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Beirut is Amazing project aims at greening the capital - [more]
By: Olivia Alabaster
Date: 14 June 2012

BEIRUT: The mayor of Beirut Wednesday launched the green “Beirut is Amazing” campaign, which will see the renovation of some of the few existing green spaces in the capital and the construction of some new areas.

Currently there are 0.8 square meters of green space per resident of Beirut, roughly 2 million people. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 40 square meters per head.

Speaking Wednesday at the Beirut Municipality building, Beirut Mayor Bilal Hamad introduced the project, which he said would see the capital regain some of its former beauty, when it was once a “gem in the Middle East.”

In a series of partnerships with the private sector, some on a voluntary basis, a series of studies have been conducted at various gardens across the capital, with the aim of recommending how they can best be renovated.

Works on some of the capital’s gardens, including Sanayeh Garden, Beirut’s largest public space, are set to begin soon.

After a history of conflict and mismanaged urban construction, Hamad said, much of Beirut has turned into a cement city, with little regard for aesthetics or planned architecture.

The Amazing Beirut campaign will see green spaces and islands renovated and maintained – work on this has already begun in Corniche al-Mazraa – and certain gardens re-landscaped, so that they can become “havens for interaction” and increase the total number of green spaces in the capital.

Acknowledging it was an “ambitious project,” Hamad called for further cooperation and partnerships with the private sector, inviting companies to “adopt” gardens.

“This great, ambitious project cannot be achieved without everyone contributing to bring back this image of beautiful and green Beirut,” the mayor said.

At Sanayeh, which was originally built in 1907, studies have been undertaken by engineer Zeina Majdalani and the Azadea company. With little infrastructure or lighting, dilapidated toilets, and the haphazard planting of trees, works, set to begin next month, will see the creation of a children’s play area, reading spots, and an exhibition space.

More trees will also be added, as will a running track, Hamad said, and the fountain will be repaired.

Public gardens, he said, should not just be for elderly residents to enjoy.

“In Europe all ages go there: women, children and young people. By re-landscaping them we want to make them attractive to all groups, a place for interaction,” he said, adding that Beirutis used to gather in such squares, which no longer exist.

Sioufi garden in Ashrafieh will also benefit from a makeover, once studies are completed. It will be fitted with a small stage, to “encourage local Lebanese talents,” and a small duck pond will be constructed.

The St. Nicolas garden, also in Ashrafieh, will be renovated, and its fences removed to allow it to “become part of the street. And the people will be part of it.”

Hamad also discussed plans for the Hippodrome, which currently houses the horse racing track. The undeveloped section of the park, he said, will become the “Beirut Central Park,” and the stables and seating will be renovated.

Currently, only a small section of society, namely horse-race enthusiasts, is acquainted with the park, and consequently, “Some people have never discovered this haven.”

The Ile de France municipality has helped construct a master plan for the redevelopment of the Hippodrome, which will also see the creation of an amphitheater, and an area for equestrian sports. In one year, Hamad added, studies should be fully completed and work should be set to begin.

He discussed less concrete plans to turn the Cite Sportive stadium in Tariq al-Jadideh into a sports center for the public, which would include running tracks and areas for various sports, and a public library and wedding arena.

Critics, he said, have accused the municipality of being a “Solidere part II,” in reference to the company responsible for the rapid development of Downtown Beirut, but, he insisted, “there will be no stores, nothing commercial, we will make it a public space.”

“Our aim is that all the land that is owned by the municipality will be opened to the people of Beirut,” he said.

But in answer to a question on Horsh Beirut, which accounts for 77 percent of all open space in the city but is only open to those over 35 and in possession of a permit, Hamad said more studies were required to ready the park for public entrance.

There are fears, he said, that should this “heaven in the middle of Beirut,” be opened to all, immediately, it would not be properly preserved.

The decision to set the minimum age at 35, which was taken by a previous municipality, was an “ugly” one, Hamad said, and he disagreed with the exclusivity of the park. But, he added, “We are still thinking about how best to manage the Horsh.”

“Eventually it will be reopened to the people, but let us finish our studies,” he added. “We’re in no hurry.”

A coalition of 12 nongovernmental organizations have organized a “picnic festival” this coming Saturday at 13 different locations around the city to campaign for the reopening of the park, which has been closed now for over 20 years.

نفق ثلجي بين الارز وعيناتا - [more]
By: فريد بو فرنسيس
Date: 14 June 2012

رغم ان الطريق التي تربط الشمال بالبقاع، من جهة الارز، قد اعيد فتحها بالكامل، الا ان المرور فيها دونه مخاطر خاصة عند الاشخاص الذين يخافون الارتفاعات الشاهقة، فالطريق لا يزال محاطا حتى اليوم بالثلوج التي بلغ ارتفاعها في بعض الاماكن الى حدود الثلاثين مترا، اي ان المرور في ذلك النفق المخيف ليس بالامر السهل، وان عابري هذا الطريق لا يخفون شعورهم بالخوف مما قد يحصل، وان كانت المغامرة تحلو للبعض منهم.
على مدى اسبوعين من العمل المتواصل، تمكنت الجرافات التابعة لوزارة الأشغال في مركزي جرف الثلوج في الأرز وعيناتا من إعادة وصل الشمال بالبقاع بعد عمل متواصل إستمر نحو أسبوعين بحيث كانت الثلوج تخطت الثلاثين متراً عند نقطتي الغرفة الفرنسية ونساف البطريرك.
ومع إقتراب حلول فصل الصيف، وبسبب كثافة المتساقطات هذا العام، بلغت سماكة الثلوج في أعالي المكمل، نسبة إرتفاع كبيرة، فاقت الأربعين متراً عند مرتفعات جبل المكمل الشمالي، خصوصاً عند القمم وفي المنخفضات التي تربط بينهم.
العمل لا يهدأ في مركزي عيناتا وبشري لجرف الثلوج، من اجل فتح الطريق الرئيس التي تصل عيناتا بالأرز، وطريق عيون إرغش، بحيث يستمر العمل لأكثر من عشرين يوماً، يعتمد فيه القيمون على الجرف التدريجي من الأعلى الى الأسفل، خوفا من حصول انهيارات ثلجية، خاصة وان سماكة الثلوج قد تخطت هذا العام الأربع والثلاثين متراً، اما اليوم ومع الإرتفاع الملحوظ في درجات الحرارة، وعمليات الجرف المتواصلة، فقد تدنى ارتفاع الثلوج على جانبي الطريق الى حدود الخمسة عشر مترا.

طـريـق الأرز ـ عـيـنـاتـا سـالـكـة - [more]
By: -
Date: 13 June 2012

باتت الطريق التي تربط الشمال بالبقاع عبر الأرز مفتوحة أمام السيارات، بعدما تمكنت جرافات وزارة الأشغال التابعة لمركزي جرف الثلوج في الأرز وعيناتا من استكمال جرف الثلوج، بعد عمل متواصل استمر نحو أسبوعين، بحيث كانت الثلوج تخطت الثلاثين متراً عند نقطتي "الغرفة الفرنسية" و"نساف البطريرك".
وبسبب كثافة المتساقطات للعام الحالي فاقت سماكة الثلوج في أعالي المكمل الأربعين متراً عند مرتفعات جبل المكمل الشمالي خصوصاً عند القمم وفي المنخفضات التي تربط بينها. وتعتبر طريق عيناتا الأرز شريانا حيويا في المنطقة، بفعل الترابط العائلي والجغرافي بين عائلات بشري من جهة ودير الأحمر من جهة أخرى، إلا أنها تقفل لنحو خمسة أشهر في السنة بفعل تراكم الثلوج. وقد شهدت الطريق أمس مرور عدد من السيارات، بعدما تم الإعلان عن فتحها، إلا أن خطر الانزلاقات لا يزال وارداً ما دفع عناصر الجيش اللبناني في الأرز إلى نصح المواطنين بعدم سلوك الطريق عند ساعات الفجر حفاظاً على سلامتهم.

متحف الصابون في صيدا - [more]
By: Website
Date: 09 June 2012

يقع متحف الصابون في صيدا، لبنان، في داخل المصبنة القديمة التي تعود لعائلة عودة. ولا تزال عناصر المصبنة الرئيسية في موقعها الأصلي كمثل الحوض الكبير وأحواض التصبين.
وفي زيارة لخان الصابون في صيدا يتعرّف الزوار إلى مختلف مراحل إنشاء الصابون التقليدي الذي يرتكز على زيت الزيتون كما ويكتشفوا المواد الأولية المستعملة والوقود والتقنيات المعتمدة في تحضير الجبلة والإسالة والتقطيع والتجفيف النهائي قبل تغليفه وتسويقه. وتعرض هذه المراحل على لوحات تحتوي على رسومات .
في زقاق من ازقة صيدا القديمة يقبع المتحف ليروي قصة حرفة انطلقت منذ نحو 3000 سنة اذ لم يشأ ريمون عودة المصرفي الناجح الا ان يحافظ على ارث العائلة وتراثها، فتحول بيت العائلة ومعمل الصابون الى متحف يروي تاريخ صناعة الصابون الحرفي وتقنياتها في منطقة المشرق العربي.
في زيارة لصيدا كاميرا موقع المرده الالكتروني التقطت بانوراما مشوقة لهذا المتحف الاثري
Catch Euro 2012 championship fever Beirut-style - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: 08 June 2012

BEIRUT: Love football or loathe it, Euro 2012 is set to invade your life today. So, it’s time to strategize. For lovers, this means sussing out the spots with the best screens and the best atmospheres; for loathers, it’s all about minimizing the pain. While The Daily Star’s bias is definitely on the side of the football-philes in seeking out a selection of viewing venues, it hasn’t wholly forgotten those of an opposing disposition. As of Thursday evening, Hamra was definitely leading the central Beirut neighborhoods for European Championship zeal and preparedness.

On the balmy summer evenings ahead, Euro 2012 is set to be unmissable in this part of town – literally. Flags of the 16 competing nations adorn a multitude of bars and restaurants, and TV and projector screens have popped up on assorted corners, meaning that just by strolling the length of either Makdissi Street or Hamra Street, you’re bound to catch the latest action.

