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Zouk Mikael gears up for annual international music festival - [more]
By: Chirine Lahoud
Date: Saturday, May 19, 2012

BEIRUT: "One of our greatest assets," said Zouk Mikael International Festival president Zalfa Bouez, "is our sociocultural diversity."

Though it isn't usually included among Lebanon's unofficial "big three" of summer music festivals, Zouk Mikael's yearly event has received its share of appreciation for bringing such acclaimed acts as tenor Placido Domingo, rock vocalist Serj Tankian and blues ensemble Roomful of Blues – all of whom appeared at last year's event.

Tickets come at fair prices too, supporting the festival's mission of allowing easy access to music and culture.

Bouez headed a news conference this week to present Zouk Mikael's official program for this year's event. From July 10-18, Lebanese audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy performances by a range of local and international artists in the town's Roman amphitheater.

The evening of July 10 will be Blues Night with the seven-member California All Star Blues Revue. It promises to be a stage full of music as the CASBR will be accompanied by The Mannish Boys, a universally known ensemble featuring such Blues veterans as Kirk Fletcher, Kid Ramos and Sugarray.

Festival organizers say that this edition of the California All Star Blues Revue was "especially put together" for this summer festival.

Non-Blues lovers may be pleased to know that renowned Lebanese vocalist Carole Samaha – who has performed in venues as far afield as Las Vegas and Chicago – will take to the amphitheater stage on July 14.

Known in certain circles as "The Chameleon" the multitalented Samaha promises to perform the tunes that have won her national and international acclaim. Some might expect that she'll take the audience on a sentimental journey with her sensual and powerful voice.

Last year the Zouk Mikael International Festival thrilled audiences with a joyous duo performance featuring Italian tenor Placido Domingo and soprano Virginia Tola.

This year the festival will be brought to a climactic conclusion with another duo performance – this one featuring Barcelona-born tenor Jose Carreras and Bangladesh-Russian-American soprano Monica Yunus.

Considered among the top three of tenors of last century – along with Domingo and the late Luciano Pavarotti – Carreras promises to hypnotize the audience with his serenades. For her part, Yunis' solo performance brought the Al-Bustan Festival audience to its feet a couple of years back.

With a capacity of a mere 2500 seats, the Zouk amphitheater will for this week in July be transformed into a musical nest, for aficionados of blues, opera and Arabic pop.

Zouk Mikael International Festival runs July 10 to 18. For more information, please visit:

Lebanon's Nijmeh Square erupts ... in dance - [more]
By: Justin Salhani
Date: Friday, May 18, 2012

BEIRUT: Nijmeh Square in downtown Beirut broke into dance Friday afternoon with BIG Dance 2012, sponsored by the British Council.

The downtown pedestrian plaza saw over 2,300 students from all over Lebanon perform a dance that celebrated physical fitness and the spirit of internationalism.

This year’s dance was created by Wayne McGregor of Random Dance in the U.K. and spotlighted the upcoming London 2012 Olympics by simulating the movements of Olympic sports.

In addition to Lebanon, 152 other countries participated in BIG Dance 2012.

British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher was in attendance and described the show as, “Amazing. They blew us away with their noise and energy.”

Fletcher added that despite the “difficult situation” Lebanon currently faces in Tripoli and other areas, he was “filled with hope” by today’s performance and “optimistic for the future.”

“[The students] are first and foremost Lebanese,” Fletcher said. “Today represents coexistence and hope.”

Fletcher added that the positive atmosphere reminds him that, “Lebanon is an idea worth fighting for; not fighting over.”

BIG Dance 2012 was also attended by school principals, teachers, the President of the Center for Educational & Research Development Dr. Leila Fayad and the President of Al Makassed Institutions Amin Daouk.

Tourism Ministry bans discrimination at beaches - [more]
By: Annie Slemrod
Date: Friday, May 18, 2012

BEIRUT: The Tourism Ministry has opened the summer beach season by banning resorts from discriminating on the basis of race, nationality or disability, but reports of bias in entry policies persist and some owners appear unwilling to conform to the new regulations. The issue of racism at Lebanon’s popular beach clubs is not new.

In 2010, the activist group Anti-Racism Movement caused a stir with a video that showed a black woman being denied entry to Beirut’s Sporting Club. This week, the group posted another clip about racism at beach clubs, highlighting what has become a focal point in the discrimination debate: policies that forbid migrant domestic workers from entry, or restrict their access to swimming facilities.

The Daily Star has obtained a copy of a circular issued in late April by Nada Sardouk, director-general of the Tourism Ministry, addressed to the owners of beach clubs and pools.

It urges “quality in receiving customers, with no discrimination in terms of race, nationality or ... special needs.” Among the circular’s other stipulations are lifeguards and free drinking water.

A ministry spokesperson told The Daily Star that it will conduct periodic spot checks of resorts, and those who fail to conform to the circular will be issued warnings and fines.

The spokesperson added that the ministry would move to close repeat violators. The circular “directs the attention to those concerned that the ministry will be firm in implementing them [the requirements] and will unfortunately be forced to take the appropriate legal measures against those who violate it.”

At Beirut’s Sporting Club, which has long been accused of racist policies, public relations manager Walid Abu Nasser told The Daily Star he was aware of the circular, but considered it “totally wrong. I asked them [the ministry] to please specify, in a complete list, all people I should let into private clubs. They should first of all decide what the rules are for private clubs, and what the rules are for public beaches.”

According to Abu Nasser, Sporting Club’s policy “has always been that any kind of worker, bodyguard, security, escort, maid – any help except for those medically required – are not allowed on the premises.” He added that he considered this to be “social,” rather than racial selection.

Abu Nasser said Sporting Club does screen non-members at the door.

“We screen the clients as to whether they have come introduced by someone at the club,” he said. “They also have to fit a certain profile that we require to maintain a homogeneous atmosphere regardless of whether [potential entrants] are Lebanese, workers or foreigners – it doesn’t matter.”

He continued that the club’s policy was not related to “racial issues,” and that the club reserves the right to turn away anyone at its door, including families with many children, or unaccompanied men.

“It has nothing to do with anything except for what we deem is reasonable for the club’s members to feel comfortable in the environment that they are used to. The same thing happens at any nightclub,” Abu Nasser said, adding that the club has foreign members including employees of the United Nations and embassies.

But in the opinion of Human Rights Watch’s Beirut director Nadim Houry, the nightclub comparison hits at the center of prejudice in the policies of Sporting Club and other beaches and pools.

“Nightclubs discriminate and that is intolerable,” he said. “The issue here is there needs to be no discrimination on socioeconomic status, gender, race, or nationality. That has to be fought.”

Lebanon currently has no all-encompassing anti-discrimination law.

“In addition to racism there is classism in Lebanese society, but that doesn’t make [discrimination on that basis] any more OK,” Houry added.

A public relations official at Beirut’s Les Creneaux, which does not allow domestic or other workers such as bodyguards into its pool, similarly denied that his club discriminates on the basis of race.

“As a worker, in general you can accompany [an employer] but you cannot use the facility ... you have to pay to use the facility.” He said that as the club requires membership for entry, domestic workers may use the facilities as invitees.

The policies of other clubs vary. Martisol Rizk, senior marketing executive at Beirut’s Riviera, said that domestic workers can “come in normally and swim.”

Raya Salame, co-owner of the Portemillio in Kaslik, told The Daily Star that officially domestic workers are not allowed into the pool, but unofficially they are permitted to swim “for the safety of the kids.”

She said she is aware of the circular, and added that “we don’t discriminate.” Salame said the only way to access the resorts’ facilities are with a visitor’s card, or by renting a chalet, hotel room or cabin. Anyone, including domestic workers, Salame said, can use a visitor’s card or rent a place at the resort.

Villamar in Khalde declined to comment on its policies, and Beirut’s Coral Beach Resort did not reply to a request for comment. Both places reportedly forbid domestic workers from swimming.

At Edde Sands in Jbeil, marketing manager Joanne Zarife said that domestic workers are allowed access to the pool if they come with or without their employers, as long as they are wearing proper bathing attire.

She added that occasionally, employers ask that domestic workers enter the pool in uniform and “this is discrimination” against workers, hence the bathing suit policy.

Human Rights Watch’s Houry said that while he found the circular “encouraging” in principle, the key will be whether it is enforced.

The ministry said that as it cannot monitor all clubs and resorts constantly, it encouraged anyone who has been the victim of discrimination or witnessed any other violations of the circular’s regulations to file a formal complaint with the ministry.

On balance, Houry pointed out that most of the country’s beaches, even those that allow everyone in, are practically inaccessible to most migrant domestic workers due to their high entrance fees.

“But it is the principle,” Houry added. “It is the visible tip of the iceberg of discrimination.”

مهرجانات ذوق مكايل 2012 - [more]
By: -
Date: Friday, May 18, 2012

أطلقت أمس مهرجانات ذوق مكايل السنوية للعام 2012. وأكدت رئيسة لجنة المهرجانات زلفا بويز أن «هدف المهرجانات هو جمع الناس»، ولهذا، «جاء التحديد الدقيق لأسعار البطاقات ملتزماً مع ربط الثقافات». وعرضت البرنامج:
14 تموز مع كارول سماحة.
18 تموز Yunus Monica and Carreras Jose مع الاوركسترا الفيلارمونية اللبنانية.
وأشارت إلى أن سعة المدرج هي 2500 مقعد فقط، إلا أن سعر المقعد الواحد لحفلة خوسيه كاريراس يراوح بين 25 و200 دولار وبالنسبة إلى REVUE BLUES STAR ALL CALIFORNIA يباع 90 في المئة من البطاقات بـ30 دولاراً، أما بطاقات كارول سماحة فإن 90 في المئة منها تباع بـ35,000 و50,000 ألف ليرة».
بعد وزير الثقافة غابي ليون، اقترح وزير السياحة فادي عبود استعمال المبالغ التي تدعم بها الوزارة المهرجانات في الترويج المباشر لبرامج المهرجانات حول العالم. وانتقد فرض ضرائب مرتفعة على الفنان الاجنبي الذي يأتي الى لبنان، رغم «موافقتي على دعم الفنان اللبناني».
وطالب رئيس بلدية ذوق مكايل نهاد نوفل بإلغاء الضرائب على المهرجانات.

Creating breathing space amid Beirut’s bustle - [more]
By: Olivia Alabaster
Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BEIRUT: To say there is a lack of public spaces in Beirut is perhaps an understatement. The few truly open sites can be counted on one hand – Sanayeh, the tiny Jesuit garden in Geitawi, the Corniche ...It is this latter area which has provided the focus for the fourth year projects of architecture students at the American University of Beirut, whose original, inspirational sites are currently open to the public.

A walking tour Monday debuted the “Welcoming City” trail, starting at the Old Manara lighthouse and finishing in Ain al-Mreisseh, but people are invited to complete the tour themselves, or visit whichever sites particularly interest them. With the sites placed relatively close together, though, the trail makes for a perfect afternoon walk.

