Lebanon: ‘Best party place,’ says guy who visited every country

American traveler Sal Lavallo, 26, has visited every country in the world, and he describes Lebanon as the “best party place.”

He recently published a video on Facebook where he briefly describes the experiences and takeaways from the nations he has been to.

The 25th country he describes on his list is Lebanon, and he says, “Lebanon is the best party place.”

Lebanon is known throughout the Middle East to have one of the best nightlife atmospheres in the region. Beirut hosts some of the best clubs, including Iris, White and Pier 7 Beirut.

To learn more about Sal and more about his journeys around the world, click here.

How to fly cheap to Beirut using Google Flights tricks

Thousands of Lebanese expats are planning to vacation in Beirut this summer, and Google Flights may be their best bet to finding the cheapest flights.

Here are four tricks to guaranteeing a great deal:

1. Plan dates around Google’s calendar

Say we’re flying round trip from Detroit to Beirut. The Google Flights calendar shows the cheapest dates for the month.

For example, a May 16 departure would cost $906. That’s a $742 difference from a May 6 departure!

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You can also see how the return flight prices change depending on the day.

Returning on April 30 gets a final round-trip price of $893.

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2. Use ‘Flight Insights’ graph to monitor trends

Certain days and months appear to be more common travels days than others.

Google’s ‘Flight Insights’ graph shows weekly trends for the next few months, and the price expectations for any specific week.

flight trends to beirut

In this case, prices are expected to increase in the month of June.

3. Check for nearby airports

Selecting nearby airports can save a lot of money.

In this case, the round trip price from Cleveland to Beirut would be $703. That’s a $190 savings.

beirut nearby airports

Some cities will find much more significant savings, especially if the nearby airports aren’t too far.

3. Track price changes

Finally, you can sign up for email notifications when prices change.

tracking flight to beirut

If a price goes down, Google will automatically email you the cheapest flight for your consideration.

To explore Google Flights for your summer trip to Beirut, click here.

Lebanese architect designs stunning $27 million villa in Dubai

A Lebanese-French architect has designed a gorgeous $27 million villa in the ‘highly-exclusive’ Emirates Hills community of Dubai.

Designer Jean-Louis Mainguy is behind the interior blueprint of the 26,000 square-foot estate. The villa is spread across three levels, and includes seven bedrooms, stunning living and family rooms, two custom-built kitchens and a spacious media room.

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The property is marked by LuxuryProperty.com at AED $98 million, which is about USD $27 million.

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Mainguy is a world-renowned interior architect based in Beirut. He is known for designing elegant, yet modern styles of spacious villas in the most exclusive neighborhoods of the Middle East.

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The Dubai property design was also inspired by Italian architect Mauro Lipparini.

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In addition to the beautiful dining room and kitchens, the villa showcases one the most scenic views of Dubai.

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The master suite features its own sitting room, and a large private balcony.

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A wellness and recreation area, home gym, luxurious spa and home entertainment facility are all part of the spacious basement.

The property is available on LuxuryProperty.com.

Read the full property listing:

LuxuryProperty.com is delighted to present this magnificent seven-bedroom villa in Sector E of the highly exclusive Emirates Hills community.

Covering an internal area of 27,000 sq ft and spread across three levels including a spacious basement, this home displays a very stunning sense of design, which is immediately apparent on seeing its modern, multi-tiered facade.

The main reception area, with contrasting light and dark marble floors and elegant oak beams across the ceiling, makes for a grand entrance. The living and family rooms are immense, covering more than enough space to host a small gala. They connect to a very elegant dining room with a high ceiling that looks like the private room of a Michelin-star restaurant. The home features two custom-built kitchens with beautiful wood surfaces that add a rustic element, along with professional-grade Miele appliances. The living areas lead to an office/study room that overlooks one of the very best scenic views in Dubai, and there is also a guest bedroom on this level.

Five further bedrooms are located on the first floor, along with a Jack & Jill room that’s ideal for children. The master suite features its own sitting room and a large private balcony, plus his and hers walk-in closets. The basement is where this home really comes to life. Set up as a wellness and recreation area, the space features a fantastic home gym with hardwood flooring and full-length mirrored walls, a luxurious spa and sauna, and a large home entertainment and media room.

Every aspect of the interior design needs to be seen to truly be believed, with meticulous detailing by renowned designers Jean-Louis Mainguy and Mauro Lipparini. Custom-designed beams, imported Jerusalem and travertine stone, rich oak accents and surfaces all add up to a home that has been designed with the highest levels of quality and detail in mind. Picture windows open up the space even further and enhance the spectacular views of the Address Montgomerie golf course, with Dubai’s skyline spread along the horizon.

The terrace is a great place to relax and enjoy the sunsets over Emirates Hills, but it is so much more than that. An infinity pool runs nearly the length of the villa, and is separated from a lovely Jacuzzi by sunken seating and a fire pit. The stone flooring of the pool deck is temperature-controlled so you can take a pleasant walk to the pool even in the summer months. The landscaping has been meticulously thought out to enhance the tranquility of the home, and designed by the award-winning Vladimir Djurovic. A key feature of the exterior space is a beautiful towering tree, which has been specially imported from Argentina and is over 3,000 years old.

This villa is, quite simply, a marvel of architecture and interior design. It has also been kept to the highest standards, with a level of maintenance one might expect from a boutique hotel. For our discerning clients who are seeking a high-quality family home in Dubai, it does not get any better than this.

Renowned Italian architect to design historical museum in Beirut

A well-known Italian architect will design a new historical museum in downtown Beirut, according to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Architect Renzo Piano will begin working on the museum, which will cover about 12,000 square-meters, or 130,000 square-feet, reports CLADnews, a speciality architecture news outlet.

Piano has designed a seven-story glass building that will stretch from Martyrs Square to the coastline. He is best known for being part of world-famous designs such as the New York Times building, Kansai International Airport and Aurora Place in Sydney.

The project is funded by the the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development, and will work in collaboration with the Beirut Municipality, Solidere and the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction, Hariri added.

The museum is expected to include archaeological artifacts discovered by United Nations excavations conducted between 1993 and 1997. It will feature artifacts that have passed through Beirut since the Bronze Age, Canaanite, Ottoman and Modern times, a development news outlet reports.

“As we build a modern city, we are keen to preserve the heritage, because preserving identity and history is a solid foundation for building the future,” Hariri added.

Hariri believes the museum is scheduled to take three years to build.

To learn more about the plans, click here.

DNA provides evidence of integration, mobility in Phoenician societies

Important new clues about population mobility in the Mediterranean between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE have been uncovered by an international team of researchers, co-led by a University of Otago academic.

Professors Lisa Matisoo-Smith, of the University’s Department of Anatomy, and Pierre Zalloua of the Lebanese American University, led a team studying DNA from four ancient Phoenician and Punic burial sites in Lebanon and Sardinia.

They looked at mitochondrial genomes, which are maternally inherited, in a search for markers of Phoenician ancestry.

Their results, just published in the journal PLoS ONE, indicate that Phoenician trade networks and settlement strategies included both assimilation of indigenous women in Phoenician sites as well as the introduction of foreign women, not only from other Phoenician settlements but possibly from further afar.

Continuity of population ancestry between Phoenician and pre-Phoenician people in Sardinia is consistent with archaeological evidence of integration between the cultures.

“We also found mitochondrial DNA that was likely from North Africa or the Near East and even a lineage that is from Northwestern Europe, which today is found at high frequency in southern Ireland – a location linked to Phoenician traders in search of tin,” says Professor Matisoo-Smith.

One individual buried in a Phoenician tomb in Beirut was even found to have Western European mtDNA lineage.

Professor Zalloua points out that “this DNA evidence reflects the inclusive and multicultural nature of Phoenician society.”

“They were never conquerors, they were explorers and traders,’’ he says.

Professor Matisoo-Smith believes the research reveals a lot about Phoenician societies across the Mediterranean.

“They were inclusive and integrative of the indigenous peoples and there was much mobility, often over great distances, around the Phoenician networks. It is also likely that mobility included women as well as men, despite the fact that Phoenician trade was male-dominated.

