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Vote for this Lebanese-Canadian beauty for Miss Universe Canada!

A Lebanese-Canadian beauty is competing in the Miss Universe Canada competition on Aug. 18 in Toronto.

Rita Houkayem is one of 46 contestants hoping to clinch the Miss Universe Canada title, and move on to the global Miss Universe Pageant.

Lebanese-Canadian beauty Rita Houkayem is one of 46 contestants hoping to become Miss Universe Canada. (Facebook/Rita Houkayem)
Lebanese-Canadian beauty Rita Houkayem is one of 46 contestants hoping to become Miss Universe Canada. (Facebook/Rita Houkayem)

Houkayem, who speaks four languages, holds a master’s degree in International Affairs. She works as a policy analyst for the Canadian government, where she focuses on information and communications technologies.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Height: 5’9
  • Hometown: Toronto, ON
  • Languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish
  • Occupation: Public Servant

In an interview with Miss Universe Canada, Houkayem expressed pride in her Lebanese roots.

“I have also visited Lebanon numerous times and have fallen in love with it after every trip. It is one of the most intriguing places in the world as it has experienced centuries of conquest and turmoil but remains as one of the most vibrant places. Fun fact, it is the home of the Phoenicians, the civilization that created the foundation for the modern Alphabet and is characterized by charming ancient cities such as Byblos, which is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. To me, this little country conveys a message of hope and resiliency to the world, inhabiting people from eighteen different religious sects, coexisting peacefully despite all their differences.”

In the future, Houkayem hopes to become an international leader in education and development, and a UN ambassador for youth and women.

VOTE HERE: Rita Houkayem for Miss Universe Canada.

Subscription box company launches products for Lebanon lovers

A subscription box company created to promote Lebanese culture has launched new boxes perfect for any lover of Lebanon.

The ‘Koullouna‘ concept aims to connect Lebanese expats with local products that celebrate Lebanese culture, tastes, smells and sounds.

According to its website, Koullouna sends surprise themed boxes to a subscriber’s doorstep every month.

The boxes can include:

day3a box 1

The Day3a box

  • Dark chocolate by Eshmoon
  • Strawberry and rose petal jam by Mymoune
  • Sumac by Adonis Valley
  • Amareddine by Al-Rifai
  • Wild thyme by Shams Permaculture
  • A pillowcase by Art7ake
  • A postcard designed by Hoda Adra

jam3a box 1

The Jam3a box

  • A bottle of Almaza
  • Two coasters by Images d’Orient
  • A bag of nuts from Castania
  • A bowl for your nuts by Verdi
  • Zaatar crackers and other nibbles by Rural Delights Cooperative
  • A tote bag by Inoui

sobhiyeh box 1

The Sobhiyeh box

  • 3 healthy bars from Freekeh Bites
  • A Labneh bag from IRAP
  • 2 coffee cups made with recycled glass by GGRIL
  • A pack of Zaatar by The Good Thymes
  • A jar of honey by Miel Du Levant
  • A pack of Coffee by Cafe Najjar
  • A postcard by Mimo Quirks

kankaneh box 1

The Kankaneh box

  • A pair of socks by Sikasok
  • The book “L’Etoile Phoenicienne” by Tania Bonja Honein
  • A bookmark by L’Artisan du Liban
  • A suitcase tag by 10452 DNA
  • A soap by the Soap Museum in Saida
  • A pack of Anis seeds by Abido spices
  • A postcard designed by Cindy Daccache

The subscription cost is about 39 euros, or $45 per month.

Koullouna also has gift options available on their website.

Lebanese man plants cedar tree in town of Lebanon, Tennessee

A Lebanese photographer planted a cedar tree in the small town of Lebanon, Tennessee as part of his mission to visit every city named Lebanon in the U.S.

Fadi Boukaram told WKRN-TV he is on his second tour of U.S. cities named Lebanon. By his count, there are 47 total ‘Lebanon’ cities in the U.S., including in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Boukaram said the journey was done as a road trip to explore America’s heartland and any potential connections to the country of Lebanon.