Under the Vertical Studio A_PUBLIC BEIRUT program at the Department of Architecture and Design, students were tasked with reimagining the very idea of public space, what it means to Beirut and Beirutis and how it can be developed and reinterpreted in the future.

Sandra Rishani, who co-teaches the program with Rana Haddad and Carol Levesque, and is the author of the blog Beirut the Fantastic, said the aim was also to consider “how you can allow different people to interact that wouldn’t normally.”

At the first stop, “The Lighthouse: Up to the Manara,” students have created a small exhibition space within the building itself, “The National Museum of Beirut’s Old Lighthouse.”

Having started with an analysis of the Corniche – students, in groups, spent 24 hours pitched next to Deek Duke, with a camera that took a single photo every minute, to dissect the full array of experiences – this group settled on the original black and white beacon set back a little from the coast.

Built by the Ottomans in 1835, the lighthouse was used until 2003, when its visibility from one part of the coast was blocked by a new apartment building (in exchange, the developer funded construction of the new manara).

“We chose the Old Manara as it seems symbolic of Beirut – an old site replaced by a new building, because of the wishes of a developer,” says Dina Mneimneh, one of the students involved in the project.

The Old Manara is kept in reserve, should power ever go out at the new site, and managed by Victor Chebli (who sat in his kitchen during Monday’s visit), whose family has been in the role for over 100 years. His son, Joseph, runs the new site.

At the second stop, another group of students has challenged the “openness” of the Corniche itself. “Corniche Extended” explores the idea that while the coastal path is technically publically owned, as it was funded by government money, much of it is restricted to the public.

Ducking under a barbed wire rope – “we wanted to show just how restricted this site really is, so we kept it as is” – the public is invited onto the promenade at the new fishermen’s port, just past Riviera Beach.

Informed that public access was restricted due to health and safety concerns about sea spray rendering the pathway slippery and dangerous, students bypassed this problem by constructing an elevated, mobile platform.

Using reclaimed pieces of the Corniche itself, and a draisine rail motor from the Mar Mikhail train station, the students – who went straight to Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi for permission – take it in turns to manually shift the platform along tracks they have themselves constructed, taking visitors right to the end of the harbor.

Across the road, a third group of students has erected “Air Rights,” a vertically mobile chair which ascends up a pole. Allowing an obscured view of a large piece of private land hidden behind a wall – which developers are hoping to build on once they can persuade an adjacent family to sell up part of their home – the ride deliberately frustrates the user.

Thea Hallah, one of the students involved with Air Rights explained why the empty chair can go higher than the chair complete with passenger.

“It’s to show what restricted rights we have. So we invite people to try it, but then they are disappointed, as they can see the empty chair going higher than them, and they want to be able to see more. The system works, but it is preventing their journey ...”

Walking further north along the Corniche, one arrives at the fourth site, “Out of Place: A public escape that is suspended in time.” Having noticed an elevated abandoned house, set back from the road, its entrance covered in wild plants, this student group erected a staircase from the street level, after gaining permission from the owners, who are planning to demolish the idyllic site within three years.

On a path made from water tanks, and in a bamboo garden enclave, visitors to Out of Place can sink into a sofa made from a satellite dish – found on site. Surreal and magical, this really is a secret garden in the city.

At the final site, “Nature’s Calling: A play on senses,” students have rooted a public telephone in to a huge private, but unkempt, garden, whose owners were enthusiastic about the project. Surrounded by flower pots, and with a sunken seating area, this final site is more artwork than architecture.

“We wanted to take something from the city and move it into this green space and put it somewhere you wouldn’t imagine finding it to amplify this difference,” says Mira Moussa, one of the group’s students.

Descending to the dug-out bench, one’s eye level is in line with the ground, “so you are literally sitting in the garden.”

This completely original and inspiring collection of works will fascinate anyone interested in architecture, public space, the future of Beirut, or just simply those wishing to see a hidden side to the city.

Old Manara: until May 18, 3 p.m until 4 p.m. Corniche Extended: until May 17, 1-6 p.m. Air Rights: until May 18, 5-7 p.m. Out of Place: until May 25, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Nature’s Calling: until May 18, 2-6 p.m.

Pop-up skate park offers temporary haven for Lebanon’s skateboarders - [more]
By: Alex Taylor
Date: Monday, May 14, 2012

BEIRUT: In their quest to popularize skateboarding and secure space for a permanent park, the Lebanese Skateboarding Association has opened Lebanon’s first pop-up skate park for 40 days of slides, grinds and air at the Beirut New Waterfront.

The park – which opened May 2 with around 200 people attending the event featuring skating displays and street art – is the latest step for LSA to promote their case for a permanent location to skate, says LSA director Elias Fayad.

“Our main objective is to open a permanent public skate park, if not more than one. Yet every municipality we approached has a misperception about the sport and about the skaters. Skaters are always kicked out and looked down on,” says Fayad.

“The pop-up [park] is a start to change this perception,” he explains, discussing the objectives of the 1-year-old LSA, including lobbying the municipalities, promoting the sport through public events and empowering youth.

According to Fayad, the sport is growing quickly in Lebanon, evidenced by the high turnout the park has seen so far – about 25 people on average per day.

On a weekday afternoon, the pop-up park has a steady crew of skaters, from kids as young as 8 up to 28 years old, tackling the obstacles: a mini ramp (a smaller version of a half pipe), a quarter pipe, manual pads, rails, thumbwalks, ramps and more.

Another of the pop-up park’s organizers from LSA, Ghassan al-Salman, says that Lebanon’s skaters suffer from a lack of “some place safer than the streets” to skate.

“We’re always getting chased out by police, security guards, and residents. You always get kicked out,” he says, adding that LSA’s goal is to change the unfair, renegade image that skaters have and provide safer conditions to practice the sport.

“A lot of people have negative connotations because we skate in the streets all the time. We skate between cars and all that, but we’ve got nowhere else to skate,” says Salman.

“You can’t stereotype us based on that. We’ve got nowhere else to skate, so we’re going to skate the streets. When we skate the streets, they label us as bad people or street kids. We can’t help it unless we have a park,” he points out.

“It’s a good sport. It promotes creativity and it joins all sects and backgrounds of youth,” Salman continues.

The space for the temporary park was donated by Beirut by Bike, but LSA’s mission to secure a permanent location has been met with roadblocks. Three times rejected by the Beirut municipality, their sights have now turned to Horsh Beirut as a possible location.

“There’s a piece of land inside Horsh Beirut that’s already built, it’s all concrete waves and stuff. It’s beautiful and would be perfect. It wouldn’t cost us a lot to turn it into a park, just fixing things here and there,” says Salman, adding that so far LSA has gotten positive feedback from Hazmieh and Sin al-Fil.

For now, Lebanon’s skaters will have to take full advantage of the pop-up park until it closes shop June 15. Then, it’s back to the streets.

Nasser Mukharesh, 21, who has been impressing the park’s small crowd with tricks, says having the park is “great.”

“I finish class at university and come down here. There’s always someone to skate with, you have obstacles and no one hassles you.”

For Mukharesh, getting chased out by security is simply and unfortunately “part of the routine of skating.”

“It’s nice having a place like this as a home base, for convenience and for safety’s sake.”

The pop-up skate park is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through June 15 at the Beirut New Waterfront.

خاص: متحف الحيوانات المحنطة في بنشعي - [more]
By: El Marada Website
Date: Monday, May 14, 2012

انسجاماً مع واقع قرية بنشعي البيئي، أنشأ السيد شربل مارون مالك احد المقاهي على ضفاف البحيرة التي اصبحت معلماً سياحياً بيئياً لبنانياً، متحفاً للحيوانات المحنطة افتُتح منذ سنتين تقريبا والذي بدأ يستقطب العديد من الزوار "الذين يبدون اعجابهم به لغرابته ولأنه يجمع حوالي 3 آلاف حيوان من كل أصقاع الأرض من اوروبا واميركا وآسيا وافريقيا واستراليا" حسبما يقول شربل مارون الذي التقيناه على ضفاف بحيرة بنشعي.
والمتحف هذا اذا ما قمت بجولة به، فتبدأ بزيارة قعر البحر والتعرّف على الاصداف والاسماك ثم تدخل الى عالم الطيور الاليفة والبرية والجوارح والدواجن وتنتقل الى رؤية الحشرات على مختلف انواعها وترى مراحل حياة العديد منها من البيضة حتى اكبر احجامها، ومن بعدها تمجد الخالق بمئات الفراشات الملونة وبكل الاحجام، ثم تمرّ عبر عدد من الزواحف والافاعي والسلاحف قبل دخولك الى عالم الحيوانات الثديية التي تشدكّ اليها من الغزلان المتنوعة ذوات القرون الضخمة وانواع الماعز والحمار الوحشي المرقط ثم انواع القوارض والقطط المختلفة التي تتوّج بالنمر السيبيري الواثب، وتنتقل بعدها للتعرف على انواع الجواميس الضخمة والتي تظهر ذلك من خلال رؤوسها ثم تزور عالم الدببة الذي يستقبلك بالدب القطبي الابيض المهدد بالانقراض وبنهاية الجولة لا بدّ من التعرف على الذئاب المتنوعة.
واشار مارون الى "ان صاحب فكرة هذا المشروع هو الوزير سليمان فرنجية الذي يعرف انني اهوى الحيوانات وشجعني على تنفيذه وخاصة ان الحيوانات الحية على ضفاف البحيرة تصدر في بعض الاحيان روائح كريهة، وهذه الفكرة التي طُرحت منذ 5سنوات ظلت تجول بفكري حتى تبلورت الأمور كلها وبدأت التنفيذ ."
يضيف مارون "ان هذا المشروع جَمَعَ حيوانات الغابات في مكان واحد وهدفي منه هو جعل الزائر يتعرّف الى هذا الحيوان عن قرب ويتعرّف على حياته وتفاصيل جسده لكي لا يقتله بل يحافظ عليه".
ويؤكد انه " لا يصطاد الحيوانات بل يشتريها من عدة مصادر في العالم، فلدي شبكة علاقات مع العديد من المهتمين بالحيوانات، لذلك عندما اعرف ان هناك حيوان مات في ZOO (حديقة حيوانات) اتصل بهم واعرض عليهم شراء هذا الحيوان لتحنيطه وطبعاً في مراكز مختصة بالتحنيط خارج لبنان الذي يفتقر الى تلك الاختصصات او المراكز، كما انني افتش عن الذين يجمعون حيوانات محنطة لكي اشتريها منهم، واؤكد ان كل حيوان معه شهادة من منشأه وذلك كنوع من الحماية".
ويشدد على ان هذا المشروع هو بيئي بامتياز لأنه يساهم بالمحافظة على الحيوانات الميتة للتعرّف على جمالياتها والحفاظ عليها حيّة."
وعن الصعوبات التي واجهته، يعددّ مارون البعض منها " من افتقار لبنان للمهندسين المتخصصين بهندسة المتاحف الى عدم تقديم الدولة دعماً لهكذا نوع من المشاريع ولا تسهلّها."
وعن انواع الحماية التي يوفرها لتلك الحيوانات يضيف مارون "انني استخدم انواع من الادوية والعقاقير التي تحمي الحيوانات من البكتيريا وذلك باشراف اطبّاء بيطريين، كما ان نظام التهوئة على مدار الساعة يساهم بذلك".
وعن ردّات فعل الزوار يقول مارون ان" هناك العديد من الاشخاص الذين يعتبرون هذا المتحف وجهة سياحية فيزورونه اكثر من مرّة وهذا ما شهدناه خلال هذه السنتين حيث ان تزايد عدد الزوار دفعنا الى العمل على توسيع هذا المتحف ليضم اكبر عدد من الحيوانات."
وختم شربل مارون بعد نسجه لعلاقة مع هؤلاء الحيوانات المحنطة معبراً بشيء واحد " سبحان الله الذي خلقهم".
ولا بدّ من الاشارة الى ان بحيرة بنشعي هي اصطناعية. وتحولت الى وجهة سياحية تنتشر حولها المقاهي ناهيك عن كونها من المحميات الطبيعية اللبنانية، ولو بدون مرسوم اشتراعي، باشراف ورعاية رئيس تيار المرده سليمان فرنجية "البيئي الأول" الذي ادار في أوائل تسعينات القرن الماضي محرّك جرافته الضخمة وبدأ بحفر الوادي الصغير بين بنشعي وعرجس لاقتناعه بأنه dستوعب بحيرة. وفي 25 تموز 1998 ، افتتحت البحيرة - السدّ التي هي بعمق 18متراً وطول 600 متراً وعرض 200 متراً وبقدرة استعابية حوالي 700 الف متر مكعب من المياه.

Lebanon’s alternative seaside destinations - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: Saturday, May 12, 2012

BEIRUT: Loud music, high heels and even higher entrance rates may seem to be inescapable at the beach in Lebanon, but this need not be the case. The Daily Star has sought out five unique seaside haunts for those seeking an alternative day by the coast.


The seafront at the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is the antithesis to the vast majority of Lebanon’s beaches – no music, no beer, no luxury swimming pools. But this beautiful, calm, clean stretch of coast running from Tyre’s public beach to the Rashidiyeh Palestinian refugee camp is one of the sandiest in Lebanon.

Part of a protected nature reserve founded in 1998, the beach, along with being the perfect place to sunbath in tranquility, is also a great location to spot nesting turtles and migrating birds.

The conservation area, which one requires permission from the TCNR office to access, comprises a wetland of international significance, located as it is on a major migratory path for birds, and it is also an important nesting area for two endangered sea turtles species: green and loggerhead turtles. Permission can be obtained from the TCNR office Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

TCNR does not charge an entrance fee, but it does accept discretionary contributions to its ongoing conservation projects.

Outside the conservation area, Tyre’s public beach, which is also wonderfully sandy, is a great place to enjoy lunch or refreshments right on the sea.Contact TCNR by email at or phone at 07-351-341 or 03-287-211


Some 11 km off the coast of Tripoli lies a cluster of flat rocky uninhabited islands, among them Rabbit Island. Reaching Rabbit Island involves a little more adventuring than accessing most of Lebanon’s beaches, but the trek’s rewards include long sandy beaches and great places to swim.

Some preparation is needed prior to departure: As there are no shops or restaurants on the island, you’ll need to pack an ample picnic to keep you going through the day.

Leave Beirut early and bus or drive north to Tripoli Port. If you’re travelling by bus, you’ll have to take a service from where it drops you in central Tripoli to the port.

Once at the port, you’ll find plenty of guys with boats eager to ferry you to your destination – be prepared to haggle for a good price. Upon arrival on the island, take a stroll around its perimeter – it will take you all of 10 minutes – then swim, sunbath and enjoy your picnic.

Be warned: While there may be some entrepreneurial young men willing to hire you a table and chairs on which to eat your lunch, no one has as yet established any bathroom facilities – be prepared for seeking out a secluded spot in order to relieve yourself.

As long as you’re not the last people on the island, it should be easy to find a boat to take you back to the mainland. Alternatively, you could try to arrange for the boat that brought you out to return and collect you at a designated time.


The seafront itself may be nothing more than a narrow, very rocky strip of land, but Pierre and Friends beach club just outside Batroun is one of the country’s most relaxed and unpretentious – you won’t spot any high heels or maids in uniform here. However, you do need to be prepared for an aural diet comprised almost exclusively of Bob Marley and the occasional afternoon when the Mediterranean, for whatever reason, is whipped into a temper, making the rocky coastline hostile and unpredictable as you try to safely pick your way into the sea.

Entry to Pierre and Friends is free, but during peak season, you do have to pay a small fee to rent a plastic sun lounger. The bar and restaurant on site are also good and prices are reasonable. Choose a seat facing out to sea and you’ll invariably be entertained by the antics of windsurfers, spear fishermen and groups of friends mismanaging rented kayaks. When you’re ready, rent a kayak yourself and join in the fun.

If you get tired of Pierre’s chilled vibe, drift southward to Pearl Beach where the blasting techno or pop music eventually leads pockets of hip-gyrating beachgoers to indulge in a spontaneous seaside discotheque.


Slightly further north, but within walking distance of Pierre and Friends lies White Beach. Its strand, which is equally stony, is much deeper than its neighbor’s, and while the beach itself is less “hip,” it’s just as relaxed, but in a family-friendly way.

There is an entrance fee at White Beach, but it’s only LL5,000 and includes a chaise longue.

The club also offers a range of activities, from snorkeling to diving, sailing and windsurfing. Its website invites guests to bring their own fishing gear and advertises that the Lebanese restaurant on site will cook your catch for you.

For more information visit


Lazy B has long since ceased to be a secret, and it has definitely become one of Lebanon’s most popular beaches, yet it remains without equal in the country.

Aiming to create a relaxing, peaceful and traditional sun, sea and sand atmosphere, the resort, unlike most others, plays no music during the day and has tried to retain as natural a coastal environment as possible.

Featuring the beach, a creek, two swimming pools, deck chairs, loungers and beds, guests may choose their preferred environment for relaxation. Food is served at the seven terraced restaurant on site, or wherever one chooses to lounge within the sprawling complex. Free Internet is also offered.

Lazy B is a private resort and does charge entrance rates on a par with the upper end of the beach club market. For the 2012 season, entrance for adults and children over 15 is LL31,818 plus VAT on weekdays and LL36,363 plus VAT on weekends and holidays. Children under 15 are charged LL18,181 plus VAT. It is also worth noting that while children are welcome at Lazy B, the pools are off limits to them. The resort is open daily from 9 a.m. until sunset, with lifeguards on duty until 6 p.m.

Beirut gets seriously juicy with new and old bars - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: Wednesday, May 09, 2012

BEIRUT: Long before the juice craze reached the California coast, people were lining up at refreshment stands in Beirut, quaffing tasty juices for their daily intake of vitamins, fiber, carbohydrates and anti-oxidants.

Throughout Lebanon, small shops and refreshment stands where fresh juice is made on the spot have long been found in most neighborhoods. Many date back decades, but others have popped up over the past several months as part of a burgeoning phenomenon.

All juices are known to have benefits – thanks to the fruits from which they are squeezed. Oranges and grapefruits are high in vitamin C; pineapples and grapefruits burn fat thanks to their low glycemic indexes; the high potassium in bananas helps with metabolism and water balance; pomegranates are high in fiber; carrots' high vitamin A content is good for the eyes and skin; and avocadoes, often used in sweet-fruit salads in Lebanon, are rich in potassium and vitamin B, and serve to lower blood pressure.

Jallab is a regional specialty as well as a staple at juice bars across Lebanon. It is made from the syrup of grape molasses, dates, rosewater and crushed ice, and is often topped with pine nuts, almonds and raisins. The cool and refreshing drink is particularly popular in the sweltering summer and during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"People come here from all over for our juice," claims Fawzi al-Masri, who has been making juice for the past eight years at Jabbour Cocktail on Armenia Street near the Dora roundabout.

"The avocado cocktails are the most popular, even though they're the most expensive," he reveals as he slices avocadoes, whips them up with milk and sugar, and tops the mixture with ashta cream, honey and almonds. He then garnishes the result with additional small slices of avocado, strawberry, pineapple and kiwi, completing the brightly colored assembly line leading to the popular concoction.

Jabbour and next-door Cocktail Lahoud have been around for years, as has Salem Cocktail, which lies across the street. This block, near the crowded roundabout where buses head north toward Tripoli, has become a favored destination for those seeking delicious fresh juice.

George Makhlouf, who started a small chain of juice bars in Dora in 1990 called G. Makhlouf, now has branches in Gemmayzeh, Sarba and Jounieh (but has since closed his location in Dora). He explains that he opened a number of businesses before settling on juice bars, and that he enjoys the experience of offering customers healthy products that continue to grow in popularity.

"I'm working to make this place organic," he says of his store on Gouraud Street, Gemmayzeh's main street. "Right now, it's 80 percent organic. When it's 100 percent organic, I'll put a sign in front saying 'Organic.' I'm trying to improve all the time."

Makhlouf points out a new trend in juice-making that started in the West and is now catching on in Lebanon. It consists of adding ginger to apple, carrot or other kinds of juice. He is now often asked for such drinks.

Other places have recently sprung up across the capital, including Beit Moussalem near Sassine Square in Ashrafieh, which was opened three months ago by Milad Moussalem, a lifelong grocer who hails from the Chouf and whose parents were tomato farmers.

The juice bar in this shop is but one section of a spacious establishment bursting with colorful fruits and vegetables. Moussalem boasts that he offers the most luscious fruit from all over Lebanon and the world.

"I grew up among farmers, and now I'm bringing the fresh taste to Beirut," he declares as he pours a glass of pomegranate juice pressed on the spot. Indeed, the juice does taste as though the pomegranate has just been picked from the tree.

Many newer juice bars, including Casa Oriental in Downtown Beirut and several places located in the capital's proliferating health clubs, are now offering supplements, or "boosts" as they're sometimes called, of protein and vitamins.

But even with all the new creative options, the most popular juices continue to be the classics – orange, apple and pineapple. And even with the mushrooming of fruit juice stands manned by knowledgeable employees, many people prefer to rely on aged but venerable experts for their fruit fix.

Liliane Noujeim, who hails from the Chouf, always frequents a place called Hachem in Zalka, just north of Beirut.

At Hachem, she says, "I know the people and I know where the fruit comes from. I like the way it's all lined up and they make it right in front of you."

Breaking bread and raising glasses of Lebanese wine in the Bekaa - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2012

BEKAA, Lebanon: Away from the posh restaurants of Beirut, Lebanese food and wine lovers are toasting one another at the source of the agricultural chain.

