U.S. program honors Lebanese students


(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The Lebanese State Alumni Community, an association for U.S. State Department program participants, honored new alumni during an annual reception Monday, at Padova Hotel in Sin al-Fil.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, David Hale, recognized and thanked Lebanese alumni of U.S. government-funded educational and cultural programs at the event.

“All of you in this room were selected for these programs because of the leadership you show in your field,” Hale said. “We knew you would carry the experience back home, to share with others, upon completion of your program.”

Ambassador Hale also addressed the 150 attendees as “individuals who have made a difference in Lebanon and who continue to prove me correct whenever I talk about the long standing and strong partnership that exists between the United States and Lebanon,” he said.

VIDEO: Lebanese mock water crisis with ice bucket reinterpretation

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — A group of young Lebanese filmed a reinterpretation of the viral ALS ice bucket challenge, but instead  focused on a cause better suited for Lebanon.

The YouTube video, titled, “Ice Bucket Challenge ONLY IN LEBANON,” showed eight people apparently “nominated” for the challenge.

After turning their buckets, no water comes out, evidently mocking Lebanon’s water crisis.

The hashtag “#MafiMay,” which translates to “#ThereIsNoWatter,” appears on the screen.

Watch the video:

Click here to watch Haifa Wehbe do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

QUOTES: The story behind inventor Fadel Adib

fadel-adibEditor’s Note: Fadel Adib was selected as a top innovator under 35 in a list compiled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Click here to see the Lebanese Examiner original article.

“I was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, in 1989. At the time, there was much political violence. The Lebanese civil war ended a year later. Unfortunately, the postwar stability did not last long. When I went to the American University of Beirut, I remember we used to have assassinations or bombings almost every week. When I came to MIT as a PhD student in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, the first thing that shocked me was that I could focus all the time on research.”

“In one of our projects, we were just making our Wi-Fi faster by maximizing throughput between nodes. Every once in a while, the system would get messed up, and we would stop getting good results. We realized that there was some person walking in the hallway, and that person’s walking was basically changing the channel.”

“If I shine a wireless signal at the wall, a huge amount of this signal is going to reflect off the wall. A tiny part of that signal will traverse the wall, reflect off anything that’s behind it, and then come back. We realized that we can sense motion using these wireless signals, and that’s how we started working on seeing through walls.”

“You can track people as they move. You can monitor multiple people’s heart rates and breathing. Retail stores that want to understand how people are moving in their stores can track when a person reaches out for a product, looks at it, and puts it back. The police could track if there’s a person behind a wall. One of the applications we’re thinking of: can you monitor the heart rate of a fetus in the mother’s womb without touching the body in any way?”

“When I went home to Lebanon and I was talking to my grandmother about it, she was like, ‘So, for example, can I put it over here in my living room, and if I fall in the bedroom or in the bathroom, it’s going to going to detect my fall and send an SMS to one of my children? Please, make this a product and put it here.’”

MIT Technology Review

As told to Suzanne Jacobs

Two Lebanese on MIT innovators list

innovators(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Two young Lebanese natives have been featured on the “35 innovators under 35” list by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

fadel-adibFadel Adib, a 25-year old student from Tripoli, invented a new technology that detects the movement of people using Wifi signals.

In 2011, Adib received his undergraduate degree in computer engineering with a minor in mathematics from the American University of Beirut, and later moved to MIT for to complete a masters degree in computer science. Now in his third year, Adib is focusing on improving wireless technologies and creating innovative products using them.

Ranking first during all his semesters at AUB, Adib has the highest cumulative GPA in the digitally-recorded history of Lebanon’s leading university.

Lebanese-Canadian Ayah Bdeir, who grew up in Beirut and studied at AUB, also was selected to be part of ayah-bdeirthe list. She founded her own company called “littleBits” in New York City several years ago.

Combining arts and electronic technology, littleBits are educational toys that have been compared to electrified Legos that stick together with magnets. So far, they have found their way to 70 countries.

littleBits sells a kit of different electronic pieces that the user can sort into different combinations to get different results. The wide range of possibilities provided by this simple learning tool allows people of all ages to feel involved, by creating robots and circuits as complicated as they want.

The company also recently added a new concept called “Cloud bit”, which allows users to create prototypes that are connected to the Internet. A video on its website suggests a user could feed his or her fish through an application on an smartphone.

Before creating littleBits, she had been a longtime advocate of open source hardware and software to make education and innovation more accessible to people around the world. In this vein, she co-founded the Open Hardware Summit and founded Karaj, Beirut’s first nonprofit lab for experimental arts, architecture and technology.

Bdeir is also a co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow and an alumna of the MIT Media Lab. Bdeir was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35, one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and one of Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream. littleBits was named as one of CNN’s top 10 Emerging Startups to watch.

New app helping to create addresses in Lebanon


(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Dots Addresses is a free and collective service that has been made available in Lebanon, to enable every citizen to finally possess a fixeddots-addresses geographic address.

Thanks to its network of virtual addresses and structured system of postcodes, Dots Addresses is a mobile app that will help all Lebanese to better share their addresses and locations.

Once registered to Dots Addresses, the app will give each user a 7 digit postcode that has to be completed with a personalized address. The user will then be able to add other addresses that can be easily shared with friends. A live step-by-step navigation service is also provided to simply guide the users to their final destinations.

The app is free and is now available for download in the iTunes App Store for iPhone users, and in Google Play store for Android users.

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNLAGVMjQUo” width=”500″ height=”300″]

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJZJy0q0IJg” width=”500″ height=”300″]

Walid Jumblatt meets with top models


(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Walid Jumblatt was surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful women on Sunday, when the head of the Progressive Socialist Party hosted contestants from the World Next Top Model 2014 competition.

Jumblatt received 40 competitors vying for the title of the world’s top model.

The event is scheduled to take place on Aug. 24, with 40 international models competing in Lebanon. The organizers have taken the participants sightseeing across the country, including a tour of the Chouf.

According to media reports, some of the models sipped on Turkish coffee and had brief conversations with a smiling Jumblatt, while the others played with his dog, Oscar.

View photos below:

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2014 Arab American Book Award Winners announced

FictionThe Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon
The Evelyn Shakir
Non-Fiction Award
We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War edited by Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar
The George Ellenbogen Poetry AwardConcordance of Leaves by Philip Metres
Children/Young AdultKids Guide to Arab American History by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Maha Addasi

Honorable Mentions
FictionThe Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
Non-FictionBetween the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora edited by Evelyn Alsultany and Ella Shohat
The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Cultural Journey by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt
PoetryMy Daughter La Chola by Farid MatukAND Alight by Fady Joudah
Children/Young AdultThe Arab World Thought of It by Saima S. Hussain


Award CeremonyThe 2014 Arab American Book Award winners will be honored during this year’s Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) Gathering in Minneapolis, Minn. The award ceremony will take place on Saturday, September 20 at 7pm at Open Book. Join us for an evening of celebration featuring readings, book signings, food & drinks, and music. The event is free for RAWI attendees; others may purchase tickets ahead of time.



The Corpse Washer
By Sinan Antoon
(New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2013)

In the tropical paradise that is Miami, Avis and Brian The Corpse Washer, originally written in Arabic and translated to English by the author, is the story of Jawad. This young man, born to a traditional Shi’ite family of corpse washers and shrouders in Baghdad, decides to abandon the family tradition, choosing instead to become a sculptor, to celebrate life rather than tend to death. But the circumstances of history dictate otherwise. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the economic sanctions of the 1990s destroy the socioeconomic fabric of society. The 2003 invasion and military occupation unleash sectarian violence. Trained as an artist to shape materials to represent life aesthetically, Jawad now must contemplate how death shapes daily life and the bodies of Baghdad’s inhabitants.

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist, and translator. He is associate professor at the Gallatin School, New York University, and cofounder and coeditor of the cultural page of JadaliyyaThe Corpse Washer is his second novel. Born in Iraq, Antoon now lives in New York City.

The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award

We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War
Edited by Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar
(Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2013)

Nadje Al-Ali is professor of gender studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Her publications include Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present and What Kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq (coauthored with Nicola Pratt). Deborah Al-Najjar is a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Her fiction has been published in the Kenyon Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Indiana Review.Most Americans know very little about the everyday lives of Iraqis, despite ongoing media coverage of the occupation of Iraq and its aftermath. In this anthology, Al-Ali and Al-Najjar showcase written and visual contributions by Iraqi artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, photographers, and activists, many of whom now live in the U.S. The contributors face issues common to immigrants – identity in diaspora, the lasting impact of war, cultures in transition – compounded by America’s invasion of their home country. We Are Iraqis is a highly relevant and much needed addition to this under-published subfield within Arab and Arab American studies.

The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

A Concordance of Leaves
By Philip Metres
(Doha, Qatar: Diode Editions, 2013)

In A Concordance of Leaves, Philip Metres recalls his 2003 visit to the village of Toura in the Palestinian West Bank, on the occasion of his sister’s wedding to a resident of the village. This epic wedding poem encompasses both the Arab and Arab American experiences, working brilliantly within self-imposed constraints. Fellow Arab American Book Award winner Naomi Shihab Nye calls the piece “a tender book so transporting it carries us deeply into the soul of Palestine as well as the love of a family.”

Philip Metres has written a number of books, most recently the chapbook, abu ghraib arias (Flying Guillotine, 2011), winner of the 2012 Arab American Book Award, and To See the Earth (Cleveland State, 2008). His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. He is the recipient of two NEA fellowships, a Watson Fellowship, four Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Anne Halley Prize, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Children/Young Adult

A Kid’s Guide to Arab American History
By Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Maha Addasi
(Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2013)

A Kid’s Guide to Arab American History dispels stereotypes and provides a look at the people and experiences that have shaped Arab American culture in a format enjoyable for elementary students. Each chapter focuses on a different group of Arab Americans including those of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Yemeni descent. Short biographies of notable Arab Americans, including Danny Thomas, Paula Abdul, Helen Zughaib, and Ralph Nader, demonstrate a wide variety of careers and contributions. The book also features more than 50 fun activities that highlight Arab American arts, language, games, clothing, and food.

Yvonne Wakim Dennis is a Cherokee and Syrian author, curriculum developer, social worker, and multicultural consultant. She previously coauthored the award-winning A Kid’s Guide to Native American History and Native Americans Today. She lives in New York City.

Maha Addasi is the author of The White Nights of Ramadan and Time to Pray, which received an honorable mention for the 2011 Arab American Book Award. She has been a freelance writer, news correspondent, television anchor, and radio producer in Amman, Jordan. She was born in Kuwait and lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

2014 Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention – Fiction

The Woman Upstairs

By Claire Messud

(Vintage, 2013)

The Woman Upstairs, a New York Times bestselling novel, is told through the confessional voice of schoolteacher Nora Eldridge. Nora’s unremarkable life is shaken by the arrival of the Shahid family –Skandar, a Lebanese scholar, Sirena, an Italian artist, and their son, Reza. The family draws her into a complex and exciting new world, until a betrayal shatters Nora’s newfound happiness. Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, The Woman Upstairs is the riveting story of a woman awakened, transformed, and abandoned by a desire for a world beyond her own.

Claire Messud is the author of The Emperor’s Children, When the World Was Steady, The Hunters, and The Last Life. All four books were named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Messud has been awarded Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.


Honorable Mention – Non-Fiction

Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora

Edited by Evelyn Alsultany and Ella Shohat

(Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2013)

How do we talk about Arabs and Muslims in the Americas? Between the Middle East and the Americas compares and contrasts outsider depictions of “the Middle East” as a consumable, exoticized object with self-representation by Arabs and Muslims in writing, the arts, and digital spaces. Essays in this anthology examine a range of discourses, from the imagery in Arab American hip hop to characters and dialogue in TV dramas to the rhetoric of the Mohammed cartoon controversy. As the co-editors explain in their introduction, the Americas are a place “where cultures meet, clash, and grapple within conditions of inequality,” resulting in cultural practices that must be understood within a transnational perspective.

Evelyn Alsultany is an associate professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan. She previously co-edited Arab and Arab American Feminisms (Syracuse University Press, 2011), which received the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award in the 2012 Arab American Book Awards. Ella Shohat is a professor in the Departments of Art and Public Policy, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University.

Honorable Mention – Non-Fiction

The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Cultural Journey
By Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt
(Charlottesville, Va.: Just World Books, 2013)

In the summer of 2010, authors Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian American, and Maggie Schmitt traveled the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip to collect recipes and strories. Building on that trip and the extensive knowledge that El-Haddad has gained from family and friends throughout the years, the two produced a cookbook. The result, The Gaza Kitchen, is a richly illustrated cookbook featuring 130 recipes and personal descriptions of the cuisine and the broader social and economic system in which Gazans live and prepare meals.

Laila El-Haddad is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and blogs at gazamom.com. She is a political analyst, social activist, and parent-of-three from Gaza City who currently makes her home in Maryland. Maggie Schmitt is a writer, researcher, translator, educator, and social activist. Schmitt works in various media – writing, production, photography, video – exploring and recording the daily practices of ordinary people as a way of understanding political and social realities in various parts of the Mediterranean region.

Honorable Mention – Poetry

My Daughter La Chola

By Farid Matuk
(Boise, Id.: Ahsahta Press, 2013)

Pushing the boundaries of traditional poetry, Matuk’s new work examines the shaky ground connecting history and lore. Among crises economic and personal, from the documents of atrocities to the Golden Girls, the poems reach into Arab America and beyond, anticipating Matuk’s daughter’s inevitable fall from unspeakable glory.

Farid Matuk is the author of This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machines Editions, 2010), which received the 2011 Arab American Book Award honorable mention. He has also published poems in Third Coast, Iowa Review, Poets.org, Critical Quarterly, The Baffler, and Denver Quarterly, among others. He serves as contributing editor for The Volta and poetry editor for Fence.

Honorable Mention – Poetry

By Fady Joudah
(Port Townsend, Wash.: Copper Canyon Press, 2013)

Alight, the second collection of original poems by Fady Joudah, takes a tender approach to tragedy, breaking through the past with haunting lyric mastery. In this work, Joudah attempts to unravel the structures of trauma which follow historical afflictions, both personal and global. By unharnessing the voices of survivors, often children, Joudah illuminates the violent vulnerability of displacement. Alight asks the reader to reconsider the role of a child, the renewal of the soul, and the nature of ancestral roots.

Fady Joudah is a Palestinian-American poet, translator, and physician of internal medicine. He received his medical training from the Medical College of Georgia and University of Texas, and served with Doctors Without Borders in 2002 and 2005. His first book, The Earth in the Attic, won the 2007 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. In 2010 he received a PEN translation award for his translations of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Honorable Mention – Children/Young Adult

The Arab World Thought of It
By Saima S. Hussain
(Toronto: Annick Press, 2013)

This colorful, inviting book is a celebration of the innovations and achievements of the Arab people from 22 countries in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Author Saima Hussain, who was raised in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, presents the contributions of the Arab people in such fields as astronomy, medicine, architecture, food, education, and art. Young readers may be surprised to discover the ways in which people from this region have changed, and continue to change, the world.

Saima S. Hussain is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Munk School of Global Affairs. This is her first book. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

USEK students protest over tuition hike

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Students at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) protested on the street facing their campus on Monday against a decision made by their university to increase tuition fees.

The new policy increases the price of one credit by $60, which calculates to a 21% overall tuition increase. Students will be expected to pay an extra $2,000 per year.

“We have been surprised, during the peak of the economic crisis in Lebanon, by this unjust decision by the university administration,” a statement released by

Protests continued through the night outside the USEK Kaslik campus.
Protests continued through the night outside the USEK Kaslik campus.

the students on Saturday said.

Students from all faculties organized and called for the 10 a.m. demonstration, demanding the immediate elimination of the “unfair” decision by the administration.

They held a sit-in closing the road, and refused to dissolve the protest until they received a promise by the USEK administration to reconsider its controversial decision, media reports said.

Students are upset because they are barely able to afford current tuition fees, even when they work two or three jobs in some cases, they say. They also complain of special privileges of relatives to Maronite Catholic priests, who receive discounted rates to attend USEK.

In an interview with LBCI, one student said that Christians are constantly encouraged to preserve their land, but this decision will “encourage us to do the opposite and sell land to pay for tuition.”

The Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) is a private Catholic higher education institution, which was established by the Lebanese Maronite Order (LMO) in 1961.

You can help USEK students get their message to University administrators by signing the petition at this link.

LBCI Report:

MTV Lebanon Report:

VIDEO: Arabs show off expensive cars in London

gold-ferrari-london-arabs(LONDON, ENGLAND) — Tourists and car enthusiasts have been flocking to one of London’s wealthiest districts to catch a closer glimpse of some of the world’s most extravagant cars.

Many of the impressive vehicles are owned by mega-rich Arabs, from the likes of Dubai and Kuwait, who have their expensive cars delivered to west London where many spend their summer holidays.

CNN’s Report:

Al-Arabiya’s Report:

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaqT-dTPsuo” width=”500″ height=”300″]

VIDEO: Lebanese pianist goes viral after impromptu performance

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — A Lebanese pianist’s impromptu performance has struck a chord with people around the world this week, garnering more than 5 million views on YouTube since it was posted last Thursday.

Maan Hamadeh was waiting at the Prague airport to board his flight to Beirut when his friend stopped him and pointed at a piano. Hamadeh told the Daily Star that it was “like a baby who has found his mother after getting lost. I ran to it.”

Passengers watched Hamadeh play variations of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” and Celine Dion’s “Titantic” themed, “My Heart will Go On.”

Hamadeh used Arabic elements in his remixed variations of the two songs.

Watch the viral video:

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