VIDEO: Marriage proposal at Beirut International Airport

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — A Lebanese man organized a surprise marriage proposal to his Ukrainian girlfriend Yana Kozachina at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport on Nov. 25.

Georges Chahoud brought his film crew to document his big day on camera!

“It was amazing! Words are not enough to express all my feelings at that moment,” wrote Yana Kozachina on Facebook.

Chahoud has photographed over 90 weddings in Gulf countries and Europe and over 1,400 weddings in Lebanon, according to his website.

Watch the proposal below:

She Said Yes………… from Georges Chahoud on Vimeo.

TRIBUTE: Iconic Lebanese poet Said Akl dies at 102

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Iconic Lebanese poet Said Akl died on Friday at the age of 102.

Akl was born in 1912 in the Bekaa town of Zahle, and quit school at age 15 to help his family after financial difficulties. He later pursued studies in literature in the 1930s after moving to Beirut.

Famous for his radical Lebanese nationalism, Akl, also known as the “Little Poet,” promoted the use of Lebanese dialect written in modified Roman script rather than the modern standard Arabic and alphabet.

He was defined by his Phoenician-centered nationalism, which made him popular among many Lebanese and controversial among others.1660679_757187717650139_1431484872538884524_n

After having left the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Akl became one of the leaders of the Guardians of the Cedars, a radical nationalist political party created during the Lebanese Civil War which welcomed the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, seeing it as a golden opportunity for forcing Palestinians out of Lebanon.

Although mostly known for his poetry, the deceased writer was also a journalist and wrote for several newspapers such as Al-Jarida, Al-Sayyad, and had a column in Assafir in the 1990s.

Considered one of the most notable modern Lebanese poets, Akl wrote in Arabic and French. His poetical works include “The Jasmine Bells,” “Poems from Her Notebook,” “Like Pillars,” and “Carving in Light.”

Legendary Lebanese singer Fairouz sang more than a dozen of his poems such as “Roddani Ila Biladi” (Take Me Back to my Country), “Ghanaytu Mekka” (I sang to Mekka), “Ummi ya Malaki” (My Mother, My Angel), and “Kara’tu Majdaka” (I Read your Glory).

Akl wrote three plays in poetic form, “The Daughter of Jephthah,” “The Magdalena” and “Cadmus,” and also published prose that includes “Loubnan in Haka” (If Lebanon Were to Speak).

His funeral will take place on Tuesday, December 2 at the Saint Georges Cathedral in downtown Beirut at 11:30 am, according to Notre Dame University.

RELATED: Beirut street named after Said Akl. Read more.

Source: al-Akhbar English

TRIBUTE: Lebanese icon Sabah dies at 87

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese singer Sabah, one of the leading Arab performers of her generation, has died at the age of 87, her family said on Wednesday.

Born Jeanette Feghali and known to her fans as the “singing bird,” Sabah recorded at least 4,000 songs in her lifetime, released over 50 albums, and acted in 98 films.

In the mid-1970s, she became the second Arab singer after Egypt’s Oum Kalthoum to perform at L’Olympia in Paris. She also performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.

Sabah was born to a Christian family in the village of Bdedoun, a Lebanese town in the Baabda-Aley province. She is known for her multiple marriages, tying the knot with at least nine men.

Her last marriage, to Lebanese artist Fadi Lubnan, lasted 17 years. She had two children, Dr Sabah Shammas and actress Howayda Mansy, both of whom live in the United States.

Sabah

She released her first song in 1940, while her parallel screen career began three years later in Egypt, the centre of the Arabic film industry.

In Lebanon, Sabah was often humorously mocked for refusing to leave the limelight, as well as her garish outfits and use of cosmetic surgery.

But she was unabashed: “I’m proud that I’m a village girl but I had a lot of ambition,” she said in 2008.

“She broke so many taboos. I don’t know if she was even aware of it,” said Chady Maalouf, head of programming at Voice of Lebanon radio.

“She was the example of a star, she was totally complete in her appearance, behavior and voice. She shocked people all the time.”

“Today, Lebanon lost a legend. Sabah is gone but she remains in our hearts,” famed Lebanese pop singer Nancy Ajram said on Twitter. “Her memory will remain in the minds and hearts of millions.”

Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt wrote on Twitter: “She was a great singer of a Lebanon that my generation knew, that will never come back”.

Rest in Peace, Sabah.

WATCH: American students sing Lebanese national anthem

(IOWA CITY, IOWA) — A foreign exchange student from Akkar, Lebanon taught 90 American students in Iowa City, Iowa the Lebanese National Anthem this week, just before Lebanese Independence Day.

