Lebanon

شربل يوقع اول عقد زواج مدني في لبنان

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Finally!!!! Mabrouk to all the Lebanese!

The Cheesecake Factory Lebanon opening in August

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cheesecake-factory-lebanonLast week I managed to meet one of the Cheesecake Factory’s future manager and asked him when will they finally open the first branch at City Centre. Apparently the restaurant will open in August. I asked if they knew when the other restaurants are going to open but they did not know. I’m currently waiting for two restaurants to open in City Centre, The Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack, hopefully Shake Shack will open soon too! Check this post to see the full list of restaurants in City Centre.

Guy behind fake bomb detectors used in Lebanon jailed

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Everyone has seen the bomb detectors used at the entrances of the Hotels, Malls, Clubs in Lebanon. It’s been known for a long time that those devices do nothing, cost a fortune (around 40,000$), yet no one has moved to stop them and a lot of the “security” around here is based on them! Today the guy behind this device has been convicted of three counts of fraud so let’s hope we stop seeing those “bomb detectors” in Lebanon!

Weirdest news today

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So I was browsing Twitter now and this popped up “خير الدين : وحيد القرن لم يهاجم صحناوي”! WTF!? we’re used to weird news in Lebanon but that’s a first!

اوضح  وزير الدولة في حكومة تصريف الاعمال مروان خير الدين ما حصل مع وزير الاتصالات في حكومة تصريف الاعمال نقولا صحناوي بعد نشر خبر يفيد بانه اقدم على انقاذه من وحيد قرن في احدى غابات افريقيا .

ولم ينكر خير الدين انه كان في رحلة عائلية مع الوزير صحناوي وآخرين في افريقيا، مشيراً الى انه من محبي الصيد، وما حصل بحسب خير الدين ان الفريق الذي كان معه الوزير صحناوي قد صادف وحيدا للقرن لكنه لم ينقذه لانه اصلا لم يهاجمه.
واستغرب خير الدين في حديث تلفزيوني توقيت نشر الخبر ولو على سبيل المزاح يأتي في سياق تهميش انجازات صحناوي، خصوصاً وان الرحلة حصلت في فترة عيد الميلاد .

List of stores and restaurants in City Centre Mall Lebanon

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I tried to look online for info about the stores in the new City Centre Mall in Lebanon but couldn’t find any list containing the stores that opened or that are about to open in it. So I decided to compile that list myself. If you see any mistake please let me know. (* = Opening soon)

Restaurants in City Centre Lebanon:

Dining – Cafes / Specialty foods

  • Brioche Dorée
  • La Maison du Café by Café Najjar
  • Castania Nut Boutique *
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • GNC *
  • Häagen Dazs
  • Lina’s
  • Moka & More *
  • Patchi
  • Pinkberry
  • Second Cup
  • Starbucks
  • Teavana *

Dining – Fast Food

  • Attila Mongolian Grill
  • Burger King
  • Chopsticks *
  • Cinnabon
  • Fat Burger
  • Food Style
  • Kabab-Ji
  • KFC
  • McDonald’s
  • Pappa Roti *
  • Pizzaro *
  • Saltwater
  • Steak & Cheese Factory
  • The Pizzeria *
  • Zaatar w Zeit
  • Zahar Al Roumen

Dining – Restaurants

  • Ana Ahwak by Abdel Wahab *
  • Crepaway *
  • GiGi *
  • Moka Lounge *
  • Nasma *
  • P.F. Changs *
  • Roadster Diner *
  • Scoozi *
  • Shake Shack *
  • Sushi Ko *
  • The Cheesecake Factory *

Stores in City Centre Lebanon:

Banks/Financial Services

  • Halawi Exchange

Books/Cards/Gifts

  • Hallmark *

Cosmetics/Perfumes

  • Abdul Samad Al Qurashi *
  • Bath & Body Works *
  • Body Shop
  • Clarins *
  • Faces
  • MAC
  • Make up 4 Ever
  • Parashop *
  • Victoria’s Secret Beauty Accessories

Department Store / Hypermarket

  • Carrefour
  • Centrepoint
  • Marks & Spencer *

Electronics / Home Appliances / Mobile Phones

  • Bose
  • I style
  • Samsung *
  • Stars Mobile

Entertainment / Music

  • Magic Planet
  • VOX Cinemas

Fashion – Children’s / Maternity

  • Baby Shop
  • Jacadi
  • Mama’s & Papa’s
  • Mothercare
  • Original Marines
  • Tape A L’oeil
  • Zahar Kids

