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Showing posts from 2011

Social Media Changing Lives

After the success of “Blogging Lebanon” last December, Online Collaborative at the American University of Beirut proudly announces its annual conference for this year “Social Media Changing Lives”.

There is no doubt that social media is expanding drastically in the world, and especially in the Middle East, yet this change is not only related to technology and the internet. Social Media is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives. The aim of this conference is to discuss how social media is changing fields such as education, culture, business, media and journalism, music and art, NGOs, politics, religion, human rights, science, the environment and the personal lives of everyone who is using them.

This conference will be taking place on December 16, 2011 at 12:00 PM at Issam Fares Hall at the American University of Beirut.

The conference is open to the general public, and is free of charge. However, due to the limited capacity, it is required that you register beforehand so you can gua…

Nokia “App Patrol” takes to the streets and lay the smack down on Smartphone application violators.

Beirut, Lebanon - Nokia thinks that way too many phones are being held hostage in the wrong hands by users who own the latest Nokia devices yet are not installing the applications that make these devices thrive the way they were meant to. So Nokia have unleashed an “App Patrol”, a group of dedicated “Smartphone law” vigilantes who don’t take application matters lightly.
These patrols will be on the lookout for the most serious Nokia application offenders, ready at the drop of an app to arrest and fine these violators!
Keep an eye out for the App Patrol as they have planned raids at universities, malls, cafés, cinemas and other application offender hotspots in Beirut.
The App Patrol has issued a public warning on their YouTube channel to notify all the application criminals in Beirut to take heed and make sure they get the right applications for their Smartphones in order to avoid being prosecuted by the Nokia App Patrol.
Patrol warnings and the right thing to do: Four videos have been pos…

Social media to change the Arab world? Probably not.

It is without doubt that when people look back at the political events of the year 2011, the highlight of the year would be the civil revolutions and uprisings of the Arab world, or what is commonly refereed to as the 'Arab Spring'.
The Arab Spring has been associated with one of the most booming means of communication till now: Social Media. It is a common misconception, though, that the revolutions were caused by social media, since they would have started with or without the internet. However, what kept the revolutionary flame burning was the ability of citizens to easily and quickly share news, photos and videos of what is actually happening on the ground using social media. All reputable news sources were relying on amateurs to deliver the news. For the first time of the history of the Arab World, the news was made and delivered by citizens. Citizen journalism has never been so popular.
And it is still going on. In Syria, where hundreds are being killed each week for voi…

For the love of our country

When you hear “Lebanon” and “government” in the same sentence, what comes to mind first?

Sectarianism, money wasting, no electricity, no water, no jobs, bad internet, expensive living, taxes, wasta? The list goes on and on…

Lebanon does not only have a beautiful landscape, it’s not only a touristic destination, it’s not only a clubbing hub, but it is also rich in resources that can help the Lebanese stand on their own feet. Lebanese are proud of that and are ready to fight for Lebanon, that’s the only thing they all agree on.

But are we fighting for the right reasons? Do we participate in protests and political gatherings to improve our current state of living or just because our leaders tell us to?

A couple of years back, Israel tried to claim the traditional Lebanese Hommos (Chickpeas) dish with tahini as their own. The whole Lebanese community from different sects and religions stood together and defended the Lebanese-born dish by breaking the Guinness Book of records for the large…

Derwiches Cultural event

After it has sent its first delegation to the United Nations 9th Youth Assembly and set a system of representation to the UN HQ, UNYA Lebanon is launching on August 26 2011 the Lebanese Youth Mobility Fund, a leading project to facilitate traveling of young Lebanese artists, activists and researchers around the Arab world in the purpose of circulating their knowledge.
This fund will be managed by professionals on a volunteer basis. It is 100% self funded, and this is where your support is very much appreciated.

As a fundraising activity and within the enchanting spirit of Ramadan, UNYA Lebanon is organizing "Darawiches" a concert for the Derwiches whirling band of Tripoli, on Friday 26 August 2011, starting 9:30pm, Sunflower Theater -Tayouneh, Beirut.

Tickets are for 20,000 L.L.
And all profits go to the Lebanese Youth Mobility Fund.

More info can be found:
On the event Facebook Page.
Or by calling 71 717859

Tickets are sold by phone (71 717859), at UNYA Lebanon office or at…

Smoking banned in public places in Lebanon

Today, the Lebanese Parliament endorsed a law that bans smoking in public or closed spaces. After years of debate on whether this law should be implemented, it has finally become a reality. Non-smokers have been overjoyed today with the news filling up the social timelines with their expressions of approval.

