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Photo by Nada Karam

A w o r d f r o m t h e G e n e ra l d i r e c t o r

From a scientific viewpoint, rain has immense benefits for the Earth: It’s a source of fresh water, nurtures plants and agriculture, and it can reduce water bills for those who know how to store it. But for me, rain is a different story: It’s a kind of love story... I love the rain, in my own way. I love sitting inside, cocooned in my warm bed watching the rain trickle down my window. I love its smell: that gorgeous, sweet scent of earth newly stirred by the rain. I love its sound: that natural, rhythmic pitter patter whose beauty makes me catch my breath. I love its calming influence. It's hard to explain, but there's something special about it. I can sit and listen for hours to the tiny sounds of raindrops that make everything else seem so huge, so endless. I love the feel of raindrops falling on my face, washing away my sorrows like a kind of shock therapy. And I love thunderstorms: the torrential rain, the howling winds, the roaring thunder-claps, the sky-splitting flashes - it's all so majestic and powerful. I love that tense silence before the first low rumble. Then, the rain comes, slowly at first, but heavier with each passing moment. That climatic point that comes before it ends and fades away is my favorite: the culmination of deepening intensity acted out in a theatrical tour de force. That’s when it starts purring, purring endlessly... to the backdrop of a sky cloaked in darkness and beauty.


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t h e

Owner and General Direc


Saad tor Pascale Choueiri

Co-owner Ronald Saad Chief Editor Pa scale Chouei ri Saad Chief Environmental Consultant Edgard Chehab Environmental Consultants Bassam Kantar Art Director

Hage Tannouri ffe ody Ja Editor J



Coordinator Joelle Choueiry Makhoul

or Antoine Hajj Responsible Direct

Guest Photographers Nada Karam, Philip Barret,

Edward Barms, Sandy Sulmar, James Runbat

Translators Jody Ja ffe, Sabine Abi Dergham

ah, Alice Hlidkova, Contributing Writers Adham Farsam Kantar, ChĂŠrine Yazbeck,

Alia Fawaz, Aline Sara, Bas Michael Campbell, Diana Tannoury, Linsey Kaety, Zeina Aboul Hosn Nader Nakib,

Advertising & Marketing FST,

Editorial enquiries

Printed by Chamas for Printing & Publishing, Mazraa, Colombia Center Published by Five Stars Tourism s.a.r.l. Azarieh St. Azarieh Bldg. – Block 01 Beirut, Leban on Tel: +961 1 994 006 , Fax: +961 1 994 007 ed paper This magazine is printed on recycl


Ma i n

Edgard Chehab

With 17 years of experience in the environmental field, Edgard Chehab is a renowned name in local and regional green circles. He is the assistant resident representative and manager of the Energy and Environment Program of UNDP, Lebanon. He is also the advisor to the Ministery of the Environment. Beyond is lucky to have Mr. Chehab ­as its environmental consultant and dear friend.

Con t ribut ors

Yousra Bustros

Yousra wanted to study medicine. She studied management, which bored her profoundly. She considers herself to be a self-taught person who learned and went deeper into her studies according to her passions, which are numerous. They include reading, politics, philosophy, music writing, gardening, and hiking, when she is never without her camera. Professionally speaking, she has been the assistant to two extraordinary men: Gebran Tueini and Michel Elfteriades. She avows a profound love for Lebanon, which she has crossed largely on foot, and to which she is devoting a great deal of her energy as a militant who is into everything.

Bassam Kantar

A seasoned Lebanese journalist, Bassam Kantar is the founding member of the Lebanese Environment Party (LEP). Kantar frequently writes about environmental and human rights issues. He strongly believes that the free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad. Recently, Kantar won a fellowship from the Earth Journalism Network to cover the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (UNFCCC) summit, COP18, which will be held in Doha, Qatar.

Nader Nakib

A regular contributor and strong supporter of Beyond, Nader El Nakib is the international officer of the Future Movement. Mr. Nakib has keen interest in fighting climate change, leading him to co-found a green NGO called G, which he currently presides over. He serves on the boards of the AUB Alumni Council, Business Week Market Advisory, and Economist Global Executive Forum.

Diana Boudargham Tannoury

In her contributions to Beyond, Diana Boudargham Tannoury continues to push her poetic license to the next level. With a master’s degree in international communications and international relations from Boston University, Mrs. Boudargham Tannoury enjoys writing short stories and poems in the hope that her words will help raise awareness about nature’s fragility.


H i g h l i g hts



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are being made to protect the lesser known 108 Efforts areas of our oceans


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Sustainable Travel veling that puts you Try a real adventure in tra face-to-face with nature

Erratum: In THE Last issue the "the beirut solar snake" article was written by Alia Fawaz.