“Instead of bringing the garden to Beirut, we’re living in it,” says Kamal Mouzawak, co-owner of Tawlet Ammiq, a restaurant specializing in local cuisine and drinks that opened Sunday in a bucolic corner of the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon’s wine country and breadbasket.

The restaurant, accessible only by a dirt road near the wetlands of Ammiq, is located in a simple and spacious building with outdoor and rooftop seating, boasting views of the mountains – some verdant with vegetation, others a snowy alabaster – of west Bekaa.

The food, an assortment of delectable local dishes, is prepared on-site by local women, and includes manousheh and flat bread fried on the outdoor tannour.

Located in the most fertile area of the country, the project was funded by the Swiss Development Agency and undertaken in conjunction with the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature on land donated by the Skaff family.

Once construction of the eco-friendly building was completed, the Chouf Cedar Reserve partnered with Tawlet to create an establishment that promotes both the environment and the cultural heritage of local communities.

Prior to being approached with a proposal for the project, Mouzawak had wanted to raise the wine profile of his restaurant, Tawlet, in Mar Mikhail, Beirut. So opening a restaurant in the Bekaa seemed both wise and propitious.

“It’s happening at the right time. Every month, interest in Lebanese wine grows,” observes Lebanese wine writer Michael Karam, who has helped Mouzawak promote the wines at his Beirut restaurant and will continue to do so in the Bekaa. He notes, “The Bekaa Valley is the historic and present hub of wine-making in Lebanon.”

Indeed, although the restaurant is in a relatively remote area, some are hoping that the concept of a venue that aims to offer all labels of Lebanese wine will help in the quest for a national brand. Were one or more Lebanese wines to earn greater international recognition, this could lead to a spike in exports – which until now have been modest.

“We have beautiful wineries, but no one has been promoting them,” Mouzawak laments.

“The Bekaa Valley could be what [California’s] Napa Valley is to the [United] States,” speculates Joe Abboud, chef and owner of Rumi, a Lebanese restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. Abboud is visiting Lebanon in part to research wines that he can offer at his restaurant.

“Awareness won’t happen overnight ... but it’s getting better with competition,” he notes, referring to the proliferation of Lebanese wineries over the past several years. “Varietals [as opposed to blends] are a good entry point for the Australian market.”

Lebanon’s wine industry first succeeded in staking out a place on the international map in 1979, when Serge Hochar from Chateau Musar traveled to the Bristol International Wine Fair in the U.K.

Over the past several years, it has been growing at an impressive rate, with the number of vineyards having doubled from 15 to 30 between 2005 and 2009, and with 10 more having opened in the past three years.

A center for Lebanese wine (and food) would appear to be the next step in enlarging Lebanon’s position on the global wine map.

“We did it in Beirut and now we are doing it in the Bekaa,” asserts Karam. “The hope is that by carrying wines from all Lebanon’s wineries we will contribute to the burgeoning interest in Lebanese wine within Lebanon. Wine tourism is on the move and we want to set the standard.”

Meanwhile, the project’s founders are already looking ahead to their next venture: the renovation of the old brick houses near the restaurant to accommodate eco- and eno-tourists; launching a Sunday market for Bekaa farmers; and forging a network of trails for hikers to explore the Ammiq wetlands and the surrounding mountains.

“The project is a big step for the eastern side of the Chouf Biosphere reserve,” says reserve manager Nizar Hani. He boasts that the restaurant will lay the groundwork for a host of socio-economic activities, and will be “an important link between the mountains and the wetlands.”

عين على لبنان - [more]
By: Kataeb Website
Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2012

قضاء البترون

هو أحد أقضية محافظة الشمال اللبنانية الثمانية. يشكل مجرى نهر المدفون جنوبا ومجرى نهر الجوز شمالا حدوده الجغرافية ويمتد من ساحل البحر في الغرب مشتملا قسما من سفوح السلسلة الغربية لجبال لبنان حتى يلامس قممها عند جبل المنيطرة على ارتفاع 2700 مترا عن سطح البحر حيث تقرب مساحته من 278 كيلومترا مربعا.

يحده شمالا قضاء الكورة وشرقا قضاء بعلبك من محافظة البقاع وجنوبا قضاء جبيل من محافظة جبل لبنان.

يبلغ عدد سكان القضاء القاطنين فيه 38،000 نسمة تقريبا، أي ما يعادل 0.9 % من العدد الاجمالي لسكان لبنان، يتوزعون على 68 بلدة، في 22 منها مجالس بلدية منتخبة.

مركز القضاء، البترون، وهي مدينة ساحلية صغيرة، تعتمد بشكل أساسي على النشاط الاقتصادي الذي يخلقه سكان البلدات الجبلية الذين ينزحون إليها في فصل الشتاء البارد، لكنها في الآونة الأخيرة بدأت تخطو خطوات واسعة لتكون مدينة سياحية كمثيلاتها على الساحل اللبناني.

وقضاء البترون ذو طبيعة خلابة، تنتشر في مرتفعاته وعلى الساحل أديرة وكنائس قديم، منها ما هو موجود في بلدة دوما ذات الأهمية السياحية، كذلك يمتاز القضاء بغابة أرز في أعالي قرية تنورين.

Get back to nature at Aley’s Ramlieh Hostel, an eco-friendly spot - [more]
By: Stephen Dockery
Date: Friday, May 04, 2012

RAMLIEH, Lebanon: Winding dirt roads up the forested mountainsides near Aley take you to the Ramlieh Hostel, an isolated retreat removed from bustling city life. As winter ends and the snow melts, this small hostel perched in the mountains 40 kilometers from Beirut offers a unique eco-friendly getaway.

Located about 7 kilometers from the Chouf Cedar Reserve on the grounds of the Mediterranean Forest Development and Conservation Center of Lebanon, the hostel is geared toward offering the kind of simple nature experience so often overlooked in the Lebanese hotel industry.

At an altitude of 800 meters, visitors can hike mountain trails, cross a high rope over the treetops and learn how to repel down rock faces.

The hostel also offers traditional mountain food cooked by local chefs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"Our youth hostel is unique because it's in nature and we have traditional food," says hostel manager Farouk Salman.

Salman says hiking and high-wire crossing are the most popular activities; mostly the hostel draws people who just want to be out in nature.

In the middle of Mount Lebanon, the simple lodgings are a far cry from the often extravagant Beirut style of living. But the views are unique: Valleys and forests fall away into the distance out the windows of the lodge.

"It's very quiet," says Salman.

The hostel gets about 2,500 to 3,000 visitors a year, mostly from group retreats of big families, companies and school educational trips.

"We are open the whole year but mostly we get more groups than individuals," says Salman.

The hostel is also on the grounds of a center for The Association for Forests, Development and Conservation that has a number of reforestation and conservation projects in the area.

The association has an information office for environmental education in addition to outdoor activities where visitors can learn about wildlife preservation efforts from experts in the field. A number of nongovernmental organizations and environment aid projects work through the center in Ramlieh.

The area is filled with a variety of flowers and such classic regional trees as pine, oak and cypress. The hostel also leads trips to the nearby village to pick fresh fruit and learn about the local food industry.

The hostel's 22 double bedrooms sleep 44 in all and they offer a range of prices depending on the length of stay and meals needed. The lodge has wireless Internet as well as conference rooms for group activities. Reservations can be booked online.

Campgrounds, a rarity in the country, are also found in the hostel area for people looking for an even more outdoorsy experience.

Salman says the best time to go is right after the winter or summer breaks when the climate is just right.

"The good time to come is the springtime," he says. "The trees and flowers are blooming, it's not hot or cold; it's mild weather."

For more information on the Ramlieh Hostel, call 05-280-430 or visit

قلعة لبنان ومن الشغف ما أقام صروحًا... - [more]
By: جان دارك أبي ياغي
Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2012

في أحضانها ثلاثة متاحف «قلعة لبنان»: ومن الشغف ما أقام صروحًا...
طرازها الفريد والجهد الشخصي الذي بذل لبنائها، أكسباها شهرة لبنانية باتت اليوم عالمية... «إنها قلعة لبنان» التي بناها طبيب أسنان فنان هو الدكتور إيلي صرّاف. صرّاف راوده حلم، وقد حققه مستندًا إلى كثير من الشغف وإلى مساعدة عائلته الصغيرة. فإلى القلعة...

موقع القلعة
تقع «قلعة لبنان» التي تضم ثلاثة متاحف في أسفل امتداد وادي قاديشا وغابة الأرز في بلدة كوسبا - قضاء الكورة، في منطقة كانت تعرف قديمًا بـ«منطقة الحرية». وتواجه القلعة دير سيدة حماطورة الأثري الذي يعود تاريخه إلى 1300 سنة والذي يقع في قلب جبل أهداه اسمه.
تمتد القلعة - المتحف على مساحة 50 ألف متر مربع، لكل حجر فيها رمز، ولكل ركن قيمة فنية تراثية قائمة بذاتها.
بناء ضخم مؤلف من 7 طوابق من الحجر البركاني الأسود المنقول من جرود عكار والذي يحتوي على عدد من المعادن ومنها تبر الذهب. يطل البناء من بين جبلين ويشكّل القلعة بقمتها المكللة بثلاث خواب ترمز إلى التراث اللبناني، وثلاثة تماثيل ترمز إلى حرية الفكر والمعتقد في لبنان، بالإضافة إلى تاج المعرفة اللبنانية المزيّن بالكرة الأرضية دلالة على الإنتشار اللبناني في جميع أقطار العالم.

«أهلا وسهلا»
عند مدخل القلعة تطالعك الـ«أهلا وسهلا» المحفورة على الحجر بست لغات (عربي، فرنسي، إنكليزي، برتغالي، روسي وصيني)، إلى جانب رسم للكرة الأرضية نقش عليها عبارة «حافظوا على الأرض»، وأحرف الأبجدية على أحجار السيراميك في قارب فينيقي (منحوت في فسيفساء تزيّن أرض القلعة)، تشهد على أننا موطن العلم والحرف.
أما الخريطة اللبنانية التي تزيّن الباب الحجري للواجهة الرئيسة والذي يزن أكثر من طن، فتدل إلى موقع القلعة والمواقع الأثرية الأخرى (قلعة صيدا، صور، طرابلس، جبيل، وادي قاديشا، وصولاً إلى الأرز مع أسماء القرى المحيطة بها).
في الباحة الخارجية دعوة للإستراحة: كراسٍ وطاولات مصنوعة من الرخام وحجر الموزاييك بأشكال فنية ابتدعتها يد الفنان الدكتور إيلي صرّاف. أما خارج القلعة فثمة استعادة للحياة القروية اللبنانية، من صنع الفحم والكلس إلى الحرير والمونة والفرن العربي وبئر الماء ودبس الخروب وماء الورد وماء الزهر وغيرها...

لا للحرب نعم للسلام
في واجهة القلعة أرزة لبنان مغروسة في مثلث حجري يجري فيه شلال ماء؛ الماء يتحوّل دموعًا في دلالة إلى أيام الحرب، وعندما ينضب تشمخ الأرزة كما في زمن السلم.
تاريخ الحرب ومعاناتها تترجمها لوحة تمثل البندقية والقبعة العسكرية والقبر، وأخرى تمثل الأيادي التي تحترق، وثالثة ترمز إلى «الهستيريا الجماعية» التي سادت زمن البندقية والمدفع.
نكمل الجولة لنصل إلى الطابق الأول، جدرانه مزخرفة برسوم وآلات موسيقية شرقية، ديوان، جرن، وكلها مصنوعة من مواد طبيعية صديقة للبيئة ولا تحتاج إلى صيانة.
وفي صدر الدار، الجلسة العائلية وعين الماء والجرة على أكتاف الصبايا، وصولاً إلى السهرة اللبنانية وطرب الآلات الموسيقية القديمة.
أما باقي الطوابق فهي في طور التجهيز، لتشهد في الأيام المقبلة على قيمة لبنان التراثية من خلال القطع والأدوات التي ستتضمنها.

طبيب أسنان فنان
د يتساءل الزائر عن الجهة أو المؤسسة بانية هذا المجد، فيفاجأ بأن الدكتور إيلي صراف هو صاحب الفكرة ومنفّذها إلى جانب عائلته المؤلفة من زوجته وولديه.
الدكتور صراف إختصاصي في طب الأسنان، تابع دراسته في الولايات المتحدة وعاش مع عائلته هناك لمدة طويلة في أثناء الحرب اللبنانية. الغربة القسرية ولّدت لديه تحديًا كبيرًا وحلمًا راوده منذ الصغر بأن يبني قلعة في منطقة الحرية في كوسبا - الكورة. بدأت الخطوة العملية الأولى العام 1984، وعلى دوي المدافع جلبت الحجارة البركانية السوداء اللون من عكار، وهي من تراث لبنان ورأسماله، كما يقول الدكتور صراف. إنتهى العمل في البناء العام 1990، لكن وكما سبق وأشرنا ثمة ستة طوابق ما تزال قيد التجهيز.
عندما اختار أن يبني «كانوا يدمّرون» كما يقول، وعندما قرروا أن يبنوا بنوا بالباطون. ويضيف: «أردت أن أبني ماديًا ومعنويًا، وعبر بناء الحجر كنت أسعى، كلبناني، إلى إعادة بناء القيم والهوية اللبنانية التي مزقتها الحرب. القلعة كانت حلمًا تحقق عبر تجسيد الشخصية اللبنانية الفريدة بقديمها وجديدها».
وهكذا، ضربت يداه الصخر فبنى، وداعبت أنامله الإزميل والألوان فرسم ونحت وجسّد المفاهيم الأزلية في لوحات ومنحوتات وشواهد باقية بقاء الحجر.
حول المجهود الفردي الذي أنجز هذا العمل الضخم، يقول الدكتور صراف إنّه استعان بمكتب هندسة درس الموقع ووضع الخرائط والأساسات. أما التنفيذ بكل تفاصيله «فلي ولعائلتي فقط، ولم نستعن بمهندس ديكور ولا بنحات أو رسام بل كنا نحن وحدنا فريق العمل».

متحف الحجر الطبيعي
إفتتح متحف الحجر في العام 2010، وهو يمتد على مساحة 1500م2 في الهواء الطلق. وقد تحوّل عبر السنين من حقل رماية إلى مسرح شهد حفلات تراثية وفنية وعروض أزياء... واليوم صار متحفًا للمنحوتات الحجرية الطبيعية الشاهدة على جمال الحجر في لبنان.
يضم المتحف حوالى 500 قطعة من المتحجرات تتوزّع في خمس أقبية تتلاءم وشكل الحجر. أغلب هذه الأحجار مصدرها مقلع منطقة «بِلاّ»، كما من مختلف المناطق اللبنانية. تتّخذ الأحجار أشكالاً فنية مختلفة (كالسلحفاة، حيوانات متحجرة، صدف بحرية وجبلية، بزاقة...) تجعل الزائر يستمتع في رؤيتها وفي تخيّل أشكالها.

متحف «الإنسان والطبيعة والدواء»
المحطة الأخيرة في الجولة كانت في آخر ما ابتدعته يد الدكتور صراف، وهو متحف الشجر حيث فن الطبيعة والإنسان يخيمان على محتوياته.
يتضمن المتحف الذي افتتح العام 2000، أكثر من مئة نوع من الأشجار القديمة اللبنانية المصدر كالسنديان، اللزاب، الشوح، الأرز، الدلب، الحور، الكوكلان، الزيتون، السرو، القطلب، الملول أو العفص، الكينا، البطم (وهو نوع من الشجر المشهور بصلابته يستعمله الفلاح اللبناني)، وغيرها من الأشجار التي يعتبرها الدكتور صراف من التراث اللبناني.
تعود فكرة إنشاء هذا النوع من المتاحف إلى حلم راود الدكتور صراف في صغره لإبراز جمالية وشكل الأعشاب في لبنان وتحويلها إلى أداة طيّعة في يد الإنسان.
يقول في هذا الصدد: «الهدف هو إقامة غابة لبنانية ناطقة، تضم أشكالاً متعددة وأنواعًا غريبة ونادرة من جذوع الأشجار والأغصان والأعشاب، تختصر جوانب من حضارة لبنان وتاريخه وتمسك اللبناني بأرضه المعطاءة وخيراتها المقدّسة».
يجلب الصراف معروضاته من كرم الطبيعة، فهو يفتش عن الجذوع والأغصان في الغابات والبساتين. ويشرح: «أنا لا أغيّر في شكلها أبدًا، فهي صناعة إلهية وأنا فقط أزخرفها وأجمّلها وأضعها في المكان المناسب».
في زاوية على شمال المدخل عدّة طب الأسنان القديمة التي كان يستعملها الدكتور صراف وهي حجر الأساس في بناء مملكته، «فلولا مهنة طب الأسنان لما استطعت بناء القلعة - المتحف»، كما كتب على لوحة بأحرف من العملة اللبنانية القديمة.
مجموعة من العصافير تستقطب الزوار، منحوتة من خشب أشجار التين، الدردار، السفط، الياسمين، العلّيق... وقد اتخذت أشكالاً فنية رائعة. هذا إلى سفينة نوح التي تحتل وسط القاعة وقد تحوّلت إلى رفوف لعرض المنحوتات الخشبية.
في المتحف نفسه جداريات «الموزاييك» التي صنعها الدكتور صرّاف تعكس أسلوبه الفني الخاص، الجداريات تجسّد صلب المسيح وقيامته، أجراس الميلاد، بورتريه لـ«بو سعيد» السكران، وجوه ومناظر طبيعية.
حاليًا يُجري الدكتور إيلي صراف إختبارات طبية ودراسات لتحليل أنواع الأشجار وقيمتها، كما يحضّر مشروعًا لتحليل بعض الأعشاب النادرة في وادي قاديشا تصلح أن تكون أدوية فاعلة.
يجدر بالإشارة أن وزارة التربية والتعليم العالي - المديرية العامة للتربية قد أصدرت تعميمًا إلى مسؤولي الثانويات والمدارس الرسمية لتشجيع طلابهم على زيارة القلعة لكونها رمزًا سياحيًا وأثريًا ووطنيًا، وهي تفتح أبوابها طوال أيام السنة من الساعة العاشرة صباحًا ووفق موعد مسبق.

تصوير: الرقيب جو طويل

Tripoli, Batroun offer cultural treasures - [more]
By: Justin Salhani
Date: Monday, April 23, 2012

BEIRUT: The Phoenicians, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, Arabs, Europeans and others have all, at one time, claimed ownership over Lebanon’s northern coast.

Over the centuries, from Batroun to Tripoli, an array of structures has been erected including castles, hammams, souks, churches, mosques, churches converted into mosques, and churches converted to mosques that were later converted back to churches. The intricate culture that has been woven along the pristine coastline has brought into being some superb sights.

The winding mountain roads of Rashana are lined with sculptures of limestone, steel, aluminum, wood, bronze, cement and stone and the gaps are filled with wild daffodils.

The creators of the artwork are the famous Basbous family: brothers Michel, Joseph, Alfred and Michel’s son Anashar (Rashana backward).

The road travels past a number of villas with creative gates and artwork displayed from their homes until it arrives at the open air museum. The garden boasts over 60 years of work from the Basbous family including a sculpture of Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine, built in 1967; Michel’s limestone masterpiece of two lovers built in 1957;and Michel’s last sculpture built in 1981 before his death.

The magnum opus of the open-air museum, however, is a small one-story house built by Michel in 1974. The house is now inhabited by his widowed wife who greets visitors with a smile, chocolate and a glass of liqueur entitled “perfect love.”

Therese Basbous, an accomplished playwright, explains that the house was sculpted by her late husband and mixed traditional and oriental styles with new architecture. The entire house is curved and “without right angles.” Michel created the house so he could “live inside a sculpture.”

The Castles

Every castle tells a story. The successive invaders built on top of each other’s remnants to leave behind castles that depict the northern coast’s remarkable history.

- The Tripoli Castle: A climb to the top of a newly erected viewing platform allows a breathtaking, panoramic view of the entire city, the sea and the snow-covered mountains.

The castle, rebuilt in the 12th century by the Crusaders after numerous destructions, is adorned with the remains of Mamluk coffins and an Ottoman cannon. The castle’s architecture tells its history, including four craters displayed in the castle’s walls: scars of the Syrian occupation from not long ago.

- The Phoenician Castle, Smar Jbeil: On the edge of a cliff overrun with multihued wildflowers and over-looking vast, emerald valleys that come apart to reveal the azure sea, sits another famous castle in the small village of Smar Jbeil.

The castle was initially built by the Phoenicians, but traded hands over the ages before settling in the possession of the Maronites during the Middle Ages.

- Mussaylha Fort: Mussaylha Fort differs from those of Tripoli and Smar Jbeil in two major ways.

The first is that Mussaylha sits in the heart of a valley, surrounded by mountains that give a visitor an aura of insignificance. The second is that the fort is no more than 400 years old, according to scholars.

A stone bridge runs over an angry brown river leading to the castle, built on a long narrow limestone rock. According to historians and eyewitnesses, Mussaylha was built by Fakhreddine II in 1624.

The old city of Batroun

The old city, filled with bike-wielding youths and the scent of fresh fish, is bedecked with shaded, cobblestone roads and charming shops built of aged stones. The souk has been modernized, with computer repair technicians settling inside its tiny dakakin (shops) but the tranquility of the coastal city has proven itself immortal. The city rests between two ports, separated by the impressive Phoenician Wall. Greeting a local will be met with a smile and a possible invitation into their home for coffee.

The Hammams of Tripoli

The hammams were not just bathhouses but social clubs, where citizens would meet, gossip, bathe and smoke nargileh. The outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War changed this though, leaving the hammams barren accept for spider webs and accumulation of dirt.

