات الأمنية وجمعيات خيرية، وفعاليات.
Beirut celebrates National Tabbouleh Day - [more]
By: Beckie Strum
Date: 09 July 2012

BEIRUT: A champion stood among the piled jars of makdous, rolls of sticky dried fruit and crates of fresh produce at Souk el-Tayeb Saturday morning. Her call to fame: tabbouleh.

Jamileh Nohra won first place in a tabbouleh competition at Souk el-Tayeb, a farmers’ market at Beirut’s new waterfront. Souk organizers hosted the competition in honor of National Tabbouleh Day, which seeks to unite Lebanese-style tabbouleh lovers from all over the world. It is celebrated every year on the second Saturday of July.

“I am very happy, of course, because I made other people happy,” said Nohra, who promptly returned to work at her vegetable stand after the winner was announced.

“Food is what unites people, and this is what I like to see,” she added.

Nohra’s message reflects the very purpose of National Tabbouleh Day, which is to use a common and beloved dish to bring Lebanese from the diaspora and from all the religions and regions of Lebanon together for one day, event organizers said.

Tabbouleh, a simple chopped salad made from bundles of parsley, ripe tomatoes, onion and cracked bulgur wheat, seasoned with lemon juice and salt, is a mainstay of Lebanese cuisine.

With so little room for deviation, one might assume it’s impossible to differentiate one of these simple salads from the next. But Nohra assures, and her judges confirm, that the trick to making fabulous tabbouleh is in the freshness of the ingredients.

Her secret: Wash the parsley in drinking water not tap, keep all the ingredients very cold before preparation, and if possible grow your own veggies.

That’s easy for Nohra to say. She grows vegetables at her home in the west Bekaa and sells them every weekend at Souk el-Tayeb. The souk brings together farmers and traditional food artisans from around Lebanon each Saturday morning until 2 p.m.

Nine vendors participated in Saturday’s competition, seven women and two men.

There were no hard feelings among the rest of the participants, said souk coordinator Mira Makhlouta.

The souk holds friendly competitions so often “they’re actually happy if someone else wins,” Makhlouta said.

Souk el-Tayeb has been hosting events for National Tabbouleh Day since 2007, when the Tourism Ministry officially approved the celebration.

The idea for the special day is much older, founder Ricardo Mbarkho said.

The idea came to Mbarkho in 1996 when he was confronted with a tinge of homesickness for an authentic Lebanese tabbouleh in France.

“I was walking around Paris and I found an odd tabbouleh; it might have been Algerian or something,” Mbarkho recalls. “Then I was in the market and I saw another strange dish.”

“I thought I should make it clear for the international community what a Lebanese tabbouleh is,” he said.

In 2001, the idea for an international tabbouleh day exploded beyond Mbarkho’s imagination thanks to the Internet.

Trained in fine art, he sees the web of people enjoying tabbouleh one day a year as an unconventional form of art.

“It gives form to a powerful link between people who love Lebanese tabbouleh,” Mbarkho’s said, whether they are eating it as a family in Lebanon or alone in Canada.

Nohra, who’s been preparing tabbouleh for at least 40 years, knows how it links people, she said. She inherited her recipe from her mother and grandmother.

“As a girl, I used to see my mother and my neighbors and my grandmother making tabbouleh, and then I started making my own,” she said. “It comes from within me.”

Hay Festival discusses the cuts that divide and bind - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: 06 July 2012

BEIRUT: “We are not in a postwar society,” declared Lebanese artist Walid Sadek. The statement appeared to contradict the title of the conference.

“The checkpoints of memory in a postwar city” was the opening English-language event of the Hay Festival, the yearly U.K. literary event enjoying its first edition in Beirut. Sadek’s declaration suggested something of the festival’s challenging and forthright level of discussion.

Chaired by well-known urbanist Fadi Shayya, the panel discussion included Lebanon-based filmmaker and activist Monika Borgmann and Lebanese architect and urban researcher Abir Saksouk-Sasso as well as Sadek.

Shayya set the tone for the event with a discussion of The Soft Connection, a planned cycle lane connecting Downtown to Horsh Beirut – Beirut’s largest “public park,” long closed to the public.

This bike trail would run the length of the city’s Civil War-era Green Line, which separated east and west Beirut. Would such a cycle path purge all traces of the war and its memory, Shayya asked, or would it serve as a means of recreating the space to foster the production of collective memory and alleviate sectarian division in the city?

Before a packed Beirut Arts Center auditorium, the three panelists presented their positions and debated the collision of memory, public space and sectarianism in Lebanon’s capital.

“Public spaces exist to enable shared experiences,” said Borgmann, and such spaces need public debate in order to construct shared memory.

Sadek posited that we should “think of demarcation lines as deep cuts, cuts that cannot be covered over.

“These are exactly what separate us,” Sadek said, “but also exactly what we share.”

Saksouk-Sasso drew the discussion in a third direction, focusing on the Dahlieh promontory near the Pigeon Rocks as an informal, appropriated public space that has evolved organically to defy sectarian divides.

She contrasted the existence of this space with Beirut Mayor Bilal Hamad’s arguments against opening Horsh Beirut to the public – which would invite a range of undesirable behaviors, like fighting.

“The public,” Saksouk-Sasso concludes, “is seen as ugly.”

Certainly variance rather than cohesion marked the event, but then difference is a better discursive stimulant than agreement. The post-presentation discussion continued until the next scheduled event forced Shayya to call time.

Following the success of Beirut 39, which assembled writers from across the region, The Hay Festival Beirut represents the 16th destination of the 25-year-old event that began in a small Welsh town.

The three-day arts and literature program continues Friday with events at the Beirut Art Center and Zico House.

The highlight for English speakers is likely to be “Books and other stories” at the Beirut Arts Center, a conversation between award-winning novelists Miguel Syjuco (from the Philipines and Canada) and Italy’s Paolo Giordano and Lebanese poet, journalist and editor Joumana Haddad.

The Hay Festival concludes Friday evening with a poetry reading in English, French and Arabic at 10 p.m. at Zico House, Spears Street. This is preceded by “Questions from Hay 25” at 8:30 p.m. Events are ticketed but free of charge. To reserve tickets please call The Beirut Arts Center on 01-397-018.

أصـل أوروبا قـد يكـون ؟ - [more]
By: محمد صالح
Date: 05 July 2012

قد تكشف السنوات المقبلة من أعمال الحفر التي تقوم بها «بعثة المتحف البريطاني في صيدا»، أن أصل الفتاة «أوروبا»، التي اختطفت من شاطئ صور (كما جاء في الأساطير) قد يعود إلى صيدا. ذلك ما استخلصته البعثة التي تواصل أعمالها للسنة الرابعة عشرة على التوالي، بالتعاون مع المديرية العامة للآثار في لبنان. وتقوم بأعمال الحفر والتنقيب في الموقعين الأثريين بجوار قلعة صيدا البرية. وهما «حفرية الفرير» و«حفرية الصندقلي». وذلك بإشراف مكتب الآثار في صيدا.
وقد تركّزت أعمال التنقيب في العام الحالي في القسم الشمالي من «الفرير»، حيث يقوم فريق البعثة ببذل جهود كبيرة لإنهاء الأعمال للوصول الى الأرض الصخرية البكر. وهي أولى مراحل الاستيطان في الموقعن والتي تعود إلى نهاية الألف الرابع قبل الميلاد. وتؤكد رئيسة البعثة البريطانية كلود سرحال أن «أبرز مكتشفات طبقات القرن الثالث قبل الميلاد، في السنة الحالية، العثور على كميات كبيرة من القمح و الشعير المحروق، بالإضافة إلى عظام حيوانات كالثور، والدب، والخروف، والتي تعتبر بقايا لولائم أقيمت في المنطقة». وتشير عظام تلك الحيوانات إلى أن «عمرها صغير يتراوح بين 18 و36 شهراً، بالإضافة إلى آثار الحريق الواضحة في المكان». وتلفت سرحال إلى أن «الاكتشاف الأكثر حيرة يكمن في العثورعلى بقايا لثلاثة أفكاك، إحداها تعود إلى طفل يبلغ من العمر بين 9 و12 سنة. وضعت بالقرب من الفك الأيمن لدبّ وجدي». والسؤال الّذي طرح نفسه على علماء الآثار وخبراء البعثة «لماذا تم اختيار الفك الأيمن للحيوانات بالذات، وما علاقته بالفك البشري وجودهما معاً في الطبقة نفسها؟». وفي منطقة المدافن التي تعود إلى الألف الثاني قبل الميلاد، والمعروفة بالفترة الكنعانيّة، اكتشفت البعثة المزيد من المقابر ليصل عددها إلى 122 مدفنا، «وبذلك توسّعت معلوماتنا حول الاحتفالات الدينية التي كانت تقام خلال الطقوس الجنائزيّة بشكل عام، وحتى الطقوس المعتمدة لتكريم ذكرى أشخاص معينين»، وفق سرحال.
كما تم العثور على منطقة تحتوي حُفرا لأعمدة بناء متقاربة تماماً كالتي وجدت منذ أربع سنوات مضت، تشير إلى أنها حُفر مؤقتة لدعائم رفيعة هدفها حماية السكان من الريح والشمس، لأنه عند حفر كل قبر كان يقام «صوان» صغير لوضع الطعام مثل العدس والحمص والفاصولياء، بحيث يتم استهلاكها والدليل على ذلك وجود بقايا محروقة للحبوب في التنور، وهي عادة تشبه العادات الموجودة اليوم. وأنه نحو سنة 1600 قبل الميلاد، تم بناء معبد كبير للاحتفالات، ومصطبة اكتشفت في العام الحالي في إحدى غرف المعبد.
وفي أحد المدافن عثر على ختم أسطواني فريد من نوعه يحمل طابع بلاد ما بين النهرين، مع تأثير سوري. ويجسّد الختم إله الماء يتدفق من كوعه شلال مياه، ترافقه الإلهة المشفعة «لاما» ومتعبد يتقدم نحو الإلهة. بالإضافة إلى جعران، ذات طابع مصري، تشهد مرّة أخرى على الدور الصيدوني كموقع وسطي على نقطة التقاء وتقاطع لحضارات وثقافات قديمة.
وتلفت سرحال إلى أنه «تم العثور على أساسات معماريّة فينيقيّة مدهشة وفريدة من نوعها في لبنان تعود إلى العصر الحديدي في المنطقة الجنوبية لحفريّة (الفرير) وموقع «الصندقلي» يدعى «آشلار». والمكون من قطع حجريّة كبيرة استعملت لبناء الحيطان والأرضيات، وضعت بطريقة هندسيّة في الزوايا كحشوة لسد الثغرات بين الحيطان، وكلتا التقنيتين تم اكتشافهما جنباَ إلى جنب في صيدا. كما وُجد أكثر من 50 جرّة داخل أحد مباني «آشلار». إما مكونة في حفر أو مكسّرة على الأرضيّة، وفي بعض الأحيان مع عدد من حراشف السمك. كما عثر على إناء إغريقي مدهش مع رسومات تجسّد خيالين متوجهين إلى الحرب يرتديان ثيابا بيضاء ويحملان حربة». إضافة إلى أن العملة المعدنيّة الّتي اكتشفت، والتي تمثل أسطورة أوروبا المعتلية ثوراً والمشهورة عالميّاً، والتي منحت قارة أوروبا إسمها. وتشير سرحال إلى أنه «بالنظر إلى اكتشافات الأواني الفخاريّة الكثيرة المستوردة من جزيرة كريت التي عُثر عليها في حفريّة صيدا على مرّ السنين، قد تؤسس لاحقاً لدلائل حسّية ومكتشفات تأريخيّة قد تعيد النظر في تلك الأسطورة من أساسها وربما تُظهر أن أصل أوروبا من الممكن أن يعود إلى صيدا وليس إلى صور». وأشارت إلى أن متابعة الحفريات في صيدا «ما كانت لتبصر النور لولا الدعم والمنح المقدّمة من المتحف البريطاني، وشركة الترابة الوطنيّة، ومؤسسة الحريري، وبالتعاون الوثيق مع رئيسة مكتب الآثار في صيدا ميريام زيادة».
Lebanon’s summer festivals confront regional uncertainty with a happy face - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: 04 July 2012

