Examiner Staff

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Report: Beirut airport serves over 1 million passengers in August

The Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport served 1,159,815 passengers in August, a 9 percent increase, according to Beirut-based newspaper The Daily Star.

Since the beginning of the year, the airport served a total of 6,002,040 passengers, up from the 5,535,725 passengers last year, the report added.

Lebanon’s only operational airport has been experiencing overcrowding at its terminals, and flight delays as a result of a system failure earlier this month.

A source told The Daily Star expansion is a top priority due to the congestion and increased number of visitors.

RELATED: Beirut’s airport to receive simulation technology from New Zealand

In July, airport officials announced a deal to bring advanced simulation technology from New Zealand to Beirut's air traffic control tower. (Airways New Zealand)
In July, airport officials announced a deal to bring advanced simulation technology from New Zealand to Beirut’s air traffic control tower. (Airways New Zealand)

A $500 million expansion project is in the works to offer more space at the airport, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Airport officials expect to award a contract by June 2020.

Although the airport’s current capacity is 6 million, Lebanon passed 8,234,782 travelers through the airport last year, airport officials added.

AUB ranks in top 50 universities worldwide for employability

The American University of Beirut is among the top 50 universities worldwide for producing the most employable graduates, according to 2019 rankings released by education researcher Quacquarelli Symonds.

AUB was ranked 45 in the list of top 50 universities around the world for employability.

The top five universities include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Harvard University
  • The University of Sydney

The new ranking marks the third year in a row AUB is listed above every accredited university in the Arab region.

READ HERE: Full analysis of AUB’s employability ranking.

“AUB’s continued dominance in the QS ranking of graduate employability is evidence of AUB’s success in achieving its mission of producing outstanding graduates,” said Lokman Meho, director of AUB University Libraries.

Fadlo Khuri is president of the American University of Beirut. He assumed office in September 2015 and was officially inaugurated on January 25, 2016. (File photo)
Fadlo Khuri is president of the American University of Beirut. He assumed office in September 2015 and was officially inaugurated on January 25, 2016. (File photo)

RELATED: AUB sets world record for Lebanese flag made of 60,000 notebooks!

AUB was ranked 41 in 2018, and 81-90 in 2017.

No other Arab university ranked in the top 50. The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals ranked 251-300, and the American University in Dubai and American University of Sharjah ranked 301-500.

The research measures the proportion of graduates in full-time or part-time employment within 12 months of graduation.

U.S. urges citizens to ‘reconsider travel’ to Lebanon due to security

The U.S. government is urging its citizens to “reconsider travel” to Lebanon due to the risk of crime and terrorism in the country, according to a renewed travel advisory.

A renewal was issued Sept. 4 by the U.S. Department of State.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leads the U.S. Department of State. (File photo)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leads the U.S. Department of State. (File photo)

READ THE FULL ADVISORY HERE:

Reconsider travel Lebanon due to crime,terrorism, and armed conflict.

Do not travel to:

  • the border with Syria due to terrorismandarmed conflict
  • the border with Israel due to the potential forarmed conflict
  • refugee settlements due to the potential forarmed conflict

U.S. citizens should reconsider or avoid travel to certain areas in Lebanon because of the threats of terrorism, armed clashes, kidnapping, and outbreaks of violence, especially near Lebanon’s borders with Syria and Israel. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should be aware of the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon should be aware that consular officers from the U.S. Embassy are not always able to travel to assist them. The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice.

Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Lebanon. The potential exists for death or injury in Lebanon because of the attacks and bombings perpetrated by terrorist groups. Terrorists may conduct attacks with little or no warning targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.

The Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens against sudden outbreaks of violence. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with no warning. Armed clashes have occurred along the Lebanese borders, in Beirut, and in refugee settlements. The Lebanese Armed Forces have been brought in to quell the violence in these situations.

Public demonstrations can occur with little warning and could become violent. You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings. Protesters have blocked major roads to gain publicity for their causes, including the primary road to the U.S. Embassy, and the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Access to the airport may be cut off if the security situation deteriorates.

Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, has occurred in Lebanon. Suspects in kidnappings may have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Lebanon:

Border with Syria

Since August 2014, deadly terror attacks have occurred in border towns along Lebanon’s border with Syria, as have episodic clashes between the Lebanese Army and Syrian-based violent extremist groups. A 2017 Lebanese Army offensive expelled ISIS militants from territory along Lebanon’s border with Syria. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region. The U.S. Department of State also warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on flights that fly over Syria, which include some flights to Beirut.

