Roadmap to a National Cycling Day

Here's why tomorrow, April 25th, is a big day in the history of Lebanon. For decades we had been accustomed to riding cars, whether for leisure or for work; that same car had been going hand in hand with social status: you have no car, you then belong to the poor. Owning a high end car, on the other hand, meant you're doing well, and thus earn society's respect in some way.

Fast forward to last year where two girls, with the help of friends, had started what we know today as the BikeToWork day, years after being infatuated with the charm of the four-wheelers, as in to try and encourage an entire nation to go back to the days the majority had no cars. How did they get around? How were delivery boys getting by? How did my grandfather and yours go to work at their younger years? It's that mesmerizing slinky beast we all call the bicycle.

I mean, it's often cheap, doesn't really cost any maintenance really, doesn't break down easily, doesn't take up much s…

The Case of Mamdouh Al Ragheb

Around March 9th 2018 a video shared on Social Media of a child beaten down sparks an outrage among activist groups and the pubic in general.

In the story a student, Mamdouh Al-Ragheb, was allegedly "brutally beaten" in his school in Tripoli. The school where the incident took place, "Al Enaya", is second home for hundreds of young students of Syrian nationality, and is for that reason managed by an unofficial educational body known as الهيئة التربوية التعليمية في لبنان operating away from the radar of the official Lebanese educational bodies, and whose general secretary, Majd Atef Oyoun Al Soud, is the perpetrator.

What started as a digital protest on Facebook is now a national cause that is slowly and progressively unearthing shocking truths. One of the early scandals was that, as people started debating whether or not the child was in fact beaten so badly, the principle -Majd- invites the child's parents for some sort of a reconciliation recorded on a smart…

Tripoli's Event Calendar - APR/MAY '17

No, I haven't been planning for this post to be my comeback after a long abstinence, but the fact is,
Tripoli is blooming with events of all sorts, and I found it dearly necessary to shed light on them and share them among the ones I know. As I had stated in my Facebook posts last night, all events are listed in increasing chronological order by start date.
1- Tripoli Film Festival – April 27 -> May 4
Tripoli Film Festival, organized by Eklat Conseils & Tripoli Foundation - مؤسسة طرابلس - (Lebanon), has paved the way in the last few years for marking #TripoliLB on the international map of Film Festivals, competing with the likes in Cairo and Dubai in the region. Elias Khlat, alongside an army of supporters and volunteers, has succeeded in pulling this event off for the last few years, always growing and always pushing for a better and sharper event every year.

“The Tripoli Film Festival – Lebanon is a cinematic event conceived as an initiative to ameliorate the image of the c…

Eves On Wheels, The Next Chapters

It's been a long while since I blogged, and I couldn't be happier to make a comeback for one of my biggest project, Eves On Wheels. So many of you know by now how it never was planned to turn it eventually into a project, I don't have resources enough to make that happen, or to take it where it must go to.
As I was interviewing all the gorgeous female cyclists in both Tripoli and Beirut, it was almost always nothing short to pure fun. We'd experiment together, the cyclist who more often than not were not used to being photographed, and myself who's not really used to shooting poses. The effort that's been put, however, has been great by far. We all managed to come up with beautiful photographs that portray each character in liaison with their story, all in a much suitable environment in the frame too. We also managed to get the media to write about us, I personally had been interviewed a handful times on TV and Radio, and so on and so forth.

It's no secret to…

When Aly found Marie

Not so long ago, particularly in one of my summer trips to Lebanon, I meet a woman called Marie, she endlessly wept as she was telling me . It was then when she hit me with the worst, as she was heartbroken over the fact that her son would be 62 the next day. I didn't get it, and upon me asking why is this making her so sad, she frantically said "he's been missing since 37 years now".
News got on social media through the below post, and it took some time before it got some interaction and, only in March 2016 had the story's exposure started to pick up. Many people shared the story, some of them recognized Marie (or somebody who looked similar, or had a similar story), but then there was only this guy, Aly, who was literally head-first in the story, he left me wondering what's in it for him as he was privately messaging me over the course of the next two months on the updates of his search.

Some time passed and I had not realized at all, that Aly had never for…

Tripoli Recites, by Zeina Hachem Beck

This is a post about how small the earth is. Back in my UAE days I learn there's a poetry gathering in Dubai, a couple hours away from where I lived. I contacted the organizers only to know they were Lebanese, she was Lebanese as a matter of fact. It was only her, Zeina, who was in charge of it all and that event happened to be the season finale before their summer/fall break. Knowing the curator of PUNCH (see here) being Lebanese, and later on finding out she's also from Tripoli was a blast. I do have a handful of friends from Tripoli too, some living abroad, but they all have this in common: they have started a poetry collective wherever they are. Samer Annous, assistant professor at the university of Balamand, has been famous for running those monthly poetry gatherings in Mina, particularly every first Wednesday of a new month. Sara Sibai has blown minds with her spoken word poetry, and keeps on doing so. She is now curator of the Beirut Poetry Slam, and also took part pre…

Ruwwad, Tripoli's Pioneers

"I came here a broken woman, Ruwwad has turned me into a strong person. I don't have to beg any politician anymore!" were the words a woman performed as she stood among her peers interpreting a video they were just watching. She gathered the applauds of every single person listening, whether donors, guests or staff. She was one of the ladies that were benefiting from Ruwwad's empowerment program gathering women from both ex-conflicting Jabal Mohsen and Tabbaneh under one roof.
"Everybody thought I was a notorious person, somebody who cannot be friends with others, and that made me pretty upset in return, until Ruwwad came along and showed everybody the real me" uttered a young man in front of us during the "Dardashat" stop, part of the "My Identity" program at Ruwwad. I was immensely moved with this young man's intervention, and I bet I saw somebody else wiping her tear too.
"Some of our students have come over to us wishing th…