BEIRUT: It can be difficult to be festive in times of uncertainty. If festivity is your business, then this uncertainty can have severe financial complications. As such, rumors have begun circulating that Lebanon’s summer festivals – the aristocracy of the country’s entertainment-tourism calendar – are feeling the pinch this year.

The summer festivals have been particularly vulnerable to political instability. The largest of these events sell themselves as platforms for high-profile international entertainers, unenthusiastic about performing in places where they might be bombed or shot at.

Complicating this business is the fact that, historically, Israel has been fond of launching air and sea assaults on Lebanon in the summertime – most recently witnessed in July and August of 2006. Box office sales are no more immune to domestic unrest.

The origin of this summer’s rumors is obvious. The revolutionary ferment of the Arab Spring has put a dent in international and regional tourism numbers. Now that Syria has been drawn into the cyclone of regional political uncertainty – and with the attendant security blowback felt here – it’s said potential revelers are hesitant to buy tickets.

In this vein Ehdeniyyat, the yearly festival in the northern village of Ehden, has thrown in the towel for this year.

When The Daily Star asked the spokespeople of the “major” festivals how the season was shaping up, however, most still retained an upbeat public relations tone. None sounded particularly apocalyptic.

The Byblos International Festival’s seven-concert series got going on June 25 with a show by one-time Guns’n’Roses guitar whiz Slash, attended by a near-capacity audience.

“Tickets are sold less quickly than last year,” Byblos’ information center manager Jinane Akiki said. “There are [few] fully booked concerts. For example, Julien Clerc’s [Wednesday night] concert sold 3,500 of 4,500 tickets, for now. B.B. King [is fully booked].”

Akiki’s assessment of the box office demographic was impressionistic. “For Slash’s concert, a lot of foreigners attended the show,” she said. “But for Kazim al-Sahir, there are a lot of Arabs.”

Down the road, the Jounieh International Festival got rolling on June 29 but the Charles Aznavour and Chris De Burgh concerts (at the festival’s 5,700-seat venue) aren’t scheduled until the weekend.

“Aznavour’s concert is already sold out,” said Phellipolis Committee member Maria Frem. “There are a few tickets still available for Chris De Burgh.”

She said it’s too soon to say how much ticket sales reflect tourist numbers. “We don’t know exactly” who’s buying the tickets, she said “But we can have a report after the concerts. Many [expat] Lebanese are coming, especially to see Aznavour’s concert.”

The Zouk Mikael International Festival’s three-act program gets started on July 10 with a concert by The California All Star Blues Revue.

“People are hesitating this year” to buy tickets, admitted an organizer who wished to remain anonymous. “Last year’s festival was better [in terms of sales.] As yet, not all tickets [in the festival’s 2,500-seat venue] are sold, as opposed to last year.”

The organizer said the event’s box office demographic has been stable over the years. “Usually, the Zouk Mikail International Festival attracts Lebanese crowds,” she said, “if not Lebanese residents, then Lebanese expats.”

The Chouf’s premiere international event, the Beiteddine Art Festival, is the only summer festival to announce a cancellation – the Irish alternative pop band The Cranberries – though it appears this stems from the band’s decision to postpone its world tour until the autumn.

The festival’s five-act program was launched on June 28 with the Caracalla dance theater’s fantasia “Once Upon a Time.”

“Caracalla is fully booked,” Beiteddine director Hala Chahine said. “We had to add one extra night on July 1. It is a mega production.” She added that ticket sales for the festival “started very good, then they slowed down a bit. Now, it’s picking up again. Overall, it’s the same as last year’s festival.”

The oldest of the country’s summer festivals, and the one furthest from Beirut, is the Baalbeck International Festival, whose five-act program got going on June 29 with a one-night stand by Giypsy Kings spinoff Chico and the Gypsies. Elga Trad, the executive member of the festival committee and in charge of communication, was philosophical about the event’s box office receipts.

“It’s a bit like stock exchange,” she said. “If the situation is good, we sell a lot. If it is less good, [we sell less.] But overall the ticket sales [for the 3,200-seat outdoor venue] are good.

“We have Lebanese, people from the region, tourists from Europe and the U.S.,” she added, saying the festival was selling to more young people than in previous years. “We even had travel operators who bought 150 tickets for Zucchero’s [Thursday night] concert.

“We know we have many young spectators for Zucchero’s concert, from the customers’ profiles from the ticketing office. Mashrou’ Leila [scheduled for July 15] attracts many from the young generations.

“It’s too early to know [whether the ticket sales are the same as last year’s festival or not],” she said, “because the festival hasn’t ended yet. We cannot compare.” – With Jim Quilty

Back to bathing basics in Lebanon's bathhouses - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: 03 July 2012

TRIPOLI/SIDON, Lebanon: After a thorough steaming and rub-down, one receives a deep massage before cooling off in another room, wrapped only in a towel and sipping a cup of tea.

“There aren’t many hammams left,” laments Mustafa Satoot, recalling the ancient bathhouses that drew leisure-seekers centuries before high-end spas came along.

Satoot is manager of Al-Abed Hammam in Tripoli’s old city. “People love it here,” he says.

Satoot sits on a red handwoven carpet in the building’s ornately designed reception area of marble tiles and arches, a fountain bubbling beneath the high-domed ceiling. “It’s good for their body and spirit,” he explains.

Walking into the building, one is enveloped by the pleasant, musky odor that emanates from a combination of old stone walls, sauna steam, olive oil soaps and massage oil.

Lebanon boasts a growing number of exotic spa venues – offering specialtytechniques from countries such as Thailand and Japan – but the hammam retains a stubborn allure.

Some people value the hammam as a venue for socializing, while others are drawn to its architecture and the relics of a bygone age.

Although centuries ago the hammams flourished, today only a handful exist, with a few well-preserved examples operating as part of a museum – as is the case with the bathhouse in Beiteddine Palace.

Hammams, also known as Turkish baths, have existed since Roman times, but grew widespread with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 10th century, often built adjacent to mosques and palaces. Before indoor plumbing, people would typically go to the local bathhouse once a week.

At the height of their popularity, there were thousands of hammams across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Legend has it that at one point, Damascus alone had 365, one for each day of the year. Today, fewer than 20 can be found in Syria’s capital. In Cairo, Egypt, where 300 hammams once operated, only six remain.

Lebanon also had its share of hammams. But today, only four traditional hammams are functional. Al-Abed in Tripoli and Nuzha in Beirut’s Zoqaq al-Blat – both owned by Anis Bayraqdar, a longtime Syrian resident of Beirut – are open every day of the year. In Sidon’s old city, Al-Ward and Al-Sheikh are fully operational, but close during the summer due to the heat and humidity.

Satoot, of Tripoli’s Al-Abed Hammam, is proud of keeping one of Lebanon’s last remaining bathhouses running. Once a year, he hires experts from Aleppo and Damascus – two cities that still have thriving hammams – to thoroughly clean the old stone tiles.

Down the street from Al-Abed stands the once the grand Nouri Hammam, now hidden away behind mud and stone walls and accessible only through a small door.

Inside, shattered marble tiles litter the floor, with light from the windows of the dome ceiling providing the only relief from the gloom.

Less than a minute’s walk away, in an open area of Tripoli’s old city, is the Ezzedine Hammam, fronted by a metal rod gate for as long as local residents can remember.

Talal Osman, who runs a bakery next door to the hammam, says he knows its history only from stories told by his grandmother, who would go there with her friends when it was a bathhouse for women.

“Now, it’s just used as a garbage dump,” he says in helpless frustration.

Osman once complained to the local municipality about the mounting pile of trash, but to no avail. He blames the government for not taking care of Tripoli’s old monuments, which he believes could be a great tourist attraction if restored to their former glory.

May Telmissany, author of “The Last Hammams of Cairo,” is also saddened by the deterioration of hammams in the region, which she attributes to lack of government attention to heritage sites.

“The buildings are collapsing, and we’re trying to save the six remaining hammams [in Cairo] by raising awareness,” says Telmissany, who was inspired to write her book after seeing a collection of photos of Egypt’s old hammams. “They should be considered historic monuments.”

In addition to the gradual deterioration of the buildings themselves, Telmissany laments the loss of the culture of the hammam, a unique place of same-gender bonding and openness, and an oasis of calm where bathers could escape the hustle and bustle of city life. She bemoans the fact that today this legacy has been reduced to a “folkloric attraction,” preserved mainly through museums and old films.

Telmissany points out that historically, hammams were often “the only place for women to socialize and share their experiences, and be free with their bodies, and free from social norms and different classes. Now we’re losing it. The practice needs revival.”

Today, the only countries in the region where the hammam culture can still be found, albeit in diminished form, are Syria, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco.

High-end hammams, however, are opening in Canada. And they are using traditional loofa sponges as well as oil extracted from argan trees native to Morocco and Algeria (and now being grown in Israel).

Back at Al-Abed Hammam, Abudi Naime, a regular customer who comes with his friends at least once a month, is kicking back. Wrapped in a towel in the bathhouse’s reception area, clean and radiant after a two-hour steam, massage and scrub-down, he says the hammam is the perfect place to unwind.

He could use the relaxation; tomorrow, he’s getting married.

ســيــاحــة فــي بــعــلــبـــك - [more]
By: عبد الرحيم شلحة
Date: 03 July 2012

افتتح رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال سليمان، ممثلا بوزير الزراعة حسين الحاج حسن، «مهرجان التسوق والسياحة الرابع عشر في بعلبك»، كما مثل الحاج حسن الرئيسين نبيه بري ونجيب ميقاتي، بحضور النواب كامل الرفاعي، وإميل رحمة، ومروان فارس، وعلي المقداد، الوزيرين علي عبد الله وفايز شكر، والنائب السابق إبراهيم بيان، وسفير إندونيسيا في لبنان ديماس سامودرارام، وممثلين لقيادة الجيش اللبناني والقوى الأمنية، ورئيس بلدية بعلبك هاشم عثمان، ورئيس «اتحاد بلديات بعلبك» بسام رعد، ومسؤول «وحدة النقابات المركزية» في «حزب لله» هاشم سلهب، وفعاليات سياسية وحزبية واجتماعية ونقابية.
بعد عرض فني وفولكلوري وكشفي، ألقى الحاج حسن كلمة راعي الحفل، فأكد أن «الاحتفال دليل قاطع وحاسم على رغبتنا بالتنمية والاستقرار والأمن، وأن المنطقة، بالتعاون بين الجميع، وزراء ونوابا ورؤساء بلديات، والقوى السياسية، والفعاليات والقيادات الأمنيّة، والقطاعات الاقتصاديّة، مصممة على متابعة مسيرة الإنماء متلازماً مع الأمن والسلم الأهلي». وأضاف: «هذه المنطقة التي أثبتت أنها خزان المقاومة، تثبت أيضاً أنها منطقة العيش المشترك بين جميع مكونات الوطن. وإننا نفتتح مهرجان التسوق والسياحة في جو من الاستقرار والالفة والمحبة، ونأمل أن يعم هذا الجو الوطن بأكمله». وأكد الحاج حسن أهميّة المضي في حفظ الأمن والسلم الأهلي والاستقرار، ودعم الجيش الوطني والقوى الأمنية ودورهم في حفظ الأمن والاستقرار.
واعتبر عثمان «المهرجان صورة راقية ومشرقة عن أهل هذه المدينة، مدينة المقاومة وسيدها السيد عباس الموسوي، ومدينة القسم وصاحبه الإمام المغيب السيد موسى الصدر، وسيستمر المهرجان ما دامت هناك أياد خيرة تحرص على صورة بعلبك وتسعى لإنمائها»، مستعرضاً إنجازات المجلس البلدي. وقدم عثمان درع بلدية بعلبك لرئيس نقابة أصحاب المحال والمؤسسات التجارية في البقاع محمد كنعان، تقديراً لجهوده وجهود النقابة لإحياء هذا المهرجان سنوياً.
وأكد كنعان من جهته، أن «المهرجان يمتاز عن سواه في التنوّع، بحيث تشارك فيه القطاعات الاقتصاديّة والسياحية والاقتصادية، الزراعية والصناعية، والرياضية والتربوية، والثقافية والفنية والاجتماعية». واعتبر أن المهرجان، «والمعرض الزراعي الخامس في لبنان، يعززان دور الحركة التجارية والسياحية والاقتصادية في المنطقة ويعملان على استقطاب الزائرين». وأعلن كنعان أن «العرس الجماعي للعام الحالي، سيضم 146 ثنائيا. كما أن الماراتون الرياضي الدولي الرابع برعاية الوزير فيصل كرامي سيشارك فيه مجموعة من خيرة أبطال لبنان، إضافة إلى أنشطة ثقافيّة وترفيهية منوّعة».
جـزر النخـل.. بطاقـة دعـوة مفتوحـة - [more]
By: غسان ريفي
Date: 02 July 2012

تكتسب عودة محمية جزر النخل في ميناء طرابلس (الأرانب، رامكين وسنني) لتلعب دورها السياحي والبيئي مع انطلاق الموسم الصيفي فيها من أول تموز وحتى آخر أيلول، أهمية استثنائية في تشكيل عامل الجذب المطلوب للزوار والسياح. والرهان عليها لتحريك عجلة الحياة في العاصمة الثانية ومينائها، بعد الجمود والشلل اللذين فرضتهما الأحداث الأمنية الأخيرة والتي تتطلع الفيحاء لأن تطوي صفحتهما لإنقاذ ما يمكن إنقاذه من موسمها السياحي.
ما يضاعف من أهمية هذه المحمية، خصوصا بالنسبة إلى السياح الأجانب، انتزاعها اعترافاً دولياً بانضمامها الى شبكة المحميات الطبيعية البحرية في المتوسط «ميدبان». والإقرار بأنها موقع طبيعي يمتاز بخصائص بيئية فريدة من نوعها ومياه نظيفة وعذبة ونباتات وطيور نادرة. وهو أمر يساعد على تسويقها في 21 دولة متوسطية قد تدفع بمواطنيها إذا سمحت الظروف الى زيارتها للاطلاع على ما تختزنه من تنوع بيئي.
ومع هذا، ما زالت المحمية تنتظر اعترافاً وطنياً ورسمياً بأهميتها، لإطلاق عجلة التنمية فيها من خلال إقامة المشاريع المقترحة منذ سنوات طويلة.
إلى ذلك الوقت يساهم افتتاح الجزر في تحريك العجلة الاقتصادية في الميناء، حيث تنشط حركة المراكب ذهاباً وإياباً إليها ومنها في رحلة الساعة من الوقت. كما تساهم في إنعاش محال المأكولات والمطاعم والعصائر والحلويات المنتشرة على طول الكورنيش، وكذلك أصحاب البسطات الذين يحرصون على الانتشار عند كل صباح «لاصطياد» رواد هذه الجزر.

افتتاح المحمية

أعلنت أمس لجنة رعاية البيئة واللجنة المشرفة على المحمية أنه بات في إمكان الراغبين في الاستجمام على هذه الجزر القيام بزيارتها عبر المراكب المنتشرة على طول الكورنيش البحري في الميناء. وذلك خلال احتفال أقيم بالمناسبة في مقرّ لجنة رعاية البيئة بحضور لارا سماحة ممثلة وزير البيئة ناظم الخوري، وحشد من المهتمين. وتحدثت عضو اللجنة المحامية رنا الجمل فشددت على أهمية تطبيق القوانين المتعلقة بالبيئة. وتلاها رئيس لجنة رعاية البيئة المهندس عامر حداد فدعا الى أن يكون للمحمية حصة من مبلع المئة مليون دولار المرصود لطرابلس، لافتا إلى فكرة إنشاء متنزه بحري مع محطة تسفير على الشاطئ وتخصيص مركبين سياحيين وإيجاد مراكب صديقة للبيئة، إضافة إلى الاستجمام على هذه الجزر حيث هناك نبع مياه. ولفت إلى أن «كل هذا لا يكلف أكثر من 7 ملايين دولار». كما تحدث رئيس لجنة المحمية الدكتور غسان جرادي فأشار إلى أهمية هذه المحمية التي تشكل عامل جذب لكثير من الزوار من لبنان وخارجه، كونها تنفرد ببعض الخصائص. وأشارت سماحة إلى أهمية هذه المحمية الطبيعية كموقع متقدم في البحر، لافتة الى أنه يجب ألا تتكل فقط على مساهمة وزارة البيئة بل يجب أن تستقطب نشاطات مختلفة لإيجاد المداخيل لها كتأجير الشماسي والكراسي. وكشفت أن مشروعا إيطاليا للمحميات الطبيعية قد أُحيل إلى البرلمان لانتظار أن تناقشه اللجان النيابية. وركز رئيس بلدية طرابلس الدكتور نادر غزال على أهمية الخطط الهادفة إلى استقطاب الجذب السياحي للمنطقة ومنها الجزر الطبيعية، معلنا أنه تم عرض موضوع المحمية مع الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي بهدف التطوير. ودعا رئيس بلدية الميناء الدكتور محمد عيسى الى خطة متكاملة لإنعاش الميناء بساحلها وجزرها. وأورد القاضي نبيل صاري الناشط في المجال البيئي ملاحظات قانونية حول حماية هذه الجزر، داعيا الى الاستفادة من القرض المالي الذي تم توقيعه بين وزارة البيئة والاتحاد الأوروبي والبحث في إمكانية إدراج الأوضاع البيئية والمحميات في الميناء في إطار المشاريع الملحقة بهذا القرض، لافتا إلى أن قانون المحميات صارم جدا ولكنه لا يُطبّق.

تاريخ وجغرافيا

في تاريخ 9 آذار من العام 1992 صدر عن مجلس النواب القانون الرقم 121 القاضي بتحويل جزر الارانب، رامكين وسنني الى محمية طبيعية، وتشكيل لجنة متطوعة عيّنتها وزارة البيئة للاشراف على المحمية واستقطاب الدراسات والخبرات العلمية المتعلقة بها، ومنها إقامة مشاريع سياحية واستثمارية على طريقة BOT لتفعيل الحركة السياحية على هذه الجزر، لكن هذه المشاريع لا تزال حبرا على ورق، بانتظار إيجاد التمويل اللازم لها. لتبقى الجزر الطبيعية السبع وهي: ثلاث ضمن محمية جزر النخل (الأرانب، رامكين وسنني) وعبد الوهاب، والبلان، والرميلة، والعشاق، تعاني شتى صنوف الاهمال والحرمان، في وقت تبحث فيه بعض الدول المجاورة عن كيفية إنشاء جزر اصطناعية بأكلاف مالية تصل الى عشرات ملايين الدولارات.
تبعد محمية جزر النخل عن شاطئ الميناء نحو خمسة كيلومترات، وتبلغ مساحتها الاجمالية 2.4 كيلومتر مربع. وتتألف جزيرة الأرانب من قسمين، قسم صخري يمتد من الشمال الغربي الى الجنوب، وقسم رملي يمتد من الشمال الى الشرق. وهي تضم آثارا لكنيسة صليبية تعود الى القرن الثالث الميلادي وبقايا ملاحة تقليدية وبئر مياه عذبة، وقد أطلق عليها اسم الأرانب لأنه في عهد الانتداب الفرنسي وضع القنصل الفرنسي فيها عددا من الارانب فتناسلت وتكاثرت ولا تزال حتى اليوم.
أما جزيرة رامكين فتقع على بعد 600 متر الى شمال غرب جزيرة الارانب، وهي صخرية عموما وفي بعض أطرافها مساحات رملية صغيرة، وتحتضن فنارا قديما كان يعمل على الطاقة الشمسية، إضافة الى خنادق ومواقع مدفعية قديمة تعود الى فترة الانتداب الفرنسي.
وتقع جزيرة سنني على بعد 500 متر الى الجنوب الشرقي من جزيرة النخل، وهي مستطيلة الشكل، وصخرية عموما، باستثناء مساحة رملية صغيرة، وقد سميت بسنني لأن الطيور البحرية البيضاء تصطف على رؤوس صخورها عند المغيب فتعطي لها شكلا مسننا، أو بحسب الروايات لان صخورها مسننة.
تمثل محمية جزر النخل محطة راحة بالنسبة للطيور المهاجرة النادرة، وتلك المعرضة لخطر الانقراض، ويعتبر شاطئها الرملي من المواقع القليلة المتبقية على الشاطئ اللبناني لتفريخ السلاحف البحرية المعرضة لخطر الزوال كالسلحفاة الخضراء والسلحفاة الضخمة الرأس، كما تستقبل المحمية في مغاور صخورها «فقمة بحر المتوسط» التي تعتبر الحيوان الثديي السادس على لائحة الانواع المهددة بالانقراض.
تضم المحمية نباتات طبية وتنفرد بأنواع خاصة. وتعتبر أرضها المغمورة بالمياه او المعشبة او الرملية مكانا فريدا من نوعه لتفريخ الاسماك وتكاثر الإسفنج.
وتقوم لجنة المحمية بسلسلة أعمال تأهيل بدعم من بعض المنظمات الدولية للحفاظ على مقومات المحمية وخصائصها وعلى الدور السياحي الذي تلعبه.
استكشاف مغاور وادي قنوبين - [more]
By: -
Date: 30 June 2012

تستمر «رابطة قنوبين للرسالة والتراث» في تنفيذ «مشروع المسح الثقافي الشامل لتراث الوادي المقدس»، حيث تم الكشف عن مغاور المحبوس، والياسمينة، والورد، في نطاق وادي طواحين حدث الجبة. وهي مغاور أقرب إلى لوحات فنية لجماليتها من الخارج، أما في داخلها فقد تم العثور في إحداها على بقايا عظام بشرية، بينما تتركز الأبحاث لتحديد الحقبات التاريخية التي سكن فيها الأنسان تلك المغاور.
كما تم تنفيذ الشق المتعلق بتأهيل طريق المشاة، تأهيلاً أولياً، لربط موقع «حديقة البطاركة» بمعالم وادي الطواحين الغنية في حدث الجبة، بالإضافة إلى وضع لافتات للإرشاد السياحي باللغات العربية والأجنبية على طريق الأب لويس الحاج، المنحدرة من «حديقة البطاركة» إلى عدد من معالم الوادي المقدس المعروفة والمكتشفة حديثاً. وكتبت اللافتات وفق معايير التصنيف التراثي. ورفعت على أخشاب طبيعية، لتغطي للمرة الأولى مواقع معالم بارزة كانت حتى الأمس مغمورة بالنسيان والإهمال والشجر البري والشوك القاسي.
على صعيد آخر، انتهى إنتاج فيلم «المسيحيون والوادي المقدس»، باللغات العربية، والفرنسية، والإنكليزية، والإسبانية، والبرتغالية. وهو وثائقي بمدة 35 دقيقة، يروي قصة حياة المسيحيين الأوائل في الوادي المقدس، ويضعها في صميم حياتنا المعاصرة. ويعرض الفيلم للمرة الأولى خلال احتفال الديمان في 18 آب المقبل، بحضور رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال سليمان، والبطريرك مار بشارة بطرس الراعي، اللذين سيفتتحان كذلك «مكتبة الوادي المقدس»، التي يتم تأسيسها في اقبية الكرسي البطريركي في الديمان.
Local ateliers embrace trend of structure - [more]
By: Beckie Strum
Date: 30 June 2012

BEIRUT: Structure, structure, structure – this, if anything, is the unifying trend among Lebanese fashion designers’ summer 2012 lines.

The last of Lebanon’s young upstarts put out their lines just as summer blazed into Beirut. And from the international runways to the local ateliers, Lebanese designers have at least one common thread: dressing the women of summer in geometric, feminine silhouettes.

For the woman looking closer than Paris or New York for designer duds, the Lebanese have crafted summer collections full of structure, sheer maxi shirts and tightly tailored statement trousers in an array of colors and patterns.

“One of the main themes is big structure, not only in the shoulders,” said Hadia Sinno, fashion commentator and consultant. “It’s part of this futuristic theme that’s not only in fashion; it’s in architecture, it’s in design, it’s everywhere.”

The trend was featured at Paris Fashion Week several months ago, when the Lebanese giant Elie Saab showed a line chock full of finely tailored summer wares. Saab took a more understated approach to structure, building it into every piece without the sharp, military look.

Saab’s was one of the tamer takes on structure, from white blouses with rectangular detail to gold trim in subtle geometric patterns.

RONALD by Ronald Abdala built structure into every piece of his brightly colored collection, which he titled “Lilith” after the mythological femme fatal who leaves Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Abdala said clothing with structure is one method of channeling a woman’s strength.

“Our look is meant to empower women,” Abdala said. “We started thinking, who are the powerful women? That’s how we came up with Lilith.”

Intense reds and greens exaggerated the defined shoulders, square pockets and origami folds that made up RONALD’s structured collection.

Azzi & Osta, a collaboration between George Azzi and Assaad Osta, have a handful of intensely structured summer pieces hanging in their atelier in Ashrafieh. The designers paired intense folds with silk, textures and light colors to preserve a delicate femininity throughout the collection.

The pair of designers fused structure to another of this summer’s biggest trends among Lebanese designers: the sheer maxi shirt. One black evening gown’s structured skirt created a dramatic hourglass that flowed into a transparent, trailing maxi skirt.

Fashion expert Sinno said this contrast between masculine and feminine is one of her favorite design themes of this and previous seasons.

“Women know what they want nowadays,” she said. “I really like the mixing of masculine and feminine because it shows how strong the woman is.”

The sheer maxi, as well as the tailored, statement trouser were also common among Lebanese collections.

Rami Kadi, in his ready-to-wear line titled “Gypsy,” created a provocative sheer maxi with an asymmetrical hem in very transparent, textured gauze. A number of Kadi’s couture dresses hanging in his Clemenceau boutique featured a full skirt in translucent or transparent fabrics.

Lara Khoury’s answer to the sheer maxi, in her collection titled “Gluttony,” was an excessive use of toile in enough layers to make the skirt opaque.

“The human being is very greedy, politically speaking, socially speaking, in everything,” Khoury said. “In this collection, I decided to express that by doing an oversized volume in all the garments.”

This dramatic maxi skirt offers an option for the ladies too shy for the fully see-through maxi skirts of Azzi & Osta, Kadi and RONALD.

Sinno said the maxi skirt, even in its transparent interpretation, hasn’t caught on among Lebanese women. The maxi trend hasn’t fully made its way to the street in Lebanon because of the general preference for tight, sexy clothes, she said.

“The maxi skirt – this is something beautiful – but you won’t see it becoming a big trend among Lebanese except for maybe a niche group,” Sinno said.

Even more absent on the streets of Beirut is the mullet skirt, a newer trend, not only among Lebanese designers but also on the major runways. Azzi & Osta presented their interpretation of the mullet skirt, named after the ’80s haircut more often seen in comedy these days than in haute couture, in a bright floral print.

The statement trouser, which Vogue magazine pulled out as one of spring-summer 2012’s major trends, was no exception here in Lebanon.

The tight, colorful pant is particularly popular in Lebanon and its inclusion in nearly every local collection is no surprise to Sinno, she said.

RONALD did the statement trouser in vivid red and green. Kadi’s statement trouser was done in a bright floral print and Saab showed several statement trousers in varying shades of blue.

Even Zuhair Murad, among his many evening gowns and cocktail dresses, threw in a statement trouser in eggplant purple.

Several of these summer trends could be found in the summer collections at the Starch Foundation, a launching pad for aspiring Lebanese designers. These fledgling designers tend to march to the beat of their own drum, but Maher Bsaibes created a cropped statement trouser of his own in light green.

If there was one who truly broke from the trends this season, it was Atilier G by Grace Rihan’s “Gim” collection. Safari met the harem in “Gim,” as Rihan worked exclusively in cream, light grey, khaki and black, to create loose, draping silhouettes with colored silk accents.

Of course, no designer aspires to be trendy, Abdala of RONALD said.

“I don’t like to follow trends at all,” Abdala said. “But always when I finish a collection, it comes out and then I see I fit in with the trends.”

AUB center to promote Arab heritage - [more]
By: The Daily Star
Date: 29 June 2012

BEIRUT: A new center for Arabic and Islamic science and philosophy will be established at the American University of Beirut, AUB announced Thursday.

AUB will open the Farouk K. Jabre Center for Arabic and Islamic Science and Philosophy courtesy of a donation by Jabre, a Lebanese businessman and philanthropist, the statement said.

The center will help AUB bolster its Arab and Islamic studies education. Jabre said in the statement that he hoped the center would aid a larger goal by reaffirming the Arabic language and society’s role in scientific progress and analytical thought.

“I wanted to help AUB create such a center because I believe we all have a collective responsibility to help youngsters in the region regain pride in their heritage, of which they are ignorant,” said Jabre.

The center will allow AUB to host more conferences and add to its undergraduate course selection related to Arabic and Islamic studies. AUB currently offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Arab and Middle Eastern studies.