- Hammam al-Nouri: On a bustling city road in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque sits an elderly lemonade vendor with a long white beard. Behind him is an old, dusty store where other old men sit chewing seeds and sipping Turkish coffee.

In the store though, is an old wooden, unassuming door. Like a fairytale, the door reveals a dark labyrinth, lit only by sparse rays of sunlight that lead to a hammam built in 1333. Hammam al-Nouri is now abandoned, collecting cobwebs in its various bathing rooms and high domed ceilings, needing an influx of around a million dollars to renovate according to one expert on the city.

- Hammam al-Jadid: Hammam al-Jadid derives its name (New Hammam) from being built around 1740. Like Hammam al-Nouri, this hammam is abandoned, however its recent purchase by Prime Minister Najib Mikati signals a future rebirth.

The highlight of this hammam is the designs in the ceiling. By placing a mirror (or sunglasses in a tourist’s case) under the ceiling, various shapes can be seen including the star of Malta and, in one room, the outline of the key needed to access the hammam.

Sharkass Tradition Handmade Olive Oil Soap Shop

Soap-maker Mahmoud Sharkass is an institution. Despite the initial appearance of his grimy, humble shop, the walls display photographs of meetings with a number of ambassadors. Sharkass’ family has been making soap from pure olive oil since 1803 and Mahmoud still uses traditional German machinery, some as old as 150 years. Sharkass claims he is the only soap maker in the world using 100 percent olive oil. Despite neighboring shops who have decided to open competing soap businesses, Sharkass’ business seems set to last.

Souk al-Attareen

“Europeans and Americans love it! I don’t usually take Lebanese here though,” tour guide Ali Khawaja says as he races through the crowded, narrow walkways of Souk al-Attareen. The antique, traffic-filled souk contains stores with screaming vendors, displaying a selection of meat, fish, bread, sweets, vegetables and more. The longest of the souks in Tripoli carries with it a strong sense of culture but as Khawaja elucidated, locals often prefer a detour.

خان الصابون - [more]
By: فريد بو فرنسيس
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2012

يشكل خان الصابون في مدينة طرابلس الاثرية، نقطة جذب للزبائن، لكنه أيضاً مكان يقصده زوار المدينة للفرجة. لحظات الهدوء نادرة في الخان نهارا، فهو يعج يوميا بالسياح والزوار. ومهما تبدلت الظروف في لبنان، تبقى الحركة فيه قائمة، احيانا تخف وتيرتها، لكنها لا تنقطع أبدا، ويبدو الخان أخيرا مساحة لاستقبال نشاطات ترفيهية وثقافية.
من سوق الصياغين الشهير في طرابلس، تشد الزائر رائحة الصابون المطيبة والمعطرة. يدخل الخان من بوابته المرتفعة، وهي عبارة عن قاطع مستطيل مجوف ينتهي بعقد مقوس تتناوب فيه الحجارة البيضاء والسوداء. وما زالت الأرض مرصوصة بقطع الحجر التي بناها بها عام 1480 والي طرابلس يوسف بك سيفا كثكنة عسكرية، مؤلفة من طابق أرضي فيه غرف كبيرة أعدت كإسطبل للخيول، وحولت الآن الى محلات تجارية لها أبواب تطل على الساحة الفسيحة، وتتوسطها بركة ماء كبيرة. فيما يتألف الطابق الأول من غرف كبيرة كانت مخصصة للجند، وتطل هذه الغرف على الباحة السفلية للخان.
ومع احتلال الأمير فخر الدين لمدينة طرابلس، وهروب آل سيفا، بقي الخان مهجوراً مهملاً دون استعمال أو اهتمام من أحد إلى أن تقدم تجار مدينة طرابلس بطلب إلى الحاكم الجديد لتحويل الثكنة الى مصنع وصالة عرض للصابون ومشتقاته. ومنذ ذلك الحين تحولت الثكنة الى خان لصناعة الصابون وبيعه وسمي "خان الصابون".
يعود عمر صناعة الصابون في طرابلس إلى آلاف السنين فيما الطرابلسيون هم أول من عرف هذه الصناعة نظراً لتوافر موادها بكثرة في المدينة وضواحيها. وتوسّعت تجارة الصابون مع بداية القرن الحادي عشر وبشكل كبير انطلاقاً من أوروبا. ومن المعروف أن الحكام الأوروبيين كانوا لا يستحمون بل يتعطّرون. من هنا كانت خطوة تعاون الكيميائيين والعطّارين في طرابلس التي أدت الى اختراع صابون معطّر بات يؤخذ كهدايا للأمراء والوجهاء الأوروبيين بسبب شهرته الواسعة، وراح الطلب عليه يزداد وقد تفنّن أهل الخان في تصنيعه وتطويره وتميزه بالألوان والعطور والأشكال المنحوتة.
خلال مواسم الأعياد والنشاطات الفنية والثقافية يعج الخان بالناس ليل نهار، لكنه في الأيام التي تغيب عنها المناسبات يبدو في الليل مكاناً مهجوراً، آلات تصنيع الصابون وحيدة في باحة من باحاته، وسلات منتوجات أهل الخان مخبأة داخله. يغطس الخان في سواد الليل ليبدو كأنه يعيش وحشة الوحدة، ومع خيوط الشمس الأولى يستعد لاستقبال العائدين إليه.
Explore the host of hidden treasures Beirut has on offer - [more]
By: Niamh Fleming-Farrell
Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BEIRUT: Beirut guidebooks have their uses – hotel listings, emergency numbers, helpful maps – but on the sightseeing front they often come up short. If you've duly paid a visit to the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque (often better known as the "blue mosque") and been decidedly underwhelmed by Pigeon Rocks, then perhaps some of these less frequently touted options will pique your curiosity and enthusiasm for exploring Lebanon's capital.

1. Beirut New Waterfront: You'll no sooner have disembarked from the plane than all and sundry will direct you to the Corniche. By all means go, view its famous freestanding rocks, watch the sunset from a rooftop bar and take in the multitudinous activities of what is perhaps the city's most utilized public space. But afterward its worth taking a stroll out to the Beirut New Waterfront, a man-made stretch of coast between BIEL and Zeitunay Bay, where the incessant noise of the city recedes behind you, leaving only the tranquility of the Mediterranean and spectacular views up the northern coast as you turn back toward land. On weekends and public holidays, you'll also find families here as young children learn how to ride bikes and rollerblade in this quiet spot. If you fancy a bit of pedal-pushing yourself, Beirut by Bike is nearby and offers rental bicycles.

2. Jardin des Jesuites: Leafy parks are not easy to come by in Beirut, but if you take the time to find your way through the narrow streets of Geitawi in East Beirut, you'll uncover this city's secret garden. It's a small, modest affair, but this park does have trees and benches. And just by finding your way there you'll discover a charming corner of Beirut that isn't on any regularly paced tourist trail. The park is also a pleasant alternative for those not enamored by the prospect of joining the oil-slathered bodies tanning at the St. George's beach club.

3. Saifi Village: The guidebooks direct you to Place d'Etoile, and while that's certainly worth a visit, don't miss out on Saifi Village, the colorfully painted, rebuilt area just at the top of Martyrs' Square. In this chic, très European quarter uniformed maids play with children in an open central plaza, while far more French than either Arabic or English fills the air. Visit the boutiques and galleries, and then take a break at one of the sophisticated cafes in the area.

4. The Hangar: Few tourists ever venture to the city's southern suburbs, but since The Hangar exhibition space in Haret Hreik opened several years ago, visitors keen to see another of the capital's many faces now have a great reason. With a new exhibition or installation every two to three months, the Hangar showcases work by both Lebanese and international artists. The exhibitions are certainly worth a look, but so is the adventure of getting to the space. You can easily ramble the noisy and chaotic streets of the area, but refrain from overtly taking pictures – it upsets Hezbollah's security detail – and dress modestly. One of the nicest things to do in this part of town is find a fruit juice shop with some outdoor seating and just people-watch for a while. For more information and directions visit:

5. Sabra market: Another reason to head south of the city and off the beaten tourist trail is Sabra market. Located next to the Palestinian refugee camp at Shatila, this market is both a visual and aural feast. It is filled with vibrant vegetable displays on stands run by traders who've been selling to the same customers for years, and the surrounding stalls offer meat and an assortment of shops sell homeware, books and clothing. Quite often, locals will come up, eager to engage in conversation. Ninety-nine percent of time this will prove enjoyable and nonthreatening. During the summer months you might also witness a wedding procession noisily honking though the narrow streets, and it does well to bear in mind that any volleys of machine-gun fire heard are most probably in celebration of a recent matrimony or high-school exam results.

6. Orient Institute Beirut: If the mayhem of the suburbs has exhausted you or is simply just unappealing, a quiet afternoon at the Orient Institute Beirut in the central Beirut area of Zukak al-Blat (across the highway from the Grand Serail) may an attractive prospect. Set in a traditional villa, replete with wooden paneling and stained glass windows, the OIB boasts both a reasonably extensive library and a garden. The library, which is fully stocked with the daily papers, is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday. The institute also frequently hosts interesting evening lectures and workshops, details of which can be found on its website:

اميون نجمة سهل الكورة - [more]
By: El Marada Website
Date: Sunday, April 15, 2012

يقال ان اميون هي نجمة سهل الكورة ، انها مركز القضاء وتشتهر بشيرها الصخري تحت كنيسة القديس يوحنا المعمدان والذي تتخلله 26 نافذة محفورة في الصخر .
انها بلدة العلم والثقافة والبيوت التراثية والكنائس الاثرية .
لمناسبة عيد الفصح المجيد لدى الطوائف المسيحية التي تتبع التقويم الشرقي تجول عدسة بيارو عون في بلدة اميون عاصمة قضاء الكورة.
مزار ام المراحم في مزيارة - [more]
By: Elmarada Website
Date: Friday, April 06, 2012

في مزيارة قضاء زغرتا يرتفع تمثال السيدة العذراء في كنيسة ام المراحم شاهقاً مطلاً على البحر الابيض المتوسط ومشكلاً محجة دينية لحشود من المؤمنين .
موقع المرده ولمناسبة الجمعة العظيمة ينقل بالصورة جماليات هذا المعلم الديني المميز.
الصور بعدسة بيارو عون

من لبنان: بالصور قلعة بربر اغا في ايعال - [more]
By: فريد بو فرنسيس
Date: Tuesday, April 03, 2012

