Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Ten Commandments of Being Lebanese

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A Decaying Society

Lebanese? You are to follow these commandments:

1. You shall not eat when you are hungry because meat is rotten, fruits and vegetables are treated with tons of carcinogenic pesticides and are irrigated with sewage, poultry and eggs are choke-full of hormones and antibiotics, dairy products are swarming with bacteria, bread is kneaded with straw and razors, and canned food is a preservatives and additives fest.

2.You shall not drink when you’re thirsty because the Litany River is nothing but a humongous sewage drainage system, and according to the Minister of Health, only 15% of water-bottling companies are licensed; the rest are just distributors of  ‘disease in a bottle’.

3.You shall not breath because according to a study by AUB’s Dr. Najat Saliba, the air in Lebanon is saturated with toxic particulate matter produced by the millions of cars that roam the streets, while factories and power plants emit their fumes raw and unfiltered right into our lungs.

4.You shall not have a decent public transportation system even though a tank of gas costs almost 5% of the Lebanese minimum wage.

5.You shall not enjoy nature because it simply doesn’t exist anymore.

6.You shall not own a house or any other property unless you belong to the elite 1% that has gotten filthy rich selling rotten meat and drugs.

7.You shall not receive medication when you fall sick because you don’t have an insurance, because the NSSF is dysfunctional, because major hospitals give their cancer patients water injections rather than cancer treatment, and because 100% of all medicines in Lebanon are either counterfeited or have a dubious expiry date.

8.You shall not get a proper education because the Lebanese University is under-budgeted and corrupt and private universities are open only for the daughters and sons of expatriates who toil away all of their lives in the Gulf in order to afford the skyrocketing tuition fees.

9.You shall not have clean, sustainable energy which is readily and abundantly available through harnessing our wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy because importing ship-mounted power plants is much more profitable for the Minister of energy and water.

10. You shall either emigrate or die.

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The New, Nasty Kid on the Block

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Zaha Hadid design for new IFI building

Can you guess what this undefined structure is? Can you guess where it is being built at the moment?

As you read this, The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs is being constructed on The American University of Beirut’s campus and it’s the world famous Zaha Hadid’s design.

According to the IFI page on the AUB website:

“The new, purpose-built IFI building will complete a grouping of five buildings surrounding the Green Oval, which includes Nicely, Jesup, Fisk, and Bliss Halls. It will blend in architecturally and be integrated with the existing open spaces and vegetation, including the landscape of the middle campus. The architects must “meet the challenge of creating a contemporary building in a cherished historical spot.”

Am I the only person who thinks that the architects have not really met that challenge? Am I the only only one who finds this structure totally foreign to its surroundings? How will such a futuristic design “blend in” with buildings that date back to more than a century?

You would expect a talented architect like Hadid who is also an AUB graduate to be eager to preserve AUB’s architectural heritage; but then, it’s not really her fault for presenting a design that’s true to her established style. The question is, why was such a design approved in the first place?

 

Eureka! Or Why We Are Jungle Beasts

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I had a Eureka! moment the other day. I had stopped at the pedestrian red light at a crossroads on Hamra, waiting, with my daughter in her stroller, for the light to go green so I can cross over to the other side of the street. Two guys arrived by my side but didn’t stop walking; they confidently kept going, and they were about to pull the famous Lebanese zig-zag maneuver among the stream of cars when they noticed poor’ol me standing there. They took pity on the lady with the baby who couldn’t make it on her own in that jungle, so they invited me to tag along their heroic procession to be able to cross over: “l7a2eena l7a2eena”,  they said. I raised my voice above the din and assured them that I was waiting for the light to go green.

So this is it then; one of the reasons why the Lebanese do not respect laws is because they view compliance as a sign of weakness, and “feminine” weakness for that matter, and God forbid that a Lebanese male should be accused of such an affliction.