AUB hopes the center will attract leading scholars in Arab science, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, physics and technology, according to the statement.

Jabre wants the center to dispel the misconception that scientific progress is a Western phenomenon. “Bright Arab minds end up leaving the region, discouraged from making contributions to science and technology in their native lands,” he said.

Blissful peace, less than two hours from Beirut - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: 28 June 2012

AMMIQ, Lebanon: A countryside view unhindered by manmade structures is a rarity in Lebanon, but at the Ammiq Wetlands on the green and yellow patchwork planes of the West Bekaa you’ll encounter this unusual sight.

Less than two hours drive from Beirut, the country’s largest wetland is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with 256 bird species having been recorded at the Chouf Biosphere Reserve site. In spring, internationally threatened migrant birds the corncrake and the great snipe can be spied, while small numbers of near-threatened ferruginous ducks take up wintertime residence at the freshwater marsh.

But even without a pair of binoculars and with an interest in birds that extends about as far as perfecting the succulence of a roast chicken dinner, this remote reserve proves a satisfying haven from urban pollutants – aural, nasal, as well as visual – and a delightful place to take a stroll or introduce concrete jungle-raised offspring to the sensation of coarse marshland grass. But one quick heads up: Closed shoes are recommended, particularly for kids, as much of the underfoot foliage is prickly.

In a country of avid hunters and careless litterers, such an idyllic area could not exist without the vigilance and dedication of its protectors. Since the mid-1990s A Rocha Lebanon, a nonprofit environmental protection and education organization, in tandem with the SCAFF estate, which owns the land the wetland lies on, has worked to both maintain and improve this natural habitat.

“Protecting the area wasn’t easy,” says Rev. Joy Mallouh, president of the ARL board. Political divisions and tensions in the Ammiq area made it difficult to impose restrictions in the wetland area, he explains. Some years ago a careless smoker ignited a large swathe of the protected space, damaging both flora and fauna.

Having erected a fence along the road bordering the marsh and hired a security guard to monitor those coming and going, ARL has managed to successfully ensure the environment’s safety, and today no fire damage is evident at the verdant site.

Instead one is greeted by dozens of fluttering multicolored butterflies and sparkling dragonflies. A cacophonous chorus of birdsong, amphibian croaking and cricket chirping soundtracks a stroll along a delightfully overgrown, but far from impassable, walkway between seasonally flooded meadows.

For ornithology enthusiasts the best time to visit is during the spring and fall migration seasons, when thousands of birds soar over the marshland, but even at present it’s worth ascending the purpose-built bird-watching tower to see what there is to see.

The wetland is usually dry by mid-July, but the heavy snowfall last winter means that water levels are presently much higher than usual for this time of year. Water hens with their young swim between reeds as playful frogs spring in and out of pools, poking their heads up between lily pads. Dunia Mina, ARL’s education officer, captures a dragonfly between her cupped hands and shows off its transparent wings. Daily, a herd of buffalo is driven through the marsh to graze, preventing the open water area from being strangled by excess growth.

During term time, Mina facilitates visits by school and university groups to the wetland, teaching them about the environment and its conservation. By calling ahead, any group can arrange a similar introduction to the conservation project.

Indeed, all visitors to the wetland should contact Mina prior to their arrival to ensure ease of access, as although SCAFF and ARL’s efforts have successfully expanded the wetland and kept hunters at bay, controlling access to the area is key to maintaining the natural environment. Mallouh emphasizes this point by pointing out a garbage-strewn riverbank adjacent to the protected wetland, where families regularly picnic. Sadly, odd scraps of trash have blown from this neighboring site into the marsh.

Keen to raise environmental awareness in the area, ARL reached a point several years ago when they began thinking about eco-tourism, says Mallouh. The initial plan, when ARL entered negotiations with development partners in 2005 was to build an eco-lodge offering overnight stays and a range of outdoor pursuits in the old village of Ammiq, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1956. However, budgetary constraints curtailed the scope of the project and instead ARL and its partners built an eco-restaurant. Tawlet Ammiq, operated by Souk el Tayeb, opened its doors for business May 13, and now provides the ideal place to adjourn for lunch after a morning exploring the marsh.

Built a two-minute drive or short hike from the wetland, Tawlet Ammiq is nestled into the Mount Lebanon hillside beneath the village’s ruins. With a grass-planted flat roof and stone-colored walls, the eatery blends with the landscape. Constructed at a cost of $802,000, the building is designed with natural ventilation systems and aims to use as little nonrenewable energy as possible – currently it operates on 80 percent less than a conventional structure. Its rustic furnishings are made from locally sourced wood and the menu features only produce grown nearby – much of the salad leaves and herbs used in recipes are grown onsite. All waste, most of which is organic, is sorted and recycled.

The restaurant is open daily from 1-4 p.m. On weekends an open buffet including wine and arak is served at a cost of $40 per head, while on weekdays guests may order from an a la carte menu.

After lunch, if a nap isn’t immediately necessary, take a short hike up the hill through the broken and abandoned stone houses of the old village or visit the area’s restored church. Longer hikes of up to three hours or more are possible for those feeling less weighed down by lunch, says local tour guide Faisal Halabi. Alternatively, relax after lunch, stay overnight in the area, and wake refreshed to embark on a long hike in the morning.

There is a dearth of guesthouses and hotels nearby, but Halabi can arrange bed and breakfast, for both individuals and couples, with local families at a cost of $25 per person. ARL also has a two-bedroom apartment in the vicinity that sleeps four and can be rented at $20 per person per night.

Spending more than one night in Ammiq may prove difficult for anyone who doesn’t aspire to a hermetic lifestyle, but 24 hours in unobstructed serenity could be just the respite your eyes and ears need, and your support for the area will doubtless contribute to the ongoing protection of one of Lebanon’s last truly natural environments.

Getting there: Travel by car, or take a bus to Chtaura and then find service taxi to deliver you to the wetlands entrance, approximately halfway between Chtaura and Kefraya. (Call ahead to ensure ease of access: Dunia Mina (76-751-410)

Dining: For reservations at Tawlet Ammiq call 03-004-481 or email info@tawletammiq.com.

Activities: For organized walking, hiking, birdwatching and other local activities call 05-350-250 / 76-751-410 or visit: www.shoufcedar.org.

Accommodation: Contact Dunia Mina (76-751-410) to book ARL’s apartment or Faisal Halabi (03-330-413, Arabic only) for bed and breakfast with local families.

تعـزيـز الريـاضـة البيئيـة فـي الهـرمـل - [more]
By: -
Date: 28 June 2012

اأطلقت «الجمعية اللبنانية للدراسات والتدريب» أمس، حملة سياحية بعنوان «خلي عينك عالهرمل» تخللتها نشاطات رياضية بيئية وسياحية.
وعقدت الجمعية مؤتمرا صحافيا على ضفاف نهر العاصي، حضره حشد من الفعاليات السياسية والاجتماعية في المنطقة. في المؤتمر، لفت محمد علوه باسم الجمعية الى أن «الحملة تأتي ضمن مشروع مبادرات المناصرة، وهي نتيجة دراسة علمية ميدانية أظهرت أهم المشكلات التي يعانيها قطاع السياحة في منطقة بعلبك الهرمل». وقالت فاطمة حمادة باسم طلاب المشروع، ان «النشاط يهدف إلى إظهار صورة الهرمل الغنية بالجمال والتراث والحضارة، ونقلها إلى كل لبنان والعالم، إضافة إلى تفعيل الوعي السياحي والتركيز على دور الإعلام الإيجابي»، مطالبة «وزارة السياحة باعتماد يوم وطني للسياحة في الهرمل وإدراج المدينة ضمن لائحة المدن السياحية اللبنانية».
وتمنت على «اتحاد بلديات الهرمل» العمل على «إنارة طريق العاصي وتوسيعها، ووضع حاويات للنفايات، أمام المطاعم وتخصيص عناصر من الشرطة وضبط الأسعار، ووضع استراتيجية اعلامية تهدف إلى إظهار الصورة الواقعية للمنطقة».
Phoenician Port in Beirut faces Mega Project - [more]
By: Van Meguerditchian
Date: 25 June 2012

BEIRUT: Activists and a construction firm have been in a standoff for more than a year over a half-billion dollar development project and the fate of first Phoenician port discovered in Beirut, with cultural groups recently challenging new developments at the site.

Civil society activists fear that the construction firm would destroy an archeological treasure that is considered public property according to a 1933 Law. The construction firm Venus wants to go ahead with plans to erect three skyscrapers and a garden in its 7,500 square meter land.

That project has been halted by the city’s municipality and the Culture Ministry for more than a year now, but Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun has remained silent on the matter.

Dozens of activists demonstrated against the project at Mina al-Hosn last week and called on President Michel Sleiman to take urgent measures to protect the site.

When Venus first bought plot 1398 in Mina al-Hosn behind Hotel Monroe, a team from the General Directorate of Antiquities discovered an ancient Phoenician port dating back to at least 500 B.C.

Roman structures dating between the first and third centuries A.D. were also unearthed at the site, making up approximately 1,200 square meters of the land owned by the firm.

Among the findings were two large sandstones of a huge structure that archeologists said they believe were the foundations of a temple.

The name of the area Mina al-Hosn in Arabic suggests a “port of the fort.”

The Directorate General of Antiquities has also unearthed two canals at the site that archeologists believe are part of the ancient port. The precise date of the foundation of the port has yet to be determined.

Following the findings of the Directorate General of Antiquities in 2011, then Culture Minister Salim Wardy issued a ministerial decree that designates part of the land bought by Venus as an archeological site that should not be tampered with in any way.

Addressing the construction firm, Wardy said in a letter that Block B of Venus Towers conflicts with the area where the ancient port is located and called on the owners to make new arrangements for their project.

But Venus denies that remnants discovered at the site belong to an ancient port and has tasked its own archeologists with carrying out an investigation. Officials at Venus told the LBCI television channel over the weekend that the experts and archeologists they tasked in the investigation believe that there is no chance that the findings belong to a port because the land is far from the Mediterranean shore.

Venus has blocked access to the plot where the discovery of the port was made and is preventing anyone from entering and filming in the area.

Challenging the firm’s measures at the site, protesters climbed nearby trees and threw handmade paper boats reading “Hands off our Phoenician Port” over a wall built by Venus.