Fadi Boukaram visits towns around the U.S. named Lebanon. He posted a Facebook photo in Lebanon, Kentucky. (Facebook/Fadi Boukaram)
Fadi Boukaram visits towns around the U.S. named Lebanon. He posted a Facebook photo in Lebanon, Kentucky. (Facebook/Fadi Boukaram)

Surprisingly, Boukaram told the Nashville ABC-affiliate he found a connection involving a goodwill tour in 1955 from Lebanon to Lebanon, Tennessee.

“What’s interesting to me is the Vice Mayor, who went from Lebanon is actually Lebanese-American. His name was Frank Baddour and he was a dentist and a prominent citizen of Lebanon, Tennessee,” Boukaram said.

The photographer planted a cedar — Lebanon’s national symbol — in a community park near the town’s downtown area.

Boukaram said the town of Lebanon, Tennessee made a special impression on him.

“I started in California and this is the first big Lebanon I passed through,” he added. “I passed through two smaller ones before but they were too tiny, and the weather there is too hot to be able to grow a cedar tree. I love Lebanon, Tennessee. I spent a week here in 2017 when I first came and I just loved it.”

France’s former first lady performs at Beiteddine Art Festival in Lebanon

France’s former first lady Carla Bruni performed during the Beiteddine Art Festival at the 200-year-old Beiteddine Palace in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains.

Bruni, who is married to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was invited to perform during the event, which bills itself as “one of the leading festivals in the Middle East.” It was her first visit to Lebanon.

“Thank you beautiful Beirut for your warm welcome,” Bruni posted on Instagram.

The Italian-French singer-songwriter and supermodel is promoting her album “French Touch,” which was released in October 2017.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy was also spotted supporting his wife on an Instagram photo posted by the Beiteddine Art Festival.

The Beiteddine Art Festival posted a photo on Instagram showing former French President Nicolas Sarkozy attending the concert in Lebanon. (Beiteddine Art Festival)
The Beiteddine Art Festival posted a photo on Instagram showing former French President Nicolas Sarkozy attending the concert in Lebanon. (Beiteddine Art Festival)

The festival was attended by several Lebanese officials, including former President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

According to its website, the art festival is held in July and August, and celebrates the music and cultural contributions of Lebanese artists and global stars.

RELATED: Shakira brings her children to Lebanon ahead of concert!

Born in Italy, Bruni is best known for her career as one of Europe’s top models. In the 1990s, the 50-year-old superstar delved into singing and songwriting.

Lebanese singer Elissa reveals battle with breast cancer in music video

Lebanese superstar Elissa revealed her battle with breast cancer in an emotional music video for her latest single, “Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni,” or “For All Those Who Love Me.”

Elissa shared parts of her journey in the 7-minute video, published by Arab record label Rotana.

The video starts with a clip of Elissa undergoing an MRI scan in December 2017.

“You know that moment when you wonder, ‘Will I ever see the people I love again? Those who love me back?'” she said.

The chilling narration shows the incredible courage of the 46-year-old singer, who still hosted performances during her battle with breast cancer.

WATCH: Elissa reveals battle with breast cancer in emotional music video:

“I do my radiotherapy session, I got to the studio, I finish another session,” Elissa recalled. “I rest for two hours, and go to the studio again. Once a week, I was going live on TV.”

The music video is the first time Elissa revealed her battle with cancer to fans.

The music video begins with video of Elissa undergoing an MRI scan. (Rotana)
The music video begins with video of Elissa undergoing an MRI scan. (Rotana)

“I’ve recovered, I’ve beaten the illness and I won,” she said. “Early detection of breast cancer can save your life.”

RELATED: WATCH: Elissa music video hits 3 million views in first week

On Instagram, the superstar said she wanted the video to be an inspirational message that cancer can be fought.

“This music video shouldn’t make you cry. It’s a reason to smile, be happy, and grateful,” she said. “We can fight cancer if we know about it in early stages. I love you all.”