على بعد حوالى خمسة كيلومترات جنوبي مدينة زغرتا، وعلى يمين الطريق المؤدية الى بلدة مزيارة في القضاء، تقع قلعة بربر اغا الاثرية، على مساحة تمتد الى حدود الـ 8455 مترا مربعا في العقار 740 في منطقة ايعال في قضاء زغرتا. ووفق الصحيفة العقارية فقد كتب تحت عنوان أسماء المالكين: وقف مصطفى آغا بربر/  ذري، خيري، يعود الى ذرية الواقف وفق شروط الوقفية المدونة في الحجة المؤرخة في 25 جمادي الآخر السنة 1231هـ،ـ أي قبيل وفاة بربر في 28 نيسان 1835 مسيحية". وهذا التاريخ ذكره الامير بشير الشهابي في كتاب عن وفاة بربر أرسله الى حاكم مصر آنذاك محمد علي باشا. 
تتالف قلعة بربر من "بناء من حجر مقصوب، يحتوي على تسع غرف للسكن، وثلاث فسحات دار مسقوفة، وثلاثة مطابخ، وست غرف مؤونة وست فسحات سماوية، وخمس برك ماء، وفرناً ومدخلين مسقوفين ومدخلا سماويا (مكشوفا) وعشرين غرفة خراب، ومدافع وأسوارا، وسلالم حجرية، وبقايا أعمدة وقناطر وسراديب، وخمسة أدرجة (سلالم) حجرية داخلية وعقودا، ومدفنا خاصا، وحدائق تزرع بقولا وفيها أشجار من كل الانواع وخصوصا الزيتون المعمر، اضافة الى عدد من اشجار النخيل والرمان والتين. ويعلو قسما من هذا العقار في الجهة القبلية 8 غرف ومطبخان وفسحة ودار وسجن وقنطرة للشنق، وقبر بربر المهمل مع قبور حاشيته. هذه القلعة الفسيحة تغطي الاعشاب والاشواك البرية قسم كبير من معالمها المتبقية، وهي تبدو أطلالا تدعو الى الدهشة والاستنكار، علما انها مصنفة من الامكنة الاثرية منذ 38 سنة ، لكن رغم قرار وزير السياحة الذي صدر في 12/8/1966 وقضى بادخال العقارات 731 و685 و728 و686 و729 و730 المجاورة للعقار 740 من منطقة ايعال الذي تقوم عليه القلعة والعقار 741 الذي يقوم عليه مسجد القلعة، في قائمة الجرد العام للأبنية والمعالم الاثرية في لبنان، ونص القرار على "عدم جواز القيام بأي عمل من شأنه تغيير شكل العقارات المشار اليها ومنظرها العام الا بعد موافقة خطية من المديرية العامة للآثار"، فان القلعة بقيت من دون اي اهتمام من اي مصدر ومن دون تأهيل او ترميم، وباستثناء زيارات متقطعة لبعض المؤرخين والاعلاميين والفنانين الذين حاولوا استطلاع صلاحية القلعة لاقامة مهرجانات فنية فيها، فان الاهمال ووضع القلعة المزري ووعورة أرضها أبعدت الزوار والسياح عنها.
برمانا: للسياحة في لبنان نكهة جديدة - [more]
By: Al Jadeed website
Date: Wednesday, February 08, 2012

مهما اغترب اللبناني وتجول في دول العالم، سيظل يحن الى بلده، الذي وعلى الرغم من كل شيء، لا زال بلداً سياحياً مهماً، ببحره وجبله، بثلوجه وأرزه. والسياحة في لبنان لا تكتمل من غير زيارة برمانا والتمتع بجمالها الساحر والمتواضع الواقف ببهائه في محافظة جبل لبنان.
برمانا هي إحدى القرى اللبنانية من قرى قضاء المتن. تقع على ارتفاع 750 متراً عن سطح البحر، وتبعد عن العصمة بيروت 20 كيلومتراً.
تعتبر برمانا منطقة سياحية بامتياز، تجذب سنوياً آلاف السياح، ولا سيما الخلجيين منهم. تتميز المنطقة بجوها العليل صيفاً، والبارد شتاء. يحدها من الغرب منطقة بيت مري، وتكثر فيها المطاعم والشقق والفنادق السياحية. كما تعتبر مركزاً تربوياً أساسياً في المنطقة، وقد اشتهرت فيها "مدرسة برمانا العالية" التي تأسست عام 1788 بمستوى تعليمي رفيع وخرجت نخبة من الشخصيات اللبنانية والعربية التي برعت في مجالات عدة منها السياسة والاقتصاد والتجارة، بالإضافة الى الفكر والأدب والعلوم.
هي إذن برمانا، المنطقة التي اشتهرت سياحياً قبل أي شيء آخر. أسعارها مقبولة بالنسبة الى كل السياح، وهي أقل من الأسعار المعتمدة في بيروت، رغم انها لا تقل عنها جمالاً وكرماً وتوفراً في الخدمات.
الاشجار سترافقك في جولتك على برمانا. والهواء المنعش أيضاً. هذا صيفاً، أما في الشتاء، فالطبيعية ستكون أكثر جمالاً وحضوراً. كل ما عليك فعله هو ارتداء الملابس التي تقيك البرد، والانطلاق في رحلتك.
لا تقلق بشأن زيارة برمانا شتاء، بل افتح قلبك لتَميزها. كل شيء متوفر هناك لتأمين راحتك. تذكر دائماً ان للسياحة في لبنان نكهة جديدة مع برمانا، ولن تكتمل رحلتك السياحية لو جبت لبنان بأكمله ما لم تطأ قدماك أرضها.

عاصي الحدث لبنان - [more]
By: ريما سليم ضوميط
Date: Wednesday, February 01, 2012

تاريخ مغارة
وادي قاديشا، أو وادي القديسين، هو بقعة غنيّة بالكهوف والمغاور التي يصعب بلوغ معظمها، والتي تخبىء بين دهاليزها أسرارًا وحكايات عن تاريخ لبنان. من بين هذه المغاور، «عاصي الحدث» وهي مغارة طبيعية تقع في منطقة «حدث الجبة» على ارتفاع 1300 متر عن سطح البحر. تم اكتشافها العام 1990 من قبل مجموعة من المستغورين الهواة، فشكّلت إكتشافاتهم دليلًا مادّيًا لأحداث تاريخية شهدتها المنطقة في القرن الثالث عشر.
هذه الإكتشافات الغنيّة بالدلالات التاريخية باتت اليوم موثّقة في كتاب بعنوان «عاصي الحدث» لبنان - تاريخ مغارة»، صادر عن مركز فينيكس للدراسات اللبنانية التابع لجامعة الروح القدس - الكسليك، تأليف فادي بارودي، عبدو بدوي، بولس خواجه، وجوزف مكرزل.وقد تم الإحتفال بتوقيعه في 23 أيلول الماضي في حرم جامعة الروح القدس- الكسليك.

رحلة في الزمن الغابر
في كتابه «تاريخ الأزمنة» ذكر البطريرك إسطفان الدويهي في القرن السابع عشر، أن مغارة «عاصي الحدث» كانت الحصن المنيع الذي لجأ اليه أهالي حدث الجبّة خلال حرب المماليك والصليبيين في المنطقة العام 1283.
وبعد مضي سبعمئة عام على الحرب المذكورة، قرّرت مجموعة من المستغورين من الجمعية اللبنانية للأبحاث الجوفية إستكشاف مغارة «عاصي الحدث»، وإيقاظ التاريخ الراقد في عتمتها.
قائد بعثة الإستكشاف، رئيس الجمعية السيد فادي بارودي أشار في حديث إلى مجلة «الجيش» أن الجمعية اللبنانية للأبحاث الجوفية التي تأسست العام 1988، وضعت في أولوية اهتماماتها المغاور ذات القيمة التاريخية، ومن هنا كان قرار استكشاف مغارة «عاصي الحدث» إستنادًا الى المعلومات التاريخية المذكورة في كتاب البطريرك الدويهي.
وأضاف بارودي: بدأ البحث العام 1988، وانتهى بعد ثلاثة أعوام، باكتشافات مذهلة أثبتت الأهمية التاريخية للمغارة.

تاريخ في ظلمة مغارة
أولى الإكتشافات كانت جثّة محنّطة تعود لطفلة تبلغ من العمر أربعة أشهر، أطلقنا عليها إسم «ياسمين» إستنادًا إلى كتابات وجدناها إلى جانب الجثّة يطلب كاتبها من اللّه شفاء الطفلة «ياسمين» من الحمّى.
كانت «ياسمين» ترقد في قبر مطمور على عمق أربعين سنتمترًا فقط من أرض المغارة. وقد ألبست تحت الكفن ثلاثة فساتين. أما عنقها فكان مزيّنًا بعقد مرصّع بقطع الخرز الزجاجية، وقطعتين من النقود المعدنية التي يعود تاريخها إلى عهد السلطان المملوك الظاهر ركن الدين بيبرس البندقداري، وهو قائد الحملة المملوكية على «حدث الجبة» العام 1283.
لم تكن «ياسمين» المومياء الوحيدة التي اكتشفت في مغارة «عاصي الحدث»، وإنما وجد فريق البحث سبع مومياءات أخرى تعود أربع منها إلى فتيات في مرحلة الطفولة، وثلاث لنساء ناضجات. وقد أوضح بارودي أنهم اكتشفوا في المغارة 293 قطعة أثرية، من بينها أدوات حربية، وملاعق خشبية، وأوان خزفية، إضافة الى بقايا أطعمة من بينها الجوز واللوز وقشر الرمّان، وسنابل القمح المجدولة.
من الإكتشافات البارزة أيضًا، كتابات ورسائل مسيحية وإسلاميّة، وعملة صليبية وأخرى مملوكيّة، تعود جميعها الى القرن الثالث عشر.

إكتشافات فريدة من نوعها
عن أهمية هذه الإكتشافات وقيمتها التاريخية قال بارودي: أعطت اكتشافاتنا صدقية كبيرة لكتاب «تاريخ الأزمنة» للبطريرك الدويهي، حيث قدّمت رؤية واضحة عن الأحداث التاريخية التي رواها الكتاب.
من جهة أخرى، تعتبر مغارة عاصي الحدث من بين الإكتشافات التي وضعت وادي قاديشا على لائحة التراث العالمي. بالإضافة إلى ذلك هناك أهمية للمكتشفات بحد ذاتها فالمومياءات التي حفظت طبيعيًا في المغارة مدة سبعمئة عام شكّلت ظاهرة فريدة استدعت اهتمام الخبراء والمهتمين بالآثار في عدة دول من العالم.
عن مصير المومياءات قال بارودي أنها نقلت الى المتحف الوطني بعد ترميمه العام 1995.

