Lebanese designer launches new ‘angelic’ collection

A Beirut-based fashion studio is catching eyes worldwide after its launch of a glitzy new ‘angelic’ collection of designer dresses.

Lebanese designer Mohammed Ashi is the brains behind the ice-white patterns and intricate embroidery. He has dressed A-list celebrities on the red carpet, including singers Celine Dion and Janelle Monae.

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Ashi’s latest design is described on Instagram as “The Girl on the Moon.” The launch comes months before Paris Fashion Week, which is set to begin on February 27, 2018.

The Ashi brand was launched in 2007 to “tell fairy tales through every meticulously hand crafted design,” according to its website.

Ashi’s biography says he is “attached to his Arab roots yet inspired by diverse cultures.”

For more information on the Ashi brand, click here.

Rare newsreel video shows Lebanon in 1969

Rare footage from British Pathé, a producer of newsreels and documentaries, shows Lebanon in 1969.

British Pathé was at the forefront of cinematic journalism, blending information with entertainment to popular effect.

Over the course of a century, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and seismic political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people. If it happened, British Pathé filmed it.

Beirut, the thriving beautiful capital city of Lebanon.

But even here, in the biblical land of milk and honey, the honey is not so sweet.

These are refugees — some of the many who have lost their homes in Middle East strife.

Lebanon has seen its share of troubles through the centuries. Romans, Arabs, the Crusaders, Turks, the French, and the allied forces all have passed this way.

But Lebanon has survived, and has merged as a prosperous and democratic state, composed equally of Christians and Muslims.

The president, Charles Helou, is a Christian. The prime minister, by agreement, is always a Muslim. The set up appears to work well.

In spite of its geographic position of strategy in the current Middle East situation, the financial comparison of Lebanon to Switzerland and its role as the trading house of the Middle East is a fair one.

Free enterprise flourishes. Modern roads cover the country. Luxury buildings and hotels have sprung up.

One of the main objects of both is tourism. About 30 percent of the national income is derived from visitors, including Jewish people. Even now Lebanon is still a tourist attraction.

This is traditional and universal in appeal.

So is this…

In this small land, bordered by Israel and Syria, the east and the west fuse smoothly. Ancient and modern, Christian and Muslim.

It’s a land of contrast. Sunny lowlands, snowy mountains.

Rare Lebanese cheese on verge of disappearing, report says

A traditional Lebanese practice of using clay jars to make one of the world’s rarest and oldest cheeses is slowly disappearing, according to a report by BBC News.

Ambarees, an iconic product of the Bekaa Valley, is made of fermented raw goat milk in earthenware jars. The cheese develops into a creamy texture with an acidic flavor. Lebanese call it “Labnet el Jarra.”

According to BBC, some Baalbeck residents say it’s becoming harder to find the traditional clay pot needed for cheese production. The practice is also not being passed down to newer generations, the report adds.

How It’s Made

Making the delicacy begins with filling the clay jar with milk and covering it with a cloth. The milk is left until the water begins to separate and drain out.

Then, for several months, salt and milk are added to the recipe at least twice per week until it begins to dry. The cheese stays fresh for at least one year using this method.

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Ambarees is made from raw goat milk poured at room temperature into the jar. The key to its production involves its fermentation, and the cheese reaching the perfect acidity.

The delicacy is commonly enjoyed during winter months on hot pieces of Markouk or Saj breads. Ambarees is highly dense and can be preserved for up to one year, making it ideal for winter enjoyment.

Why It’s Disappearing

According to BBC, markets in Beirut say most vendors don’t have time to make the homemade cheese anymore.

“Ambarees is one of the oldest cheeses in the world; it’s maybe 2,000 years old,” says one vendor. “People like it, but making it is quite hard and no one has time anymore.”

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Some Lebanese fear the cheese could soon disappear if newer generations don’t learn the recipe and pass it on.

Families in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley — where it’s called ‘ambaress’ — and in the Shouf area — where it is called serdeleh — are hoping to keep the tradition alive.

WATCH: Lost Cheese of the Lebanese Mountain:

‘Wonder Woman’ banned in Lebanon because of Israeli actress

The movie “Wonder Woman” is banned in Lebanon because the lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli, Lebanese officials announced.

The Ministry of Economy and Trade made the decision Wednesday to institute the ban before “Wonder Woman” hit the silver screen this weekend.

A group called “Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel” has been working to urge the Lebanese government to block the film due to lead actress Gal Gadot’s ethnicity.

Gadot served two years in the Israeli Defense Forces, the national military service mandatory for Israeli citizens over 18. The group said Gadot “boasted about the army training for Hollywood.”

“We refuse to normalize relations with an enemy state,” said Rania Masri, a member of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon. “We’re not talking about a political disagreement, were talking about resistance against occupation.”

One of Lebanon’s largest theater chains, Grand Cinemas, officially announced the ban on Twitter. “#WonderWoman has been banned in #Lebanon,” the tweet said.

The Ministry of Economy of Trade said in a statement the government has “taken all necessary action” to ban the film.

A counter-petition titled “Release Wonder Woman in Lebanon” has been published to challenge the ban. Organizers argue that previous films starring Gal Gadot, such as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Furious 7,” have successfully screened in Lebanon.

“Gal Gadot may be an Israeli, but we want to watch a movie about the amazing character of Wonder Woman,” the petition said.

The petition also argued that “Wonder Woman” was made by production companies in the U.S. and China.

What do you think? Should Lebanon ban “Wonder Woman” from its theaters? Share your thoughts on the Lebanese Examiner Facebook page.

WATCH: ‘Wonder Woman’ Banned in Lebanon:

Lebanese penal law allows rapists to walk free

A controversial law protecting rapists in Lebanon is expected to be reconsidered in parliament this week. Article 522 in Lebanese penal law allows men who rape women to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims.

The law can also suspend any conviction for a person who has committed rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape. The only stipulation is marrying the victim.

In December, members of the Parliamentary Committee for Administration and Justice announced an agreement to repeal the law, but a decision has not been formally made. The law must go before the full Lebanese parliament for review.

“The current law allows for a second assault on a rape survivor’s rights in the name of ‘honor’ by trapping her in a marriage with her rapist,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Protecting honor should be about ensuring that attackers are punished and promoting social attitudes that support survivors of sexual violence instead of stigmatizing them.”

The renewed push to repeal and reform this law is coming from Lebanese women’s rights groups, namely Abaad, a group that has invested thousands of dollars in advertising, public campaigns and billboards to end the law. They also created the hashtag #Undress522.

Ali Awada, advocacy manager for Abaad, told Public Radio International that the group’s public service campaigns are working.

“It worked at the policy level with different decision-makers,” says Awada. “After this series of lobbying meetings, we managed to get this draft law discussed inside the parliament with different political affiliates, and the final voting will be this week, with hopefully a ‘yes’ to abolish article 522.”

Awada points to tragic examples when similar laws have resulted in serious women’s rights violations.

In a widely publicized case, a Moroccan teen committed suicide in November 2013 after her family forced her to marry her rapist, according to Al Jazeera.

The suicide happened amid 2013 efforts to repeal Moroccan penal code Article 475, which also allows rapists who marry their victims to walk free.

 

Hariri reportedly bans photojournalist for “unofficial” photo

BEIRUT – Prime Minister Saad Hariri has reportedly banned a Lebanese photojournalist from covering events at Beit Al Wasat, Hariri’s upscale mansion, according to a report in Global Voices.

Photojournalist Hussein Baydoun photographed Hariri with one finger in his mouth during a press conference on Oct. 20. He later posted the photo to Twitter with a comment in Arabic that translates to, “For your eyes.”

Baydoun, who works for a London-based Arabic news outlet, was reportedly told he could no longer cover Hariri’s events because the photo was “unofficial.”

Wael Yaman, director of digital and social media at the Future Movement, acknowledged on Twitter that Baydoun could no longer attend events at Beit Al Wasat.