Fashion – Ladies

  • Bebe *
  • Betty Barclay
  • Bomba and Lola *
  • Carlos Miele Jeans *
  • Clauda *
  • Coast *
  • Esprit
  • Dorothy Perkins *
  • Fornarina
  • Gerry Weber
  • Hoss Intiopia *
  • Jennyfer *
  • Jessica
  • Juicy Couture
  • K Lynn
  • Karem Millen *
  • List
  • Liu Jo
  • Max & CO
  • Miss Selfridge’s *
  • Persona *
  • Romance Intimi
  • Valege
  • Wallis
  • Warehouse
  • Zeki

Fashion – Men’s

  • Paul & Shark
  • Rectangle Jaune
  • State of Art

Fashion – Unisex

  • Aizone
  • American Eagle Outfitters *
  • Benetton
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Colin’s
  • Cotton On *
  • Desigual *
  • Diesel
  • DKNY
  • Express *
  • F & F *
  • Geddes and Gilmore *
  • Giordano
  • G-Star Raw
  • Guess
  • H&M
  • Jack Wills *
  • Jack & Jones
  • Lacoste
  • Lufian
  • Max Fashion
  • River Woods
  • Splash
  • Sport et Loisir
  • Springfield
  • Ted Baker
  • Tom Tailor
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Top Shop / Top Man
  • True Religion
  • US Polo ASSN *

Fashion Accessories / Handbags / Footwear

  • Agatha
  • Bata
  • Clarks *
  • Claire’s
  • Crocs
  • Five Fingers
  • Florsheim
  • Gioseppo *
  • GS Shoes
  • Guess Accessories
  • Kiplings *
  • Maria Pino *
  • Milano *
  • Pablosky
  • Payless shoes
  • Pieces
  • Primadonna
  • Shoe City
  • Skechers
  • Socks
  • Tanos *

Home Furnishings

  • Lifestyle
  • Pottery Barn Kids *
  • Villeroy and Boch
  • West Elm *

Jewellery / Watches

  • Atamian *
  • Citizen
  • Dalya *
  • Damas *
  • Frey Willie
  • Rossa Nero *
  • Moukarzel
  • Rovina
  • Romance Time
  • Swarovski
  • Zoughaib Jewelery *

Optical / Sunglasses

  • Beyond Optics *
  • Grand Optics *
  • Hallak Optics *
  • Magrabi *

Services / Speciality Stores / Kiosks

  • Bare Salon & Spa *
  • Beauty Express *
  • Kurban Travel / Avis

Sporting Goods

  • Adidas
  • Columbia
  • Foot Locker *
  • Nike & Converse

Toys / Children’s Interests

  • Early Learning Centre *
  • Joué Club
  • L’Atelier Art Lounge *

Immortals Censored in Lebanon

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immortals movie censored in lebanonYesterday night I went to the movies to watch Immortals with a couple of friends. The movie is good and I guess you’ll like it if you’re into this kind of movies. Here’s the description of the movie from IMDB.

Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity.

In the middle of the movie, my friend noticed that there was a cut in a scene. The music suddenly stopped and a new scene started. A sentence said by a character in the next scene confirmed our suspicion that something was missing and in the end of the movie it became clear that the movie was censored so I decided to download the movie and check if it was true. It is, 2 minutes of the movie is missing in Lebanese cinemas!

Note that there will be spoilers in the rest of the article so keep reading only if you watched the movie or do not wish to watch it.

Unfortunately the censored scene is a key part of the movie. When the virgin oracle helps Theseus recover after he had buried his mother and fought for the bow, and while she is leaning at him the scene is cut in the Lebanese version. In the normal version, they kiss, she then stands up, removes her dress, and join him into bed. At this point her “behind” shows on camera. She then tells Theseus that her visions are a curse and she wants to see the world through her own eyes, her own flesh. We can then see there shadows making love and the scene fades out.

What’s weird about the censorship in this movie is that what is censored normally appears in other movies shown in Lebanese Theaters, so I am not sure why exactly this one was censored. My friends and I suggested 3 theories:

  1. That’s just Lebanon, consistency in censorship is not required.
  2. The Oracle should remain a “Virgin” so maybe they somehow linked it to Christianity.
  3. They just censored it so the movie could be rated PG (Lebanese standards). If that’s true it means the Lebanese censorship bureau (or whatever it’s called) doesn’t  have any problem with violence and people killing each others, the important thing is that they should never kiss!

People in surrounding countries used to enjoy watching movies here because they are not censored! Now are movies are started to be censored! I hope whoever censors stuff around here realizes soon that we should be having less censorship (Ideally no censorship, just ratings) as the world evolves not more!

3G Speeds

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The first thing I did when I got my 3G line is enter the speedtest.net application and test the speed of the connection. After those initial test whenever I accessed the app on 3G or even edge it showed me a “Network communication issues” error.

Testing WiFi speeds still worked properly but I couldn’t test 3G speeds in any region. I think alfa might be blocking the testing but I am not sure about it. The good news is that yesterday I finally managed to bypass the block by:

  • Connecting and finding a server to test on while on WiFi
  • Getting far enough from the router so that the mobile looses the WiFi signal (exiting the app to turn off WiFi kept resetting it)
  • Testing the connection on 3G.

The speeds I got from those test were pretty descent, I got speeds between 2 and 3 MB but with high latencies (>200ms).

So for now the 3G speeds are good, let’s just hope they manage to maintain a fast service when it is finally properly launched!

Tested 3G video calls

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Last Friday I got to test video calling with a friend in downtown Beirut. The 2 phones performing the calls were a Nokia C7 and a Nokia E72 both with alfa lines. I was happy to find that the call was successful and we were able to see each others and talk normally. The quality is similar to a crappy webcam picture but there was no lags or interruption so it wasn’t bad. I’ll try to perform a call to an MTC line soon but I’m not sure it would work. Did anyone else try video calls? Did you have a similar or a different experience?

Alfa 3G support

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On the first day of 3G testing I sent an email to Alfa asking them for the 3G settings for my Windows Phone 7 device. The 3G had started working on my android phone but couldn’t connect on the other one. An hour or 2 later I got a phone call from Alfa, the person at the end of the line first asked me if I had tried calling 118 (that’s the 3G support number). I told him I did not, he asked me why, he asked if I had a prior bad experience with them or if I had tried to call them and they had not answered. I told him I had no problem with 118 but I figured that sending an email would be faster and easier for me. The support guy then guided me setting up the phone settings. After correctly entering the data, everything worked perfectly. After that he asked me to call 118 while I was on the phone with him (using my normal line) and see if they answer me. I called them and they did, he thanked me and asked me to get back to him if I have any other issue/remark. Note that while talking to him I told him about the speeds I was currently getting and about the quality of the connection at my location; the call was also followed by another 2 calls about Alfa asking me if my problem was fixed.

At noon the service suddenly stopped working, I tried to call them around 13:00 but got no reply on the first try, on the second one and after a minute of waiting an operator answered the phone and asked me for my 3G mobile number. I did not have the number memorized so I told him to hold for a sec but when I got back to him (after around 40 seconds I think) the line was already disconnected so I then decided to wait and ignore the disconnection since I was busy anyways.

The second day I got a phone call from Alfa in the morning, the person on the other end of the line asked me if everything was OK today since I had complained on the previous day about a non stable service. I told him that I had not complain (I wrote on the blog that speeds varied a lot so I don’t know if they read that) but that speeds were better today but that I did not test it extensively yet. He asked me to test it a little and told me that he would try to call me back in 5 minutes. To test the connection I tried to open 2 YouTube videos, one loaded quickly on the first try and the second loaded quickly but took a little time to start. When he called back I told him everything was going OK. Two hours later I got another call from Alfa, the person also asked me if my complaints from the day before were solved, I told them everything was OK.

So as you can see the customer support for 3G is currently good but lacks organization, I hope they improve that side of it before the full launch. How good/bad was your experience using 3G?

No 3G testing this week

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I will not be able to keep testing the 3G connection this week since I am in Abu Dhabi on a business trip. The line is currently with my brother so I’ll give you his feedback when I am back. I still have a couple of posts to write about my experience when using 3G so I’ll try to post them when I have time.

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