If you want to actually settle in somewhere for the games, The Daily Star recommends the following viewing spots:

The best outdoor venue is almost certainly Café Hamra, where a courtyard garden to the rear is decked out with flags and multiple screens. Rest assured that every game of the tournament will be shown here. Staff recommend you reserve your table ahead of time and show up at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff to get settled in. There is a minimum charge of LL25,000 per person, but if you’re planning on eating, you’ll spend that easily. Also, if you’re an accompanying spouse or less interested party, this cafe is replete with baskets of novels – thrillers appear to be in particularly ample supply – for customers. A good selection will surely prove an ideal 90-minute distraction.

Other good spots for outdoor viewing in the neighborhood are Kakaya, where alcohol is absent but a regular crowd of local football enthusiasts will certainly be present, and Napolitana, where you can enjoy your football with a side of pizza; however, be prepared for a strong Italian bias.

While several of Hamra’s more established bars have cancelled happy hours during games (Calibiri) or set minimum charges (Bricks, Red Booth), a variety of newcomers promise a nonstop party from one end the tournament to the other.

Predictably, the owners of London Bar on Makdissi Street are supporting England, but they assure that all nations are welcome at the pub. Games will be shown downstairs on two screens as well as on an 80-inch screen in a renovated upstairs section set to open with the tournament’s first match Friday. Happy hour (until 9 p.m. daily) will run throughout the championship, as will London Bar’s Monday night open beer offer ($20, 9 p.m. to midnight) and Wednesday night open cocktails ($25, 9 p.m. to midnight). Female sports fans (and men with reluctant girlfriends) might like to note that Tuesday is ladies’ night; every other drink is free for those of xx chromosomal composition.

Further down the same street, Diago, manager of Moscow Mule and possessor of “the biggest Holland flag,” assures that a minimum charge will not be introduced and there will be free shots during games at his establishment. Four screens will carry the matches, including one large LCD screen, which will be visible from some of the bar’s outdoor tables. Happy hour will continue to run daily from 4-8 p.m. and Sunday’s open beer and wings for $20 won’t be curtailed. Diago, however, also emphasizes that underage drinkers won’t be accommodated.

When there’s a major tournament, everyone’s suddenly a huge fan – or worse, an interminable expert – but a clutch of Monnot establishments host those who are unfalteringly committed to the beautiful game year round.

Chief among these, and The Daily Star’s top choice, is The Greedy Goose, where a healthy rivalry between its owner and manager adds an extra layer of weight, and indeed entertainment, to proceedings – the former supports England, the later Ireland. The Goose fills up quickly, so it’s worth reserving ahead of time. A special menu offering open beer or wine with dinner and dessert is usually offered during tournaments, but the precise details of this championship’s version had yet to be finalized at the time of print. Expect a minimum charge to be introduced toward the latter stages of the competition.

If you show up late and find the Greedy Goose packed to capacity, join the overspill down the street at either Pints or Celti, which both make for adequate alternatives.

The top option in Gemmayzeh is probably Bulldog. Located off the main street, it’s a typical no-frills sports bar, which like the Greedy Goose has seen fans through all major football competitions. It may look tiny from the front, but the space opens up to the rear, and its two screens make viewing possible from all points in the bar.

Gemmayzeh area alternatives include: Black Ice – easily spotted by its colorful flag display; Camelot – small and cramped, but passionate; and Coop d’Etat – a rooftop that promises a small screen for the early rounds and a large projector screen from the quarterfinals onward.

Further down the street in Mar Mikhail, a small bar with a big reputation – built on its dangerously cheap happy hour cocktails – has invested in a big screen and looks set to become a popular haunt this tournament. Chaplins bar is offering $20 open Almaza while the game is on, throughout the whole championship.

If you want to mix it up for a game or two with an alternative viewing experience, head toward Haret Hreik, or any area south of Tayyouneh, and meander the streets until you come upon a street-corner cafe where crowds have spontaneously gathered to watch the match. Expect particular excitement on nights when Germany, and Italy and Spain to a lesser extent, line out – although, that may change depending on who comes out on top after the first round.

Committed as The Daily Star was to finding a beach with a TV screen to recommend, it came up short. A close, but let’s face it, not-quite-wonderful, alternative is MyWaterfront, a bar on the seafront at Beirut’s Zaitounay Bay. The screen unfortunately is located indoors, but in between halves and matches you could always adjourn to the outdoors. There is no minimum charge, and reservations are optional but might prove helpful to avoid disappointment.

Another option, particularly for those that find weekend football-watching problematic, is to head north of the city and hit the beach in the afternoon. By the time kickoff rolls around about 7 p.m. the sun-loving but less zealous football fans among your contingent should be placated and adequately docile to follow you into either Jbeil or Batroun, where you’ll doubtless find a selection of venues eager to feed you drinks and dinner while you watch the games.

Batroun kicks off plans to smash record for largest glass of lemonade - [more]
By: Antoine Amrieh
Date: 07 June 2012

BATROUN, Lebanon: The Batroun Merchants Association is gearing up to take on China – in a bid to claim the world’s record for the largest glass of lemonade, currently held by the world’s most populous country.

A meeting was held Wednesday at San Stefano Resort in Batroun to discuss the program for the July 8 event, which will be organized under the patronage of the Tourism Ministry.

The meeting was attended by the head of the Batroun Merchants Association Farah Khoury, members of the administrative committee, Batroun Mayor Marcelino Harek, and representatives of the Tourism Ministry.

Batroun has long been known across Lebanon for its fresh lemonade, and Khoury stressed the importance of the attempt to break the current Guinness World Records by a town that is sought out by visitors for the drink.

Khoury said that some 200 people will squeeze some 2,200 kilos of lemon which will be added to 1,000 kilos of sugar, 3,000 liters of water, and 1,000 kilos of ice cubes.

Together, the participants will make 5,200 liters of lemonade, which will fill a glass 285 cm high and 140 cm at its base with 185 cm opening.

“The lemonade will be clean and fit to drink, and it will be distributed for free on beaches and in restaurants and other public places after announcing the new Guinness World Record at the end of Batrouni Lemonade Day,” Khoury said, adding that lemonade will also be distributed along the city’s main roads.

Khoury invited the public to take part in the festivities which will start at 10 a.m. on Batroun’s main road. A news conference will also be held on June 19 to announce further details of the event.

For his part, Harek welcomed the initiative and pledged to do his utmost to ensure the success of the event.

Adyar: Organic wine in pursuit of Lebanese flavor - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: 07 June 2012

MAR MOUSSA, Lebanon: Verdant vines grow vigorously along fertile terraces descending from the Metn outcrop atop which the Monastery of Mar Moussa sits.

The sky is a pure blue and butterflies languidlyflap in the afternoon heat. “It’s easy to make organic wine in Lebanon,” says winemaker Frederic Cacchia, surveying the vineyards and adding that the Lebanese climate means the vines do not really require much treatment to thrive.

Yet, Cacchia’s wine, produced from grapes grown at eight different Maronite monasteries across the country and sold under the label Adyar (which means “monasteries” in Arabic), is the only fully certified organic wine in Lebanon.

The label was born in the early 2000s, when monasteries’ monks, who have a history of self-sufficiency – they produce their own meat and vegetables – decided to return to one of their oldest traditions: winemaking.

Monasteries across three regions – Jbeil, Metn and Chouf – joined a wine-producing cooperative, which last year centralized all its actual winemaking at the Mar Moussa site.

Cacchia left France in 1999 to work with the Massaya winery in the Bekaa and has been connected to the Adyar project since 2003.

He says the decision to produce organic wine was almost instinctual for the monks, because of the manner in which they have worked their land in the past. However, Cacchia is also forthright in saying that the wine, as a newcomer to the market, needed something to set it apart from its competitors: “When you want to go on the market, you have to be different ... [The decision to go organic] is marketing, of course.”

And while he is convinced that organic production, which forbids the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, chemical weed killers and soil disinfectants, is healthier both for the land and those working on it, Cacchia’s response to the question of whether the difference can be tasted in the wine is delivered without hesitation: “Of course not.”

Rather, the French expert describes organic wine production as a philosophy for winemakers and drinkers, one that in the Lebanese context is more easily realized.

“I don’t know if I would do it in France tomorrow,” he says, citing the climate there as being less accommodating to the technique.

In the mountains of Metn, Cacchia appears in his element. He readily praises the monks for their commitment to the project, and eagerly discusses Adyar’s catalog of wines, each labeled according to the monastery at which its grapes were grown, a white (Inspiration) and a rose (L’Aube). The reds are heavy and dark, while the white and rose are light and fresh.

“For [local] consumers,” Cacchia says, “the wine is surprising. They expect sweet wine from the monastery [like] they used to drink at Christmas.”

However, he adds that the Adyar wines have become a popular after-mass purchase in stores near the monasteries. The products are also sold at Adyar’s outlet in Monnot and at a variety of organic food shops and markets, as well as from the Mar Moussa winery.

Adyar began its organic certification process with the Mediterranean Institute of Certification (IMC) in 2005 and produced its first certified vintage in 2008.

According to the IMC, Adyar is unique in Lebanon insofar as the label is certified organic both in terms of grape growing and wine production.

The IMC has certified other domestic vineyards as organic, but the processing of the grapes at these wineries has not received certification and therefore their products cannot carry an organic label.

Wineries with IMC certified organic vineyards are: Chateau Sanctus, Batroun Mountains, Chateau Khoury, Chateau Musar, Les coteaux d’Heliopolis and Domaine de Baal.

With approximately 40 wineries across the country, and the purported simplicity of organic farming in the sector, it is perhaps surprising that the list is so short. Cacchia explains the reluctance to convert to organic growing as based on fear, contending that small grape-producers who sell their harvests to winemakers are compelled by pesticide and chemical companies to treat their land and crops in order to maximize their yields. Moreover, being more manual-labor intensive, organic production is ultimately more expensive.

Further challenges present themselves in producing a wine that is organic, rather than one that is simply made from organically grown grapes. Chemical substances used to stabilize conventional wines must be avoided. This means that balancing the wine’s taste becomes more difficult.

Up until now, the European Union has not had explicit regulations governing the production of organic wine beyond the use of organic grapes, the IMC’s Veronica Pecorella explains. However, as of Aug. 1, more extensive regulations will be introduced.

Sulfur dioxide, to which some people are allergic, occurs naturally in wine, but additional quantities are generally added for their antioxidant effects and to keep the wine fresh and balance its taste. Under the new regulations, in organic wines sulfur dioxide levels will be strictly limited to less than 150 mg per liter for white wine and less than 100 mg per liter for red.

Producers that meet the new requirements will be able to carry the “organic EU logo” on their bottles, the IMC has announced. Where evidence is not available that wine complies with the new rules, bottles can be labelled as “wine made from organic grapes.”

Adyar uses no added commercial yeasts for fermentation and its wine, which is tested monthly, has average sulfur dioxide levels in the region of 85 mg per liter.

Even though the process is tricky, Cacchia says: “We really try to make the best [wine] we can.”

The winemaker is currently endeavoring to really focus on the actual winemaking process at Adyar. But with the monks eager to keep planting more and more vines – in the past nine years, Adyar has increased its number of vines 18 fold – this, he says, “is a bit of a problem.”

“I tell them, ‘OK, you want to plant, but we have to do the wine too!’”

The Frenchman’s one criticism of Lebanese wine is that “you don’t really feel a Lebanese taste [to it].”

“Really when you taste a wine you should feel the soil, the grapes, the climate, the country, the region,” he says.

He describes Lebanese wine as “very modern, very technical” but points out: “[When] experts come they say, ‘the wine is good but everyone has the same.’”

“You have to find something different,” he says, “with the grapes, the work,” adding that perhaps this difference might be found through the organic production process.

Cacchia knows that finding this elusive difference will take time. Adyar’s vines are young; the oenologist compares them with the 100-year-old specimens used to produce the famous wines of France’s Bordeaux region.

But, for the monks, time is not an issue. “They say, ‘we have eternity,’” Cacchia says, smiling.

However, the winemaker, a mere mortal, does not: He would like to produce a unique, truly Lebanese wine in the next 10 to 15 years.

تدشين حقل شمسي في الناقورة - [more]
By: -
Date: 06 June 2012

أطلقت قوات "اليونيفيل" حقلاً جديداً للنظام الشمسي، يلبي 25 في المئة من احتياجات الطاقة الكهربائية، في مقري اليونيفيل القديم والجديد في الناقورة. وتهدف عملية التزويد الكهربائي بالطاقة الشمسية، في المقرين اللذين يضمان آلاف الجنود، إلى زيادة النمو الاقتصادي والتقليل من انبعاثات الكربون والتلوث، وفق نائب قائد "اليونيفيل" الجنرال باتريك فيلان. وأوضح أن المناخ في الناقورة يساعد في دعم استخدام الطاقة الشمسية.
ولفت رئيس إدارة البيئة في "اليونيفيل" أيمن عبد الوهاب إلى أن "الحقل الشمسي الجديد، يغطي 25 في المئة من احتياجات مركزي "اليونيفيل" الرئيسيين، وسيلي ذلك المشروع عملية ربط بواسطة كابل للمقرين"، متمنياً "أن يساهم المشروع في زيادة الطمأنينة البيئية". وفي الإطار نفسه نظمت الكتيبة الايطالية في مقرها العام في بلدة شمع حواراً عبر الأقمار الصناعية، بين جنودها وطلاب جامعات ومدارس مدينة "بوردينوني" الإيطالية، تناول القضايا البيئية والثقافية، ومشاهدات الجنود الإيطاليين في لبنان.

سـوق دومـا الأثـري فـي البتـرون - [more]
By: لميا شديد
Date: 04 June 2012

لا يختلف اثنان على أن سوق دوما الأثري في البترون يضاهي معظم الأسواق الأثرية الموجودة في لبنان جمالاً وتاريخاً وتراثاً، ولكن عدم تأهيله وترميمه يفقد البلدة حركة سياحية واقتصادية، قد تعزز كل القطاعات فيها. وذلك ما يتطلع إليه أبناء دوما وكل القيّمين فيها، ومنذ سنوات عدة والمشروع موضع مراجعات ومطالبات واتصالات، ولكن من دون تحقيق أي نتيجة إيجابية.

في سوق دوما أكثر من 125 محلاً تجارياً، وسينما ومسرح. هو سوق حمل في زواياه تاريخاً عمرانياً وتجارياً مزدهراً للبلدة، التي كانت حتى منتصف القرن العشرين صلة الوصل بين بلاد جبيل وطرابلس ومن جهة وبعلبك والشام من جهة أخرى. السوق الذي يعتبر من أكبر وأهم الأسواق التجارية في جبل لبنان، انحسر دوره مع تطور المواصلات في المناطق الأخرى واقتصر استعماله خلال فترة مهرجانات دوما السنوية لعرض «المنتوجات الدومانية». وقد أدّت «الهجمة السياحية» على لبنان ضرورة ملحة لإعادة ترميم وتأهيل سوقها لما لهذه الخطوة من أهمية ثقافية وسياحية لدوما وللجرد البتروني، وكل المنطقة التي أصبحت بحاجة إلى استعادة موقعها على الخارطة السياحية اللبنانية.

ويشكو أصحاب المحلات من عدم استثمار عقاراتهم التي كانت تدرّ عليهم الأرباح. ويؤكدون أن ترميم السوق سيجعل منه مقصداً سياحياً وتجارياً. ويؤمن مصدر رزق لأكثر من 125 عائلة. فالسوق كان يضمّ جميع أنواع التجارة والصناعة والسياحة بالإضافة إلى الصيدلية والكندرجية إلى جانب الأعمال الحرفية التي تتميز بها بلدة دوما. وبتاريخ 3 آذار 2010، أصدر مجلس الوزراء قراراً يقضي بالموافقة على طلب وزارة الداخلية والبلديات، تكليف «مجلس الإنماء والإعمار» ترميم وتأهيل سوق دوما التراثي وذلك بعد دراسة المستندات المرفقة بالملف، وهي وجهة نظر «مجلس الإنماء والإعمار»، وكتاب وزارة الداخلية الذي هدف إلى تحريك الملف، وموافقة وزارة المال على إيجاد التمويل.

وكانت بلدية دوما اقترحت المشروع على وزارة الداخلية والبلديات، وأرفقت طلبها بالدراسة التفصيلية التي كان قد أعدّها بكلفة تشجيعية رئيس «جمعية المحافظة على التراث» الاستشاري انطوان فشفش، لحساب بلدية دوما، والدراسة التي قامت المديرية العامة للآثار وبلدية دوما والمهندس حنا أيوب بتمويلها، كانت قد أنجزت بإشراف «المديرية العامة للآثار». وقد استغرق إعدادها سنوات عدة، وفق توفر الاعتمادات. ولكن حتى اليوم مشروع السوق لا يزال نائماً في الأدراج، ومحلاته موصدة الأبواب وأصحابها ينتظرون الفرج والانطلاق بأعمال الترميم.
أما التأخير في بدء ترميم السوق وكما يقول المستشار البيئي وأمين سر «جمعية المحافظة على التراث» في دوما الكاتب مازن عبود «يعود إلى تريّث الجهات الدولية والصناديق المانحة في دعم الحكومة عبر تمويل المشاريع الإنمائية، لافتاً إلى أن الازمات السياسية والضغوط الأجنبية التي عصفت بالبلد وعطلت عمل الحكومة أخّرت عدم إيجاد مصادر تمويل وبالتالي عدم المباشرة بترميم السوق». وأشار عبود إلى أن «الاتصالات قائمة والاجتماعات متواصلة بين جمعية المحافظة على التراث في دوما والبلدية والمسؤولين في مجلس الانماء والاعمار، لتأمين مصادر التمويل ووضع المشروع قيد التنفيذ. وسيصار إلى إعادة الدراسات المبدئية وتلزيمها وتطوير الملفات التي تقدمت بها البلدية». وأمل «أن يصار قريباً الى الإعلان عن مصدر تمويل والبدء بتنفيذ المشروع». وثمّن رئيس بلدية دوما جوزيف خيرالله المعلوف الجهود التي تبذل من قبل مجلس الإنماء والإعمار لتأمين مصادر تمويل لتنفيذ مشروع الترميم. وقال: «التقينا مع رئيس مجلس الإنماء والإعمار المهندس نبيل الجسر وتداولنا بكيفية وضع كل الإمكانات لتحقيق هذا المشروع، نظراً لأهمية دوما وأهمية السوق القديم وإعادة إحياء الدور الذي لعبه سابقاً». واعتبر المعلوف أن «الإبقاء على سوق أثري قديم هو دفن لثروة تاريخية وسياحية قد تنعش منطقة البترون بكاملها من الساحل الى الوسط والجرد». وأكد أنه «لن نرتاح قبل أن يسلك المشروع طريقه نحو التنفيذ». وتوقع أن يكون أول الصيف موعداً لانطلاق الورشة في سوقنا الذي سيبهر العالم بعد إنجاز مشروع تأهيله وترميمه». ورأى أن المشروع ليس بهذه البساطة والسهولة فهو بحاجة لدراسات وإجراءات وإعداد ملفات قبل البدء بالعمل الميداني». ووعد «أن خطتنا ستضع أمامنا معلماً سيـاحياً تاريخـياً يعيـد الحياة الى كل الجوار على جميع المستويات».

ميناء صيادي ساحل الشوف - [more]
By: احمد منصور
Date: 02 June 2012

يشعر صيادو الأسماك على ساحل الشوف، بالاطمئنان على مراكبهم كمصدر لرزقهم، بعد إنجاز المرحلة الأولى من مشروع ميناء الصيادين التابع لهم على شاطئ بلدة الجيّة، بالقرب من مصفاة النفط. وكان بوشر بالعمل في المرفأ منذ سنوات من قبل وزارة النقل العامة، حيث تمت إقامة سنسول الحماية الرئيسي من الصخور الضخمة وكاسرات الأمواج الإسمنتية، بطول 180 متراً، وارتفاع خمسة أمتار ونصف المتر، وسنسول جانبي آخر بطول 170 متراً، بالإضافة إلى سنسول داخلي وسط الميناء بطول 120 متراً، وبارتفاع أربعة أمتار. 
وكان الصيادون يأملون تحقيق المشروع على أرض الواقع منذ سنوات، فهو يختصر معاناتهم وعذاباتهم المزمنة على مدى سنوات طويلة، بعدما عاشوا أوضاعاً صعبة وخطيرة. وكانت أرواحهم يهددها الخطر والموت من كل حدب وصوب بشكل يومي وهم يصارعون الأمواج حفاظاً على مراكبهم، ناهيك بالقلق الذي لم يفارقهم، وهم يفتشون عن لقمة عيشهم، لافتقارهم لميناء يحمي مراكبهم من الأمواج العاتية والعواصف، حيث كانت تترك عارية وعرضة للغرق بفعل حركة البحر وتقلباته. فكانوا يضطرون إلى سحب مراكبهم من البحر برافعات كبيرة، ووضعها في جوار منازلهم. وقد تم الاختبار الأول للسنسول الرئيسي في فصل الشتاء الماضي، عندما ضربته العواصف والأمواج الضخمةوعلى فترات متتالية. لكنه بقي صامداً وحمى مراكب الصيادين التى كانت مربوطة في الميناء. وبذلك يكون المشروع قد خطا خطواته الأولى في الاتجاه الصحيح، مع العلم بأن أضرارا كبيرة لحقت بالميناء العام الماضي قبل تنفيذ السنسول الرئيسي، وأدت الى تكسير عدد من المراكب. 
ونظراً لأهمية الميناء بالنسبة للصيادين، باتوا يقصدونه يوميا ولا يفارقونه، إذ يعتبرونه الملجأ الآمن لهم ولحياتهم ومعيشتهم. تبلغ مساحة الميناء 24 الف متر، ويضم سنسول الحماية الرئيسي، وسنسولاً آخر، وأرصفة وغرفا للصيادين ومكاتب للجمعية، وهو مخصص للصيادين على ساحل الشوف الممتد من الناعمة وحتى الأولي. 
ويقول رئيس النقابة محمد الكجك: "نشعر بالأمان على مراكب الصيادين من البحر، ما ينعكس إيجاباً عليهم، ويشجعهم على الاندفاع بالعمل لتطوير مهنتهم عبر شراء عدة صيد جديدة"، مؤكداً أن "المشروع يساعد الصيادين في تفعيل مهنتهم بنسبة 70 في المئة"، مشيراً إلى أن "الصيادين كانوا عرضة بشكل دائم لمخاطر البحر"، مؤكداً أنه "مع وجود الميناء يمكننا العمل ونحن مطمئنون لعملنا بعد الانتهاء من المرحلة الأولى من المشروع"، مشيراً إلى أن "الصيادين كانوا يجبرون مع كل بداية لشهر تشرين الثاني على رفع مراكبهم من البحر وحتى شهر نيسان من كل سنة، إلى جوار منازلهم خوفا عليها من الغرق". ولفت إلى أن "عدداً من الصيادين فقدوا مراكبهم بعدما غرقت في البحر بفعل النو عندما تركوها على الشاطئ لعدم وجود الميناء". 
واكد الكجك أن "غالبية صيادي ساحل الشوف مشردون على موانئ أخرى كالضبية والدورة والأوزاعي وصيدا"، متوقعاً "عودتهم إلى ميناء الجية بعد إنجاز المرحلة الأولى من المشروع". وشرح أن الميناء "يضم مزادا لبيع الأسماك، وغرفا ومكاتب للصيادين والجمعية، وكافتيريا"، مؤكدا أن "المشروع من شأنه أن ينعش المنطقة اقتصادياً"، متوقعا الانتهاء منه في السنتين المقبلتين.
من جهته، أكد رئيس بلدية الجية الدكتور جورج نادر القزي أن "المشروع يسهل أمور الصيادين، ويخلق فرص عمل جديدة في المنطقة"، لافتاً إلى أنه "من المشاريع الحيوية والمهمة في البلدة. وانعكاساته إيجابية على مختلف الصعد وهو جامع الصيادين وملجأ لهم".

الشورى, يحمي آثار ميناء الحصن - [more]
By: -
Date: 02 June 2012

أوقف «مجلس شورى الدولة» تنفيذ القرار الرقم 849 الصادر عن وزير الثقافة غابي ليون، والمتضمن موافـقـة الوزارة على دمج كامل الجزء الجنوبي من الآثار في البناء المنـوي إنشـاؤه على العقار الرقم 1370 في منطقة ميناء الحصن، وتفكيك أجزاء الشـوكة الوسطية من ميدان سباق الخيل الروماني، والأجزاء الشمالية منه ضمن البناء، وإعادة تركيبها.
واستند قرار مجلس الشورى إلى كتاب المديرية العامة للآثار، الذي أكد أن «مدرجات ميدان سباق الخيل محفوظة في الجهة الجنوبية للموقع، وكذلك المنشأة الوسطية على طول الميدان التي تدور حولها الأحصنة خلال السباق، بالإضافة إلى أساسات منازل ومدافن تعود إلى نهاية الحقبة المتأغرقة وبداية الفترة الرومانية». واعتبر القرار أن «الآثار المكتشفة في العقار 1370 هي في غاية الأهمية الأثرية والتراثية والثقافية للبنان والعالم». بناء عليه، يقترح «الحفاظ على المنشآت الأثرية في مكانها والعمل على إعداد مشروع لتأهيل الموقع، بهدف جعله معلماً أثرياً تراثياً ثقافياً وسياحياً لبيروت».
وقال إن القرار المشكو منه غلّب مصلحة فردية بتشييد بناء على العقار 1370 من منطقة ميناء الحصن على مصلحة عامة متمثلة بالمحافظة على الموقع المكتشف عبر قيده على لائحة الجرد.
في الإطار ذاته، اعتبر وزراء الثقافة السابقون طارق متري، تمام سلام وسليم ورده، أن «القضية فنية وقانونية ويجب ان تعالج من هاتين الزاويتين بعيدا من التسييس المصطنع والافتراضات التي لا أساس لها والمقارنات المتسرعة وغير المقنعة».
Take it to the rooftops with Beirut’s open-air bars and lounges - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: 02 June 2012

BEIRUT: Hot-tempered drivers, overheating pedestrians, dust, sweat: The summer is only set to intensify a plethora of irritants on the streets of Beirut. So, what do wily residents of the capital do? They rise above it all and take to the rooftops.

The infamous SkyBar may have yet to join the fray – it opens June 14 – but across the city, rain covers have been removed, furniture dusted off, lights strung and rooftop bars reopened for the summer season.

The Daily Star has progressively ascended the Beirut skyline to compile a list of the best spots for relaxing drinks, snacks and views.

Coop d’etat

Pasteur Street, Gemmayzeh

Atop the three-story Saifi Urban Gardens hostel, Coop d’etat, which opened in 2010, may be one of Beirut’s lowest rooftop bars, but this unique establishment has endeared itself to travelers and locals alike.

Unlike many of the city’s hotel rooftops, Coop d’etat is utterly without pretension and specializes in good music, drink and food, rather than concerning itself about whether or not you’re wearing the right shoes.

Colorful lighting, plentiful plants, picnic benches, comfy beanbags and faux grass make this a surprisingly lush, rustic haven amid Beirut’s concrete metropolis.

During happy hour Almazas are priced at just LL3,000, while a Sunday brunch buffet is open from 1 p.m. and costs LL20,000.

Sunbathe during the day or watch the lights of the port by night, but don’t even try to make a reservation at Coop d’etat; it’s simply first come, first served. And be warned, this is Beirut’s one rooftop establishment to which there is no elevator.C Lounge

Bay View Hotel, Ain al-Mreisseh

With white tables and chairs, C Lounge is the fresh, modern and minimalist antithesis to the hectic Corniche it overlooks – although for some the decor may prove too reminiscent of a dentist’s clinic for comfort. But for those seeking a cool, calm escape during Beirut’s soupy summer, this sixth floor sanctuary might be just the spot.

Thoughts of nightmare dentistry aside, C Lounge offers all you need: an international menu, decent cocktails and the perfect perch to watch the sun go down over the Mediterranean.

Having opened for the summer season just two weeks ago, the bar keeps daily hours of 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and plays lounge music weekdays and house music on weekends. An average cocktail will set you back $11. Reservations are usually necessary, and while the dress code is casual, don’t even contemplate showing up in shorts and flip flops – it’s not that laid back.

Cherry on the Rooftop

Le Grey Hotel, Downtown

Also on the sixth floor, Cherry on the Rooftop’s view largely focuses guests’ attention northward, up the coast toward Jounieh and back across Mount Lebanon.

As of June 1, this poolside bar is open daily from 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and is designed for those seeking a nice drink and a small bite. While the food menu is short but diverse, the drinks menu is extensive, and includes cocktail pitchers and punches. For cherry lovers, the selection of cherry brandy cocktails will appeal. A regular cocktail costs $12.


Palm Beach Hotel, Ain al-Mreisseh

Sun7 (pronounced Sun“sept” – as in French for seven) is, predictably, a popular establishment from which to watch the sunset. Part of a three-floor complex at the Palm Beach Hotel, Sun7 is an open-air bar located beneath an eighth-floor lounge and a ninth-floor rooftop swimming pool.

Sunbathers can hit up the pool from 9:30 a.m. daily. Entry is $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends.

Those seeking a romantic viewing platform to watch the sun go down are welcomed from 5:30 p.m. at Sun7, while the lounge bar, which plays commercial music, gets going from about 9:30 p.m.

Like its neighbor, C Lounge, Sun7 offers international cuisine and cocktails priced at around $11. Reservations are advised on weekends, and while flip flops are OK for female guests, males will not be admitted if they are wearing open shoes.


An-Nahar Building, Martyrs’ Square, Downtown Beirut

Even on a Tuesday night, the eighth floor of the An-Nahar Building is thronged. With all the tables reserved and hardly breathing space, let alone sitting space, at the bar, Iris is undeniably the rooftop to be seen on this summer. And perhaps in line with this, the venue’s design seems to invite one’s gaze more toward the interior than the mountains or sea it overlooks.

Glitzy bright lights, white leather sofas, tilting martini glasses threatening to overflow their multicolored contents and a stiletto-clad clientele make for an vibrant scene, and the multiple languages mingling in the air suggest more than one guidebook is touting this bar.