“I’ve been working on a project in choir. I taught them the national anthem. It only took then a couple of days to learn it as they were very excited,” said Roudaina Al Zohby, who came to the United States through the AMIDEAST Youth Exchange and Study program.

AMIDEAST is a U.S. non-profit organization that works to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa.

WATCH the video below:

Lebanese Safra family owns second most expensive house in the world

Brazilian philanthropist and widow of Lebanese banker Edmond Safra, Lily Safra, owns the second most expensive house in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.

Edmond Safra, Lebanese banker and founder of the Republic National Bank of New York, had major banking operations in Syria, Lebanon, Brazil, and Switzerland.

Forbes Magazine says Lily Safra assumed ownership of the property, which is considered a French historical monument and location for various Hollywood productions.

The home is valued at $750 million and features a 50-acre estate including “a commercial sized green house, a swimming pool and pool house, an outdoor kitchen, helipad, and a guest house larger than the mansions of most millionaires,” according to Variety.

The house was famously used as a set in the 1955 Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief.

The villa was designed and built from 1929 to 1931 by American architect Ogden Codman, Jr., on an estate once owned by King Leopold II of Belgium.

The home was previously owned by King Albert I and was used as a military hospital during World War I.

See aerial photos of the home:

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Photo series explores the bedrooms of Lebanese, American girls

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar released a new series called A Girl and Her Room, where she documents the personal bedrooms of Middle Eastern and American girls and compares adolescent cultures in different countries.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Matar discussed her inspiration for the series as a place that she feels serves as an “extension of the girl.”

“They are so vulnerable at that age. They are trying to fit in … figure out who they are and how they want to present themselves to the world,” said Matar.

Matar says she noticed that the girls made their bedroom reflect their personality, in both cultures.

“Some of them were in very cosmopolitan part of Beirut, some were in refugee camps, and some were in Boston or on the East Coast where I live. But I felt that at the core those girls were going through the same transitional experience,” she told Buzzfeed.

A few snapshots into the series:

1-03Stephanie, Beirut, Lebanon 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

1-18Maddie Chloe, Cornwall, NY 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

1-16Reem, Doha, Lebanon 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

1-35Signe, Newton, MA 2011 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

2-07Zahra, Beirut, Lebanon 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

2-09Anna L, Arlington, MA 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

2-08Jessica, Rabieh, Lebanon 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

2-38Devin #2, Winchester, MA 2009 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

2-12Dima, Beirut, Lebanon 2010 – © 2014 Rania Matar Photography

For more information about Matar’s book, A Girl and Her Room, click here.

Ethiopian athlete wins 2014 Beirut Marathon

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(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Ethiopian athlete Fikadu Girma defeated thousands of runners on Sunday at the 2014 Banque du Liban Beirut International Marathon.

Girma won the 42.195 kilometer race in 2:12.28, according to Race Director Wissam Terro. The first Lebanese to finish the race was Omar Issa with a time of 2:34.

Beirut Marathon Founder May El-Khalil and Olympic Champion Haile Gebrselassie.
Beirut Marathon Founder May El-Khalil and Olympic Champion Haile Gebrselassie.

In the female 42 kilometer race, Ethiopia’s Molahtas Tscja scored a team of 2:29.12, narrowly beating Kenya’s Monica Jepkoech who had a time of 2:30.

The first Lebanese woman to pass the finish line was Shirine Njeim who scored in a time of 3:09.Several of Beirut’s streets were shut overnight Saturday and Sunday morning to make way for the 37,153 runners from 94 countries who registered for the annual marathon. Terro says most of the runners participated in the five and 10 kilometer races.The event is organized by the Beirut Marathon Association, and sponsored by Lebanon’s Central Bank.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia was invited by the Beirut Marathon Association as a special guest at the event. This year’s marathon was held under the slogan of “love, peace, run.”

Watch LBC’s preview report on the Beirut Marathon below:

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAQ0fDM4Kq0″ width=”500″ height=”300″]

Lebanese man with down syndrome faces deportation from England

Wadih-Hanna-Chourey

(LONDON, ENGLAND) — A Lebanese man with down syndrome who has lived in London for the past 17 years is facing deportation since the recent death of his parents.

Wadih Chourey, 44, came to London after seeking refuge from abuse in Beirut, where he was reportedly victimized and encouraged to commit crimes by Beirut-based gangs.

