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Preview: Lebanon Reporter

Lebanon Reporter

A young journalist in Lebanon

Updated: 2018-03-06T11:33:39.951+02:00


The lower class


There is one solution which always works when someone is unable to fix a problem or doesn't wanna bother: 'Just bring a Syrian.' The Syrian/Sri Lankan/Bangladeshi/... workers are everywhere and excellent for cutting trees, fixing roads, building things, and so on. It's really amazing how much they work for only a few hundred $'s a month.

Just throw them in the back of a truck. They don't care!

The concierge

The first time I met one of them was when I lived in an apartment building with a 'concierge' from Bangladesh. He lived in a 2x2 metres room on the ground floor which is actually kinda luxurious considering that many workers live in a 1x2 room (just big enough for a single bed). Some of them live next to the parking lots they manage and wake up whenever a car comes. (Luckily though, everyone has a tiny tv so they don't get bored). Usually these guys will have a wife and family in their home country to whom they send money.

The concierge is really handy to have around. He can bring a maid to clean your apartment for $5-10, get groceries for you, take your garbage bags outside and fix any other problems (for example if cable tv is not working at 4 am). Just tip him like $5 at the end of the month. He gets a salary of a few hundred $ each month from the building owner.

As for the more 'invisible' workers, they'll be doing things like fixing streets and picking up garbage. All of these laborers (including teenagers) don't really have rights but are willing to do almost any job. The Sukleen (cleaning company) guys work day and night. This is why you can often see people throwing trash out of the car window. 'It'll make the Sukleen guys busy.' Isn't that awful? You also have more specialized workers such as plumbers or guys who connect electricity lines.

The dead Syrian

My boy told me once about the Syrian who used to connects those lines. 'He just climbed in a mast like a monkey wearing no protection clothes at all. A few seconds later I heard him scream, smelled something burning and saw him hanging on the lines. The dead Syrian stayed there until a policeman arrived. His family later came over from Syria, which got paid a few thousand dollars for compensation by the people who had hired him.' Poor them.

So what about the lower class girls? Well, they usually either have the 'oldest job in the world' (many Eastern Europeans) or work as a maid/waitress/sometimes in a beauty salon. Filipina's usually get Sunday off and will be flooding the streets then.

These 'low class' people often get treated in a bad way by the higher classes. My concierge gets yelled at like a dog by 'sophisticated' rich girls who live in the building. I keep hearing stories of maids getting beaten, locked up and their passports being taken away. It amazes me how these people just accept their position (that is if they have a say in anything). They've always been really friendly to me, so hereby I'd just like to show my appreciation for their hard work. Respect! :D