The establishment has gone for the catch-all sell on its website – “whether you’re a cuff-linked fine diner or a bikini clad après soleil cocktail drinker, Iris doesn’t judge, just delights” – but anticipate a once-up-and-down look of appraisal at the door before being, grudgingly perhaps, admitted.

This pretension, however, may be forgivable once you see the cocktail menu. Try their Pornstar Martini: vanilla vodka, passoa, fresh passion fruit and a shot of champagne.

The Roof,

Four Seasons Hotel, Mina al-Hosn

At The Roof one finally gains some serious altitude (26 stories) and is rewarded with panoramic views of the city. Ironically, however, the view is the only inelegant element of an evening spent on the Four Seasons’ rooftop; seaward, the vast parking lots of the New Waterfront dominate the scene, while landward one is more or less observing a rugged construction site, with just flecks of beauty – mosques, churches, Downtown – mixed in.

But all other aspects of the bar make the assent to the 26th floor more than worthwhile. The spacious, airy rooftop, which is a hotel guests’ pool club during the day, offers comfortable tables, gentle music, chilled glasses and little bowls of the plumpest cashews and almonds available. The shimmering pool water dances on the walls, making it feel like one is almost in the ocean, even though a dip is off limits.

The Roof is open Tuesday to Sunday from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. A cocktail will set you back LL23,000, an Asian tapas menu is available, and reservations are recommended on weekends.

Club 32

Habtoor Grand Hotel, Sin al-Fil

Yes, it’s a bit of a ways from central Beirut, and yes, it’s definitely more dance club than chilled out bar, but the unimaginatively named Club 32, on the 32nd floor, is the highest bar in Beirut. And whether you love or loathe its DJs’ house, commercial and R&B selections, the quality of the view from this club is undeniable. From this perch, Lebanon stretches out below you like an idyllic world made entirely of fairy lights.

Club 32 is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 8:30 p.m., although, according to its management, the crowd, which is generally in its mid-20s and above, doesn’t really arrive until at least 10:30 p.m. Drinks are relatively reasonably priced, with an average cocktail costing about $10.

For those after a tamer scene, Up on the 31st, a jazz bar situated on – you guessed it – the floor below Club 32, is a great option. This relaxed lounge is open daily from 12 p.m. until the wee hours of morning, and offer drinks and light cuisine. On occasion you may also be treated to a live jazz band.

Sun, sea and plenty of luxury - [more]
By: Emma Gatten
Date: 02 June 2012

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s upmarket beach clubs are as much a part of the national character as its mountains, its cedars and its tire burning. You won’t find all of Lebanon in them, but you will find a certain section of society that is as Lebanese as it comes, in its own way.

For a classic luxury tanning session, head to Beirut’s Riviera, a resort that is a slice of Lebanon’s folklore, one of the places to be seen if you were part of the stylish set in the ’50s and ’60s.

Where some resorts go for natural glamour, Riviera’s style is all bling. Admire your fellow tanners’ suspiciously impressive assets as waiters cater to your every need. When you get bored, head to the private Jacuzzi area.

With its central location, glamorous reputation and in-water bar, Riviera has been described as SkyBar on water. No kids allowed.

For more old-school glamour, the St. Georges resort, a short drive up the coast from the Riviera, is where you should be.

Notorious as the hotel where journalists swapped stories during the Civil War, St. Georges is committed to retaining classic Beirut, proudly displaying a huge Stop Solidere sign over the front of the abandoned hotel, and on the T-shirts of their waiters.

As unpretentious as luxury beach clubs can be, St. Georges attracts the typical poolside clientele, including plenty of Beirutis seeking a way to cool off at the weekend.

In comparison to the Riviera and St. Georges, the Pangea off the coast of Jiyyeh is relatively new, at only 6 years old, but not too young for a facelift. This year the resort becomes the Warwick Pangea, incorporated into the international hotel chain.

Currently open for the summer are the resort’s 22 bungalows, as well as the beach, but come the grand opening in September the resort will boast a 63-room hotel and three new restaurants.

Pangea aims to set itself apart from the pack by providing everything you could want in one place. The new resort will include a beauty spa, gymnasium, kids club and a squash court. The resort also offers a range of water sports, including scuba diving lessons and jet ski rentals.

Bungalows may be a slightly misleading name for the accommodations at the Pangea, which incorporate their own deck and private plunge pool, and look out onto naturally sandy shores, a rarity in Lebanon. This is the place for a relaxing break, with all your needs catered for.

Also in Jiyyeh is Orchid, which prides itself on producing a private beach experience, with a range of different huts on offer, complete with their own Jacuzzis. A slicker experience than Pangea, don’t even think about heading into this over-21 beach club without being fully primped and preened.

Once in, settle into the all-white lounge area, where you can eye up some of Lebanon’s hottest clubbers, and on the weekends enjoy the relaxing chill out and reggae music.

For more well-heeled party people, Edde Sands, on the edge of the city of Jbeil, is the place for you. Find glamour and sophistication, and just a touch of debauchery, at their weekend pool parties. Work off that hangover the next day on one of their instantly recognizable bright pink beachside loungers.

The modern, sweeping resort has an impressive three-tiered pool, a VIP pool – if you’re feeling particularly flash – and will this year open an indoor-heated pool in its incredibly popular spa, which draws devoted customers.

Edde Sands also prides itself on being ecologically sound, with the buildings incorporating local sandstone intended to represent old Byblos.

Construction at Roman hippodrome suspended - [more]
By: -
Date: 02 June 2012

BEIRUT: The Shura Council has suspended Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun’s decision to allow construction on the site of a Roman hippodrome in Downtown Beirut, following opposition from civil society activists.

The Association for the Protection of Lebanese Heritage protested Layyoun’s decision, made in March, which reversed the stance of previous culture ministers. Objections included the 2009 inclusion of the site, plot 1370, on a list of protected areas and the fact that the Directorate General of Antiquities said the Roman venue was of crucial historical importance for Lebanon, and should be rehabilitated.

New online portal links world’s lovers of Lebanese cuisine - [more]
By: Martin Armstrong
Date: 01 June 2012

BEIRUT: Sitting in a minimalist but comfortable conference room in Hamra, Hussam Kayyal, a serial entrepreneur with a background in the telecommunications industry, explains the idea behind his latest project – "Cook and Eat Lebanese."

"We are pursuing a holistic approach to Lebanese cuisine," enthuses Kayyal. "The website is a portal providing a platform for people to connect using Lebanese food as the vehicle for expression and bringing people together."

Cookandeat-lebanese.com is a comprehensive website offering connoisseurs of Lebanese cuisine the opportunity to submit and share recipes, as well as locate Lebanese restaurants and markets selling Lebanese produce – whether they are in Lebanon, America, Australia, the United Kingdom or even Mali.

Since the website went live in November 2011, it has attracted over 4,000 regular visitors in 140 countries. The majority of those who visit the website are living outside Lebanon – notably in the U.S., Egypt, Australia, the U.K., the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

"This is not merely a Lebanese community; it is a global community," he boasts.

The "Cook and Eat Lebanese" website features over 350 recipes submitted by users. On hand are traditional classics such as shish tawouk, baba ghannouj, and fattet hummus, but there are also modern innovations such as fettucini tawouk and a tabbouleh dessert dish made with strawberries. If users are unable to find a particular recipe, they are asked to write to the Cook and Eat team, which will hunt it down.

Such a user-centric approach was appreciated by Sarah Adlouni in California: "I posted a question on Twitter about what ingredients are used in a Lebanese dish and they answered me. How could I not like them?"

"There is something special about being able to submit a recipe to the website and see it used and appreciated on the other side of the world," reflects Kayyal. "Establishing the website sets the ball rolling, and then the users take over. This is the beauty of interactivity."

A similar sentiment is expressed by Haslynda Zainol, currently living in Singapore, who discovered the Cook and Eat Lebanese website when browsing Google for some inspiration: "The recipe-sharing culture on the website brings a form of closeness, like a shared interest or common values among the Lebanese community as well as non-Lebanese who are interested in its cuisine and culture – I know my Lebanese husband feels this way."

The website also includes a section promoting both famous and up-and-coming Lebanese chefs, with plans under way to introduce a system whereby users can ask their favorite chefs for cooking tips and advice.

"It is part of the holistic approach," explains Kayyal. "It adds a further dimension to the portal and enhances the user's experience."

Program Manager Nadine Chalhoub explains that every month the website organizes competitions to encourage user participation. One such example is the video recipe competition in which users film themselves – à la Gordon Ramsey minus the profanities – preparing and cooking one of their specialty dishes.

Monetary rewards provide a strong incentive to participate, with cash prizes of $1,000 for the most popular recipe (judged by fellow users) and the best recipe (judged by the Cook and Eat team). A similar competition is run on the Cook and Eat Lebanese Facebook page, which has over 1,700 followers.

Coming from a background in telecommunications, Kayyal has an acute awareness of the value of social media in promoting the company and expanding its user base. In addition to the Facebook page and the website, the Cook and Eat team has a considerable Twitter presence and its own YouTube channel.

The next step for Kayyal and his small but ambitious team is to develop an Arabic version of the website to further tap into the Middle Eastern market. They plan to have the Arabic-language website up and running by mid-July. This would be before Ramadan, for which they plan to offer a surplus of mouthwatering recipes for both lavish and modest iftar meals.

Mixing tradition with modernity - [more]
By: Alex Taylor
Date: 01 June 2012

BEIRUT: Though Lebanon is full of artisans – from embroiders and carpenters to glass blowers – and has exported top designers around the world, there is rarely an opportunity to see firsthand the collaboration between the two groups.

The House of Today, launched Tuesday in Beirut, is a new, artisanal platform that brings together traditional craftsmen and more than 30 contemporary designers, including Lebanese successes Rabih Keyrouz and Bernard Khoury, to “explore the combination between art, craft and design.”

The founder and creative director of House of Today, Cherine Magrabi, believes that Lebanon’s artisans need to be better promoted and protected.

“Everywhere else in the world, the artisans are sacred – they’re well-kept and preserved by their governments, but in Lebanon that’s not the case,” says Magrabi, who has scoured villages and towns all over the country to find the most talented individuals in their craft to collaborate for the project.

Magrabi concluded that the best way to promote Lebanon’s talented artisans is to help them link up with today’s designers and move into producing more contemporary products.

“I realized that the workmanship [in Lebanon] was great but the artisans haven’t modernized to meet today’s needs,” she says, seated among the sculptures and products on display at Villa Zein in Downtown Beirut – the location of the month-long pop up shop.

“I realized that artisans haven’t really modernized because they haven’t met the design world. So this platform is basically about that – mixing the design world and the designers with the artisans.”

The products on display include furniture, home accessories, soaps and essential oils, food, lighting sculpture and clothing.

Each product has been specially designed to have a modern look or feel – even if just in its packaging.

The food items – olive oil from the Moawad Foundation in Batroun, homemade jams from Douma and the Bekaa, baklava, zaatar and spice mixes – all come in hand-blown glass containers made by artisans in Sarafand and with labels illustrated by artist Joelle Achkar.

An example of Magrabi’s idea to push traditional artisans forward is seen in the embroidery and crochet products designed for House of Today. Instead of creating doilies from a generation past, Magrabi has worked with the artisans to produce bookmarks, purses, gift labels and iPad cases.

The same embroidery skills have been put to work in the clothing line of hand-embroidered Kaftans – all initially conceived with the help of graphic designers, then carried out with vibrant, neon thread to update the traditional silhouette.

With more than 30 designers involved, Magrabi decided to guide their creations under the theme “confessions,” to create a cohesive feel to the crop of work.

“The idea was to have everyone working under one theme and to find out something quite personal about each designer,” Magrabi explains.

“So it’s their interpretation of the word confession or an interpretation of their own confession – so there’s a lot of storytelling.”

The confessions and works are diverse and add a conceptual element the offerings of House of Today – where a chair is not just a chair, because it was designed with underlying meaning.

Each designer piece is explained in the designer’s own words. For example, furniture designer Nada Debs would like to confess about her fixation on detail. She writes about how she obsessively taps and hammers away until she is satisfied with her finished work and has expressed this idea by creating a set of bowls, mortars and pestles all of cedar wood with decorative patterns made by nails hammered into the wood.

Among the more abstract works are two pieces by architect Makram al-Kadi and fashion designer Rabih Keyrouz, with messages confessing a desire for peace.

Kadi’s confession is an interpretation of the uncertainty we feel about life in times of war.

Quoting Kafka, “a cage went in search of a bird,” Kadi has created a hanging, birdcage constructed with 1,008 bullets found around the country jutting out aggressively – the image is contrasts with the idea of a small bird, representing peace and nature, existing inside this space.

Better known for his catwalk creations, Keyrouz has expressed his yearning for peace with a limited edition design for an ivory-colored candle in the shape of a grenade – juxtaposing a weapon-shape and a product generally associated with serenity. To produce the candles, Magrabi brought the design to two different handicapped artisans – one in Aley who created the mold and another in Beit Shabab who produced the candle-wax filling.

In a bid to reach out to new talent, Magrabi has included the work of young designers alongside the renowned designers, who she calls “houseguests.” One new talent, or “resident,” is the industrial designer Stephanie Moussallem, a petite woman whose confession is that she’s always wished to be taller. To express this, Moussallem created a collection of steps and short ladders that, rather than tucking away after you’ve reached that high shelf, can be left out as a decorative element. This also includes a colorful line for children.

The House of Today products will be on display and for sale at the Downtown Beirut location for one month, after which they will be available through the project’s website (www.house-of-today.com).

In time, Magrabi will bring together a second show with all new designers and a new theme, but any show will emphasize artisanal work and unique pieces – in a word, Magrabi wants the House of Today to embrace, “novelty.”

“Novelty: That’s the benchmark on what to include – designs that are new with the high quality standards. Each piece has to be perfect and it has to be something that doesn’t already exist anywhere else in Lebanon.”

Final phase of smoking ban introduced - [more]
By: Daily Star
Date: 01 June 2012

BEIRUT: On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the Health Ministry launched a multimedia campaign Thursday to usher in the final phase of the law which, come September, will ban smoking in all public places.

The first phase of the law, which was passed by Parliament last August, is already in effect and banned smoking in all public places, except for the hospitality sector. It also banned the selling of tobacco to minors and required “No Smoking” signs in public buildings.

Phase two, introduced on March 3, banned the advertising and sponsorship of all tobacco products, logos and brands, and outlawed the production or importation of any product designed to look like cigarettes or smoking paraphernalia, such as sweets and candies aimed at children.

The final phase, which comes into effect Sept. 3, will also ban smoking at all restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes, theaters and hotels (save for 20 percent of rooms), to be accompanied by “No Smoking” signs at these venues also.

However, a bylaw dictating that 40 percent of each packet of cigarettes must bear a health warning has not yet been passed by Parliament, and, if approved, will not come into effect until a year after it is approved.

Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, speaking at a news conference to announce the launch, said “people’s minds might be elsewhere these days,” a reference to regional and domestic political turmoil, but pledged to follow through with implementation of the law.

Natalie Khazzouh, programs and communications officer at the ministry’s National Tobacco Control Program, said the main message of the new campaign is to combat the notion that the law will never be respected.

“Some people, when discussing the law, deny that it will ever be successfully implemented in Lebanon, but we are saying the reverse is true,” she said.

The law, once fully introduced, will represent “one of the most comprehensive tobacco control laws in the region,” Khazzouh said. “The terms are defined to make sure there is no confusion.”

However, she said, even though phase two was introduced in March, the advertising of tobacco logos is still ongoing at small grocery and dry goods stores, as well as other sites.

Before March 3, tobacco companies withdrew their explicit logos from shops, Khazzouh said, instead replacing them with images that were similar in style or color. However this practice of indirect, color-coding is still covered by the law.

“We were expecting things like this,” she added.

A statement from the National Tobacco Control Program said that “the tobacco industry has been subverting the law and using color codes while continuing their advertisement outdoors, in addition to spreading misinformation that indoor advertisement is allowed.”

But, Khazzouh added, “civil society organizations and everyone at the National Tobacco Control Program are monitoring this closely.”

Thursday’s launch was held in cooperation with the World Health Organization, which used this year’s World No Tobacco Day specifically to call on “national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks by the [tobacco] industry, which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco.”

“Tobacco kills almost 6 million people every year and is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death around the world,” a statement from WHO added.

In Lebanon, which has one of the world’s highest levels of smokers, 46.8 percent of men and 31.6 percent of women are smokers.

The rate of young smokers has also increased over recent years. In 2001, 10.4 percent of boys and 5.3 percent of girls aged 13 to 15 smoked cigarettes, but by 2011 this increased to 17.7 and 6 percent, respectively.

Implementation of the law will be enforced by the Internal Security Forces, Health Ministry observers, inspectors from the Consumer Protection Offices at the Economy Ministry, and by tourist police. If venues or individuals are seen to be violating any aspect of the new law, people are encouraged to call the Health Ministry hotline at 1214.

Violators will face penalties dependent on the offense. For individuals found to have smoked in an enclosed space, the fine will be one-fifth of the monthly minimum wage, even for repeat offenders.

As for institutions, those guilty of handing out free samples of tobacco products will face a fine of two to six times the monthly minimum wage. Repeat offenders will then have to pay a fine of between 10 to 20 times the minimum wage, and possibly spend one to six months in prison.

Anyone found to have advertised a tobacco product will have to pay a fine of 20 to 60 times the minimum wage and a repeat offender could face up to 12 months in prison, with an additional fine.

8 ملايين يورو هبة أوروبيّة للبيئة - [more]
By: -
Date: 01 June 2012

وقع وزير البيئة ناظم الخوري ورئيسة بعثة «الاتحاد الأوروبي» في لبنان السفيرة أنجلينا أيخهورست، اتفاقية يُطلَق بموجبها برنامج دعم الإصلاح والحوكمة البيئية الممول من الاتحاد الأوروبي بهبة قدرها 8 ملايين يورو. شارك في التوقيع الأمين العام لمجلس الوزراء الدكتور سهيل بوجي ورئيس «مجلس الانماء والاعمار» نبيل الجسر، وحضر سفير اسبانيا في لبنان خوان كارلوس غافو.
يهدف البرنامج إلى تحسين الحوكمة البيئية وبناء قدرات وزارة البيئة من اجل تخطيط السياسات البيئية وتنفيذها وتعزيز إجراءات التفتيش والإنفاذ البيئية، وتحسين القدرات الإدارية للوزارة. وتحدثت ايخهورست عن «التدهور البيئي الذي برز خلال العقدين الماضيين كواحد من التحديات الرئيسية للتنمية الاقتصادية والاجتماعية للبنان والحاجة إلى اهتمام عاجل والتزام جدي وإرادة سياسية». وتطرقت إلى تلوث الهواء والمياه السطحية والأنهار والمطامر غير الشرعية وتفريغ مياه الصرف الصحي غير المعالَجة في البحر، التي اعتبرتها «من ابرز أوجه هذا التحدي الذي يؤثر في جميع القطاعات الاقتصادية والظروف المعيشية والغذاء والصحة والسياحة». ولفتت إلى أن تكلفة التدهور البيئي تتخطى ما قيمته 800 مليون يورو في السنة في لبنان. وأثنت على المراسيم التي صدرت وتفرض تطبيق إجراءات تقويم بيئي وتنص على إنشاء مركز مدعٍّ عام بيئي. واعتبرت أن تقديم «الاتحاد الأوروبي» دعماً بقيمة 8 ملايين يورو يهدف إلى دعم الإصلاح والحوكمة البيئية كشرط مسبق للتنمية المستدامة. وطالبت لبنان بدعم اقتراح «الاتحاد الأوروبي» الذي سيرفع في قمة الريو لإنشاء «وكالة دولية لدعم الحوكمة البيئية».
وتوقف الخوري عند تفوق قيمة الهبة موازنة وزارة البيئة، «لعلّ ذلك يساعد في تغيير الوضع لجهة تحريك الموارد المحلية خدمة لقطاع البيئة».
وأكد أن الهبة ستُصرف في الوجهة الصحيحة، وأن المؤشر الأساسي للمشروع هو الأداء البيئي إذ حاز لبنان على المرتبة 94 من أصل 132، متمنيا ان يتغيّر الوضع قبل العام 2016، تاريخ نهاية المشروع الذي تم توقيعه أمس.

