Melhem Zein releases new single composed by late Melhem Barakat

(BEIRUT) – Lebanese singer Melhem Zein released a new single composed by legendary composer and singer Melhem Barakat, who died last week at the age of 71.

The single, “Marti W Ana,” was set to release later this year, but Zein wanted to honor Barakat’s legacy by releasing the song early.

“Marti W Ana” which translates to “My Wife and I” was just one of the songs Barakat was composing before his death. Reports say he was also working on “Albi Al Walhan” or “My Heart That’s in Love.”

Barakat’s music career started in the 1960s and hit its peak when he joined the Rahbanis’ musical theater. He later grew into one of the most popular stars in Lebanon, and toured in Australia, South America, Canada and the U.S.

He died Oct. 28 at Hôtel-Dieu de France hospital in Achrafieh, Lebanon.

LISTEN to ‘Marti W Ana’:

Lebanon elects new ‘Miss’ but still no president

(BEIRUT) — Oh, the irony!

A new Miss Lebanon for 2015 was elected on Monday, proving that some elections do actually exist in Lebanon!

While the presidential palace in Baabda remains empty, a panel of judges somehow managed to appoint a new Miss Lebanon to represent the country in the upcoming Miss World and Miss Universe competitions.

Clearly, representation at these pageants is far more important than representation at international security meetings and among world leaders.

The beauty is Valerie Abou Chacra, a 23-year-old student at the Lebanese American University, who received the crown from Sally Greige, Miss Lebanon 2014.

Abou Chacra beat out 13 other women with the judges’ votes, including Josline Mosleh and Cynthia Samoeil, who were first runners-up. Nour Nasrallah and Maria Tannous came in second and third place, respectively.

Greige presented Abou Chacra with the Miss Lebanon crown during a live pageant broadcast on LBC. Unlike Lebanon’s own leaders, Greige cannot extend her own term.

Political quarrels have created a stalemate in Lebanon, which has left the country without a president for over a year. President Michel Sleiman’s term expired in May 2014.

So here’s an idea — elect Valerie as president! You don’t have enough women in politics, anyway.

Once again, Lebanon proves to be the land of irony.

Abou Chacra earned a majority of points from the judges. Josline Mosleh and Cynthia Samoeil were first runners-up, and Nour Nasrallah and Maria Tannous came in second and third place, respectively. (Photo via LBCI)
Abou Chacra earned a majority of points from the judges. Josline Mosleh and Cynthia Samoeil were first runners-up, and Nour Nasrallah and Maria Tannous came in second and third place, respectively. (Photo via LBCI)

Myriam Fares announces pregnancy but doesn’t reveal ‘min mekhde’

(BEIRUT) — Lebanese superstar Myriam Fares announced on Instagram she is pregnant! The songstress posted a photo in a long black dress exposing her baby bump for the first time.

Fares married Lebanese-American businessman Danny Mitri last year, but never revealed photos of the mystery man. The wedding hosted only 14 close family members and friends.

Fares first spoke of Mitri in detail on the Lebanese TV show “Al Mutaham,” when she revealed he lived in Miami and traveled often to see her.

“Danny was very close to me,” Fares said. “Every time he came to Lebanon he knew that he had another home in Lebanon.”

Speculations of Fares’ pregnancy started months ago, but she immediately dropped rumors and said it was something she “dreamed” of.

Fares has insisted that Mitri did not want to be in the public limelight. She said hotel security banned cell phones and cameras at her wedding last year.

Lebanese diva Amal Hamadeh is understandably angry with the news. She, along with millions of fans, have been eagerly waiting to see a photo of Mitri.

The new mystery: will Fares reveal photos of the baby?

WATCH Hamadeh’s PSA:

Myriam Fares: Min Mekhde?Hey Myriam Fares – min mekhde? We want to know. 🙂

Posted by Lebanese Examiner on Saturday, October 3, 2015

Lebanese-Brazilian singer wows thousands with cover of ‘Hallelujah’

(SAO PAULO) — Lebanese-Brazilian singer Luciana Zogbi will leave you speechless after you listen to her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

At just 19-years-old, Luciana’s singing career is already off to a great start! With 310,000 Facebook likes and more than 52 million YouTube views, she’s become internationally known as a YouTube star.

The independent singer shot to fame after her cover of John Legend’s “All of Me” went viral, garnering 36 million views worldwide.

WATCH her recently posted cover of Hallelujah:

Haifa Wehbe reveals plans to enter U.S. music market

(LOS ANGELES, CA) — After releasing her first-ever English music video in April, Lebanese superstar Haifa Wehbe revealed plans to enter the U.S. music market with two additional English songs.

Haifa is planning partnerships with R&B singer Ne-Yo and Moroccan-born rapper French Montana for her new songs, “Habibi” and “Snake Charmer.”

Her first English music video, “Breathing You In,” pulled in a whopping 7.6 million views on YouTube.

“For me its about taking risks – lots of them,” Haifa told Entertainment Scoop. “I want to continue to push myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone.”

“Breathing You In” featured a provocative Haifa flaunting around Jennifer Lopez’s ex-lover, Casper Smart. In June, celebrity tabloids revealed an alleged scandal between Haifa and Casper.

"I wanted to make sure that my video delivered visual impact," Haifa says of her music video for "Breathing You In." (YouTube screenshot.)
“I wanted to make sure that my video delivered visual impact,” Haifa says of her music video for “Breathing You In.” (YouTube screenshot.)

In Touch Magazine said a source told them Haifa and Casper began a “secret affair” that lasted until the spring.

“J-Lo saw texts between Casper and Haifa, that’s how she uncovered the affair,” the source is quoted by In Touch Magazine. “She became possessive and controlling, she was furious and forced him to sever all ties with Haifa.”

Haifa did not respond to the allegations, but admitted to being an “easy target” for controversy.

“The world is changing and people are ultimately frightened by the unknown so they lash out and I regrettably am an easy target,” Haifa said. “I work at not taking it personal because the issues are much bigger than me.”

“Breathing You In” was directed by Dubai-based businessman and film producer Tarik Freitekh. The music video was shot in Las Vegas in studios previously used by the likes of Shakira, Snoop Dog, and Justin Bieber.

WATCH Haifa’s first English music video:

Lebanese-Canadian opera artist sings ‘O Canada’ in Arabic

(TORONTO, CANADA) — Lebanese-Canadian opera singer Miriam Khalil recently recorded the first Arabic version of Canada’s national anthem through a project led by the Canadian Arab Institute.

According to the Institute, the project aims to encourage Arabic-speaking Canadians to be “more engaged” with their citizenship.

Khalil said she hopes the Arabic-version spreads a message of “solidarity and affinity” with the larger Canadian family.

The Canadian Arab Institute released the song one week before Canada’s 148th birthday, which is celebrated on July 1.

“This is a celebration of our citizenship in this country,” Raja Khouri, president of the institute, told Canada’s Metro News.

“When you hear something that is being said in your mother tongue, it has more emotional impact, and makes you pay more attention,” he said. “We hope it will be a step further in fostering responsibilities as citizens of this nation.

LISTEN to Khalil’s rendition:

Lebanese model sparks expensive divorce battle with Saudi billionaire

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese supermodel Loujain Adada sparked the start of an expensive divorce battle between one of the world’s richest men, and his former wife, supermodel Christina Estrada.

The Daily Mail reports that Estrada is divorcing her husband, Saudi billionaire Walid Juffali, after he married a second wife — his third in total — Adada.

But things get more complicated.

Estrada, 52, is seeking a “significant slice” of Juffali’s wealth, including some of his multi-million dollar estates around the world.

Adada, Juffali, Estrada. (Photos via The Daily Mail)
Adada, Juffali, Estrada. (Photos via The Daily Mail)

With an estimated family fortune of $6.2 billion, Estrada is reportedly seeking three of the couple’s properties in the UK, worth an estimated $90 million.

Juffali divorced his first wife Basma Al Sulaiman in 2000 after 24 years of marriage, paying her $62 million.

Juffali, 60, and Adada, 25, tied the knot in 2012 during a large lavish wedding held in Venice, Italy.

Juffali’s family owns one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, EA Juffali & Brothers, which has a long list of multinational corporations as partners, including IBM, Siemens, Ericsson, Mercedes-Benz, Michelin, Massey-Ferguson, Electrolux, Kelvinator, Carrier, Dow Chemicals and DuPont.

Lebanese designer Sabine Ghanem marries billionaire oil heir

(ROME, ITALY) — Lebanese jewelery designer Sabine Ghanem married billionaire oil heir Joseph Getty in a extravagant ceremony at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, Italy on May 30.

Getty, 26, is the son of Mark Getty – the British businessman who owns picture agency Getty Images – and the grandson of philanthropist Sir John Paul Getty.

The Getty dynasty was started by J. Paul Getty, Joseph’s great-grandfather, who became the richest man in the world thanks to the Getty Oil Company.

Ghanem, 30, owns the Sabine G. jewelery collection, a London-based jewelery line of antiqued rose gold, diamonds, and rubies for headpieces, earrings, and bangle bracelets.

The Lebanese bride's gown required two assistants to trail at all times. (Xposure Photos)
The Lebanese bride’s gown required two assistants to trail at all times. (Xposure Photos)

Ghanem said her design company is a “mix of Eastern and Western cultures” which reflect her time growing up in Beirut, Lebanon and Geneva, Switzerland, before moving to the United States to study diamond grading at the Gemological Institute in New York.

Several news agencies are reporting that the wedding cost Ghanem’s father around $11 million. He is a Lebanese financier; while her mother is an interior decorator from Egypt.

The reception featured a wardrobe change among many of the wedding guests to reflect the theme of the 1988 film, Dangerous Liaisons, set in 18th century Paris.

In lieu of a traditional veil, Ghanem wore a hooded cloak hand created by the French house Lesage. Her dress was designed by Italian design line Schiaparelli.

The glamorous wedding weekend featured guests from Princess Beatrice of York, eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and French model Julia Restoin Roitfeld.

Lebanese filmmaker wins prize at Cannes Film Festival

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese filmmaker Ely Dagher won a top award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on Sunday for his short film “Waves ’98.”

Dagher, 30, won the Palme d’Or award after competing with more than 4,000 short films from around the world.

“Waves ’98” is a 15-minute “visual essay” that explores Dagher’s relationship with Beirut in 1998 as a teenager. Dagher said his attachment to Beirut became “more and more complicated” after moving from Lebanon to Brussels.

Dagher is the first Lebanese director to be awarded at the Cannes Festival since 1991, when famed filmmaker Maroun Baghdadi won the Jury Prize for “Out of Life” (Hors La Vie).

Bagdadi was internationally known for producing popular films with American director Francis Coppola, including several projects that became hits in France.

The prestigious Cannes Film Festival is held annually in southern France. The 2015 festival took place from May 13 to May 24.

The jury for the main competition included American filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, American actor Jake Gyllenhaal, French-Canadian actor and filmmaker Xavier Dolan, French actress and director Sophie Marceau, Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, Malian musician Rokia Traore, and British actress Sienna Miller.

WATCH the trailer:

WAVES’98 Trailer from Beaverandbeaver on Vimeo.

George Clooney: “We’re going to go to Beirut”

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — First Salma Hayek, now George Clooney? Will one of the world’s most recognized couples really come to Beirut?

On Tuesday, George Clooney announced that he and his wife Amal Alamuddin were planning to visit Beirut in the “near future” to meet his Lebanese in-laws.

“We’re going to go to Beirut and I’m really excited to do that but I didn’t know much about the Lebanese culture including how many family members I now have in Lebanon, which is a thousand I think,” he said.

Clooney explained how his marriage to Alamuddin, who was born in Lebanon, has taught him about the country’s culture.

“What I have learned from Amal is about Lebanese culture and (it’s) absolutely fascinating to me,” he said.

Alamuddin’s family hails from Baakline, a well-known Druze town and seat of the sect’s religious leader in the Chouf district of the country.

Alamuddin’s father, Ramzi, is a retired professor at the American University of Beirut, while her mother, Baria, is a well-known former beauty-queen turned journalist with the newspaper Al-Hayat.

The family left Lebanon in the 1980s at the height of Lebanon’s civil war. They settled in London, with Amal going on to earn a law degree from the prestigious Oxford University and later a Master’s degree from New York University.

Clooney spoke of the couple’s vested interest in politics and his freedom to talk more openly about his beliefs than his wife, who may deal with different countries in her line of work.

“Well she’s not involved in politics, she’s active on the international stage. I would argue that both of us are equally involved politically. I’m in a much better place and able to do a lot more by not having to compromise,” he added.

The news comes just one day after Clooney called the conflict in Syria “incredibly complex.” He also explained how Amal has given him a “new perspective” on the country.

Clooney also told the BBC that he intends to do more to help the people of Syria without being formally involved in politics.