Civil society activist Raja Noujaim told The Daily Star that owners of project Venus Towers have completely stood against preserving the port even within their project.

“They want to get rid of the port.”

“They do not have the right to make secret arrangements for a land which has archeological treasures like this one, this is part of the Lebanese history,” said Noujaim. “But if they want to challenge us, we will take it to court.”

An insider’s guide to Beirut’s urban culture - [more]
By: Alex Taylor
Date: 23 June 2012

BEIRUT: With no mention of Baalbek, this is not your typical tourist guide to Lebanon. Half city guide and half cultural snapshot, “Boho Beirut: A guide to the Middle East’s most sophisticated city,” highlights the urban, youthful energy of a transforming capital, with a focus on attractions well off the beaten tourist track.

“The whole premise of the book was to reflect the young vibe of the city because there really is a powerful energy despite all of the problems and uncertainty. There’s a group of young people that is very dynamic,” says author Shirine Saad, who has compiled an insider’s urban guide, complementing recommendations with profiles of the up-and-coming artists and trendsetters who are making their mark on the country.

The Beirut-born but Brooklyn-based journalist set her sights on writing a guide to Beirut because she felt that other books have failed to reflect the real energy of the city where culture and travel writing intersect.

“I wanted it to be as much about culture as about places to shop, eat and go out. I didn’t just want to represent the cliche of Beirut as just this party city where we drink until the wee hours,” she continues.

In her mind, the readers attracted to the book are her many friends over the years who have asked her for her personal recommendations on what to do in Beirut – they are artists, gallery owners, seasoned travelers and those who want to delve into the city and don’t need yet another book explaining how to catch a bus to Beiteddine or Baalbek.

With a sleek, magazine-like design by Laurent Saad el Khoury and beautiful photographs from Tanya Traboulsi, the guide is divided into sections on arts and culture, architecture and design, and introductions to various neighborhoods, as well as shopping, dining and nightlife. Profiles and interviews with 16 significant “tastemakers” as identified by Saad in each of these fields are peppered throughout the book.

“The idea was to try to find the new leaders in each area,” Saad explains, including many of Beirut’s well-known innovators, such as Lebanese architectural star Bernard Khoury, alongside new or lesser-known talents.

For instance, Saad chose to profile improvisational jazz artist Sharif Sehnaoui, who has been the leading force behind Beirut’s experimental music scene, including the annual Irtijal Festival and concerts at the Beirut Art Center, but is little-known outside this community.

“[Sehnaoui] has been working in improvised jazz for more than 10 years and relentlessly supporting the underground, experimental scene in Beirut, bringing in artists from abroad and organizing events. He never stops,” enthuses Saad, adding that she hopes figures like Sehnaoui will appeal to foreign tourists and Beirut residents alike.

“These people are going to change the country, in a subtle way, but in a lasting way,” she says of the tastemakers and their influence on everything from the city’s skyline to the fashions Beirutis don and how Lebanese think about food and art.

Unlike other books simply about art or travel in Lebanon, Saad’s guide also puts a lot of emphasis on design and architectural innovators, an especially dynamic field for Beirut as the city continues to be reconstructed and revamped after decades of war.

“I think we’re getting a lot of energy in the design scene, a lot of new architecture offices are opening up, which is interesting in terms of the future of the city and cityscape.”

By including trendsetters and these unique themes, Saad hopes that her book will serve as a “cultural document as well as a guidebook.”

“I think people in Beirut can appreciate it and learn from it as well, perhaps giving them a different perspective on the city.”

Tracking Beirut’s urban culture has led Saad through various neighborhoods, from Hamra to Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhail, as well as Jisr al-Wati and Karantina, pinpointing studios, galleries, restaurants and performance spaces around the capital.

Unable to say where the next trendy neighborhood will rise, Saad instead believes that Lebanese are starting to become more expansive, sampling culture from different areas – a paradoxical observation given the other tendency of Beirutis traditionally to hold on to the prejudices and socioeconomic or confessional connotations about certain areas of the city.

“People are mixing more and more and they’re opening up,” she says, but warns that there is still a long way to go, lamenting that some people continue to refrain from visiting a certain bar or gallery because of its location, meaning that they miss out on “amazing talents, so much creativity and so much history.”

When asked about her favorite Beirut discovery in the process of writing the guide, Saad is thoughtful but unable to come up with just one.

Rather than a single, unexpected gem, the author says she is constantly surprised by Lebanon’s general, cultural overdrive.

“Sometimes you tend to think, ‘Oh Beirut, it’s always the same thing or the same people,’ but I was really amazed by all the things that people are doing here – all the festivals, projects and exhibitions. People are constantly working in Beirut, they never stop and never get discouraged and that’s really powerful. They don’t let anything stop them from achieving what they want to do.”

The book will be sold at Antoine, Virgin and Paper Cup bookstores starting Monday and will also be available to order via Amazon in a month’s time.

إرجاء العمل على «تـل عرقة الأثري» - [more]
By: 0
Date: 23 June 2012

بخلاف السنوات الماضية، حيث كان «تل عرقة الأثري» يضج بعمال البعثة الفرنسية، التي اعتادت بدء العمل على التل مع بداية فصل الصيف منذ العام 1992، أرجئ العمل في الصيف الحالي إلى وقت لاحق وذلك بالرغم من تواجد رئيس البعثة الباحث جان بول تلمان في لبنان، «إلا أن التوترات الأمنية التي يشهدها الشمال حالت دون البدء بالعمل»، بحسب مصادر المديرية العامة للآثار، وذلك «على أمل استئنافه في شهر أيلول في حال هدأت الأوضاع السياسية وتحسن الوضع الأمني».
وكان من المفترض أن يعمل تلمان والفريق المرافق على وضع الخطوات الأولى لإقامة متحف على تل عرقة، يضم كل الاكتشافات والمجلدات االتي تؤرخ لمختلف الحضارات التي بسطت سلطتها على المنطقة، من مصرية، وأشورية، ورومانية، وفينيقية، وبيزنطية، تعاقبت على المنطقة منذ ثلاثة آلاف سنة قبل الميلاد. وكانت البعثة قد أقدمت العام الماضي على القيام بحماية المكتشفات والحفر التي تم تنظيفها واكتشافها عبر الحفر والتنقيب بعمق عشرة أمتار، بهدف المحافظة على جهد سنوات العمل الطويلة، ومنع تعرضها للتلف وأعمال التخريب، وذلك عبر إقامة سقف من الخشب والأترنيت لحين الشروع بإقامة المتحف الذي ينتظر الحصول على موافقة وزارة الثقافة، وتأمين التمويل اللازم.
لا لتهديم ميناء الحصن الفينيقي - [more]
By: -
Date: 21 June 2012

تعتصم «جمعية التجمع للحفاظ على التراث اللبناني» بالتنسيق مع عدد من ناشطي المجتمع المدني تحت عنوان «لا لتهديم وإزالة أي قسم من أقسام مرفأ ميناء الحصن الفينيقي» عند السادسة من مساء غد الجمعة، في وسط بيروت، خلف فندق «المونرو»، غرب مبنى «ستاركو»، على طول العقار 1398 ميناء الحصن.
وتشدد رئيسة التجمع باسكال إنجا على أن «التقارير التي رفعتها مديرية الآثار بعد دراسات قامت بها تؤكد أن الموقع يعدّ من بقايا مرفأ فينيقي، وعلى هذه الأساس تقرر إدخاله في «لائحة الجرد العام» للمواقع الأثرية».
وتقول إن «شركة فينوس تاورز» تقدمت أخيراً بطلب لنقل الموقع إلى مكان آخر لأن واحدا من الأبراج الثلاثة التي تبنيها يقع فوقه مباشرة»، مطالبة «بالحفاظ على الموقع في مكانه وإيجاد حلول تقنية أخرى غير النقل تراعي القوانين والمعاهدات الدولية».
ودعت الجمعية للمشاركة الكثيفة في النشاط من أجل القول بصوت عال للمؤتمنين على التراث: «ارفعوا أيديكم عن مرفأ جدودنا الفينيقيين في ميناء الحصن، فهو موقع أثري فريد من نوعه، مهما قلتم ومهما حاولتم، وهو قسم من إرثنا وملك لشعب لبنان.. أنتم مطالبون بالمحافظة على كامل آثاره وفي موقعها، وإلا فاحذروا غضب الشعب. الشعب لا ينسى ولا يرحم».
Live Ashrafieh brings Najwa Karam to Sassine - [more]
By: -
Date: 21 June 2012

BEIRUT: Pop star Najwa Karam will be performing Saturday evening in Sassine Square along with other artists taking part in this year’s Live Ashrafieh Festival. During a news conference Wednesday, Beirut MP Michel Pharaon invited the public to attend the third edition of the free, annual street festival, and enjoy the activities that convey the “joyful spirit” of the neighborhood.

“Everyone knows that Ashrafieh is full of spirit and we are always working with the ... council and civil society organizations to encourage initiatives in the area, and one of them is the Live Ashrafieh Festival,” Pharaon said.

The free festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m., kicking off with games for children. The performances will start at 7:30 p.m. and will include a performance by Ktir Salbe, a comedy troupe that has its own weekly show on MTV, and a performance by Karam.

According to Pharaon, the organizers had doubts about their ability to complete preparations for the festival due to the tense security situation in the country but said they were inspired to continue by the recent passing of Ghassan Tueni, a former MP for the capital, whose spirit mirrored that of Ashrafieh’s with “its love for life and its refusal to give in to defeat.”

Beirut MP Nadim Gemayel, who was also at the conference, said that the festival is taking place at a time when the country’s tourism sector is suffering a major setback because of the uncertainty in the region.

“We chose in Ashrafieh to put all suffering aside and work on planting a smile on the faces of parents and children, as well as planting hope in the heart of all Lebanese,” Gemayel said, calling on people from across the country to participate in the festival.

Meet Beirut’s most romantic dining spots - [more]
By: Olivia Alabaster
Date: 20 June 2012

BEIRUT: Famed around the world for its food, Lebanon has a plethora of loud and lively restaurants where mezze and jokes are shared over a period of hours, the drinks flowing as the night draws on: perfect for family get-togethers or birthday parties, but not so ideal for a date.

Here are some of Beirut’s best restaurants for a night where it’s just about the two of you.