The Beach Resorts Guide


There are so many beautiful beach resorts in Lebanon that you start expecting every place to be perfect. Just imagine the disappointment when something is 'average'! :) So, for all the 'demanding' people, here is a small review guide to the beach resorts (best and worst places. (Feel free to use it to convince people who think Lebanon is a desert to come and visit.) Every place will have an entrance fee between $10-$20 and prices for food/drinks are depending on its reputation. Please let me know if you agree or disagree, additional comments, etc. cuz you never know, some disgusting place could just be having a 'bad day'. :PSouth (Jiyeh / Rmaileh)O CapCosy place if you wanna go with family, your lover or sit with some close friends. There's a swimming pool with some places for kids and a place where you can take a stairs down and swim in the sea (which is deep). I loved floating on the water and getting carried by the waves :) It has a bar in the pool and a restaurant. Downside is that the place is not very big so there's not a lot to do there. OceanaMy favorite place in the south because of the great beach and many facilities. There are a few swimming pools, jacuzzi's, restaurants (like Crepaway) and places to do sports. If you take a stairs down, you'll reach the sandy beach (perfect for writing love declarations on) and the sea which is perfect when there are some waves. The sunbeds have views looking over the sea or are next to the pools. Toilets/changing rooms are very clean and there is a tiny store if you need to buy something. There is another beach next to Oceana called 'Janna' which I hear is very nice too.LaguavaVery nice. It's for everyone, but when I went there it seemed more like the hot spot for party teenagers (dancing on/around the bar and getting drunk in a nightclub kind of way during the day. This can happen anywhere, though, if the right crowd is present :D). There's a big swimming pool, restaurant and the beach/sea place is nice. The surroundings and view are really beautiful.OrchidYawn. I think this is the beach featured in Ragheb Allama's song Wana Wayak, but there it seems much more alive than it actually is. It's mostly for rich (bored) people who wanna look at each other at the pool. Everyone will be checking who has the nicest swimsuit/(usually fake) body there. There are some places to lie on the grass or next to the sea, but you'll have to tolerate hearing the tantrums of the 'sophisticated' (Girl: 'I'm gonna take off my top! I'm gonna do it! Really!' Bf: 'Nooo! Let's take some more champagne.' Girl: *falls asleep*) The black/white theme, grass, bar/restaurant, beach etc. look very attractive though.Sand's RockNot bad, not great either: the toilets are DISGUSTING. It might have been cuz I went early in the season, but I'm not sure if it was possible to really clean up that mess (it's a shame cuz in Lebanon everyone would insist on clean toilets and many times there will be one person next to them all day especially for that.. see this really is an issue ;)). Sand's Rock is big and many good spots for tanning. There are like 2? big pools. If you go downstairs, you can go in the sea but here it's not very interesting. Friendly staff. PangeaPrettyyyyyyyy. I think Pangea opened last year so everything is very new and looks luxurious. You'll mostly find sophisticated women with kids and young people here. The beautiful swimming pool has a bar in the water and there is another bar on the beach (here you can also go in the sea). Next to it as a pier where you can walk on. Beach is a bit small. Nice restaurant. Everything is really nice (except for the toilets which sometimes are a bit dirty/have broken locks on the doors).North (Jounieh / Byblos)Edde SandsFancy and pretty. Can't say much more as I didn't go during the day, but I will soon. La Voile BleueLooks nice inside, but is a bit boring (and quiet). Mostly for families with kids. There's a place to play sports, a swimming pool and the location at the sea is very nice. But the athmosphere is not particularly interest[...]

Music videos


Yara has this video in which a disgusting guy in a car is staring at her for half of the time, thinking about their wedding... Pffff it’s so annoying. First of all I doubt that he’d be fantasizing about getting married to her. Secondly, I’d like to know if staring at a girl on the street has ever, in the whole history of Lebanon, worked for a guy to meet his wife. (If so, please share these stories ;))

Only thing that I don’t doubt is that he was stuck in traffic for the entire length of the song.

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Speaking of music videos, the one below has to be the cutest one ever. It’s an animation with clay boys touring around Egypt in a jeep with some cute scenes of daily life. Hehe.. look at the old men who are getting shaved. :P

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Same old, same old


,,The electricity wasn’t working again today, so, you know, we stole a line.’’

Heard from some friends who live in and near Dahye that the electricity is still messed up (sometimes not working for 10 hrs a day). Even the stolen line is annoying, since it goes on and off for 2-3 minutes or hours every time (I stopped asking if they saw this or that movie on tv cuz how could they watch them?). Well, at least stealing is better than throwing grenades and fighting with the army on the streets.

'Civil disobedience'...


Sorry for the lack of updates. Been busy.. university, partying, had my family over during the holidays, you know, the usual. Now the semester is over (we have finals) and I'll be having some more time.

So as you might know, the situation is still, well, 'the situation' as everyone carefully says it. I haven't even heard anyone talk about the bomb explosions the day afterwards anymore. Not even in politics classes. I found out from Dutch friends who asked if I was ok or cuz I happened to check the news. It might sound weird, but what can we do about it?

So the latest news is that yesterday seven people were killed and about forty wounded in Dahye (largely Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut). The victims were members of Amal and Hezbollah and it happened when citizens of Dahye were demonstrating against electricity cuts.

It made me think about the unrest before the civil war in 1975. (I happened to be studying for an exam about the history of politics in Lebanon at the time I heard.) The circumstances back then were a bit the same: dispute over powersharing arrangements, protests about work environment, cost of living, etc. (in short: unfair treatment towards the lower classes, Shia in particular).

I am not saying we're about to get pulled in a civil war (who can predict that? + there were more reasons for the civil war to start... though I'd like to know who te killers were). It just made me think.. Why is it that after 30 yrs these problems still exist to a degree that people feel forced to show 'civil disobedience' (and then this happens)? How must it be for the people living in these circumstances and then have politicians like Samir Geagea raise questions whether electricity really was cut off instead of trying to fix the problem..

Who cares if before the riots the street lights were on? Does it mean electricity cuts never happen? (Sure in Hamra electricity will be fine cuz of the number of 'important people' living here.) Even if it's just an excuse to start rioting, then take away that excuse by fixing the problems in society instead of pointing fingers... Maybe then we can avoid reading such reports in the newspaper the next day. (Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking about the bad circumstances before 1975-1990.)

Another again.


A top general has been killed by a car bomb this morning near the presidential palace. But no panic, no wondering about the '5 w's and the h', just 'deal with it' (=acknowledge it happened, feel sorry for the victims, move on) like everyone else does. I heard it in class and it was pretty much: ,,Ah really? What happened? Ok, so what did you do this weekend?''

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Before I came here, I had the feeling that the whole country would be depressed. But the reality is that many people have this 'don't care' attitude and I'm starting to believe that it's not just an act. It's some kind of survival instinct. If you let every bad thing that happens here affect you, you'll really end up having psychological problems. So people actually are able to convince themselves that it's nothing.

One of the first conversations I had with someone about 'the situation' (these carefully uttered words in every conversation about the news are really starting to sound like a political term), went like this:
Me: 'Are the tents still in downtown?'
Girl: 'Yeah, it's boring. No one is in them. Actually, no one cares!'

It's really easy to have such a conversation about any newsworthy topic. Guess I'm used to such indifference now.

Bye bye


...And so we are left without a president.
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Guess what. The presidential elections got postponed again. Lahoud is leaving at midnight and so it looks like we'll be leaderless for some time. Meanwhile, everyone is 'prepared' (psychologically, by buying more food, by guarding the area, or some other way) for whatever could happen during these days. There's extra security all over Beirut and many people are staying inside, watching the news.

Summary: need for a consensus president, Lahoud's term ends tonight, it's all the other party's fault. For now, I mostly enjoy watching the journalists on tv. The sound technicians will be fighting each other with their microphones (Looks like some kinda puppet show. Especially when Jumblatt's head is floating above the multi-colored objects.) A journalist in front will be jumping up and down with his finger raised, a tough-looking guy will be pushing the crowd back. And when the politicians move to another place, everyone starts running after them (sometimes one trips and falls).

What I'd really like to see though is a reality soap about the politicians. Watching Emile Lahoud pack his bags (where is he gonna move to anyways?), 14 march in Phoenicia. Oh, and while I'm sitting at home anyways, I'd like to get this book too.

Totally spies


,,Who do you think is a spy around here?'' is a joke/question I've been hearing a lot lately. It's like everyone secretly pays attention to 'spies' being present and even international students discuss who could be and who couldn't. I even started joking about it too so people won't suspect me of being one :P

No, I'm not a spy. Really I swear :P (I think I'm too young to be one anyways.) But with my curiosity and disliking of small talk I guess I can't blame some people for wondering why I ask a lot... ,,Chance fifty percent you here as spy for Israel'', someone told me once. ,,Fifty percent I think you like meet husband. You like live in Lebanon.'' And apparently, 25% of me is mysterious and he's 100% sure that spies are 'always the friendly ones' (which is why he said I'm a suspect). What to do? Should I stop being nice?