ساحة التل... تختصر تاريخ المدينة - [more]
By: فريد بو فرنسيس
Date: 01 June 2012

تختزن ساحة التل في مدينة طرابلس تاريخا عريقا لمدينة تعتبر من اهم المدن الاثرية على البحر المتوسط، الا ان الاهم من كل ذلك هو الاثار المخفية التي لا تراها العين، والتي تم الاعتداء عليها بفعل الاهمال وعدم الوعي، ولو قدر لهذه الساحة ان يعاد تاهيلها بشكل لائق لساهمت كثيرا برفع مستوى السياحة في طرابلس والشمال.

تضج ساحة التل الاثرية في وسط طرابلس بالاصوات المنوعة، منها ما تعشقه الاذن ومنها ما يؤذيها ويزعج المرء، وتتمازج اغاني الطرب والفيروزيات مع موسيقى الروك والموسيقى الكلاسيكية، وتتداخل مع ابواق سيارات الاجرة، تخترقها كل 60 دقيقة دقات ساعة التل الشهيرة، فيتردد صداها في ارجاء المدينة. تلك الساعة القابعة فوق برج مميز معماريا، شيد بين عامي 1901 و1902 يبلغ ارتفاعه 30 مترا، مؤلف من خمسة طوابق، أهدته سلطات الحكم العثمانية للمدينة، وهي لا تزال شامخة حتى اليوم. تراقب الساعة حركة الساحة من عليائها، عجقة ناس، ضجيج سيارات الاجرة المتوقفة تحت البرج، يتلهى سائقوها بسماع نشرات الاخبار، وشرب القهوة، وهم متاهبون لاي راكب قد يفاجاهم على غفلة. على مدار الساعة تتجدد الحركة في الساحة، الكل يفتش عن حاجته، فتجد باعة اليانصيب، بائعو الكعك المسخن على الجمر، ماسحو الاحذية يصطفون الواحد بجانب الاخر، الى بائع القهوة الذي يتجول على صوت رنين دقات فناجينه.

وسط كل هذا الصخب والضجة تخبيء الساحة في طياتها ما هو اجمل مما تراه العين، ولا ينقصها سوى لفتة حقيقية تحمل بين طياتها صدقا في التعامل معها وسعيا حثيثا لتحويلها الى "داون تاون" يشبه الساحات الحقيقية في مدن العالم الكبرى، وان بامكانها، لو حظيت بالاهتمام الرسمي والمحلي، ان تستقطب مئات السائحين، لتعود شابة غير طاعنة في السن محمية من عبث الايادي المخربة. معظم المحال التجارية المتجاورة على جانبي الطريق وفي محيط الساحة تخفي تحت اقبيتها الاثرية تاريخ المدينة العريق، ولا يخفى على احد الابنية الهندسية المطلة على الساحة، والتي تشكل احد ابرز دوافع تمدد السياحة في المدينة، من هنا تبرز اهمية تاهيل الوسط التجاري للمدينة (ساحة التل) الذي يعتبر المدخل الرئيس الى الاسواق الاثرية القديمة ويشكل عامل جذب اساسي للسياحة فيها. اما ابرز هذه المعالم فهو جامع التل العليا، ساعة التل الشهيرة وبرجها، قهوة فهيم الاثرية، اوتيل ومسرح الانجا، المركز القافي البلدي( قصر نوفل سابقا) الى ابنية سكنية، ومحال تجارية ومصارف وغيرها.

ساعة التل وبرجها معلم من معالم طرابلس التراثية والأثرية، تتردد دقاتها في ارجاء الساحة ومحيطها، ومن من اللبنانيين لم يعبر هذه الساحة التي تشكل وسط المدينة، ومركز رئيسا لأنطلاق لكافة وسائل النقل نحو أقضية الشمال ونحو المناطق اللبنانية وحتى الدول العربية. وبات عبور هذه الساحة يشكل أزمة سير كبيرة، وضغطا بشريا مرتفعا، جراء الازدحام اليومي الذي حول الساحة الى موقف ثابت للسيارات العمومية، والى تجمع لمواقف البلدات والقرى الشمالية…زغرتا، الكورة، عكار، وبيروت. ازدحام يومي بات يحتاج الى إعادة تنظيم والى وضع خطة سير جديدة تحسن من واقع هذه الساحة الحيوية.

"قهوة فهيم الشهيرة" في وسط الساحة لم تتبدل، انما ما تبدل هو روادها"، كما يقول ابراهيم حسون 65 عاما، "لا ازال اتردد على هذا المقهى منذ اكثر من اربعين عاما، المشهد كله تغير، السراي القديمة بجانب المقهى ازيلت، ومعها المقاهي والمطاعم والمحال التجارية التي كانت توجد تحتها، واصبحت اليوم ساحة للمشاة، لم تكن فوضى السير بالشكل الذي هي عليه اليوم،". ويضيف "رواد المقهى تبدلوا، كان هناك فئات كبيرة من الذوات من المسلمين والمسيحيين ياتون الى هذا المكان، الـ الضناوي، العمري، ابو فهيم، المقدم، البابا، وكانت تعقد جلسات معظمها يتعلق بالعمل، حينا، والشان العام احيانا، وكانت الساحة افضل بكثير من هذه الفوضى التي نراها اليوم، وكانت هناك زوايا معينة مخصصة لكل عائلة مثل بكوات عكار، الضنية، وزغرتا وغيرها من المناطق المجاورة لطرابلس، الساحة اليوم تفتقد لامثالهم، منهم من هاجر الى الخارج ومنهم من انتقل الى الحياة الابدية، واصبح رواد المقهى من الشعب الفقير والعاطلين عن العمل او المتقاعدين".

نيحا المنسيّة تزيّن مدخلها - [more]
By: نقولا أبورجيلي
Date: 01 June 2012

يرتفع في نيحا البقاعية معبدان رومانيان، وتتوزع حولها كروم العنب. لكن البلدة البقاعية لا تدخل ضمن المسارات السياحية للشركات الكبيرة، بل تتعاطى الإنماء عبر المهرجانات الصيفية، ومجسم يختصر ما تحتضنه البلدة من تراث وآثار

نقولا أبورجيلي

لم تمنع الظروف الماديّة المتواضعة لبلدية نيحا _ البقاع من إقامة مجسّم عند مدخل البلدة يجسد تاريخها الثقافي ومعالمها الأثريّة والتراثيّة. المشروع الذي يندرج ضمن بند «تنميّة البلدات الصغيرة» استغرق إنجازه نحو 3 أشهر من العمل، بكلفة وصلت إلى 74 مليون ليرة خصصت من أموال الصندوق البلدي المستقل. يهدف المجسم إلى إعطاء البلدة «طلة» ويختصر للزائر ما تتميز به القرية. وينقسم إلى جزأين يتوزعان بين وسط الطريق وجنبها. في الوسط، يرتفع عمود صخري من 6 أمتار دائري الشكل يعلوه مسطّح صخري مربع ركّز عليه مجسم لعنقود عنب وورقة دوالي وأربع ريشات للكتابة.

وبمحاذاة المسلك، شيّد الجزء الثاني المؤلف من عمودين دائريين من الحجارة يحملان مسطحاً صخرياً يظلل لوحة رخاميّة نصف دائريّة تحمل عبارة «نيحا ترحب بكم».
يشرح رئيس بلدية نيحا، وليد أيوب، أن القرية تعاني إهمالاً من الشركات السياحية التي لا تدرج زيارة نيحا في المسارات المقررة إلى البقاع، مطالباً وزارة السياحة بتغيير هذا الواقع.
ويلفت أيوب إلى أنّ نيحا تحتضن معبدين أثريين رومانيين، يطلّ الأول على مشارف القرية، وتمتد المنطقة الأثرية حول المعبد على مساحة تلامس 6000 متر مربع، وتقام سنوياً بين أعمدة المعبد مهرجانات «نيحا البقاع الدوليّة». ويعد المعبد، بحسب «الرئيس»، من أكبر المعابد الرومانية في لبنان وأجملها.
أما نيحا، فكانت تعرف في الفترة الرومانية باسم نيحاتا، اسم سامي يؤكد أنها كانت مأهولة قبل تلك الفترة. وخلال التنقيبات الأثرية في نيحا خلال ستينيات القرن الماضي، اكتشف علماء الآثار مجسماً للمعبد يثبت أنّ المهندسين الرومان (تماماً كما هي الحال اليوم) كانوا ينحتون في الصخر مجسماً يبرز شكل المعبد النهائي لنيل موافقة ممولي المشروع عليه قبل بدء العمل. ويعرض المجسم _ التحفة في المتحف الوطني اليوم. كذلك يتميز معبد نيحا بأدراجه المنحوتة في الصخر، التي ترتفع على مستويين للوصول إلى قاعة الصلاة في المعبد التي كانت محاطة بالأعمدة. ولا يزال يحافظ على رونقه وجمال هندسته.
أما المعبد الثاني، فيقع في أعالي البلدة ويعرف بين أهلها بـ«قلعة الحصن»، فيما تسميه المنشورات العلمية «حصن نيحا». مرد هذه التسمية يعود إلى ضخامة المعبد وكبر حجم الحجارة المستخدمة فيه. وكانت هذه الأخيرة قد استخرجت من الفالق الصخري الذي شيّد فوقه المعبد، فأتى متماشياً مع الطبيعة والجغرافيا. لكن الموقع مهمل منذ عقود ويحتاج إلى ترميم وحراس لحماية موجوداته من السرقة، ولا سيما أنّه تعرض خلال الحرب الأهلية لعملية نهب خربت قاعة الصلاة الرومانية، بعدما نبش السارقون أرضه بحثاً عن ذهب لم يعثروا عليه.
بدوره، يؤكد رئيس لجنة مهرجانات نيحا البقاع الدولية حميد معلوف، أننا «لا نزال ننتظر ترجمة وعود وزير الثقافة السابق سليم وردة حين تحدث عن مفاجأة كبيرة يخبئها لآثار نيحا. وحتى تاريخه لم يصلنا شيء من هذه المفاجأة». ويطالب معلوف باستكمال أعمال التنقيب في موقع «قلعة الحصن»، بعدما كانت قد توقفت منذ نحو 60 عاماً، وفتح الملف القضائي المتعلق بالآثار التي نهبت من المعبدين إبان الحرب اللبنانيّة، أبرزها تيجان مزخرفة كانت تعلو 6 أعمدة أثريّة حُطِّمت لهذه الغاية. ويقول الرجل إنّ «اللجنة تروّج للقرية من خلال المهرجان الدولي المتواصل منذ عام 2002 والذي تقدم فيه أهم الأعمال الفنيّة المحليّة والعربيّة والعالميّة مثل الأوركسترا الفرنسيّة والأوركسترا الملكيّة الأردنيّة، فضلاً عن حفلات الزجل وأغانٍ لكبار الفنانين اللبنانيين». كذلك ينظم سنوياً «ماراتون» ينطلق من بسكتنا في المتن مروراً بجبل صنين وصولاً إلى المحطة الأخيرة عند قلعة نيحا. هنا يستحضر المعلوف أصل كلمة نيحا المشتقة من «نبوحو» أي الراحة والهدوء.