The Gathering, Rue Pasteur

At the recently opened The Gathering behind Gemmayzeh, three sister venues are dotted around a central courtyard, filled with sparkling tea lights hanging from the trees. The three buildings, renovated Lebanese houses, offer you and your date dining options. Choose from The Gathering: Butchers, a steakhouse with lots of meat options; the Italian restaurant or finally the Bar Cellar, which stocks around 500 different vintages, and serves up cheese and meat platters for the most low-key option.

All three settings are intimate and cozy, but if you need some fresh air after your meal, sit in the courtyard and enjoy a nightcap. Sat right on the edge of the highway, the interior designers have used a clever kind of glass which makes the tail lights of the cars whizzing by look like some slow motion light fitting. The Gathering does not accept reservations. The Gathering, Rue Pasteur, Gemmayzeh, 01-566-196, open from 12 noon to 12 midnight.

Seza, Mar Mikhail

A key addition to the Gemmayzeification of Mar Mikhail over the last few years, Seza is one of the most charming restaurants in the area. More refined than the classic Armenian institutions over in Burj Hammoud, Seza still serves all the best traditional food from Yerevan.

Share some manti (little boats of meat or spinach in a yoghurt sauce) or some sausages in cherry sauce with your date. For these early summer nights, it’s still cool enough to sit on the terrace, where fairy lights and flowers lace the walls and old book cases and ladders are covered in tiny pink and white potted plants.

The dreamy atmosphere continues inside, where huge chandeliers and mismatched lace doilies are juxtaposed against rustic paint finishes and sanded pastel-colored wooden seats and cabinets for a stylish surrounding. Seza, Patriach Aarida street, Mar Mikhail, 01-570 711, open for dinner from 7:30 p.m. until midnight, Monday to Saturday.

Indigo, Le Gray

With panoramic views of the city, this restaurant on the sixth floor of Le Gray hotel in Downtown Beirut is a fantastic spot for a special date. Appropriately purple orchids dot each table, and pink flower beds encircle the edge of the terrace.

Sit outside, for views of the sea, the mountains and Downtown rooftops or pick a corner table inside, where floor to ceiling glass windows still allow a view of the world outside, and watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen, or place yourself conveniently close to the seafood bar for first pick of fresh lobster, shrimp and fish of the day.

The international menu prides itself on its fresh fish, and the latest summer edition includes pan seared sea scallops, Dover sole and calamari, but also features a wide selection of grain-fed Black Angus steak. Pick the Indigo chocolate assiette for two, comprising fondant, tart, mousse and ice cream. Afterward, relax in the neighboring cigar lounge or go for a cocktail or coffee in the Cherry on the Rooftop bar, also on the sixth floor. A reservation is highly recommended. Indigo, Le Gray Hotel, Martyrs’ Square, Downtown, 01-972-000, open for dinner from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Les Vilains, Ashrafieh

This cute little restaurant near Monnot only has around 12 tables, but internal walls – adorned with empty ladder rungs decorated with tiny baubles – break up the room into sections and provide privacy. Empty bird cages become lamp shades and the restaurant, once a traditional home, still has beautiful original floor tiles. Each dish on the menu takes its inspiration from a different country around the globe. Go for the lightly seared sesame seed tuna steak with delicate Vietnamese salad or the rich Scottish beef filet and share the chocolate fondue for two for dessert. Les Vilains, Baroudi street, Ashrafieh, 01-323-531, open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 8 p,m. to 11:30 p.m.

Momo at the Souks

A sister restaurant to the London original, Momo offers up a menu which could be the love child of a Lebanese and a Moroccan. This classy venue in the Souks would be perfect for a special occasion, beautifully decorated with dark lighting and lighting fixtures that look more like works of art.

Choose from spicy Moroccan meatballs with quails eggs or a sea bass fillet with a lemon crust and an artichoke pesto as a main, and finish with a mojito sorbet or the passion fruit and chocolate cake. After the meal, move through to the bar or onto the terrace, with sofas tucked around each corner offering solitude from the busier bar inside. Momo has an extensive cocktail menu, featuring their unique concoctions, and an extensive wine and spirits list. Momo at the Souks, opposite TSC Downtown, Jewelry Souks, 01-999-767, the restaurant is open for dinner from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Saturday and from 12 noon until 2 a.m. Sundays.

Dar Bistro, Clemenceau

This newly opened bistro is perfect for a casual, relaxed date. The converted house (complete with bookshop during the day) has a large terraced area, which winds around corners, providing plenty of secluded seating options. This leafy quiet space is quite unlike anything else in Ras Beirut, and is somewhat of an idyll in the city.

Like the setting, the menu is unpretentious and laid-back, but of great quality. Go for the steak frites or the chicken souvlaki with tzatziki platter, or one of their fantastic homemade burgers with wedges. Dar also has an exhibition space upstairs and occasionally holds live music nights, so enjoy a chilled out cocktail after your meal. Dar Bistro, Roma street, Clemenceau, 01-373-34, open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Wining and dining as the sun sets at Mywaterfront - [more]
By: Alex Taylor
Date: 19 June 2012

BEIRUT: Perched on the edge of Zaitunay Bay, the elevated lounge at Mywaterfront is the perfect setting to take in the Mediterranean sunset, its glow flashing off the harbor and the Beirut Central District skyline, champagne glass in manicured hand.

Joining Lebanon’s summer array of outdoor glam spots, Mywaterfront is a champagne bar and eatery described as where “Saint Tropez meets New York City,” with a location that offers the seaside, yacht vacation vibe of the French Riviera but with a modern edge.

The open-air, elevated terrace is divided into lounge and dining areas connected by a long bar where the champagne bottles are popped and bartenders churn out signature cocktails all night long.

The décor is sleek and simple – just white tables, chairs and lounge areas under canopies held up by metallic, silver poles. While a little bit on the plain side compared to other rooftop bars, the lack of frills makes Mywaterfront’s patrons, showing off their glitz and glam, the centerpiece of the lounge.

In addition to filling out Zaitunay Bay’s nightlife scene, Mywaterfront is open for brunch, lunch and dinner offering an eclectic menu, which executive chef, Dory Masri, describes as “European with Mediterranean and Asian touches.”

Masri’s experience in London, under the infamous chef Gordon Ramsay, and at eateries in Lebanon has led him to develop a straightforward menu using quality imported and local ingredients. European in inspiration, many dishes feature either a local, Mediterranean ingredient or an Asian twist, relying on small flavor innovations for large impact.

The Daily Star sat down to sample selections from the delightful menu on a recent, bustling Thursday evening at Mywaterfront, starting with one of the most popular items for diners and drinkers alike, according to Chef Masri: the homemade duck confit spring rolls with hoi sin sauce.

A perfect example of Masri’s subtle fusion of European and Asian flavors, the duck confit was juicy and tender but uniquely crunchy, wrapped in a crispy Asian spring roll and completed with hoi sin dip.

Other appetizers also follow the European and Asian-inspired theme: trio of salmon, smoked, tartar or seared, puy lentil salad, seared scallops with wasabi and apple puree, cucumber jus, Andalusian gazpacho and fish cakes.

The main courses offer a range of seafood, salads, burgers, steak and pasta. Our taste buds led us to sample the Australian beef filet in mushroom sauce and the whole sea bass with broccoli, asparagus and pea ragu.

The beef was tender, juicy and cooked perfectly to specification – in this case rare – served on a slate platter with grilled mushrooms and greens, mushroom sauce and crispy French fries on the side. Ideal for steak lovers, the dish is simple and showcases the quality of the Australian beef – simple flavors and no frills.

Seafood features prominently on the menu. The whole sea bass dish was a treat, serving up two tender, fleshy fish filets kept intact with their crispy skin – the highlight of the dish, both in texture and flavor. The fish rested on a bed of greens in a lemony sauce, the perfect complement to make for a satiating, yet light dish.

Other popular dinner items include the jumbo shrimp, steamed mussels with soujok in a light coriander sauce, the “Myburger” with Australian beef and caramelized red onions and baby chicken marinated in Thai green curry with basmati rice and orange chutney.

While the champagne bar and appetizers are the main attraction on a weekend rather than a sit-down dinner, the food is light and simple for a nice, outdoor weeknight meal in the summer – just mind the pesky, mosquitoes that descend on the city after dusk.

Mywaterfront also offers a rich, champagne brunch on the weekends with a set menu.

Bringing the art market to Kfarhbab - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: 19 June 2012

BEIRUT: Raja Nehme Sertin opened her gallery some three years ago in Kfarhbab, on Ghazir main road. Located between two boutiques in a shopping mall, Raja Nehme Sertin Gallery displays works by renowned Lebanese and international painters, sculptors and ceramists. Nehme Sertin says the aim of her gallery is to provide easy access to art in a region where galleries are more scarce that in the capital.

Q: Which of the Lebanese artists do you represent?

A: I represent Raouf Rifai, Fulvio Codsi, Youssef Aoun, Gulene Der Boghossian, Charles Khoury and Samir Muller, who is a ceramist. I also represent Mohammad Abdullah and young artists not well known yet – such as Michel Ayoub and Rima Chahrour. And I represent Zeina Badran who is a confirmed artist.

Q: Do you have any exhibitions planned for the coming year? Which artists are involved? Are these solo shows or group shows?

A: I participated last year to the Beirut Art Fair [nee MENASART]. I’m participating this year as well ... I am planning to join ArtDubai and Art Abu Dhabi in the coming year.

Q: Do you find you make more sales at the art fairs or at free-standing (solo and group) exhibitions?

A: We do more sales in the gallery, since it has its clientele. People always come to the gallery to see the works of the artists. They are always notified. And the clientele of the gallery is not that much interested in attending art fairs, since they already see the best of the works at the gallery.

Q: How has the market for Lebanese artists changed over the years?

A: The Lebanese art market has evolved a lot since Lebanese travel a lot. In Lebanon, the market is influenced by a fraction of people who have been artistically cultured. It wasn’t naturally done like in Europe with its museums. [Here in Lebanon,] people wanted to be educated in art. They are people who appreciate art and who traveled a lot. And [their interest] is the result of many exhibitions and art fairs.

Q: How do you decide which work by your Lebanese artists is worthy of international exhibition?

A: There are criteria. The more we [cultivate] our artistic eye, the more we educate ourselves artistically. The eye is education in art, and we become more demanding. We become connoisseurs through this [sampling of a variety of art]. As professionals, we already educated our artistic eye. We followed the progress of art and therefore we understood what will last over time.