It doesn't really matter though since many other people are more likely to be a spy than me. Especially the foreigners who ask a lot of: 'Why?' and 'Could this have happened because of...?' which freaks out their classmates. I guess being critical + being a foreigner (better yet, American) = suspicious. I even caught myself wondering too what a classmate of mine does in his work for State Department.

I'd really like to meet a spy some time though. What would that work be like? Cuz if you ask people: 'what do you think of..?', you'll get a totally different answer every time. I'd go crazy. Or would it involve going undercover in Dahye as a guy selling sponges along the road? Orrrr is it just sitting in class at uni and writing down everyone's conspiracy theories. Yeah, I have a vivid imagination. And no, I am not with the secret services or whatever that I want to know. ;)


Typical love story


The sea castle in Sidon/Saida seems to be some kind of hot spot for lovers. Not a bad place, since it's just 2500 L.L. (less than $2) to get an afternoon of privacy (well, sort of).

The first couple I saw inside the castle was an innocent one. Two young lovers were sitting next to the sea, laughing and being cute together. Nothing weird about them.

But the second couple made me feel like I walked in on some strange movie scene. The room was dark, rays of light came through the shooting holes. In the center of the room, a 40+ soldier with a big moustache was grabbing a young woman with a face covered in spots in, eh, some kind of sexual way. They hadn't seen me come in and so I left the room quickly.. *_*

But of course I was with someone who loves to make those kind of situations even more awkward by staying inside. 'What's here? What about this view? AH THEY LEFT THEIR BAG? What's upstairs?'

The two lovers, sitting next to each other in a corner up the stairs, shyly moved aside as we walked up the stairs. 'Thank you very much', the girl whispered as I passed them. Eh what did she think I would do? Throw them into the sea for probably having an affair? Or was it some kind of 'forbidden' love?

Not that it's anyone's business, but they left together after one or two hours... ;)

Poor guy


Someone call this number and find out if he's really poor or just a liar!

Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star


Wanna know what the work of reporters of a Lebanese newspaper is like? Click on the images below to read my story in De Journalist (in Dutch). Kinda late with posting this but better late than never eh?

Politics, part 100000


Apologies for not updating a lot lately.. Been a bit busy with uni etc. Big difference with Holland: students actually participate in class! (Might have something to do with the grade.) Everyone has a different opinion on what's going on around here, so sitting in class is actually pretty entertaining.

Teacher: Should it be ok for any country to have nuclear weapons?
Student: Why wouldn't Iran be allowed to have one? It's just for defense. I trust them.
Teacher: What about Gaddafi. Do you trust him?
Student: I think Gaddafi should be killed.

Teacher: Do you think Israel and Palestine can live in peace if they ever came to an agreement?
Student: Of course not. The Israeli's will do something to mess it up. You can't trust them.
Teacher: ....... *priceless look on his face* (This is the same teacher that bangs his head against a book after he hears a stupid comment.)

It's so much better than sitting + staring at a powerpoint presentation for 2 hrs! :P



'You're a christian' right?', a fellow student I just met on campus asked me. After being here for three months, last week was the first time that religion seemed to be a big issue to someone.

Until then, I only noticed that even open-minded people assume things about people of another religion. Ex. 'Did you know that this certain group gives women a monthly income to wear a headscarf? My mom heard it from a friend.' Or they will get defensive until the other person points out: 'Relax, I'm one of you!' And there's also some people who seem to think everything is black/white.

Of course there are also people who don't accept people from another religion. And marrying into another religion is not very common. But most young Beiruti's seem to be changing this... many are open-minded and open to discussion. They'll have friends of different religions and don't give religion/politics too much importance.

It seems that we're much more prejudiced in the West. Especially when it comes to muslims. But guess who is one the most open-minded person I met up till now?

*drumroll* ...A Shia muslim whose relatives support Hezbollah!

Getting used to Beirut


Things which are starting to be normal to me:

- Being like 10 m. away from a mosque. And 1 km away from different kinds of churches.
- Wondering who got what fixed. Nose? Lips? Cheeks? Boobs? Everything? Even starting to wonder if I'll ever get plastic surgery myself (maybe when I'm old.)

- Checking car models. With so many people having a BMW/Mercedes, suddenly the year it was made in becomes important.
- Taking at least half a day to get something done. Arguing with slow people, going from one place to another, discovering there's a road block, what else?
- Politics. Political posters, news discussions, or people signalling with their hands/honking the tune of which party they support.

- Students who never seem to study. Probably has something to do with the party mentality. Same goes for Dutch students.
- Feeling special. Being a foreigner gets you noticed.. Sometimes people will take extra care of you or let you cut lines. (So they can also ask you everything about where you're from.) Oh, and being woman is a nice thing here too.
- Switching from feeling extremely safe to slightly paranoid. I love how on every streetcorner there's a security guy. At night I feel even more safe than in Holland. Only thing is that I shouldn't watch cars for too long or I'll start imagining silly things.

- Finding it weird when a couple kisses on the street. It's not that people don't kiss in public, but I've never seen a couple stop on the street and kiss. I felt a bit surprised when yesterday I saw a couple doing it in a movie.
- Seeing Lebanese flags everywhere.
- Eating... and eating and eating.

So it really happened. (2)


,,The news lately isn't interesting... During the civil war you at least knew who was killing who.'' - Lebanese citizen

...It seems that 'Who did it?' is actually not such an interesting question anymore when compared to 'Will something bad happen on Tuesday (pres. elections)?'

News of today: Lebanon buries assassinated MP.

So it really happened.


'Something big will happen after Ramadan.' 'People will start fighting outside of Beirut.' And the most popular one: 'Someone will get killed during the presidential elections.' Since the past few months nothing happened, many people were speculating when things would go wrong again. Well, it seems that the Lebanese were right to think 'the situation' would heat up at the end of September.

A security personnel inspects damaged cars at the site, photo: REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Yesterday a car bomb went off in Beirut. MP Antoine Ghanem and at least six others got killed. Quick summary: On Sept. 25 there are elections for a new president. The majority and the 'opposition' aren't expected to agree on one and there's a lot of debate about the amount of votes needed to decide on one. Since an MP of the majority just got killed, deciding on a president without the opposition's support will become less easy for the majority. It will need more votes to fit the quorum for electing a president.

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Apart from this issue, of course there's still the question: 'whodunit?' (This is the case after every assassination and none of the cases of the past 2 yrs. have really been solved so far.) This week I discussed who killed ex-minister Pierre Gemayel with a reporter. Interesting how there are many theories (besides 'Syria did it') one could believe (which we wouldn't hear about in Holland cuz no one gives a shit). I wonder what he thinks about this assassination.. I hate not having answers to questions.

‘Why I do what I do? Because I like it.’


Many unusual people like telling me about their lives 'cause they can say anyhing and I won't think that they’re weird (well, except for the ex-foreign legion guy who lives in a boat and threatens to throw politicians in a minced meat machine).

So this week I was getting along well with a cowgirl-like woman and her friend. Both of them were a bit secretive about why they were in Beirut and they’re a bit strange compared to the Lebanese.. The woman is straightforward and asked pretty much anyone everything. The guy ran around testing guns and taking pics.

(image) After a few days though, they finally said they were filming a documentary about Palestinians. They just wanted to keep their work a secret to prevent getting into trouble for it.. Even though they told everyone the heartbreaking stories of residents of Sabra, Beddawi, etc. ,,This Palestinian woman was crying when she remembered how she had to pick up the cut off limbs of her entire family’’, the two would say shocked while showing pictures of her.

After work they’d get drunk every night :P (I’m partly responsible though.. I confess I was drinking shots of water instead of vodka, while the bartender and I were laughing our asses off at them :D) And after midnight the two told everything about their lives. The guy confessed how he, a treecutter, had accidentally beheaded a squirrel. He realized it when he saw its fluffy tail and tiny body pull itself out of a hole in the tree. Sometimes he’d also make up patriotic songs to a ‘salaam aleikum’ tune.

(image) Anyways, back to the subject. Many people wondered why they’d bother to make this film. But I think it’s great to want to help people this way and to just care about them.. I mean, many people are remembering Bashir Gemayel, but what about the Sabra/Chatila massacre? This also happened 25 yrs ago.

So the guy now is back to cutting trees in England. The Canadian woman is going on her next adventure, meeting her boyfriend in Sweden for the first time. Well, I hope everything works out for them. ;)

Forget everything - the party mentality


It wasn’t the guy who nearly fell asleep while his girlfriend danced sexily around him. Nor was it the fat guy shaking his belly while he danced on the bar. No, the people who caught my attention at the beach were two friends with nothing unusual about them..

Many Beiruti’s love going partying so much that people acting crazy is a pretty common sight. What you can expect to see at clubs and at the beach:
- A couple acting out dramatic scenes on heartbreak love songs.
- People at the bar singing in a way which reminds me of when Dutch people sing ‘You’ll never walk alone’ during a football match of Holland.
- Even the most ugly and fat people will move around like gogo dancers on the bar.

But the cutest thing ever has to be the two boys I saw dancing together... They were having so much fun and didn’t care about getting attention. (Reminds me of how much I love my friends :P) Ah, I'm starting to sound like I'm old :P

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Look at the ending... Aren’t they so adorable?

Check my photo album for some more beach party pics.

Congratulations to the Lebanese army


Traffic jams, army checkpoints everywhere and dozens of cars getting searched next to the highway in and outside of Beirut. Something clearly was up yesterday morning. News travels fast here, so I soon heard that the army was victorious in the battle over Nahr al-Bared! But apparently some members of Fatah al-Islam escaped and the army is still searching for them.

So yesterday people were celebrating, congratulating soldiers and just in a good mood since the battle is finally over. After more than 100 days and 158 deaths of soldiers, it was about time.
Too bad you're usually not allowed to take pics of the army. So an old pic someone else took instead.

Now we can all go back to speculating about the future again. ;) What will the escaped members do? Is fighting going to start in another region now? Etc. etc. etc......

Update 05/09
And the celebration continued yesterday! Army trucks were parked on streets all over the city, soldiers were surrounded by dozens of people. I was in Ashrafieh last night and everyone on Sassine square was congratulating and speaking with the army... When fireworks colored the sky, everyone in the restaurants stopped eating to watch them and take pics (of course they stopped when I wanted to). Of course some nitrate bombs went off too and I heard elsewhere people had been firing gunshots in the air. Everyone seemed really happy. It was soooo nice to see.

Who gives a shit about the Middle-East?


Isn’t it crazy that the Lebanese know exactly what the Marshall plan was, while a lot of Western people don’t even know Lebanon exists? Ridiculously enough, we never learnt what the Middle-East really is about in school... So maybe we should start a school class now?It could be something like this. The teacher will dress up in burqa and explain how someone in it is actually a normal person (!), she just doesn’t want dogs to check her out. Then on the blackboard there’ll be pictures of people and the teacher will explain: ,,This is Fatima/Samira/Nada, your neighbour (yes many Dutch girls look like this): But not everyone in the M-E is like her. For example a Lebanese could be called Christine, Nicole or Melissa and look like this: They are also not all Arabs or muslims and not every girl wears a scarf.’’We'll add a class about how kids in the M-E love football and go to MacDonald’s. And as an activity we could make penpals in the M-E and trade Panini stickers with them. During biology class someone will slaughter a lamb while Nancy Ajram’s Shakhbat Shakhabit plays as background music, so we won’t wonder what ‘halal’ means when we see it on one of those shady little stores in downtown. ...Eh well not that but you get the point. ;)Maybe some education could help so the ignorant kids won’t run around yelling ‘goatfuckers’ anymore. Here in Lebanon I have to keep apologizing for the whole ‘everyone is killing each other in the desert’ image of the M-E (which I used to have too). Maybe, just maybe, we could trade 1 of the 100000 Anne Frank-hours in school for one about let’s say cultures in the M-E.Wouldn’t it be nice to have some variety in school anyways? I’m fed up hearing about the Watersnoodramp, the ‘verzuiling’/pillarisation and that kid who put his finger in a dyke (‘dyke’ as in not a person, mind you)! I’m also sick of the millions of World War II stories about how Dutch people would eat tulip bulbs and how the Russians ate their dead people. Like we’ll forget about all the misery if we don’t repeat it in frickin’ every class. (Isn’t that what 4 and 5 May are supposed to be for?)You know, for Dutch people there is no NEED to learn about the M-E since we’re doing just fine without getting too involved with it. But it’s really a sad thing that it seems to be normal to raise your kids to think the M-E is full of Mohammed B.’s. (Well at least I hope so :P)[...]

Haha :D Hahahaaaaaaa


Oh god, if I hear any more gossip stories I'm gonna explode laughing. Haven't been able to do anything this week, but I couldn't escape the crazy gossip about:

- An Arab princess who is a lesbian. Almost no one knows about it, though... She's married to a man and has a kid with him. Someone who used to work for a famous hotel in Beirut heard about it from the friends she hung out with there. Apparently a female friend of hers slept with the princess's husband to get pregnant. After she gave birth, she gave the baby to the happy couple... Ah the secrets of the royal family!

- Then there's the guy in his 50's with 'sexual problems' (quote of someone who went out with that guy once). After that night, he'd taken a Russian hooker to his hotel room... But after some hours passed, she left upset. ,,He played with my body all night but didn't sleep with me! What's going on?!'', she complained to my friend. Later it became apparent that he's probably confused about his sexuality. That was after he had confided in my friend that he cheated on his wife with his dog. After which the wife, in a jealous rage, took a big rope and tried to hang the dog. Yes really! 'That guy was really upset when he spoke to me', my friend emphasized.

And let's not forget the stories about the famous singer who is always surrounded by hookers and huge amounts of cocaine, or of the guy who slept with another man and got robbed in the morning... but couldn't remember the guy's face when the hotel staff asked him what's wrong :D

You know, I have no idea if these things are true (yes there actually is a possibility that they are not!) but they sure crack me up :D

Politics - Hezbollah celebrating, army commander Suleiman going for the power


As you probably noticed, I don't like writing about politics even though I spend a lot of time analyzing news. I think for a journalist it's better not to give your opinion, unless you're a political analyst or know -exactly- what's going on. Otherwise you could end up looking stupid or start a media hype which snowballs out of control.

Anyways, I figured I should at least give a quick summary of what's going on here. Hezbollah today celebrated their 'victory' of the war against Israel (which ended on 14 Aug.). I'm a bit sick so I didn't see much of Beirut today, :( but apparently the supporters held festivities everywhere. Nasrallah held a speech in the evening about what happened last yr. etc. Some pics for the people who don't get the Lebanese tv channels:


(My weblog is starting to look like a propaganda site.. :S I should post some new pics on flickr which don't have to do with Hezbollah :P)

(image) Besides that: army commander Michel Suleiman is going for the power. Doesn't come as a big surprise here since agreeing on a president isn't too easy. Anyways, Beirut Spring gives a good summary if you want to know more about Suleiman.

I'm really curious what will happen in Sept... Will Suleiman get the power? Will Lahoud run off to Qatar? Will Aoun have a big surprise for us? ... What? I'm starting to love gossip like the Lebanese.

Korean UNIFIL army – shopping and drinking coffee


Had coffee today with Korean UNIFIL soldiers who were stopping by Beirut to get things from the airport. They went shopping for hijabs and such while they were waiting for their ride back to the south.

From left to right: finance officer Young-Ho, civil operations officer Andrew, interpreter Hala and major Sang-Hun

,,We’ve been here for a month now and are still building up our base’’, major Sang-Hun told me. ,,So far we love Lebanon. The people are really welcoming like in Korea.’’ Civil operations officer Andrew, laughing: ,,It’s great that you can smoke all you want, everywhere. In Korea we can’t smoke in public places. I’d love to stay in Lebanon, marry four women and buy a house near the sea.’’

Since they’re in UNIFIL, I just had to ask them what they think of the security in Lebanon. What about the attacks on UNIFIL? ,,I’m not worried’’ , Sang-Hun said. ,,I think the chance of getting hit by a car in Korea is bigger than dying in a bomb explosion.’’ Andrew agreed. ,,I’ve been in Iraq before and as long as you’re good to the people, they’ll be welcoming to you too. Not everyone is planning terrorist attacks.’’

Shortly after they finished the cappuccino’s, they got a phone call to meet up with other soldiers of the army. They told me I definitely need to check out Tyre and Sidon, since ‘it’s more beautiful in the south than in Beirut’. Soooo... Anyone wanna go with me on a trip soon? ;)

Rules how to handle Lebanese guys - on becoming a stuck up Beiruti...


,,You can be SO arrogant. That's fucking cool'', a German journalist told me yesterday. I'll take this as a great compliment, since it means I'm really integrating here in Beirut. :P Most girls in Beirut actually have attitude as a survival skill.Every girl you'll see walking around in Beirut will appear to be very stuck up. But it's not that they're really arrogant... It's more like a facade. If you DON'T act like you're the princess, you won't be able to get anything done or go anywhere. Or worse, you could be sending out the wrong message to a guy.I've always joked that guys are dogs :P, but here they really can be like that. Staring, whistling, moving to a 'good spot' so a guy can CHECK YOU OUT is pretty common. Some desperate actions (which can all happen on the same day): A delivery guy turning 180 degrees when he notices you, just so he can stop and stare before you cross the street. A car following you on the street while the driver goes like 'psst psst'.. A car packed with guys passing you while they all turn their heads to take a better look. And of course you'll have the idiots who'll come up to you and say 'you're beautiful' out of the blue. Like that's gonna get you to talk to him. Well, as a girl you get used to it. I'm not going to cover myself a loooot because it's too hot for that and I don't want to NOT fix myself/wear clothes I like just to avoid guys. So I kinda stopped caring. You just need to know some basic rules so guys won't keep bothering you. What to do when a guy you don't like is talking to you:1) Look extremely bored. Raise an eyebow, look sceptical, yawn a bit... just get good at using the facial expressions saying: 'you're an idiot'. 2) Pretend to be busy. Read something, you need to cross this ultra busy street right now, you're meeting your boyfriend, whatever. But don't say you're married. They will think you're looking to have fun with someone else since he's not with you and you're happily talking to another guy right now.3) Ignore. 'What's your name' and 'where are you from' might seem innocent questions but before you know it, you won't get rid of the guy. 4) Strut around as if you own the place. Do not make eye contact. 5) NEVER, never ever smile!I don't mean to sound arrogant :D but I'm usually really nice. I'll always answer the most annoying idiot politely, but not here. Here I act arrogant just like the Lebanese girls. So when two idiots from Cyprus came to talk to the (female) German journalist and me, I stuck to the rules I learnt by now. Even when people don't have ulterior motives. It's not about being arrogant,.. it's just the way you deal with people! :P--(By the way, the voting for the by-elections was yesterday. I'd heard talkin' about it and saw a bunch of honking cars pass with Future Movement flags. Besides that I haven't paid too much attention to it. Too busy going to the beach etc.. yes I'm ashamed of myself. Anyways, check Lebanon Update for blog posts about political news)[...]