مشروع بيبلوس والبحر - [more]
By: جوانا عازار
Date: 31 May 2012

انتهاء المرحلة الأولى من مشروع بيبلوس والبحر

انتهت المرحلة الأولى من مشروع «بيبلوس والبحر» الذي يهدف إلى إعادة رسم التاريخ البحري للمدينة. وقد شرحت الباحثة اللبنانيّة مارتين فرنسيس ألوش أهميّة هذا المشروع الذي ينجز في جبيل، فكشفت أن الفريق الذي تعمل معه أجرى مسحاً طوبوغرافيّاً للساحل الأثري في جبيل من المرفأ الحالي، الذي يعود إلى حقبة القرون الوسطى، وصولاً إلى ما يعرف بزيرة ياسمين. كما أنهى الدراسة التي كانت قد بدأتها الباحثة البريطانيّة أونور فروست على الساحل من أجل إعطاء خريطة واضحة عن المنطقة الأثريّة.

ألوش أوضحت أنّ الفريق الذي يضمّها، إلى جانب ميشال حلو وإيريك غودفاليس، يعمل على إجراء مسح طوبوغرافي آخر، تحت المياه، يكون بمثابة كشف أوليّ لعمق المياه، وتحديداً حول المنطقة الصخريّة، وصولاً إلى إنجاز مسح تخطيطيّ تحت المياه لضهرة مارتين على بعد 2 كلم، على أن يصار الى إنجاز مسح طوبوغرافي بآلة السونار، بدءاً من الشاطئ. ونتيجة المسوحات التي أنجزت حتى اليوم، تبيّن، حسب ألوش، أن أعماق المنطقة الساحليّة التي درست ليست عميقة، وهي متعرّجة ولا تسمح حكماً للسفن الكبيرة، بين 20 و30 متراً التي كانت تصدّر الخشب، بالتحرّك في الخلجان الصغيرة لهذا الساحل.
وتحدّثت ألوش أيضاً عن اكتشاف نحو 8 مراسٍ قديمة من الحجر على الشاطئ وفي الخلجان القليلة العمق في هذه المنطقة. وقد وجدت في أماكن عشوائيّة، كما وجدت مراسي أخرى في البحر خلال الدراسات السابقة وهي دليل على التجارة البحريّة القديمة. وينجز الفريق في المرحلة المقبلة مسحاً شاملاً لمنطقة جبيل تحت المياه، على أن يتمّ خلالها رفع هذه المراسي.
وكان العمل على هذه المرحلة قد انطلق في آذار من العام الماضي، وقد وقّعت على المشروع المديريّة العامة للآثار لمدّة ثلاث سنوات، بالتعاون مع بلديّة جبيل وبتمويل من رجل الأعمال طلال المقدسي، علماً بأن دراسة هذه المنطقة تعود إلى عام 1998، وقد بدأتها الباحثة البريطانيّة أونور فروست، واستمرّت حتّى عام 2006 مع ألوش، قبل أن تتوقّف خلال حرب تمّوز وتستأنف عام 2009 لتعود وتتوقّف بسبب وفاة فروست.

New Waterfront bikeway creates haven for Beirut cycling enthusiasts - [more]
By: Stephen Dockery
Date: 31 May 2012

BEIRUT: A winding bikeway and a secluded path on Beirut’s reclaimed coastal land is proving to be a haven for bikers and pedestrians in a city where space and privacy are scarce.

In sight of the sea, groups of young people make their way down the paved bike and walking path, while just below curved concrete barriers is a pedestrian-only walkway by the water’s edge where couples can enjoy a private moment next to the sea spray and the sound of crashing waves.

On almost any evening of the week the area is bustling with bikers and walkers taking in the sea breeze and enjoying time away from the bustle of the city.

Doaa Mohammad says that, in contrast to the often chaotic streets of the city, the biking area is a peaceful escape.

“It is a very wide and very relaxing place,” says Mohammad, while walking with her boyfriend.

Supplying the majority of the wheels is Beirut by Bike, a popular bike rental store, which has expanded from a small shop targeting bikers touring the city to a major biking facility on the developing New Waterfront that extends the offerings of the Beirut Souks.

Like most of the man-made land off of the city’s coast the Beirut by Bike facility, near the BIEL convention center, is still under development.

A skateboarding facility with ramps and rails as well as a gated biking area are under construction

There may be mounds of dirt, sand and concrete blocks nearby but that doesn’t stop city residents from recognizing the area’s assets.

In a crowded city there are few outdoors public places to enjoy a private moment with a friend, and there are even fewer where you can have large amounts of space for yourself. The bike complex has begun to offer both.

“These kinds of activities in Beirut are unavailable,” says 20-year-old Mario Tabet, on a ride with a friend on a recent Tuesday afternoon.

He says while he would like to see the development of more city life, such as cafes and shops near the paths, he loves a bike-friendly area and comes at least twice a week.

“There’s much fewer people here and it’s very well supervised,” Tabet said.

Biking on a crowded night on the Ain al-Mreisseh Corniche often involves dodging the crowds of people and street sellers that take to the walkway in the evening. Many other bike rides around the city require braving traffic, like the late night rides that have become popular, or early morning starts.

But at Beirut by Bike, LL5,000 an hour rents a bike and a safe place to ride it on the expanded waterfront.

The company, which works closely with the Solidere, began as a club to promote cycling in the city more than a decade ago. It now hosts a variety of charity events and family activities including a yearly treasure hunt.

Biking areas north of the city might compete for top rides, “but in Beirut, this is the best place,” Tabet says.

Saint Joseph University brings art, culture festival to stairway hangout - [more]
By: Emma Gatten
Date: 30 May 2012

BEIRUT: Students may be more known for their partying than their cultural appreciation but Saint Joseph University is hoping to change that perception with new cultural event Daraj al-Yassouiyeh.

The initiative started when Pascal Watwat, the president of the student council for the economics faculty, decided to organize a fashion show at the university, and the idea captured the interests of other student council heads.

“We wanted to make it something bigger, something better,” said Rachel Fiani, the president of the student council of the Speech Therapy Institute.

That fashion show became, five months later, the opening event of three days of arts and culture centered around the now officially named Yassouiyeh stairs, a popular hangout spot for the university’s students.

The opening event Monday night was attended by around 800 people, including Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun, a graduate of USJ.

“Usually the students are not interested in culture, but we had many that came and enjoyed it,” Fiani said of the opening event. The inclusion of other elements such as the fashion show provided a lure for students, she said.

“The party that we had really added something to the event,” she said. “It wasn’t just cultural or artistic, it was also fun.”

The three-day event has also incorporated the somewhat notorious talent show put on yearly by the university’s medical students, which took place Tuesday evening, in front of a panel including musician Pascale Saker and composer Osama Rahbani.

Chirine Atat, a fifth-year medical student and keyboardist in band the Big Band Theory who also played the medical talent show last year, said she welcomed the opportunity to play on a slightly bigger scale this year.

“It’s fun. Last year we were already on TV so maybe this year someone will discover us,” she joked.

Fiani and the rest of the team hope that this year’s event will be the first of many. “We want it to become a tradition at USJ,” she said. After some initial teething problems, they believe next year’s event will be an even greater success.

The hardest part, Fiani said, was persuading students to contribute. After trying to garner interest on social networks, they eventually resorted to sending text messages to all of USJ’s 12,000 students to get their attention.

The tactic worked, and the festival has seen around 100 students contributing various artistic endeavors, including musical performances, dance and poetry. Around 20 students, from faculties as diverse as philosophy and dentistry contributed pieces of artwork that have been displayed throughout the event.

Second year economics student Yara Abou Dalha, part of the organizing committee said the event had brought students together.

“The most important thing has been the spirit between the students,” she said. “They have been working together from all the political sides, and from all the school years.”

The event closes Wednesday with an evening dedicated to the Olympics, including a sports quiz, and dance and musical performances.

حـــدائق بـيــروت - [more]
By: -
Date: 30 May 2012

حياة تحتشد بالألوان، زهور ونباتات وأشجار ملأت «معرض الحدائق ومهرجان الربيع» الذي افتتح يوم أمس في «ميدان سباق الخيل» في بيروت في نسخته التاسعة.
المعرض الذي يمتد حتى الثاني من حزيران المقبل، يُعقد تحت عنوان «The Green Attitude»ـ «السلوك الأخضر» ويفتح أبوابه من الرابعة بعد الظهر حتى الساعة العاشرة مساء.
من هنا، يروّج المعرض الذي يشارك فيه أكثر من مئتين وعشرين عارضاً، لفكر بيئي جمالي، ولطريقة عيش صلبها النبات والأزهار والتشجير. ويجذب المعرض بحسب المنظمين أكثر من 22 ألف زائر وبائع وشارٍ، يتطلعون لشراء أنواع جديدة من الزهور أو عرض منتجاتهم أو التعرف عن كثب حول كيفية العناية بنباتاتهم. ويتضمن المعرض ركناً خاصاً لمختلف الفئات العمرية والاهتمامات، من الأطفال إلى المراهقين والأهالي والمزارعين وغيرهم.



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