Many elements have to be taken into consideration when it comes to art. It has to be aesthetically attractive, but the technique has to be mastered. There has to be equilibrium in composition, colors and lines. A work that is a piece of art has to be completely mastered by the artist. Nothing should escape his eye. An established artist knows what to do and where to go. In the artistic market, the artist needs to be serious.

Q: Is it possible to generalize about the characteristics “Lebanese” or “Arab” art that makes it distinct from work being made elsewhere in the world nowadays?

A: Lebanese art – just like Lebanese artists – are on the edge of the East and the West. They have been influenced by everything that has been happening in the country. What makes Lebanese art different from Western – and even Middle Eastern – art is its society. It is how this society evolves and how these artists use their personal experiences. Lebanese artists are influenced by many trends. There never was a specifically “Lebanese” form of art in our country. But artists use a trend they want to follow, and project it in their works.

Q: Many galleries are said to be interested only in the commercial aspect of art and many gallerists are said to be indifferent to the aesthetics and practice of the artists whose work they sell. Do you agree?

A: I chose to open my gallery in Kfarhbab. Many persons advised me not to do so since it wasn’t a location where people are interested in art and where there is an art market. It wasn’t a random choice. It wasn’t [chosen with] commercial prospects [in mind].

Our children need to see art if they want to. They have to have access to it, at least. I believe that art and civilization go hand in hand. Art should be available to all. Maybe one day I’ll open a branch in Beirut. I exhibit works by artists that are not displayed in this region. I am here because I have a mission: if I can help my country [artistically] in some way, I am here to do it. If I had any commercial prospects, I wouldn’t have opened a gallery here.

الانطلاقة لموسم الخيم البحرية في صور - [more]
By: حسين سعد
Date: 19 June 2012

حشود من المواطنين من مختلف المناطق، غزت شاطئ صور الجنوبي خلال عطلة نهاية الأسبوع الماضي، لتعلن البداية الفعلية للموسم السياحي البحري، بعد نحو أسبوعين على انطلاقته المتواضعة بداية الشهر الحالي. وقد اكتظت الخيم الـ49 الواقعة في نطاق "محمية صور الطبيعية"، بالمئات ليستبشر مستثمرو الخيم بموسم لا يستطيعون قراءة مستقبله.
ويعتبر الموسم الصيفي أحد الركائز الأساسية للسياحة في المدينة والجوار. ويعول معظم المستثمرين، في ظل الهدوء الذي تنعم بها المنطقة، على موسم مزدهر مع بدء توافد المغتربين من أبناء المنطقة والجوار، منتظرين انتهاء الامتحانات الرسمية، التي ينشغل بها معظم الأهالي وأبنائهم. ويقول المستثمر غالب صفي الدين "بداية الموسم لم تكن على قدر الأمال"، متأملاً "أن تتحسن الحركة فور وصول المغتربين من إفريقيا وباقي بلدان العالم". أضاف إن "حلول شهر رمضان في عز الموسم ينعكس على النشاط في الخيم البحرية بشكل كبير، بحيث يكتفي المستثمرون بتأمين بدلات أجور العمال، وبدل الإيجار الشهري للخيم، واشتراكات الكهرباء، وذلك في ظل ارتفاع الأسعار بمجملها". ويبدو زميله علي حمدان أكثر تفاؤلاً، ويقول "البداية مقبولة، وخاصة في أيام الآحاد التي تشهد ازدحاما كبيراً". أضاف: "لا نستطيع الحكم على الموسم منذ اليوم، وأملنا وأمنياتنا ان يكون موسما جيدا"، متمنيا "أن يستمر الهدوء والاستقرار الذي يساهم في جذب الزوار من مختلف المناطق اللبنانية، نظراً لأهمية وجمال وروعة شاطئ صور".
ويشير رئيس الدائرة الادارية في بلدية صور أيمن غزال إلى أن "البلدية حافظت في الموسم الحالي على البدلات المالية نفسها، التي يدفعها المستثمرون شهرياً. وهي ثمانمئة ألف ليرة عن كل خيمة عرض ثمانية امتار، ومليون ليرة عن كل خيمة عرض عشرة امتار، ومليون ومئتا ألف ليرة عن كل خيمة عرض 12 مترا"، مشيراً إلى أن "فترة الاستثمار تمتد إلى أربعة أشهر وتبدأ في الأول من حزيران". وأكد أن "البلدية تؤمن النظافة العامة، والأمن، والرقابة، والصرف الصحي، وعمليات الإنقاذ البحري على مدار الساعة"، آملاً "أن يكون الموسم زاهراً، في ظل الأجواء المريحة في المدينة".
Fete de la Musique: A brief night with much music - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: 16 June 2012

BEIRUT: Created in France in 1982 by former Culture Minister Jack Lang, the “Fete de la Musique” is celebrated each year on the evening of June 21, the shortest of the year.

It aims to promote musical talent and give people a chance to attend outdoor concerts, free of charge. For the 12th consecutive year now, Lebanon’s French Institute has scheduled a full program for Beirut’s version of “Fete de la Musique.”

With all that’s been happening in the country and the region lately, the celebration comes at the right time, offering a night’s diversion from politics and its attendant tensions.

This year will see a more compact version of the Fetes. While previous years have found stages in districts like Hamra and Gemmayzeh, in 2012 all venues are concentrated in Solidere – the Roman Baths, the Beirut Souks, Samir Kassir Square, Zaitunay Bay and Martyrs’ Square. These will host folk acts, rock, pop, electro, classical to Latino ensembles. Several churches too will act as temporary music halls.

At the Roman Baths, Lebanese artist Marc Nader will perform tunes from his soon-to-be-released album “Back to the Roots,” accompanied by vocalist Lynn el-Saghir. The duet’s simple acoustic music promises to enchant listeners.

Also performing at the Roman Baths is the Mexican-born, Lebanese-rooted vocalist Poly, who’s been on the circuit since 2010 and is in the midst of her summer tour.

She’ll be followed by Lebanon’s own The Passive Standouts. Composed of guitarist and vocalist Ian Massry, drummer Rami Charara and bassist Karl Soued, The Passive Standouts will represent Lebanon at the Global Battle of the Bands, scheduled for September 2012.

The Roman Baths will also welcome such international ensembles as the French electro-rock band Les Fils du Calvaire and Lebanese-Brazilian samba drummers Segundo Bloco.

A few blocks north on stage at the Beirut Souks, Lebanese soprano Tania Kassis will perform a set accompanied by her chorus. Known for her lyrical interfaith “Ave Maria,” Kassis’ concert at last year’s Beirut Music and Art Festival demonstrated her versatility in several musical repertoires.

Also from Lebanon, Beirut Blues Brothers will return to “Fete de la Musique” for the second time. Composed of drummer Ramsey Khattar, vocalist Jeffrey Ayache and bassist-vocalist Buddy Ayache, BBB will demonstrate that blues music too can make you happy.

If you want to party all night long, the multinational band Soul Sister promises to perform a round of funky tunes from the ’70s. In a similar vein, the Lebanese group Butterfly will perform the best-loved tunes of Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. If you prefer The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, then The Fan Dolls will be on hand to cater to your musical predilections.

What’s Your Story? That’s the name of a band composed of talented young musicians and singers that will perform in Samir Kassir Garden for the Fetes. Their musical tale began when they decided to launch a campaign against discrimination and that music was the best means to do so.

Samir Kassir Garden will host performances by several other young ensembles, including Bandage Group, Srai, Jammit The Band and Wata El Lounge. Fete de la Musique will mark the first public performance of IQEWS.

Named after the Armenian god of light and sun, Lebanese-Armenian band Mihr promise to enchant audiences with their fusion of blues and rock sensibility with traditional Armenian folk music.

The program for Martyrs’ Square promises to be diverse. From the Arabic pop stylings of tenor Gabriel Abdel-Nour, to the alternative rock of Lazzy Lung, audiences will be able to pick and choose.

Lebanese symphonic rock band EpiSode will also invade Martyrs’ Square. Comprised of violinist Avo Demirdjian, percussionist John Laham and bassist Karnig Baghdassarian, EpiSode were a blast at last year’s Beirut Rock Festival, opening up for the renowned rock’n’roll and metal singer Serj Tankian. They’re sure to surprise many spectators on June 21.

Other ensembles on hand to introduce audiences to their musical world include The Coolcumbers, Aziza, Epic and The Rakans. DJ Andre Rizo, meanwhile, promises to electrify his listeners.

Diversity will be the motto of Zaitunay Bay. For Iberian music lovers, guitarist Adel Harb promises to enchant all with his tribute to Spanish flamenco legend Paco De Lucia. For their part, Lebanon’s Rojo Del Libano will try to move the mood across the pond to Latin American mood.

For those more lured to pop, rock or fusion music, Band Audi, Aziza, Maher Salame, Bruno Tabbal, Blues Band LB and Beirut Vocal Point promise to fulfill all your musical cravings.

Slam and rap fanatics may well find happiness at Ajami Square in the Beirut Souks. Palestinian-Lebanese slam singer Tina Fish, Lebanese rap band Ashekman and Banely and Zeinedin promise to occupy the BCD with their sound.

Performances of classical music will be staged in St. Louis Des Capucins Church, featuring Rita Zoghbi and the choir of the College Protestant. Band and Theatre De La Pastorale will belt out a few hymns.

The Evangelical Church will host a piano performance by Zeina Alam, accompanied by violinist Gilbert Kandalaft. Sopranos Youmna Jreissati and Karma Tohme, and tenor Marc Reaidy will sing along to masterpieces by Brahms, Handel, Verdi and Bizet.

“Fete de La Musique” will be celebrated on June 21 at select Beirut locations. For more information, please call 01-420-200.

Ban on smoking in private establishments, public areas takes effect - [more]
Date: 15 June 2012

BEIRUT: The Ministry of Public Health announced Friday that the law banning smoking in private establishments and public areas is now enforceable.

“After issuing the executive decrees, the law to ban smoking in public and all [commercial] enclosed spaces becomes enforceable and regulatory bodies will need to monitor its implementation,” a statement from the Ministry said.

In August of last year, Parliament endorsed a long-awaited law banning smoking in indoor public spaces, public areas, as well as prohibiting tobacco advertisements and requiring larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.

The law also bans tobacco company sponsorship of concerts and other events.

Police and inspectors from the Health Ministry and the Economy Ministry’s Directorate of Consumer Protection will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the law.



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