The law also bans any sort of tobacco advertising and promotions and considers them as an illegal act. These include all sorts of advertising media such as billboards, magazine ads, and TV commercials. The law also prevents any tobacco companies from sponsoring events and concerts.

In addition to that, all tobacco packs should now depict a pictorial warning of the dangers of smoking that should cover at least 40% of the package.

Fines will be imposed on citizens who are caught smoking in public or individuals who violate the smoking ban. Hotels, however, will be able to assign 10-20% of their rooms to smokers. Companies will be expected to start implementing the law very shortly.

Crisis in the Horn of Africa

You may have seen the pictures of starving people in the Horn of Africa on your TV screens. We are all asking: how can this be happening again? Parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are facing one of the worst droughts for 60 years, and around 10 million people are desperately in need of food, clean water and basic sanitation.

Join me in calling on world leaders to save millions of lives - today and tomorrow:

http://act.one.org/sign/horn_of_africa/?source=horncrisistafem

Despite the urgency of the situation, most world leaders are responding too slowly. Immediate aid is essential. Yet at the same time we must not let them drop the ball on long term solutions as has too often happened in the past.

Take action right now at:

http://act.one.org/sign/horn_of_africa/?source=horncrisistafem

We can help stop starvation now - and stop the causes of starvation. Firstly, we need to make sure funding is provided to pay for urgent help that will prevent people from dying. Secondly, the promises that…

Welcome Ramadan this year with Istibaneh in Beirut

What is the "Istibaneh"?

On the 29th of Sha’aban, the people of Beirut and the people of the heights surrounding the city used to gather on the shores of Al-Awzai, Ramla Al-Bayda, Al-Rawsheh, Al-Manara and Al-Somteya, with the purpose of identifying the al-Hilal, which is the inaugural sign of the Holy month of Ramadan. They took with them to these shores some food to spend the time while waiting for the sunset in order to spot the Hilal. Once they would spot the emergence of the crescent, canons would be fired on the hilltop of the seraglio (al-Sarai) declaring the start of the Holy month of Ramadan.

What's happening this year?
"Istibaneh" is taking place this year on July 30th, 2011 at Ein El Mraysseh Corniche facing the Mosque. The event is organized by three NGOs:
Kitaf El Kheir Association (President Dr. Abla Bsat Jumaa)Sinno Family League: (President Mhamad Khales Sinno)Moultaka Chabab Beirut: (President Cheick Omar Chebaro)The event, which will begin at 6:…

The July 2006 Lebanon/Israel War: My Story

This is a repost guest post by a good friend Hala Hassan which was originally posted at A Seperate State of Mind, a recommended blog by another great friend Elie Fares.Hear it from those who were there.
A neighboring country at war, you sympathize.

Innocent civilians torn into pieces under the wreckage of their houses, you shed a couple of tears.

Frightened children and sick elderly begging for international intervention, you pray deaf ears listen somehow.

But what if you were that citizen in that country, held up in your house, scared like you’ve never been, reciting every single prayer that ever crossed your mind for those bombshells to stop and those warplanes hovering in the sky to go away…

Yes, it’s been 5 years since “July war”, “the 33 days war”, “the 6th Lebanese/Israeli war” or whatever they want to call it. But for that traumatized girl, it still feels like yesterday…

To survive a war is one supposedly satisfying ending. Not to have lost a family member is considered a blessing. B…

DRM fails at marketing

Following up to my earlier "What's missing in Hamra" post and after the awaited reveler for the unfortunate teaser campaign (online and offline), it became apparent that this campaign is for a "clubbing" experience by the Democratic Republic of Music having free-entrance clubbing parties every Saturday.

After getting reaction from many people online and in my office, everyone agreed that the "What's missing in Hanra" teaser campaign was inadequate for this campaign for many reason, primarily because Hamra is not lacking such "parties" especially that it is slowly becoming a new Gemmayze, Everyone was expecting something more meaningful from such a campaign like a public library, public garden or something that would benefit the general public.

But this is not the bad part.

After being criticized by many on facebook, they have failed to respond positively to criticism. In a facebook message sent to the attendees of the facebook event, the…

Feast for Change

On Wednesday July 13th, a bunch of tweeps and I had the pleasure of attending Feast for Change, the first official food & wine event in Lebanon by the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs & Pastries in Lebanon that took place at Sursock Palace Gardens. The event was hosted under the patronage of Lady Sursock Cochrane who will donate a percentage of proceeds to her foundation for protecting natural sites and old buildings in Lebanon APSAD.

The event featured around forty restaurants and drink vendors including attractions such as a live grill, chocolate fountain, ice-cream cart, cotton candy machine, and many other food and drink stops. The event also featured live performances with singers, opera vocalists and bands that made the event very light-hearted and interesting. I'm not going to express my admiration to the beauty of the venue, it was simple gorgeous.