Border with Israel

There have been sporadic rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel in connection with the violence between Israel and Hizballah: the last reported incident was in 2014. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid this border area.

Refugee Settlements

The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to refugee settlements, where violence has resulted in shootings and explosions.

Viral video shows wrong-way driver on Lebanese highway

A viral video circulating on social media appears to show a wrong-way driver attempting to navigate a Lebanese highway in broad daylight.

The video, posted Saturday, uses the hashtag #TMO, which stands for Lebanon’s Traffic Management Organization. It has been viewed more than 100,000 times.

“Only in Lebanon,” the post said.

Editor’s Note: This video contains explicit language. Viewer discretion is advised.

VIDEO: Wrong-way driver on Lebanese highway:

A location is not listed, but posted signage indicates the incident may have happened along the Matn Express Highway.

It is not clear if the driver was cited, or if there were any injuries.

A viral video circulating on social media appears to show a wrong-way driver in Lebanon. (Facebook/Screen grab)
A viral video circulating on social media appears to show a wrong-way driver in Lebanon. (Facebook/Screen grab)

Road safety in Lebanon has been an issue in Lebanon for decades with many road safety organizations advocating for stricter law enforcement and driver’s training.

Some manufacturing companies are working on products to prevent wrong-way driving with a warning for drivers ahead of any potential risk.

Detroit Tigers to host Arab American Night at Comerica Park

The Detroit Tigers baseball team is hosting an Arab American Night Sept. 22 at Comerica Park during a Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals game.

According to its website, the Tigers are offering a package that supports an Arab American nonprofit based in Dearborn.

The package includes:

  • One ticket to the Sept. 22 game
  • A Saad Meats Sharifa Halal Knockwurst voucher
  • Donation to Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities
The nonprofit Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities is located in Dearborn. (File photo/Lebanese Examiner)
The nonprofit Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities is located in Dearborn. (File photo/Lebanese Examiner)

Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities, formerly known as the Lebanese American Heritage Club, is a human services nonprofit that works to support educational, social and economic projects in southeast Michigan.

The Sept. 22 game starts at 6:10pm. Tickets start at $25.

To learn more about Arab American Night, or to purchase tickets, click here.

Report: Lebanese cop questioned in prostitution ring investigation

A Lebanese police officer is being questioned in an investigation involving a prostitution ring in Lebanon, LBCI-TV reported.

The officer, a member of Lebanon’s “morality police force,” was allegedly involved in a prostitution operation which targeted women in the small Mediterranean nation.

Authorities did not release the officer’s name. He is said to be “a senior officer,” according to Al Bawaba.

A Lebanese police officer is being questioned as part of an investigation involving a prostitution ring, according to a LBCI-TV report.
A Lebanese police officer is being questioned as part of an investigation involving a prostitution ring, according to a LBCI-TV report.

LBCI-TV reported the arrest of the officer and the subsequent investigation.

“One of the most senior officers in the office of countering immoral crime has been arrested and is being questioned on suspicion of involvement in prostitution networks,” the TV station’s website reported.

RELATED: Prostitution ring busted by security officials in Lebanon

The officer is being referred to a disciplinary committee to evaluate the next steps, reported the newspaper Al Mustaqbal.

In a statement, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces denied the allegations, and called the reports inaccurate and fabricated.

The investigation is over suspected corruption, ISF officials added.

Remembering McCain’s classy response after voter calls Obama an ‘Arab’

Sen. John McCain — an American war hero and veteran Arizona senator — died Saturday after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

McCain’s legacy spans a lifetime of public service as a former naval pilot, prisoner of war, U.S. senator and Republican presidential nominee.

He was also a level-headed voice in the world of politics, where he brought civility and courteousness to a political system that often lacked basic decency. McCain always took the high road.

In 2008, as then-candidate for president, McCain took a question from a voter who brought up a racist conspiracy theory against then-candidate Barack Obama.

Sen. John McCain defended then-candidate Barack Obama when a voter began mentioning a racist conspiracy theory. (File photo)
Sen. John McCain defended then-candidate Barack Obama when a voter began mentioning a racist conspiracy theory. (File photo)

McCain cut the voter off, took the microphone and defended Obama before a large crowd of supporters and the TV cameras.

“I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not — he’s an Arab,” the woman told McCain during a town hall meeting in Minnesota.

McCain quickly interrupted her thought and replied, “No ma’am.”

“He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign is all about,” he replied. “He’s not.”