“It also shows us that identity is a cultural phenomenon; most of the samples that we have are culturally Phoenician (they were buried as Phoenicians), but genetically, they are diverse.’’

One of the great ancient civilizations, Phoenician culture emerged from the coastal city states in what is now Lebanon and Southern Syria around 1800 BCE. By the 9th century BCE Phoenicians had spread across the Mediterranean, establishing settlements on the islands and coasts of North Africa, Spain, Italy (e.g. Sardinia and Sicily), Malta and Cyprus.

From the middle of the 8th century BCE, pressured to provide silver and other metals to the Assyrian Empire, the Phoenicians looked to the west and dominated trade on the Mediterranean Sea for centuries.

The following was a press release provided by the university.

Lebanese designer launches new ‘angelic’ collection

A Beirut-based fashion studio is catching eyes worldwide after its launch of a glitzy new ‘angelic’ collection of designer dresses.

Lebanese designer Mohammed Ashi is the brains behind the ice-white patterns and intricate embroidery. He has dressed A-list celebrities on the red carpet, including singers Celine Dion and Janelle Monae.

A post shared by Ashi Studio (@ashistudio) on

Ashi’s latest design is described on Instagram as “The Girl on the Moon.” The launch comes months before Paris Fashion Week, which is set to begin on February 27, 2018.

The Ashi brand was launched in 2007 to “tell fairy tales through every meticulously hand crafted design,” according to its website.

Ashi’s biography says he is “attached to his Arab roots yet inspired by diverse cultures.”

For more information on the Ashi brand, click here.

Rare newsreel video shows Lebanon in 1969

Rare footage from British Pathé, a producer of newsreels and documentaries, shows Lebanon in 1969.

British Pathé was at the forefront of cinematic journalism, blending information with entertainment to popular effect.

Over the course of a century, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and seismic political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people. If it happened, British Pathé filmed it.

Beirut, the thriving beautiful capital city of Lebanon.

But even here, in the biblical land of milk and honey, the honey is not so sweet.

These are refugees — some of the many who have lost their homes in Middle East strife.

Lebanon has seen its share of troubles through the centuries. Romans, Arabs, the Crusaders, Turks, the French, and the allied forces all have passed this way.

But Lebanon has survived, and has merged as a prosperous and democratic state, composed equally of Christians and Muslims.

The president, Charles Helou, is a Christian. The prime minister, by agreement, is always a Muslim. The set up appears to work well.

In spite of its geographic position of strategy in the current Middle East situation, the financial comparison of Lebanon to Switzerland and its role as the trading house of the Middle East is a fair one.

Free enterprise flourishes. Modern roads cover the country. Luxury buildings and hotels have sprung up.

One of the main objects of both is tourism. About 30 percent of the national income is derived from visitors, including Jewish people. Even now Lebanon is still a tourist attraction.

This is traditional and universal in appeal.

So is this…

In this small land, bordered by Israel and Syria, the east and the west fuse smoothly. Ancient and modern, Christian and Muslim.

It’s a land of contrast. Sunny lowlands, snowy mountains.

Rare Lebanese cheese on verge of disappearing, report says

A traditional Lebanese practice of using clay jars to make one of the world’s rarest and oldest cheeses is slowly disappearing, according to a report by BBC News.

Ambarees, an iconic product of the Bekaa Valley, is made of fermented raw goat milk in earthenware jars. The cheese develops into a creamy texture with an acidic flavor. Lebanese call it “Labnet el Jarra.”

According to BBC, some Baalbeck residents say it’s becoming harder to find the traditional clay pot needed for cheese production. The practice is also not being passed down to newer generations, the report adds.

How It’s Made

Making the delicacy begins with filling the clay jar with milk and covering it with a cloth. The milk is left until the water begins to separate and drain out.

Then, for several months, salt and milk are added to the recipe at least twice per week until it begins to dry. The cheese stays fresh for at least one year using this method.

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Ambarees is made from raw goat milk poured at room temperature into the jar. The key to its production involves its fermentation, and the cheese reaching the perfect acidity.