With more that 1400 invitees, the event was highly organized and the food was extremely delicio…

What is missing in Hamra?

I have been seeing these posters all over Hamra and I am really curious to what they are about! Everyone knows how much I love Hamra so I am really excited to know what it is about.

The event page on facebook says:
There has never been something like this in Hamra.
You will definitely want to experience it...
HINT #1: There's no entrance fee
HINT #2: It's not outdoors
HINT #3: It's a nocturnal activity  Some people are guessing a public library, a theater or a cinema, free parking, a concert, etc... What do you think it is?

Update: HINT #4: "Many of you expressed very valid hopes and wishes we all share for our home, cocoon, first and last love; our Hamra. But seriously, who'd campaign for parks/freedom of speech/benches/free parking/public bathrooms/etc etc... with an event on a Saturday night that starts at 10:00 pm and ends at 6:00 am Sunday morning? That was clear from the start, and we make no apologies to the misled. We all want our Hamra to be a constantly impr…

Mind Soup on paper again!

Mind Soup was featured again in this month's Communicate Magazine for the "What Lebanese brands need to know about social media" post.
The magazine says: Just in case Lebanese brands might forget (and they usually need reminders in that matter), Mohammad again goes through the basic rules of how to smartly use social media. "Whenever the Lebanese get their hands on a new toy, they become very 'creative' and try to abuse that tool until it cannot breathe any more," he says. Too true.

Thanks to @FunkyOzzi for the photo :)

Lebanese TV Channels failing at Social Media

I just stumbled upon OTV's account on twitter. Not surprisingly, they fail at the first rule of social media: Social Media is an INTERACTION between a company and its customers (fans, followers, etc..), i.e. there should be TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION between the brand and the fans.

If you check OTV's twitter account, they have almost 2000 followers but they are following ZERO people. If you look closely at their tweets, they are basically regurgitating news headlines in their tweets, no interaction, no responding to replies, no nothing.

This totally beats the purpose of social media. If you think being on twitter will get you more viewers, then you are wrong. THE WHOLE POINT IS FOR YOU TO DIRECTLY INTERACT WITH YOUR FANS. By not following anyone, it not only shows you as an egocentric company who only cares about blasting your opinions to everyone, but you are also not creating any value for yourself or your customers.

If you decide to go social, or if you are already online and yo…

James Blunt and I are supporting Tamanna, this is why you should too...

What is Tamanna?

Tamanna is an NGO in Lebanon that grants wishes of children with critical illnesses to give them joy, strength and hope.

Fulfilling a child's wish provides an escape from a difficult reality, restoring time for laughter. It allows the child to live a magical experience and to share unforgettable moments with his family.

Any child between 3 and 18 years with a critical illness may be eligible for a wish. Tamanna currently grants an average of three wishes a week.

Some granted wishes
The above photos are just a glimpse of what wishes Tamanna has granted. From having a wedding for a young couple at the Children Cancer Center of Lebanon, to introducing the children to celebrities (such as President Suleiman, PM Hariri, basketball teams) and unforgettable trips to Rome, Istanbul, Paris and Disney land to owning laptops and becoming a pilot, they have fulfilled many wishes for these children.

How you can help
There are several was you can help, most directly by donating on…

Italy to Witness a Social Revolution Soon?

This is a guest post by Di Kar. Di is a Sudanese political science undergrad at the American University of Beirut. Follow her on twitter @D3akar

Politics and what not.

The Arab Spring has been the highlight of everything I have read over the past few days from twitter, aside from numerous newspapers and Italian politics. Your probably wondering why I am mentioning Italy, right? Hold that thought.

The Arab Spring, that started with a man in Tunis and sparked mass protests in countries from the Maghreb to Yemen, has now shifted the whole scope of the Middle East and North Africa region. It is, to me, a much needed breeze of change for a region that has been stagnant under the fists of despotism and western influences. For the first time, I feel optimistic about the region. Egypt is pulling weight, and heading towards democratizing its system of government - despite all the challenges - nevertheless, the sleeping giant has awoken. Perhaps the Palestinian diaspora might be resolved or Sudan…

Message from AUB's President Peter Dorman on James Wolfensohn

[Communicated via e-mail to the AUB community]
Dear AUB faculty, students, staff, and friends,


You will have heard that Sir James Wolfensohn has decided not to attend the Commencement ceremonies on June 25, during which the university had intended to award him an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters and had anticipated hearing him give the keynote speech at graduation.

His decision was taken in the aftermath of a petition that was organized by several faculty members at AUB, then circulated to the faculty and student community, as well as to our alumni, who were specifically encouraged not just to sign the petition but to write letters of protest. In the wake of predictable coverage by the media, the press in Lebanon have given wide notoriety to the issue as well, apparently based primarily on the wording of the petition, which is highly selective in the information it provides. The coverage has been mostly, and unfairly, critical of James Wolfensohn.

Neither the petition nor t…

What Lebanese brands need to know about social media

The Lebanese are perhaps the best people when it come to adopting a new technology or trend. This has been evident lately in the use of social media in business: Although this move is considered to be late in comparison to the West, Lebanon and Jordan are the pioneers of this social revolution in the Middle East, especially in business.

However, whenever the Lebanese get their hands on a new toy, they become very "creative" and try to abuse that tool until it cannot breathe anymore. I'm just gonna speak about a few misconceptions and tips about social media and how it applies to the Lebanese businesses.


Social media is NOT a fad

A lot of Lebanese brands think that social media is a fad, that it is a one-time thing that they have to implement and it will eventually go away. They think it is a one-time campaign, they will pay a couple of hundred or thousand dollars and that's it. Well let me tell you this. Social media is not going away anytime soon. So you guys better …

ROADS FOR LIFE fundraising concert featuring Algerino and Faudel

A Concert featuring Algerino and Faudel in Memory of TALAL KASSEM, 17 year old young man hwas killed while crossing the road going to school by a raging driver…

Proceeds of the concert and other contributions will go to "The ROADS FOR LIFE, Talal Kassem Fund for Post Accident Care" for training of Emergency physicians.

Trauma surgeons and Emergency physicians from hospitals ALL ACROSS Lebanon will be offered the Advanced Trauma Life Support course (ATLS).

This course will improve the chance of survival for injured victims on the roads in the first 60mn of the accident known as the GOLDEN HOUR.

"The ROADS FOR LIFE, Talal Kassem Fund for Post Accident Care" will cover the fees for as many physicians as possible in as many sessions as needed.

Upon completion of the course, they will receive Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) Certification from “The American College of Surgeons” , committee on Trauma, Chicago, Illinois.

Every Emergency Physician as well as Trauma Surg…

Letter to Lebanese Acting Minister of Telecom Charbel Nahhas

Dear Minister Nahhas,
I had the unfortunate displeasure of attending your so-called "open discussion" last week at AUB.which was hosted by the Youth Shadow Government  I have to begin that the whole lecture (which cannot even be considered an "open" discussion because there was nothing open about it) was very pointless and was not informative at all about the telecom situation in Lebanon. What it was though is extremely depressing.

Your excellency explained that decreasing the costs of telecommunications will not solve any problems. You also said that equalizing chances between countries will not be achieved if telecommunications became better.

I am sorry to tell you that this is a pathetic excuse not to improve the communications sector in Lebanon. Your speculations that such improvements are not necessarily advantageous to the Lebanese society are invalid. I don't know if you realize how important the internet and fast communication is for the Lebanese youth. …

AUB Student Munib Masri injured by Israel during Sunday's demonstrations

Last Sunday, during the demonstrations in the South near the Lebanese-Israeli borders to commemorate Nakba, Munib Masri, a petroleum studies student at the American University of Beirut got severely injured after being shot by an Israeli bullet. Masri is Palestinian in origin, but also holds both the Jordanian and American citizenships.

Masri has underwent a couple of operations this week; "he is undergoing surgery today. He has already lost his left kidney and spleen in an earlier operation. His spine is also fractured, and he’s sustained injuries to his diaphragm, along with pieces of shrapnel lodged in his back."  (NOW Lebanon)

In an e-mail addressed to the AUB community, Dr. Peter Dorman, President of AUB, writes:
"We are all shocked and saddened by this development, and our thoughts and hearts are with Munib and his family.We are appalled by the unrestrained use of deadly force against unarmed protesters that has left one of our students in critical condition&qu…

Hezbollah Illegally taking over Ouzai

Every week while on my way back to my home-city in the South of Lebanon, I pass by an infamous area called Ouzai.This area is getting more hideous week by week due to the cramming of construction that is going on there. This construction, as you might have guessed, is as illegal as most of Dahye and the South. It seems that Hezbollah is gradually taking over the place. A common trend is fulling constructing a one-floor building (with painting it and occupying it) and then continuing to construct more floors. This way they can claim that the building has been there for a while and not brand new (not that it would make much sense).

What's even more irritating is that they are even taking the law into their own hands there. Members of Hezbollah start asking for IDs of people they think are suspicious, as if they are the ruling power in Lebanon. Kinda reminds of stories my parents used to tell me during the Lebanese Civil War where different political groups used to take their IDs and…