Examiner Staff

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Lebanon opens first ‘blind-friendly’ supermarket in the Middle East

Marqet, the first blind-friendly supermarket in the Middle East opened Sept. 27 on Koraytem Main Road in Beirut, as part of a project launched by Lebanese non-profit Red Oak, a press release said.

According to a statement on the Red Oak website, this supermarket initiative coincides with their other recent projects aimed at bringing blind and visually-impaired persons to Lebanese museums.

The Youth Association of the Blind collaborated with Red Oak to train Marqet employees on how to support blind and visually-impaired shoppers during a two-day workshop, the release added.

Red Oak said employees at Marqet have been taught to support blind customers, walk them through the aisles, orientate them, showcase or describe products and help as they check out.

Marquet is Lebanon's first 'blind-friendly' supermarket. (Facebook/Red Oak)
Marquet is Lebanon’s first ‘blind-friendly’ supermarket. (Facebook/Red Oak)

According to Marqet’s website, it’s a one-stop shop for meats, fresh fruits, vegetables and many favorite brands like: La Boulangere Bio, Oslo, Royal Gourmet, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Qi juices, Cocoa & Co. and more.

“Smell the aromas of fresh bread baking in our bakery with its organic section, run your errands supported by our friendly staff, sip a cup of coffee and let our staff handle your order or call us from the comfort of your home and we will deliver,” the site said.

Marqet is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday — including Sundays, delivery is available with no minimum order requirement and customers can find free parking.

For more information, visit: marqetlb.com or redoaklb.org.

Forgotten luxury hotel from Ottoman Empire re-opens in Lebanon

A forgotten luxurious hotel built under Ottoman rule over 100 years ago, in the village of Sofar east of Beirut, officially reopened its doors to the public on Sept. 16 as it celebrated works honoring its past by British artist Tom Young, according to AFP.

AFP offered a look inside the grand space and spoke to Young about his exhibition paying homage to the hotel’s glamorous past, before the civil war forced the building’s doors closed.

“This place is just full of history… it was once one of the greatest hotels in the Middle East,” Young, a 45-year-old painter who has been living in Lebanon for a decade, told AFP.

A sneak peak inside the Grand Sofar Hotel before it opened for public viewing. (Facebook/Tom Young Art)
A sneak peak inside the Grand Sofar Hotel before it opened for public viewing. (Facebook/Tom Young Art)

“It was where kings and princesses and emirs and generals used to meet — also the most famous singers of the day.”

The paintings on display for Young’s exhibition showcase the exclusive parties of high society, lively dance scenes in the ballroom, card games played by the rich and powerful as well as historic political meetings — sometimes held in secrecy.

“Breezing through the Grand Hotel’s seventy five roomed corridors you can almost hear the secret deals being made between generals and ministers as celebrity love affairs nestled in the corners of the Monkey Bar,” Young wrote on his website.

The Grand Sofar Hotel is open to the public for a special art exhibition until Oct. 14. (Facebook/Tom Young Art)
The Grand Sofar Hotel is open to the public for a special art exhibition until Oct. 14. (Facebook/Tom Young Art)

Young’s show will run through Oct. 14, but programming at the Grand Sofar Hotel will also include: music, dance performances, kids workshops and art workshops.

The hotel and exhibition are featured in a video shared by Young on YouTube, take a look inside:

Throughout the exhibition, Young’s website says shuttles to the hotel are available every Saturday of the week from Beirut. Pick-up is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the return is set for 7 p.m.

For more information, visit tomyoung.com or email grandsofarhotel@gmail.com.

Former Lebanese president tweets, ‘Our hash is the best hash’

Former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman mocked Lebanon’s marijuana industry with a tweet, “Our hash is the best hash.”

Sleiman, who opposes the legalization of marijuana, said Lebanese citizens joked that Lebanese citizens should embrace the culture of marijuana.

“Wake up, Lebanese citizens. Accept the culture of hash. Our hash is the best hash,” he wrote on Twitter.

Lebanese government officials are exploring the potential economic value of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

RELATED: LAU to study ‘potential medical value’ of marijuana in Lebanon

Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury said marijuana, which is illegal in Lebanon, could diversify the economy and open new markets.

“The quality (of cannabis) we have is one of the best in the world,” Khoury told Bloomberg News, adding that marijuana could become a one-billion-dollar industry.

The Lebanese American University is studying the potential economic value of marijuana in Lebanon. (File photo)
The Lebanese American University is studying the potential economic value of marijuana in Lebanon. (File photo)

Meanwhile, Sleiman joins a growing list of Lebanese officials opposing the marijuana industry. He said Lebanon should look into other industries to grow its economy.

“Lebanon, a country which exported the alphabets, cannot find solutions for its economy other than exporting hash,” Sleiman questioned.

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki enters Oscar race for film ‘Capernaum’

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki has entered the Academy Awards for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ for her for 2018 drama “Capernaum.”

The film, which has received international acclaim, follows the story of a destitute Beirut boy who files a lawsuit against his parents for raising him into a life of pain and suffering.

Labaki confirmed the Oscar submission with a post on Facebook.

“We are incredibly honored to represent (Lebanon) in this year’s best foreign language (Oscar) race,” she wrote. “This is a film from the heart – and we’re very grateful for everyone who supported the film and its message.”

RELATED: Sony Pictures acquires Lebanese film “Capernaum” ahead of Cannes

In May, Labaki made history as the first Arab woman to win the prestigious ‘Jury Prize’ during the Cannes Film Festival in France. She was also the second Arab woman to be in the running for the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes festival.

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki said she is proud to represent Lebanon in this year's Oscar race. (File photo)
Lebanese director Nadine Labaki said she is proud to represent Lebanon in this year’s Oscar race. (File photo)

Labaki received a 15-minute standing ovation at the premiere of ‘Capernaum’ at Cannes. She told Agence France Presse that she feels strongly about the political and social messages in the film.

“I’m thinking of the notion of borders, of having to have papers to exist, of being completely excluded from the system if you don’t have them,” Labaki said. “(I’m thinking) of the maltreatment of children, modern slavery, immigrant workers, Syrian immigrants — all these issues where people find themselves completely excluded from the system because it is not capable of finding solutions.”

VIDEO: Irish soldier stationed in Lebanon flies home to surprise daughter

An Irish soldier stationed in Lebanon returned home to Ireland to surprise his 8-year-old daughter. The special reunion was captured on cell phone video and posted to Facebook.

Daniel Downey is a member of the Irish Army based in Lebanon. His 8-year-old daughter Danni had not seen her father for several months, reported The Independent.

Downey interrupted his daughter’s dance class for a reunion to remember.

WATCH: Irish soldier stationed in Lebanon flies home to surprise daughter:

Danni’s aunt said the family spent more than four months planning the special reunion, The Indepedent added.

Vice Admiral Mark Mellett visits members of the Irish Army stationed in Lebanon. (Irish Defence Forces)
Vice Admiral Mark Mellett visits members of the Irish Army stationed in Lebanon. (Irish Defence Forces)

According to the Irish Army, more than 300 Irish personnel are currently serving the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon.

“The UNIFIL mission ‘Monitor, Support and Assist’ involves extensive mobile patrolling throughout the Irish area of operations, including ground-holding, monitoring the Blue Line and humanitarian operations,” their website said.

Mayor of Lebanon, Missouri celebrates ‘Day of Friendship’ with Lebanon

The mayor of Lebanon, Missouri declared Sept. 20 as a “Day of Friendship” between the Republic of Lebanon and the City of Lebanon, according to the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C.

Mayor Jared Carr issued a proclamation to celebrate the city’s “bond with the country of Lebanon not only through name, but friendship.”

Lebanon, Missouri has a population of about 14,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (Facebook/Embassy of Lebanon in Washington D.C.)
Lebanon, Missouri has a population of about 14,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (Facebook/Embassy of Lebanon in Washington D.C.)

Lebanese photographer Fadi Boukaram planted a cedar tree in the city to mark the occasion. Boukaram has made it his mission to visit every city named Lebanon in the U.S.

RELATED: Lebanese man plants cedar tree in town of Lebanon, Tennessee

“Our bond with the city of Lebanon extends back well over half a century, and we look forward to fostering deeper cultural ties and cooperation through our mutual respect of one another,” the Embassy said in a statement.

READ: Full text of the mayor’s proclamation:

WHEREAS, The city of Lebanon and communities across America share a bond with the country of Lebanon not only through name, but friendship; and

WHEREAS, Americans have a growing social, cultural and economic ties to the global community, as we seek to communicate with and understand our partners from different language and cultural backgrounds; and

WHEREAS, our community has historic ties of friendship with the country of Lebanon; and

WHEREAS, the cedar tree is a fitting tribute to the country of Lebanon, its people and hospitality; and

WHEREAS, Though thousands of miles may separate our countries, our communities are bonded in friendship and a historic connection dating back to 1955; and

WHEREAS, The City of Lebanon seeks to renew our bond.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mayor Carr, City of Lebanon, Missouri, Do hereby proclaim September 20, 2018 as a day of friendship between the country of Lebanon and the City of Lebanon, Missouri, USA. I urge all citizens to become familiar with and be open to learning about other nations and exploring our share of bonds.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the City of Lebanon to be affixed this 20th day of September 2018.

Mayor Jared Carr
Attest: City Clerk Laina Starnes

FBI director meets with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun

FBI Director Christopher Wray and several U.S. officials visited with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun at the country’s presidential palace in Baabda.

In a statement, Aoun said Lebanon was thankful for U.S. support to the Lebanese Armed Forces. He said Wray expressed his support to the Lebanese army for helping to fight militant groups across the country.

“Wray visited Lebanon to reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership,” Aoun said in a statement released by the state-run Lebanese National News Agency. “They discussed issues relating to the close law enforcement and security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray visited with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda. (Lebanese National News Agency)
FBI Director Christopher Wray visited with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda. (Lebanese National News Agency)

The meeting was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, and representatives from the offices of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

“Lebanon is a key partner on law enforcement, including the fight against terrorism and the preservation of cultural heritage through preventing antiquities trafficking,” Aoun added. “Director Wray’s visit highlights the importance that the United States places on its relationship with Lebanon, and our continued commitment to the security of both the United States and Lebanon.”

The U.S. has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006, according to the Associated Press.

Christopher Wray formally replaced former FBI head James Comey in September 2017.

WATCH: FBI Director Christopher Wray meets with President Michel Aoun in Lebanon:

Meet Saudi Arabia’s first female anchor: A graduate from Lebanon

A Lebanese American University graduate made history as the first female news anchor on a main news program in Saudi Arabia, reported The Daily Mail.

Weam Al Dakheel recently became co-anchor of Al Saudiya’s 9.30 p.m. bulletin, the main news program on Saudi Arabia’s state-run television network. She will work anchor alongside Saudi journalist Omar al-Nashwan.

Weam Al-Dakheel is Saudi Arabia's first female news anchor. (Twitter/Saudi TV)
Weam Al-Dakheel is Saudi Arabia’s first female news anchor. (Twitter/Saudi TV)

Al Dakheel graduated from the Lebanese American University, according to her Facebook page. She was previously a reporter for CNBC Arabia and an anchor for Al-Arab News Channel in Bahrain.

The journalist set a milestone in the conservative country, known for its tight restrictions on women. Saudi Arabia only recently lifted its widely criticized ban on female drivers.

Following Al Dakheel’s first broadcast, many Twitter users expressed their support for the promising future of female journalists in Saudi Arabia.

“This is big from Saudi Arabia,” wrote one Twitter user. “(She is) confident, focused (and) beautiful.”

WATCH: Weam Al Dakheel anchors the main 9:30 p.m. news broadcast in Saudi Arabia:

Queen Rania dresses in classic shirt by Lebanese designer

Queen Rania of Jordan looked glamorous in a balloon short sleeve shirt styled by Lebanese fashion designer Maison Makarem.

The queen wore the classic white shirt while accompanying King Abdullah II of Jordan to visit the Jordanian national martial arts team. The team recently participated in the Asian Games in Indonesia, and brought home 12 medals.

Queen Rania wore a classic white shirt by Lebanese fashion designer Maison Makarem. (The Royal Hashemite Court)
Queen Rania wore a classic white shirt by Lebanese fashion designer Maison Makarem. (The Royal Hashemite Court)

According to its website, Maison Makarem was launched in 2015 by political science graduate Layal Makarem. The fashion studio has grown quickly, and is working on opening a new studio and creative space in Beirut.

In a Facebook post, Maison Makarem said this is the fourth time Queen Rania appeared in public wearing from Maison Makarem.

“The Maison Makarem team and founder, Layal Makarem, are beyond honored, humbled and grateful to Her Majesty Queen Rania for believing in the vision of Maison Makarem and the cycle of goodness and giving back that we chose to be part of,” the post added.

St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church opens in Michigan

Named after a saint known for his miracles around the world,  St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church announced its opening of a 29,000-square-foot church in Clinton Township, Michigan.

The church is home to one of the largest Maronite communities in the United States. It was formerly located in Warren, but moved to Clinton Township as part of a major expansion and construction project.

St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church is located at 43888 Hayes Road in Clinton Township, Michigan. (Lebanese Examiner)
St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church is located at 43888 Hayes Road in Clinton Township, Michigan. (Lebanese Examiner)

“We are delighted to welcome our parishioners to their new home,” said Chorbishop Alfred Badawi, pastor of St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church. “This beautiful new church helps accommodate our growing parish, which is a testament to the vibrancy of the Maronite Catholic faith in Michigan.”

The church features architectural influences from among the world’s most historic churches in Lebanon, where St. Sharbel was born and lived as a solitary hermit. St. Sharbel was beatified Dec. 5, 1965, and canonized Oct. 9, 1977.

Thousands of tourists from around the world visit St. Sharbel in Annaya, Lebanon annually. (Lebanese Examiner)
Thousands of tourists from around the world visit St. Sharbel in Annaya, Lebanon annually. (Lebanese Examiner)

“It is humbling to build an honor for St. Sharbel, who has performed dozens of miracles right here in metro Detroit, and who inspires devotion among Christians of all denominations, “Chorbishop Badawi added. “This move to Clinton Township secures the foundation of our future and safeguards the mission of the Maronite community, allowing us to preserve the treasures of our traditional values and culture for decades to come.”

For more than three decades, St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church has served a diverse population of parishioners in southeastern Michigan, including a large population who immigrated to Detroit from Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries.

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