بين اللقلوق والأرز وفاريا - [more]
By: حنان مرهج
Date: Friday, January 27, 2012

"من زمان ما تلجت بكير..السنة رح نتهنّى بالسكي" هكذا أجاب رودريك معبراً عن بهجته بموسم التزلج الذي بدأ باكراً هذا العام، مضيفاً " الأهم اليوم أن تشرق الشمس، لنمارس هذه الهواية"، هذا لسان حال معظم اللبنانيين، بعدما تساقطت الثلوج في العاصفة الأخيرة لتعلن إنطلاقة موسم التزلج بشكل رسمي في لبنان، هذا الموسم الذي يعتبر ركناً أساساً في إنعاش السياحة الشتوية، والسياحة في لبنان بشكل عام بحسب المعنيين.
هو الجنرال الأبيض، يأتي كل عام مميزاً لبنان عن باقي الدول المجاورة، ليزين قممه بالوشاح الأبيض، بياض يتفاءل فيه اللبنانيون ليس فقط بالنسبة للرياضة الشتوية إنما ايضاً لما يضفيه من جمالية على اللوحة التي رسمها الخالق، فهو يعطي أملاً بمياه جوفية وبإبعاد خطر التصحر.
هذه الصورة الكاملة من البياض وغير المتجزئة لم تكس كل جبال لبنان وفي مثل هذا الفترة من السنة منذ العام 1992، ليجمع المختصون في هذا المجال أن الموسم جيد.
من مركز الأرز للتزلج بدأ موقعنا بالجولة.
غابة الأرز تميز هذه المنطقة التي تغص باللبنانيين الآتين من طرابلس وبيروت، إضافة الى الأجانب، وعدد قليل من الدول العربية، بحسب ما أشار مسؤول في مركز الأرز للتزلج طوني عريضة، مضيفاً أن شهر شباط هو أقوى نقطة في الموسم، ومن المتوقع أن يكون جيداً هذا العام مقارنة مع السنوات الماضية.
حلبة الأرز هي الأوسع بالنسبة للحلبات الأخرى في لبنان بحسب عريضة، إضافة الى طبيعة الجبل المتميز بإنحداره وتعرجه، الذي يستقطب البطولات العالمية، ولا سيما سباق العمق sky de fond، والتعرج الطويل والقصير، وهو يشبه بتضاريسه الجبال الأوروبية، الى حد ٍما.
منطقة الأرز لا يقصدها السياح فقط للتزلج يقول عريضة، فهذه المنطقة تغص بمن يهربون من زحمة الساحل الى جمال الطبيعة معظم أيام السنة، وشتاءً يومي السبت والأحد، أما الذي يشجع فهو أن الطريق سالكة معظم أيام السنة، وخصوصاً خلال فصل الشتاء، وذلك لوجود مدرسة للتدريب على التزلج تابعة للجيش اللبناني تتمركز في ثكنة يوسف رحمة.
"على الجميع أخذ يوم عطلة، عندما يصفو الطقس" هي دعوة من صاحب حلبة اللقلوق سمير صعب خص فيها الجامعيين للإستفادة من الطقس الجيد لأنه بحسب قوله: تنبئ حسابات البواحير والصليبيات بطقس عاصف خلال شهري شباط وآذار.
هي حلبة اللقلوق التي تجذب الشماليين خصوصاً بحسب صعب فهي تحوي أفضل نوعية من الثلوج، ومجهزة بمواقف للسيارات مجاناً، وهي قريبة المسافة في الوقت نفسه، اذ تبعد عن جبيل المدينة26كم فقط. السبت:ladies day فلا تتأخرن أيتها السيدات، يقول صعب داعياً الجميع الى الإستفادة من طقس نهاية الأسبوع الجيد، ومن الأسعار المخفضة هذا العام، بهدف استقطاب أكبر عدد من محبي التزلج والسياح الأجانب والعرب.
بين اللقلوق والأرز وفاريا الحلبة الأكثر أماناً  وتجهيزاً بحسب المعنيين، الأسعار متقاربة، فأيجار الsky و "البوط" في الأرز يبلغ 10$، أما يوم المونيتور فيبلغ 25$، التيليسكي للمبتدئين تبلغ قيمة إيجاره 20$. أما في اللقلوق فإيجار ال skyيبلغ  15 ألف ليرة لبنانية، وهو يتضمن "البوط" أيضاً، والمونيتور في اللقلوق موجود بأعداد كبيرة أيضاً لأي مساعدة.
" ثلج لبنان ببيض الوج هذا العام" عنوان حملة وزارة السياحة، وبالفعل حلبات التزلج في لبنان المتوزعة في جنوبه، وسطه وشماله، من راشيا الى الأرز، مستعدة تماماً لإستقبال اللبنانيين والأجانب، وليس فقط على مستوى الرياضة إنما لإستقبال محبي قضاءweekend والسهر إن في فاريا أو الأرز أو اللقلوق.
وتبقى الإشارة الى أن الحكومة اللبنانية وافقت أخيراً على وضع آلية لإنماء السياحة الشتوية بمشاريع عدة أبرزها توسيع مساحات التزلج.
Preserving Jabal Moussa’s heritage through eco-tourism - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2012

JOUNIEH, Lebnaon: Just 50 kilometers northeast of the Lebanese capital lies some of the country’s most diverse natural heritage. Today, some dedicated conservationists are working to keep it that way through sustainable eco-tourism and local development projects.

“You cannot conserve a place unless you showcase it,” says Pierre Doumet, president and founder of the Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa, established in 2007 to protect the area and establish a program of sustainable development, involving the expertise of local residents, the financial help of institutions and private donors.

He adds: “We want eco-tourism to be responsible, and we want people to keep the area beautiful, bring jobs to the area and help local development.”

Locals have been trained to serve as guides and guards, while women from the rural areas are now selling their traditional food, mouneh, including kshik, tomato syrup, zaatar (thyme) and hosrom (juice from grape vines), as well as handicrafts. A kiosk has been installed near the entrance to the reserve as a first point of sale, after which they hope for the goods to reach the cities. In addition, local families are being trained to run guest houses for visitors who choose to stay the night.

With most of the members of the association originally from Jabal Moussa, they say it was not difficult to approach the locals, many of whom are related to them. In fact, some of them came forward asking how they could participate in a project that would allow them to preserve their cultural and environmental surroundings.

“Before, they were doing crafts for their families and neighbors, but they didn’t have a way to market their products,” says project manager Christelle Abou Chabke. “This will help keep people in their villages instead of going to Beirut and Tripoli. And they’re doing something that helps preserve their traditions.”

As part of the association’s research, a team of students from St. Joseph University studied the area and determined that one of the main setbacks for the local community was a lack of job opportunities, which has led to rural flight and, at other times, inadvertently caused residents to harm their own surroundings by sometimes earning money from grazing and cutting trees.

Today, they’re using their traditional knowledge and skills to preserve their surroundings.

Flanked by the Dahab and Ibrahim rivers and rising from 350 to 1,600 meters above sea level, Jabal Moussa forms a stunning natural oasis in comparison to the natural landscape approaching the reserve that has seen years of damage by quarry after quarry.

The steep mountains make a thrilling but hard hike for trekkers, and an even harder life for rural residents, whose traditional lifestyle is under threat of disappearing.

In 2007, a group of conservationists created the Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa with the goal of protecting an area rich in natural diversity and cultural heritage. Two years later, the organization presented their research to the ministry of agriculture and then to UNESCO, which designated it as the third biosphere of Lebanon, after the cedars in the Chouf and the Rihane forest in the south.

Jabal Moussa now has three nurseries dedicated to reforestation and preserving biodiversity. The project’s annual budget is between $300,000 and $400,000, and is financed by grants from local embassies, the United Nations Development Program and private donations.

Although it sits on a relatively small area, 1250 hectares, Jabal Moussa is notable for its rich diversity of species of more than 700 species of plants, including six that are native to the area.

While it might be too early to determine the results achieved by the five-year-old conservation project, some returning, local dwellers might already be an indication of its success.

Layal Boustany, in charge of the nurseries at Jabal Moussa says, “Through our sensory camera, we’ve seen animals come out during the day, and that’s very rare in Lebanon.”

Lebanon has a wealth of hidden treasures - [more]
By: Brooke Anderson
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2012

BEIRUT: A tour of Lebanon typically includes stops at the main tourist attractions, such as the Roman ruins of Baalbek, Byblos and Tyre, and the downtown shopping and restaurant district in Beirut. But far away from the country’s grand sites are a wealth of hidden treasures – from enchanted forests to lesser-known places in Tripoli and even Beirut.

“My personal favorite is Quornet Sawda (Black Corner), in the north above the cedars,” says Ronnie Chattah, who has been leading walking tours of Beirut for the past five years. “You literally feel like you’re on top of Lebanon, the view of both the Mediterranean and Bekaa Valley is fantastic. It’s the only place I can think of in Lebanon that you’ll still see a patch of snow even in July.”

Hana Hibri, also based in Beirut, whose book, “A Million Steps,” documents her 30-day hiking journey along the Lebanon Mountain Trail, says that some of the most beautiful spots she has come across have yet to be discovered by most tourists – or even Lebanese.

During her hike, she was taken aback by the Baatara Sink Hole in Tanourine, a green mountain area with three superimposed natural bridges and a majestic waterfall.

“You’re walking toward it, and all of a sudden it’s there,” she says.

“It’s really breathtaking, especially in the spring.”

Another place that has stayed with Hibri since her hike is the Niha Fortress, located near the southern town of Jezzine.

“There’s a 400-meter drop to the valley. This is where [the prince] Fakhreddine took refuge. There’s dramatic history and scenery,” Hibri says.

Anissa Helou, a Lebanese food writer based in London, says that when she returns to her home country she likes going to the unspoiled parts of the Chouf Mountains and driving to the Mir Amin Palace Hotel.

For the evening, to avoid the hustle and bustle of Beirut, and get a taste of the old city life, she likes to go to the old parts of Mina in Tripoli, visit the souk, and then, in warm weather, stop at Jammal restaurant, “watching the sea while eating super fish at the silver shore in Tripoli.”

Blogger and author Nasri Atallah, who writes on Lebanese youth culture for his blog “Our Man in Beirut” and has published a book by the same name, also found a favorite spot in Tripoli – but not of the typical “old world” charm tourist site.

There, in the northern capital, he discovered the International Fair in Tripoli designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. “It was his first project outside Brazil and no one knows about it – 15 modernist structures in the heart of Tripoli,” he says.

“When [the fairgrounds were] built in 1975, Tripoli was a very different place, but today it’s cool because it’s like a spaceship in the middle of a sprawling city. It’s pretty surreal,” Atallah adds.

His other favorite spot in Lebanon is his father’s village of Bteddine el-Loukche, just outside of Jezzine.

“It’s just three houses on a hill, and you’re submerged in pine trees. It would make Tuscany jealous ... The area is pretty pristine,” he says, adding jokingly, “No one has heard of it, and I don’t want them to visit.”

For Ghenwa Sannouh, incoming manager at Wild Discovery travel agency, the best spots in Lebanon are those combining culture and scenery – such as the old souks of Byblos and Sidon, 1 hour north and south of the capital respectively.

“There, you can have lunch and enjoy the restaurants and culture,” Sannouh says, adding: “These places are still romantic.”

In a country known for its fondness of luxury cars, resorts and expensive nightclubs, some of those who know it best appear to be favoring the areas accessible by foot, a possible sign of changing times.

“One of the reasons I really like walking is it give you a sense of pace,” Hibri says. “You can experience everything in an intimate way, and you can take the time to talk to people. It makes you notice the little things.”