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Four Things My Gastronomic Self Just Can’t Do Without

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These days my anxiety is through the roof. I mean, whose isn’t? We’ve got a global pandemic raging, and though we’re starting to witness a drop in the number of cases in areas where vaccination has been launched full-scale, most of the world has yet to be graced with needles of elixir by Pfizer, Moderna, and the likes. In fact, a third wave is upending whole populations in dense countries like India. Couple that with a trifecta of crises in Lebanon – political, economic, and fiscal – and it takes an inordinate amount of self-delusion to stay sane. We’ve literally been living on our own proverbial island, inside the four walls of our flat in the northern suburbs of Beirut. On weekends we escape to family’s chalet for a glimpse of that moderating Mediterranean and some fresh air. And if we really want to go wild, I’ll take the kids to a mall five minutes away where there are more shops than shoppers by a stretch . (Did you know that The Gap ducked out of Le Mall in Dbayeh? Subway, too.

How Aleb Lebanon Has Impacted the Lives of Families in Need

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30-year-old Fadia* always wanted a family. A naturally loving and nurturing individual, she never thought motherhood would be so fraught with trials. She and her husband, a member of the Lebanese army, are parents to a four-year-old girl who has thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder, and a two-year-old boy with congenital problems. Fadia, a high school diploma holder, used to work as an esthetician. But the wave of crises that has recently hit Lebanon, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and concomitant closures, has left her without a job. Her modest home is in poor condition. The children’s treatments are not covered by the insurance extended to military personnel and their families. And Fadia’s faith in nothing short of a miracle continues to wane. Since October 2019, Lebanon has been reeling from devaluation of its currency as the lira lost more than 80% of its value against the US dollar. The majority of the population has slumped into poverty in what the World Bank de

Before & After: Price of Local Goods in Lebanon Post-2019

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Anyone remember the Golden Age our parents and grandparents so often recounted about pre-civil war Lebanon? Surely we’ve all heard it: the rich presence of arts, music, culture and theater; the unsurpassed hospitality and lavishness of the Lebanese people; the lack of any real consciousness about religious sects and confessions; and above all, the fact that Lebanon served as the financial hub of the Arab world. The expressions “Paris of the Middle East” and “Suissra-el-Charq” illuminate just how cultivated and prosperous Lebanese society was. Fast forward to 2019, a momentous year that will surely enter the annals of history of our little Mediterranean plot of land. By momentous, of course, I mean complete and utter catastrophe on the banking and finance front as well as deep-seated political gridlock, both of which show no promise of letting up. Seriously, how much worse can it get when you have no access to your hard-earned deposits at the bank? When your credit card gets declined

10 Things About Me

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The other day, a friend tagged me in a fun Instagram story, spurring me to divulge 10 facts about myself. Why not extrapolate that to the blog, I thought, the perfect medium for writing listicles. It always intrigues me to see the lengths to which ‘grammers go in order to create elaborate stories, only to have them vanish into oblivion a mere 24 hours later. If I have to jump through hoops, rummaging through photos and matching them to intimate details about me – ten times, mind you! – I’d readily prefer the permanency of this web diary. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold. First, if you’re new to the blog, this is a quick glimpse into the gal behind it. And second, pandemic. I need a bit of a release. Nuff said. Get ready to learn more about me!   (1)     I am the second of three children born to Lebanese immigrants who made their home in Southern California, where I was raised and where my parents continue to be based. I grew up in the 90s watching “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Whether You’re A Freelancer or An Employer, What You Need is Ureed.com

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If 2020 has taught us anything with its perpetual stay-at-home orders and loathsome lockdowns, it’s this: (1) your home is your office, and (2) if you want to remain employable in this tough job market, you have to be versatile. In other words, sharpen your skill set and expand the repertoire of your competences. “Sure, Beirutista,” you’re probably thinking to yourself, as you stroke your chin pensively. “I’m a seasoned web developer [ or insert other specialty here ]. I’ve got a decent internet connection. And I keep on piling new and catchy certifications. But how can I locate paid projects right up my alley? Better yet, where do employers track me down?” Compelling questions. Allow me to introduce you to Ureed.com , an online marketplace where freelancers and employers can connect through facilitated channels. The idea is rather cunning: if you’re a freelancer, establish a profile on Ureed.com’s platform, populate it with a portfolio of your sample work, pitch for available proj

Lebanon: My Timeless Dilemma

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“Why are you in Lebanon? What are you doing here?” Almost exactly one decade ago – on January 2, 2011 – I boarded a flight from Los Angeles to Amman via Paris. Amman was not my final destination. It was the first stop in a circuit of three Levantine countries – Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon – where I would be leading an ambassadorial mission on behalf of my alma mater, MIT in Boston. At the end of the month, after my tour ended, I decided to linger in Beirut and look for a job. I’d forever dreamt of planting roots in the land of my heritage. Growing up, my brothers and I had spent paradise-like summers in Lebanon that exposed us to the warmth and unique hospitality of our culture. We spoke the language fluently, so I certainly never felt like a foreigner. And most importantly, I’d recently bagged my second graduate degree and was ready to launch a career. Somehow, the consulting gigs I’d held in Paris and Abu Dhabi felt lacking. Sure, I was challenged intellectually. But I was in search o

Beirut Blast: Death and Despair, Beyond Repair

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The past 15 hours have completely upended life in Lebanon as we know it. I've been struggling to deal with the sheer magnitude of the brutality and the horrible aftermath it leaves in its wake. For those who haven't yet heard, nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the port of Beirut , at the heart of the capital, leveling the city with a radial arm of destruction of 10 km out. There are thousands of human casualties, and the death toll continues to rise as victims are unearthed from beneath the rubble. If you see footage of the blast, you'd think it were a nuclear bomb. Its effects are nothing short of apocalyptic, taking away innocent lives and rendering immeasurable damage to the denizens and businesses of Beirut. Why such large quantities of ammonium nitrate, typically used as an agricultural fertilizer, were stored at a port warehouse for six years and neglected without adequate safety measures is criminal. Port of Beirut rocked by an explosion o

Lebanese-British Music Artist Maya Marie Teases Debut Album Dubbed "Antelias"

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I had the great pleasure and honor of interacting with Lebanese-British music artist Maya Marie, who recently launched her debut album Antelias in an ode to war-fraught Lebanon. Maya was born and raised in Beirut during the height of the Civil War, and she and her family straddled living between Cyprus and Lebanon before seeking asylum in the UK in 1989. However, the memories and scars of war are indelible, and she invokes them masterfully in Antelias and single “Shelter.” Read on for my exchange with the decorated musical talent, whose work via band New Pharaohs can be accessed freely on Spotify . Maya Marie of the band New Pharaohs (1) You mentioned being half-Lebanese, and that your father continues to reside in Antelias. With what other ethnic background do you identify? What year did you leave Lebanon? Where do you presently live?  My mother is Irish-British, and she came to Lebanon when she was 21 to study Arabic and nursing. She met my father on the AUB