WATCH: McCain Counters Obama ‘Arab’ Question

Rapper Cardi B wears two dresses by Lebanese designers to VMA’s

Cardi B turned heads at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards while wearing gowns by not one, but two Lebanese designers.

It was her first red carpet appearance since giving birth to her daughter Kulture Kiari Cephus who was born on July 10, according to Rolling Stone.

The New York native and rapper marked the occasion by stepping out onto the red carpet in a fitted velvet dress made by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran.

Cardi B wore a fuschia dress by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran. (MTV Press)
Cardi B wore a fuschia dress by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran. (MTV Press)

Jebran is a haute couture designer who was born in Lebanon and has gained global renown. According to the designer’s website, his work has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, and he has gone on to style Mariah Carey, Janelle Monae, Kendall Jenner and more.

Later in the evening, Cardi B accepted the Best New Artist award in a gorgeous strapless red dress artfully cut to flare out in rippling waves by Beirut-based label Azzi and Osta.

Cardi B wore a red strapless dress by Lebanese designer Azzi and Osta. (MTV Press)
Cardi B wore a red strapless dress by Lebanese designer Azzi and Osta. (MTV Press)

The Azzi and Osta fashion house was established by designers George Azzi and Assaad Osta, both honed their fashion skills by enrolling in the international fashion education group Esmod Beyrouth in 2004 and went on to become assistant designers at the fashion house of legendary Lebanese fashion behemoth Elie Saab, according to their website.

Cardi B is best known for her recent hit “I Like It” and U.S. Billboard Hot 100 topper “Bodak Yellow.”

Lebanese-American singer Bazzi performs at MTV Video Music Awards

Lebanese American singer Bazzi — a rising star in the Billboard charts — performed Monday at the MTV Video Music Awards during a pre-show event.

Andrew Bazzi, 20, known professionally as ‘Bazzi,’ is best known for his song “Mine,” which peaked at number 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Bazzi also gained popularity when his hit song appeared as part of a Snapchat lens filter.

Bazzi arrives on the red carpet during the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (MTV Press)
Bazzi arrives on the red carpet during the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (MTV Press)

The rising artist was born in Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of the largest populations of Arab Americans outside of the Middle East.

During an April interview with USA Today, Bazzi spoke out against President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration.

“I’m very heavy into that culture,” he told USA Today in April. “It’s so incorrect what’s going on (politically), and I think it’s good for Lebanese-Americans to have someone they can look at and let them know that someone’s supporting them.”

Bazzi performs 'Mine' at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (MTV Press)
Bazzi performs ‘Mine’ at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (MTV Press)

Bazzi began his singing career in 2012 when he began posting covers of songs on his YouTube channel. In November 2014, he moved to the Los Angeles area to pursue music full time.

He released his debut studio album Cosmic in 2018.

WATCH: Bazzi Performs ‘Mine’ at MTV Video Music Awards Pre-Show:

Lebanese teen wins Amal Clooney Scholarship to study abroad in Armenia

A Lebanese teen was awarded the Amal Clooney Scholarship, and will participate in a two-year international baccalaureate program in Armenia, Reuters reported.

Kamar Omary, 16, is the fourth Lebanese teen to receive the prestigious scholarship set up by Lebanese-British human rights attorney Amal Clooney.

The scholarship aims to promote cross-cultural education and social and philanthropic projects, according to a news release.

Omary will study at UWC Dilijan College in Armenia. (UWC Dilijan)
Omary will study at UWC Dilijan College in Armenia. (UWC Dilijan)

“This scholarship (gives) young women from Lebanon the opportunity of a lifetime,” Amal Clooney said. “Cross-cultural learning and studying abroad can be transformative.”

Omary will head to the UWC Dilijan College in Dilijan, Armenia for the two-year program. She told Reuters she wants to join in a nationwide effort to combat child marriage and marital rape in Lebanon.

“We need a minimum age for marriage and marital rape should be criminalized,” Omary told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Sexism and abuse of women and children is still widespread. Women are stigmatized. They are generally seen as weaker than men and we need change.”

Omary also wants to follow in Clooney’s footsteps and help people in need, she added.

“Every single person deserves education, health and security, and most refugees don’t get that here. That is very unfair,” Omary said. “I want to connect with people and listen to them – that is how you trigger change and that is what Amal does. She listens to the people and defends them.”

The scholarship winner is chosen annually based on academic performance and interest in the promotion of human rights and international issues.

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