Elissa, whose real name is Elissar Zakaria Khoury, is a popular Lebanese recording artist, and the first Lebanese singer to receive the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist in 2006.

She has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

Lebanese American attorney to open youth center in Batroun

Prominent Michigan attorney Joumana Kayrouz is planning to fund the construction of a new youth center in the northern coastal city of Batroun, Lebanon, her office announced.

The ‘Youth Hub Center’ will serve as a gathering place for Lebanese youth in the Batroun district. It is set to open in May 2019.

“I want young people in Lebanon and abroad to recognize that important fact and to continue to give back to the country where they were born while pursuing their lives wherever it may take them,” Kayrouz said. “My country opened doors for me and I pray that I am doing all I can to open doors for the next generations of Lebanese talents.”

Kayrouz said the new center is part of a “larger effort” by Lebanese expatriates to support their motherland.

Attorney Joumana Kayrouz is best known for her signature billboard advertisements in metro Detroit. (Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz)
Attorney Joumana Kayrouz is best known for her signature billboard advertisements in metro Detroit. (Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz)

The estimated cost for the project was not released.

“The Lebanese Youth Hub is dedicated to the Lebanese youth, where they will congregate to socialize with one another instead of having to connect solely through technology,” said Gebran Bassil, Lebanon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose hometown is Batroun. “It will be their special place.”

Kayrouz has gained national prominence for her signature billboard advertising. She recently expanded her practice to include family law, criminal law, immigration and bankruptcy.

Google honors late Lebanese feminist, writer Anbara Salam Khalidi

Google celebrated the birthday of Lebanese feminist and author Anbara Salam Khalidi Saturday with a Google Doodle — a temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepages in the Middle East.

Khalidi, one of 12 children, was born on August 4, 1897 in Lebanon.

She is best known for challenging the status quo in an era when educating girls was considered controversial.

Google Doodle celebrates the life of Lebanese feminist and author Anbara Salam Khalidi. (Google)
Google Doodle celebrates the life of Lebanese feminist and author Anbara Salam Khalidi. (Google)

Khalidi’s father, a deputy in the Ottoman parliament, encouraged her to attend a school in Beirut, and travel to Egypt to further her progressive values.

Among her other activities, Khalidi is known for being the first Muslim woman in Lebanon to publicly abandon the veil in 1927 during a lecture at the American University of Beirut.

Khalidi's book, "Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist" is available on Amazon in a translated English version. (Amazon)
Khalidi’s book, “Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist” is available on Amazon in a translated English version. (Amazon)

She translated many globally-known pieces of literature into Arabic, and wrote memoirs about her life as an early Arab feminist.

Google wrote:

Through her activism, translations, and writing, Lebanese feminist Anbara Salam Khalidi greatly advanced the cause of women’s right in the Arab world.

Khalidi was born into a prominent Lebanese family in 1897. As a result of her family’s status, Khalidi was allowed a very unique opportunity for Lebanese women in the early 20th century—to travel through the Arab world in pursuit of worldly education. Her studies abroad were truly transformative, as they enabled her exposure to different languages and cultures through readings and travels.

Her travels changed her own relationship with personal freedoms. As a Lebanese noblewoman, Khalidi wore a full-face veil through her adolescence. At 15, she travelled to Cairo. The relative freedoms of Egyptian women helped inspire her progressive stance towards traditional Lebanese norms, including abandoning her traditional face veil. In 1927, she lectured at the Women’s Renaissance Society with her face uncovered despite the controversy that ensued.

Khalidi was dedicated to advancing women’s rights through education, and wrote to the press about the repression faced by Arab women. She also translated Homer’s classics into Arabic, so that others could benefit from her education abroad. At 81 years old, Khalidi published her memoir, later translated to English under the title ‘Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist.’

Today’s Doodle highlights how Khalidi used the written word to spread her message of equality.

Happy birthday, Anbara Salam Khalidi!

See photos of new five-star Lancaster Eden Bay hotel in Beirut

Photos inside Beirut’s newest five-star hotel showcase the luxury at Lancaster Eden Bay near Ramlet al-Baida.

According to its website, Lancaster Eden Bay has 144 guest rooms with a view of the Mediterranean sea.

“This luxurious retreat by the sea boasts exquisite accommodation, superior amenities, unmatched hospitality and the exclusivity of your own private community in the city. Stretching along the sandy white shoreline, in the vicinity of high-end Ramlet El Baida, it is a haven overlooking the tranquility of Beirut’s seafront. Its prime location in the heart of Beirut but shielded from the bustle of the city, makes it the perfect getaway that offers families, couples and business guests the best of both worlds. A unique experience in the capital of Mediterranean hospitality.”

Investment in the hotel exceeded $100 million, according to Lebanon Business News.

(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)
(Lancaster Eden Bay Hotel)

Lancaster Hotels are owned by Achour Holding, led by company chairman Wissam Ali Achour.

Lebanese police searching for topless, flashing woman on highway

Authorities in Lebanon are searching for a woman who went topless on a Saida highway and flashed her bare breasts to other motorists, the Daily Mail reported.

The photo circulating on social media purportedly shows an unidentified woman standing outside a sunroof and exposing her breasts to another vehicle.

Lebanese road safety organization YASA is calling on Lebanese police to locate and prosecute the woman.

Police in Lebanon are searching for a woman who flashed motorists on a highway in Saida. (YASA)
Police in Lebanon are searching for a woman who flashed motorists on a highway in Saida. (YASA)

“The police must do significant efforts to enforce traffic law not only speed control on few roads,” YASA founder Ziad Akl told the Daily Mail. “This unfamiliar show is illegal and unethical. Penal law must be enforced in parallel with traffic law in order to eliminate such behavior.”

The flashing prank has sparked a debate among Lebanese social media users. Some users see it as harmless fun, while others believe the woman should be held accountable.

According to the Daily Mail, Lebanon sees an average of 4,500 accidents each year on its roads with more than 6,000 injured and 900 killed.

Editor’s Note: Lebanese Examiner censored the photo to conceal the woman’s face, as she has not been charged with a crime.

Mia Khalifa to undergo surgery after hockey puck smashes into breast

Former Lebanese adult film star Mia Khalifa will undergo surgery after a hockey puck smashed into her left breast and ruptured her implant, the New York Post reported.

Khalifa was watching the Washington Capitals during a playoff game when a hockey puck came flying over the glass and toward her chest.

“It caught me so off guard and I had no idea it was coming,” the former porn star told Daily Star Online. “I grabbed my chest and I didn’t want to let go, because I felt like if I did let go blood was going to be everywhere.”

Khalifa, 25, said she plans to undergo surgery and repair the “deflated” implant at the start of next year.

She posted a photo on Instagram and wrote, “The good news is, I got a game used puck from a Capitals Stanley cup playoff game. Worth it.”

A standard hockey puck weighs between 5.5 and 6 ounces.

“They’re really heavy, it’s pure rubber, they go at about 80 mph,” Khalifa added. “My left breast is slightly deflated now.”

Former Lebanese porn star Mia Khalifa is set to undergo surgery after a hockey puck smashed into her left breast and damaged an implant. (Instagram/Mia Khalifa)
Former Lebanese porn star Mia Khalifa is set to undergo surgery after a hockey puck smashed into her left breast and damaged an implant. (Instagram/Mia Khalifa)

Khalifa said she left the porn industry after receiving death threats from terror groups, and called her porn career a “huge mistake.” She now co-hosts the Sportsball podcast on RoosterTeeth.com.

RELATED: Lebanese porn star Mia Khalifa sparks controversy in Lebanon

Her short stint in porn caused a stir in Lebanon after her parents announced they would disassociate themselves from her.

“It all started to spiral out of control when the death threats from ISIS started coming in,” Mia told disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong in an interview. “That’s when I stepped away.”

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