The delicacy is commonly enjoyed during winter months on hot pieces of Markouk or Saj breads. Ambarees is highly dense and can be preserved for up to one year, making it ideal for winter enjoyment.

Why It’s Disappearing

According to BBC, markets in Beirut say most vendors don’t have time to make the homemade cheese anymore.

“Ambarees is one of the oldest cheeses in the world; it’s maybe 2,000 years old,” says one vendor. “People like it, but making it is quite hard and no one has time anymore.”

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Some Lebanese fear the cheese could soon disappear if newer generations don’t learn the recipe and pass it on.

Families in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley — where it’s called ‘ambaress’ — and in the Shouf area — where it is called serdeleh — are hoping to keep the tradition alive.

WATCH: Lost Cheese of the Lebanese Mountain:

‘Wonder Woman’ banned in Lebanon because of Israeli actress

The movie “Wonder Woman” is banned in Lebanon because the lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli, Lebanese officials announced.

The Ministry of Economy and Trade made the decision Wednesday to institute the ban before “Wonder Woman” hit the silver screen this weekend.

A group called “Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel” has been working to urge the Lebanese government to block the film due to lead actress Gal Gadot’s ethnicity.

Gadot served two years in the Israeli Defense Forces, the national military service mandatory for Israeli citizens over 18. The group said Gadot “boasted about the army training for Hollywood.”

“We refuse to normalize relations with an enemy state,” said Rania Masri, a member of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon. “We’re not talking about a political disagreement, were talking about resistance against occupation.”

One of Lebanon’s largest theater chains, Grand Cinemas, officially announced the ban on Twitter. “#WonderWoman has been banned in #Lebanon,” the tweet said.

The Ministry of Economy of Trade said in a statement the government has “taken all necessary action” to ban the film.

A counter-petition titled “Release Wonder Woman in Lebanon” has been published to challenge the ban. Organizers argue that previous films starring Gal Gadot, such as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Furious 7,” have successfully screened in Lebanon.

“Gal Gadot may be an Israeli, but we want to watch a movie about the amazing character of Wonder Woman,” the petition said.

The petition also argued that “Wonder Woman” was made by production companies in the U.S. and China.

What do you think? Should Lebanon ban “Wonder Woman” from its theaters? Share your thoughts on the Lebanese Examiner Facebook page.

WATCH: ‘Wonder Woman’ Banned in Lebanon:

Lebanese penal law allows rapists to walk free

A controversial law protecting rapists in Lebanon is expected to be reconsidered in parliament this week. Article 522 in Lebanese penal law allows men who rape women to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims.

The law can also suspend any conviction for a person who has committed rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape. The only stipulation is marrying the victim.

In December, members of the Parliamentary Committee for Administration and Justice announced an agreement to repeal the law, but a decision has not been formally made. The law must go before the full Lebanese parliament for review.

“The current law allows for a second assault on a rape survivor’s rights in the name of ‘honor’ by trapping her in a marriage with her rapist,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Protecting honor should be about ensuring that attackers are punished and promoting social attitudes that support survivors of sexual violence instead of stigmatizing them.”

The renewed push to repeal and reform this law is coming from Lebanese women’s rights groups, namely Abaad, a group that has invested thousands of dollars in advertising, public campaigns and billboards to end the law. They also created the hashtag #Undress522.

Ali Awada, advocacy manager for Abaad, told Public Radio International that the group’s public service campaigns are working.

“It worked at the policy level with different decision-makers,” says Awada. “After this series of lobbying meetings, we managed to get this draft law discussed inside the parliament with different political affiliates, and the final voting will be this week, with hopefully a ‘yes’ to abolish article 522.”

Awada points to tragic examples when similar laws have resulted in serious women’s rights violations.

In a widely publicized case, a Moroccan teen committed suicide in November 2013 after her family forced her to marry her rapist, according to Al Jazeera.

The suicide happened amid 2013 efforts to repeal Moroccan penal code Article 475, which also allows rapists who marry their victims to walk free.

 

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