According to a Global Voices article, the prime minister’s office said Beit Al Wasat will be restricted to “permanent reporters” only.

Baydoun’s employer, The New Arab, is standing by its photographer, according to the article.

“I am fortunate that my newspaper is next to me, offering full support,” he told a Global Voices reporter. “We need to have a real photojournalists’ syndicate that fights for our rights.”

Lebanese couple engaged after meeting for first time

(BEIRUT) — A Lebanese couple who connected on Facebook and had a long distance relationship for 10 months met face-to-face for the first time in Beirut, and were engaged moments later.

Ramez Yassine, who lives in Lebanon, and Inaam Allaham, who lives in Dearborn Heights, Mich., spent months dating through online video chats.

But when Allaham flew to Lebanon to meet Yassine for the first time, Yassine had other plans. This wasn’t just a meet-and-greet; Yassine staged a full-blown engagement party in the Beirut International Airport parking lot.

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“I’ve never seen her or felt her hand, or even smelt her scent,” Yassine said, in a YouTube video posted on Oct. 5. “But somehow I’ve never felt more in love with a person like that before.”

Moments after Allaham landed in Beirut, she was engaged!

“Today is going to be the first day I ever meet her,” Yassine said, before heading to the airport. “We chatted on Skype, Tango, and every possible video audio chat you can ever think of.”

WATCH the proposal:

Austrian mountaineer climbs Baatara Gorge in Tannourine

(BEIRUT) — Austrian climber David Lama chose Lebanon as the location for his latest adventure and fixed his sights on setting a route in the untouched Baatara Gorge.

It was a bold move for the 25-year-old climber and he successfully set the new route Avaatara, which is a 5.14d climb.

“If you get to travel roads that have already been discovered, you’re basically just following,” Lama said, citing the reason why he chose to visit Lebanon. “But if you go somewhere no one has ever been you’re basically in the lead and that’s something I really like.”

“Lebanon is definitely a special place, it’s somehow a little bit exotic, a place that you don’t actually plan to go to as a climber, as it’s not really on the climbing map, and that’s one factor that drove me to come here.”

David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015. (Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool)
David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015. (Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool)

The Baatara gorge sinkhole is a waterfall in Tannourine, Lebanon, which drops 255 metres into the Baatara Pothole, a cave of Jurassic limestone located on the Lebanon Mountain Trail.

Lama is the first person to ever scale the sinkhole.

37 Lebanese couples tie the knot in mass wedding

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — A group of 37 Lebanese couples tied the knot on Sept. 6 in a mass wedding blessed by Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rai at the Maronite Catholic Patriarchate in Bkerke.

Rai stressed the importance of a marriage “commitment,” adding that the 37 married couples should adopt a “church setting” in their new family home.

The mass wedding was organized by the Maronite League, a non-profit organization that serves Maronite Lebanese interests, according to their website.

According to Lebanon’s French language daily newspaper, L’Orient-Le Jour, the Maronite League covered the wedding expenses and offered each couple a $2,000 gift to begin their married life.

VIEW photos of the ceremony below:

Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi poses with couples who took part in a mass wedding at the Maronite Patriarchate in Bkerke on September 6, 2015.
Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi poses with couples who took part in a mass wedding at the Maronite Patriarchate in Bkerke on September 6, 2015.

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WATCH: The sights and sounds of a Lebanese revolution!

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — A short online documentary published on Sept. 2 takes us through the historic ‘You Stink’ protests which have caught global media attention for weeks now.

Thousands of Lebanese protesters have gathered in downtown Beirut over recent weeks for the largest anti-government demonstrations in the country’s history.

Many protesters are calling for a revolution to end political corruption which has literally left Lebanon drowned in trash.

The activist group ‘You Stink’ started the movement earlier last month in response to the trash crisis, which began when residents south of Beirut barricaded a landfill to complain of toxic fumes.

The documentary was directed and shot by Jackson Allers, and edited by Inaam Attar for Audio Kultur — a self-described platform for music, art, and culture.

WATCH: You Stink Protest – Beirut, Lebanon:

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