His parents brought him to Twickenham, southwest London in 1997 to escape abuse, where he has since lived. Chourey’s parents reportedly applied for leave to remain in the UK, but the application was refused and his family lodged an appeal.

After their death, Chourey moved into his brother’s home, Camil, 52, who said Chourey would not be able to care for himself in Lebanon. Chourey cannot work, but helps Camil and his other brother Joseph in their bakery, Joseph’s Patisserie.

The Home Office, the government department responsible for immigration, said Chourey did not meet the requirements for remaining in the UK.Wadih-Chourey

“All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. Mr. Chourey failed to meet the necessary requirements. The decision to refuse his application has been backed up by the courts,” said an unidentified spokesperson.

Vince Cable, the business secretary of the Home Office and MP for Twickenham, said the decision to pursue the case was “inhumane.”

“There are large numbers of cases of abuse of the immigration rule and I think the public expects the government and the Home Office to get to grips with them,” he told the BBC. “But not cases like this. It’s a terrible waste of their resources and it’s fundamentally inhumane, and I think it illustrates how the immigration system often fails.”

Cable went on to call the actions “disgraceful.”

“This is a man who cannot cook for himself, who cannot operate a washing machine or use a computer,” he added.

Colin Marsh, chairman of the local residents’ association, said the family are “very much part of our community” and that Camil and Joseph are “respected” and “admired” for their care for Wadih.

More than 70,000 people have since signed an online petition calling on home secretary Theresa May to block the attempted deportation.

Swedish-Lebanese singer performs at UNHCR Award Gala

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(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Swedish-Lebanese singer-songwriter Maher Zain performs his new song “One Day”, written in honor of refugees worldwide, for the first time at the 2014 Nansen Refugee Award ceremony.

The Nansen Refugee Award marks its 60th anniversary this year and is UNHCR’s top humanitarian honor. A courageous Colombian women’s rights network – Butterflies with New Wings Building a Future (Butterflies) – received the Award for its outstanding work to help victims of forced displacement and sexual abuse in Buenaventura, Colombia.

Watch Zain’s live performance:

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS7-niMavSM” width=”500″ height=”300″]

3 Lebanese women featured on BBC’s “100 Women” list

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Three Lebanese women were featured as part of BBC’s 100 Women of 2014, an annual list of inspiring and leading female figures from around the world.

Beirut-based engineer and business owner Hind Hobeika, London-based composer Bushra El-Turk, and Lebanese-Egyptian designer and artist Bahia Shehab were included in this year’s list.

1. Hind Hobeika

Lebanese entrepreneur Hind Hobeika is the founder of wearable tech company Instabeat, which produces a unique device that allows swimmers to monitor their heart rate and other metrics through a real-time display.

Instabeat’s wearable gadget provides on-demand data for swimmers on a color coded screen on the interior of swimming goggles.

The device is small, creates minimal friction with water, and provides key information without having the swimmer lose focus. Hind expects that the technology could be applicable to sports and athletes beyond the swimming world and plans to launch a triathlon version to market in the next few years.

Estimated to reach $50 billion by 2018, the global wearable tech industry has gained popularity in recent years with top names like Google and Apple making forays into the field. Hind and her team are already beginning to find a niche in the market and are inspiring other entrepreneurs in the region to do the same.

Watch Hind Hobeika’s Ted Talk:

2. Bushra El-Turk

Bushra El-Turk is a composer who forebears the influence of her Lebanese roots and straddles Eastern and Western idioms which seek to question EasternTala_Bushra_154n socio-political and socio-cultural issues in contemporary Western contexts.

She studied the cello and piano at the Centre for Young Musicians at a young age, and then went on to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

El-Turk has composed for various concert halls, dance performances, theaters, and broadcast venues in England, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Her pieces have been featured on BBC, Royal Opera House, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Opera Holland Park, among others.

Watch Bushra El-Turk rehearse for a live performance:

3. Bahia Shehab

Bahia Shehab is a Lebanese-Egyptian artist, designer and art historian, who studies ancient Arabic script and applies it to modern-day issues. She is the BahiaShebabCreative Director of MI7-Cairo, where she works on projects relevant to cultural heritage.

Shehab is also an associate professor at the American University in Cairo, where she has developed a four-year Graphic Design program focusing on the discipline in the Arab world.

In addition, Shehab is a TED Fellow and a PhD candidate at Leiden University in Holland. Shehab notably created a De Beers campaign, which won an International Advertising Association gold award

Most recently, Shehab has taken her art to the streets of Cairo, stenciling images in support of her country’s revolution.

Watch Bahia Shehab’s Ted Talk: