Haifa Wehbe comes out with first-ever English music video

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese diva Haifa Wehbe came out with her first-ever English music video on Tuesday, in a move to presumably enter the Western music market.

The new song called “Breathing You In” features a provocative Haifa flaunting around Jennifer Lopez’s ex-lover, Casper Smart. Haifa circles Smart until she watches him float into space.

Haifa’s auto-tuned single repeats the lyrics, “Breathing You In” dozens of times.

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.

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The red-haired Haifa watches as a group of shirtless muscle-men gently caress her.

Haifa has more than 3 million followers on Twitter and 5.5 million likes on Facebook.

Her move to English songs suggests that she’s looking to expand to a wider audience.

Najwa Karam releases patriotic Lebanese song called ‘Kelmit 7a2’

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese singer Najwa Karam released a new patriotic Lebanese song called “Kelmit 7a2” where she appears to address “enemies” of Lebanon.

The song was written by Nizar Francis, composed by Sam Al Amir, and distributed by Tony Saba.

Karam was born and raised in Zahlé, Lebanon to a Catholic family, where she attended a Christian school in Zahlé and later earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

Karam was previously placed on a black list of “disgrace” artists when she released a song titled “Bashar Al Qaed” where she praised Syrian president Bashar Al Assad at the beginning of the Syrian revolution. She has since been removed on the so-called blacklist after altering her position.

“(The songs) didn’t necessarily take political sides and I don’t like to get involved with revolutions,” Karam once said. “I’m happy to sing patriotic songs, but I avoid politically tense situations.”

But her new song “Kelmit 7a2” seems to offer a new perspective on Karam’s patriotic tunes.

“You make me love Lebanon even more,” wrote one fan on YouTube.

LISTEN to Najwa’s “Kelmit 7a2”:

Report: Kuwaiti man tried to molest Najwa Karam

(KUWAIT CITY) — A report published by a Kuwaiti-based newspaper revealed that a Kuwaiti man was referred to police after “trying to molest” Lebanese singer Najwa Karam upon arriving at the Kuwait International Airport.

“A security source said several youths gathered around the renowned singer and one of them behaved indecently, so the bodyguard of the singer confronted him,” said Arab Times, the first English-language newspaper published in Kuwait.

The Kuwaiti was referred to Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh law enforcement after allegedly trying to molest the popular singer, according to Kuwaiti newspaper, Al Rai.

Media reports add that the Kuwaiti was released from custody after signing a “pledge.”

Karam, 49, is a Lebanese multi-platinum, best-selling recording artist in the Middle East, who has sold over 60 million records worldwide.

The report comes a few months after Karam lashed out at an audience member in Sydney, Australia after reportedly getting harassed halfway during her show.

“Money does not buy us nor does it buy you, and shame on you for what you are doing,” she told the unidentified man.

Karam has yet to comment on this latest incident.

Amal Clooney joins Columbia Law School as professor

(NEW YORK, NY) — Lebanese human rights attorney Amal Clooney has accepted a position as a visiting professor and senior fellow at Columbia Law School in New York City.

Clooney will join the prestigious university’s Human Rights Institute, where she will lecture on human rights law and international tribunal cases.

“It is an honor to be invited as a visiting professor at Columbia Law School alongside such a distinguished faculty and talented student pool,” said Clooney. “I look forward to getting to know the next generation of human rights advocates studying here.”

Clooney graduated from the University of Oxford in England and the New York University School of Law. She also worked for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Kofi Annan as a senior adviser when he was the U.N.’s envoy on Syria.

“We are privileged to have an international human rights practitioner of Amal Clooney’s stature join our faculty,” said Professor Sarah H. Cleveland, co-director of the university’s Human Rights Institute. “Her extensive experience advocating before U.N. and regional human rights mechanisms complements our existing offerings and will enrich the experience of our students.”

Clooney has handled cases before the International Criminal Court and Court of Justice, including several domestic international law cases in the United States and England.

She’s also writing a book called The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law, and is the co-editor of The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Law and Practice.

Professors say they’re honored to welcome Clooney to their faculty.

“Amal Clooney’s dedication to public service and her diverse human rights litigation experience will inspire and guide our students as they learn how to use the law to advance social justice,” said Sarah Knuckey, director of the Human Rights Clinic.

“We are thrilled to welcome her to Columbia Law School’s community of international law scholars, practitioners, and students.”

 

Fadel Shaker says he wants to return to “normal life”

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Former Lebanese pop star turned Islamist militant Fadel Shaker said he wants to return to his “normal, natural life” in an interview with Beirut-based LBC-TV.

Shaker is wanted on charges of committing crimes against the Lebanese Army, after fleeing street battles in Sidon between Sunni Muslim militants and the army in June 2013. The battles killed over 50 people and 17 soldiers, according to Al-Arabiya.

If convicted, Shaker could face the death penalty. But Shaker denies all charges, claiming he never advocated for any radical battles against any member of the army.

“I never participated at all in the battle,” he said. “I never carried a weapon. Everybody knows that and the army knows it too.”

Shaker’s lawyer May Khansa said Fadel planned to turn himself in “in the coming days.” Al-Akhbar reports that this may result in a lighter sentence for the former singer.

In 2013, Shaker was allegedly recorded taunting the Lebanese Army, saying “we have two rotting corpses that we snatched from you yesterday.” He has also appeared in videos calling his enemies “pigs and dogs,” according to ABC News.

But he told LBC he had a change of heart — even saying he hoped the Lebanese soldiers captured by the Islamic State and Nusra Front would be freed.

Shaker became a popular pop star in the Middle East in 2002 after a duet with Arab singer Nawal topped the charts in the Arab world. The singer fell under the influence of Sunni cleric Ahmed al-Assir in 2013 after saying he was quitting his career as a singer to “become closer to God.”

He denies asking his fans to stop listening to his music, and adds that he did not have an official Facebook page or Twitter account.

Shaker appeared clean-shaven and in a black suit in the LBC interview, which was filmed in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilwe Palestinian refugee camp, according to the TV station.

Shaker says he grew up in the Ain al-Hilwe camp to a Lebanese father and Palestinian mother. He once said he was proud to be Palestinian, and asked Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to grant him citizenship.

WATCH the LBC Report:

Former Miss USA to compete on MTV’s Dancing with the Stars

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Former Miss USA Rima Fakih will compete in season 3 of Lebanon’s version of Dancing with the Stars, according to a recent announcement by Beirut-based TV network MTV Lebanon.

Fakih, 29, will join 12 other celebrities for the show, which airs in most of the Middle East.

MTV said:

Since her revelation in 2010, the Lebanese Miss America has not stopped accumulating successes from numerous Reality TV shows to movie acting. Armed with a quote that her father raised her to believe, “You don’t know who you are until you know where you came from”, Rima Fakih also volunteered at community organizations such as American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. She went on to be honored numerous times and is dedicated to helping remove the stereotype of Arabs in America and all over the world. All the way she has proved that it is possible to be beautiful, sexy, smart and tough. Will her father’s advice help her succeed on the dance floor too?

Judges Darren Bennett, Mira Samaha, Rabih Nahas, and Mazen Kiwan will evaluate the diva’s dancing skills starting on March 1.

Fakih was born in Srifa, a small city in the Jabal Amel region of Southern Lebanon. She is the first Lebanese-American, the first Arab American and the first Muslim to win the Miss USA title.

Fakih has some professional dance experience, according to MTV.

Most recently, she trained to be a professional wrestler in WWE as a WWE Diva. She competed on the fifth season of WWE Tough Enough, but was eliminated on the fourth episode.

Dancing with the Stars, hosted by Carla Haddad and Wissam Breidi, airs Sundays at 8:30pm on MTV Lebanon.

Lebanese model announces divorce, then changes mind

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — U.S.-born Lebanese model Joelle Hatem seems to have acted on impulse when she took to Facebook to announce a divorce from her husband, singer George Al Rassi.

Hatem, 36, shocked her 60,000 Facebook fans when she wrote:

I announce my divorce from George Al Rassi. This is not a lie for me and George cannot be together anymore. I respect him very much and apologize from everyone I need to relax and I cannot answer anyone at this time. I wanted you to know the news from me personally first.

Jordanian news site Al Bawaba reports that Lebanese singer Cyrine Abdel Nour may have had something to do with the separation.

But a few hours later, Hatem returned to Facebook with a change of heart. She wrote:

I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart and by the life of my son Joe, I truly regret what I had done, it is true that George and I had had a big dispute and he left, but I do not want to get a divorce. I want a happy family and what I said on Facebook was a result of my outrage and anyone who wants to curse me for it do it, and I want to thank everyone who support us and stood by our side.

It was unclear whether the couple will reconcile or continue with the separation. They had their first baby in October of last year.

(Photo © Joelle Hatem Official Facebook)
(Photo © Joelle Hatem Official Facebook)

Elie Saab dresses shine at Oscars

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Elie Saab’s line of dresses beamed at the Oscars, as Jennifer Lopez and Emma Stone wore the Lebanese designer’s patterns at the 87th annual awards ceremony, which took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Stone sparkled on the red carpet in a long-sleeved, light green Elie Saab gown covered in intricate beading.

(Photos by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
(Photos by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

The actress, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Birdman,” showed some skin in the backless dress.

The Huffington Post said Stone’s dress was one of their “favorites.”

“Her fashion risk-taking always pays off, so it’s no surprise that she stunned once again at the Oscars,” they wrote.

Lopez wore an Elie Saab embellished belted silk gown, which featured intricate nude colored lace work. Hollywood Life said Lopez was one of the best dressed at the ceremony.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
(Photo Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Saab, who was born in Beirut, has dressed over 150 international celebrities for key global events over the past year.

His creations can be found all over the world, with boutiques located in Beirut, Dubai, Doha, Paris, London, Geneva, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Saab has 100 retail outlets all over the world.

Haifa Wehbe wannabe turns himself into Haifa look-alike

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — An unknown man on Instagram has completely transformed himself into an identical look-alike of Lebanese superstar Haifa Wehbe.

The wannabe Haifa, who replicated her looks from head-to-toe, often posts provocative videos of himself dancing and lip-syncing to Haifa’s songs in skimpy outfits.

He has since come under fire from Haifa fans on Instagram, who attacked him on his YouTube channel, saying he is “howling for attention.”

The man, who calls himself ‘Haiifa MJK” does not reveal his actual name or country. His ethnic background is also unclear.

Since the transformation, he has garnered 300k Instagram followers and more than 55k YouTube views.

Jordan based media website, Albawaba, said he went “every inch of the way to replicate the diva’s provocative looks.”

The media group says he may be from the Far East, since he often speaks Thai to his Instagram fans.

It goes to show you that as new levels of insanity enter the Middle East, people continue to follow and add to their fan base….

Assi Helani’s brother dies of meningitis

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese superstar Assi Helani received news of his 35-year-old brother’s death on Tuesday evening, after he was admitted into the hospital several weeks ago.

Helani’s brother Ali died at an intensive care unit after being treated for meningitis. Media reports say he had been admitted to a hospital weeks before, but the singer kept quiet about it.

Al Jaras Magazine reports that Ali was buried on Wednesday and family and friends were beginning to pay condolences to the Helani family.

“You are resting my brother. You left me and returned your wings to God,” said Helani. “Sadness swept all of my life.”