The Arabia CSR Awards A pan-Arab initiative to encourage responsible business practices

T h e A r a b i a C o r p o r at e Social Responsibility A w a r d w as i n st i t u t e d by the Arabia CSR Network in 2008 to recognize companies in the Arab world t h at d e m o n st r at e a commitment to s u sta i n a b i l i t y i ss u e s , s u c h as e n v i r o n m e n t , governance, transparency, human r i g h ts , a n d m o r e . Words nader nakib


ince 2008 the Arabia CSR Award has been a well-respected regional CSR initiative throughout the Middle East, offering a learning, recognition, and networking platform to interested businesses. It now encompasses the Gulf, Levant, and North Africa regions, and it is open to businesses of all sizes and sectors that operate within this geographical area. In 2013 the competition is in its sixth cycle, and it is being convened under the aegis of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman and CEO of the Emirates Group, and chairman of the Dubai Airports. The Arabia CSR Award is supported by a group of international and local partners that include the United Nations Global Compact, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), and the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG). So far the Arabia CSR Awards have attracted close to 500 applications from hundreds of businesses spread out through 13 countries, representing more than 25 industry sectors. The 6th Arabia CSR Award will be concluded with a full-day forum based on the theme “Driving Sustainability through Corporate Citizenship” and a presentation gala in the evening of October 24 in Dubai, UAE. The annual forum has drawn huge crowds, gathering together sustainability and CSR experts, think tanks, and practitioners from all over the world. This year the forum will address two sub-themes: “Corporate Citizenship - Is it changing the business landscape (internationally and in the MENA region)?” and “Do we require government intervention to ensure a responsible private sector (internationally and in the MENA region)?” Responding to these issues will be some of the leading local and international personalities, representing government and private sector perspectives on the subject. Keynote statements will be delivered by Henrik Madsen, group CEO, DNV, and Dr. Nasser Saidi, former chief economist and head of External Relations at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Group CEO, DNV

For further details, please contact the Arabia CSR Network at or +971 - 4 - 3448622.


WIND OF CHANGE: Making alternative energy a reality

– Wind power is definitely the way forward for Lebanon as a sustainable and cost- effective energy source. Words Alia Fawaz


hile other Arab countries are relying heavily on fossil fuel to meet their present and future power needs, Lebanon can fortunately invest in its wind as a cleaner and safer source of power. Today over 300 GW is currently installed worldwide. Lebanon is capable of producing at least 500 MW throughout the country.

One year ago, the Ministry of the Environment and the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) issued a bid for a 50100- MW wind farm. Four consortiums have entered this tender. Sustainable Akkar (SA), in a joint venture with ACE, BATCO,


and Tefirom, is one of these four. Beyond speaks to Salah Tabbara, CEO of SA to understand more about what his company is proposing. AF: How did your company get involved? ST: In 2011, the UNDP-CEDRO project released the national wind atlas of Lebanon, which pinpointed the best wind areas in Lebanon. That’s when we decided to look for land in these areas that have the potential to house wind farms. We looked at privately-owned land in Jabal Akroum in Akkar (an area of more than 500,000 square meters). We then installed two meteorological wind masts to decipher the area’s wind potential. AF: What is Sustainable Akkar proposing? We are proposing 82.5 MW, which is equivalent to supplying around 80,000 homes across Lebanon with electricity. We have selected the Danish company Vestas, the world’s leading manufacturer of turbines. We are proposing 30 turbines on our site. Our consortium will be investing in the construction and operation of the farm, while the government will buy the electricity produced from our project. Our prices will be at least 40 percent less than what it costs the government to generate a kilowatt.

AF: What is the cost of such a project? ST: It will cost $160 million to execute it fully. AF: How critical is alternative energy for Lebanon? Lebanon relies on costly fuel oil and diesel. Today ElectricitÊ du Liban (EDL) is supplying the country with 1,800 MW, whereas 3,000 MW is needed. The difference of course is supplied by private generators. All forms of alternative energy are vital. The Lebanese government is currently planning, through its Ministry of Energy Policy Paper of 2010, a shift to natural gas and hopes that renewable energy will constitute up to 12% of the energy mix by the year 2020. We can suggest to the government to open up the wind tender to all the candidates. It will be a zero investment for the government and an increase of around 200 MW. AF: So let’s fast forward and assume that things get moving. The government gives the green light for the winning bidder. What next? ST: The actual work begins: setting up the turbines, opening the roads, installing electrical connections, and so forth. It should take approximately 18 months, but we are committed to achieving that in a shorter time frame. >> 15





There’s something out there A new air quality index is underway

– While we are aware of the high pollution levels that we face in Lebanon, it is only when these levels are accurately quantified that we can draw valid conclusions. Measuring the actual air quality is now going to be possible, thanks to Environmental Resources Monitoring in Lebanon (ERML), a project launched by the Ministry of the Environment in 2011, under the management of UNDP. Project Manager Nour Masri explains the program. Words Alia fawaz

Alia Fawaz: How will the air quality data become available to the public? Nour Masri: This information will be made available in the form of the Air Quality Index. We have installed air quality monitoring equipment in five different locations in Lebanon, which give us up-to-the- minute data on different types of pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone (O3), and so forth. The stations are in: Horsh Beirut, the Lebanese University in alHadath, the Lebanese Army Teaching Institute in Baalbeck, Rafik Hariri High School in Sidon, and the Manshiyeh public garden in Zahle.

AF: Why these locations? NM: Our principal objective is to assess the level of pollution to which the population is exposed. Accordingly, we chose five background locations (as opposed to traffic or industrial locations) with similar characteristics and that are representative of the general population’s exposure. In phase two, we plan to establish an additional five locations if we can secure the funding. AF: Can the data from these locations represent the whole country? NM: In tandem with the deployment of the air quality monitoring stations, we are preparing for an air dispersion


modeling that is based on emission inventory, i.e., emissions from fixed sources of pollution, such as industries and power plants, and of course taking into account mobile sources such as cars, ships, etc. This information will be combined with meteorological data: wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, etc. We will be able to simulate the diffusion of pollution and tell how it is moving throughout Lebanon.

AF: How important is this information for Lebanon? NM: Without an efficient air monitoring system no trends or direct correlations can be established between adverse health effects and compromised ecosystems on the one hand, and air pollution on the other. The existence of valid date data will help different groups and the Ministry of the Environment to propose appropriate policies.

AF: From where does the funding come? NM:The funding for ERML, which also covers monitoring and management of coastal and marine resources, comes from the government of Greece through Hellenic Aid. It has allocated $1.64 million, of which $706,000 is for the air quality monitoring component. AF: How will the public see the air quality information? NM: On the project’s website erml., we will have an air quality index that will be colorcoded and easy to understand. We chose the chameleon “Camil� as the animated indicator whose color will change from green to red according to pollution level. Eventually we will also link up with media groups so at the end of the weather report they can mention the status of air quality for the following day.



Present perfect Always a tradition for the holiday season, a lush red poinsettia is a beautiful way to celebrate and it makes for an ideal gift. Words Alia fawaz

Grooming the best It all starts in July with the planting of the first sprout. Exotica’s poinsettias are of the highest quality in the market, because they are born, raised, and taken care of in our very own state-of-the-art nurseries in Zouk Mosbeh. We make sure to pamper our poinsettias with the best international standards of care, in terms of lighting, water, space, and yes‌music! To get them ready, it takes us around 25 weeks, during which time they are meticulously cared for in the most professional manner. The end result is the best-looking poinsettia that you can ever find in the market. They are available in three joyous colors: white, red, and pink. Caring for the plant: Three easy steps Place it near a sunny window. Poinsettias are tropical and will appreciate as much direct sunlight as you can provide. To keep the poinsettias in bloom for as long as possible, maintain a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

Water the plant whenever the surface feels dry to the touch. Water it until the water drains out of the bottom, but don't let the plant sit in water. Decorating the house Poinsettias can be placed near Christmas trees in special baskets. They can be used as centerpieces on the dining table or they can be planted in planters. Wherever you place them, they add joy to the home! Exotica Poinsettias are available in all of our Exotica branches: Verdun, Ashrafieh, Kaslik, and Jal al Dib, in addition to the Exotica Nursery point-of-sale in Zouk Mosbeh. Spanning over ten hectares, our lush Exotica Nursery in Zouk Mosbeh houses an extensive variety of firstgrade landscape plants. Founded in 1978, Exotica has grown to become a leading provider of first-class floristry and landscape contracting in the Middle East. Promoting green is a core pillar of our mission.



Words Alia Fawaz

– Two identical cylinders of monumental proportions greet you as you enter the headquarters of IBC. These are digesters that are hard at work processing the garbage from Sidon and its surrounding suburbs, which was previously dumped mostly in landfills. Things have changed drastically since the arrival of IBC, which has been operating for just over a year to meticulously sort and treat household garbage or other municipal solid waste (MSW).


IBC's facility, which lies on 40,000 square meters of land that was reclaimed from the sea, cost $40 million to establish, using expertise and machinery provided by the German company Passavant-Roediger. It is the first of its kind in the Middle East, as it combines sorting and anaerobic treatment of the waste in the same facility. It currently handles 200 tons of waste a day (with a capacity of up to 350 tons), and it charges the municipalities a very competitive rate of $85 per ton. Separating organic from non-organic waste The facility's main function is to separate the MSW into organic and non-organic materials. The nonorganic materials, such as plastic, glass, rubber, cartons, and so forth, are processed and resold to those who do the recycling. IBC has also managed to separate all the plastic bags (a major waste component) and it is in the process of installing its own plastic recycling production line to clean and pelletize them for sale. Producing energy from organic waste The second major task consists in treating the organic component of the MSW. This is sent to the digesters, which release methane gas that is converted into


energy: 1600 kilowatts per hour. Some of this energy is used to run the plant, and the surplus will soon be used to provide electricity to the municipality in order to illuminate the streets. The organic material goes through a highly sophisticated process in order to convert it into 100 percent natural fertilizers. While it is still impossible to reduce waste to zero (mainly because of non-organic refuse that cannot be recycled), the


company aims to reduce it to less than 10 percent (today it is 18 percent).

(c) Huguette Roe

In the meantime, this refuse is sent to landfills. A few municipalities are breaching their contracts with IBC and dumping some waste in landfills. However, plans are in place to shut them down within a year, which means that IBC needs to receive more local waste so that it can be processed efficiently and not end up on the unsightly rubbish mountains.



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Dumpsite SIDON TO GET RID OF TRASH MOUNTAIN: Media field visit to monitor the rehabilitation process

Words Bassam Kantar

– The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and the Municipality of Sidon, organized a media field visit to the rehabilitation project of the garbage dump on Sidon's maritime boulevard on Thursday, October 3, 2013.


The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Mr. Edgard Chehab, Assistant Resident Representative of the UNDP, explained each phase of the process

Managed by the Municipality of Sidon, the dumpsite was originally established in 1982 to receive rubble and demolition waste from destroyed buildings. The waste mountain reaches 55 meters high, and covers an area of 60,000 cubic meters. It is an enduring eyesore and health threat to local residents and tourists. The environmental repercussions are severe.


The aim of this visit was to monitor the process of the rehabilitation of the dumpsite in the presence of the UN Resident Representative Mr. Robert Watkins, as well as the representative of the Municipality of Sidon, Mr. Ibrahim Al Bsat, and the Representative of the Ministry of the Environment, Bassam Sabbagh. The Sidon Dump project is funded by the Lebanese Government and executed by the Ministry of the Environment and UNDP. The rehabilitation process has four phases The first part of the media field visit included visiting the four sites where the rehabilitation process is taking place. Mr. Edgard Chehab, assistant resident representative of the UNDP, explained each phase of the process: The first phase is the degasification that takes place in a specialized small plant provided with filters and pumps to extract the gas from the dump to be stored in tanks filled by active carbon. The second phase is the sorting facility where the waste is separated into different elements. The third phase is the laboratory, where French scientists seperate organic waste from non-organic waste. The final phase is the sanitary landfilling process for the disposal of organic waste materials by burial.

Suez Environment will contribute to the project Suez Environment has joined forces with contracting company Al-Jihad for Commerce and Contracting (JCC) to shape the country’s future resource recovery and rehabilitate the huge Sidon dumpsite. Suez Environment has said that it will make the services of a number of its business units available to the project. Suez Environment has said that the work is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. After the site visit, questions and answers took place at the Municipality of Sidon. The UN Resident Representative Mr. Robert Watkins delivered a speech focusing on the aim of the field visit, saying that the objective was “to eliminate the mountain of shame and transform it into a green space open to the public, and to make progress on a very deeply-rooted issue.” Mr. Chehab remarked: “The Sidon dumpsite contains approximately 1.5 million cubic meters of waste and covers a surface of approximately six hectares. After sending samples taken from the site to France, the analysis revealed that the dumpsite contained approximately 50-60 resources that can be used as landfills and that are not contaminated.”


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As part of the remediation project, much of the waste currently dumped at the site will be excavated and sorted in an on-site processing plant based on its fraction, size, and density. 35

The young water savers Lessons for life begin at school

– Water conservation needs to be a way of life, especially in a country such as Lebanon that has unsustainable water management practices. Many households do not have regular water supplies, and buying water to fill water tanks at home is commonplace. In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Energy and Water, in collaboration with UNDP, established the Lebanese Center for Water Management and Conservation (LCWMC) in 2011. Words alia fawaz


ne of LCWMC’s missions is to spread the word about saving water in as many ways as possible. Teaching children about the merits of conservation is the ideal place to begin, and the center has been targeting schools. Ziad Khayat, who is project manager for LCWMC, and his team create a host of creative communication tools, water saving devices, and other initiatives. They also arrange for specialists to go to the schools to talk with the students.

(an aerator) that is installed on taps and shower heads. It enables more air (mixed with water) to come out of the open taps, thus saving 40 percent of the water. Khayat believes that these small measures can make a difference. At the moment Lebanon does not have water meters in households, so consumption is not regulated. However, in the future, once a system of volumetric water billing is in place, people will definitely start making a conscious effort to save money on their water bills.

Making water conservation fun for children Khayat’s team visits an average of two to four schools per month. The visits include engaging Q&A sessions, and the children (between the ages of seven and 10) are encouraged to take home fun activities and leaflets, which their parents can read as well. A popular tool with kids is LCWMC’s version of the classic children’s board game “Snakes and Ladders” and an animated short book on water conservation that comes in three languages. All the students are granted a certificate after the workshops, designating them officially as “water savers.” Khayat says: “We simply want to make it fun for these kids. It’s about teaching them water conservation habits for life.”

For more information about LCWMC, or if you wish to have a specialist visit your school for water conservation workshops, check out its Facebook page ( or its website:

There are also plans to execute more hands-on projects with the schools, such as “Every Drop Matters,” which was launched last year in collaboration with UNDP and Coca-Cola. This project entailed installing rainwater harvesting systems in schools. A device was installed in order to connect rainwater from the roof of the school into tanks that stored it and then recycled it in the schools. Conservation tools for adults Khayat and his team also have various conservations tools for adults, which are distributed free of charge. One of these is an empty plastic bag that is placed in the toilet tanks and that saves two liters of water each time that you flush. Another clever tool is a small filter-like device



Promenade dans un Verger

As part of the "Alfa 4-life" CSR Program, Autistic Artist Ali Tlais Showcases his paintings entitled Promenade dans un Verger at the BIEL Art Exhibition alongside internationally renowned artists

Beirut, September, 2013

As part of the "Alfa 4-life" CSR Program, Alfa, managed by Orascom Telecom, in collaboration with the Lebanese Autism Society (LAS), organized an exhibition for autistic artist Ali Tlais entitled Promenade dans un Verger or A Walk in The Orchard that took place in the Biel Art Fair in downtown Beirut from September 19 until September 22, 2013. Promenade dans un Verger consists of 13 paintings that form a scenography representing a wonderful scenery of nature and trees as painted by Ali Tlais, and follows his successful third exhibition, “Enchanting Autism Forest,” which was held last July. Ali Tlais exhibited his paintings for the 2nd consecutive year in the Biel Art Fair, which showcases annually the paintings of the greatest artists around the world. His exhibition last year earned huge success welcoming around 4000 visitors. Promenade dans un Verger was attended by social figures, art specialists, and media figures, who praised Ali’s artistic evolution and skills that exceed all expectations during each of his exhibitions. Alfa Chairman and CEO Marwan Hayek, expressed his “pride at seeing Ali’s success, which confirms once more that our support as individuals, companies, and private sector to autistic people enables them to communicate, be creative, and display exceptional abilities. It also opens to them doors and opportunities to be productive individuals in society.” 38

All proceeds of this exhibit will go to Ali and the LAS. About Alfa Alfa is the first Lebanese mobile network owned by the Republic of Lebanon and managed by Orascom Telecom. Alfa capitalizes on the vast know-how and international expertise of the Orascom Group of Companies in order to deliver quality and professional solutions for the mobile sector in Lebanon. On October 25, 2011, Alfa was the first mobile operator to launch 3G+ mobile Broadband services in Lebanon. In a new technological achievement, Alfa became the first operator that launched 4G-LTE commercially in Lebanon on May 15, 2013. Alfa currently serves 1.85 million subscribers and covers 99% of Lebanon. For more information: About Orascom Telecom Media and Technology

OTMT is a holding company that has investments in

companies with operations mainly in Egypt, North Korea, Pakistan, Lebanon and other North African and Middle-Eastern countries. The activities of OTMT are mainly divided into its GSM, media and technology and cable businesses. The GSM activities include mobile telecommunications operations in Egypt, North Korea and Lebanon. The media and technology division consists of OT Ventures/Intouch Communications Service and the OT Ventures Internet portals and other ventures in Egypt, including LINK Development, ARPU+ and LINKonLINE. The cable business focuses on the management of cable networks.

Making a difference Ajialouna brings light to people’s lives


veryone should have equal access to good healthcare, social security and education. Ajialouna was created in 1995 as a platform to realize these fundamental needs and to better serve the underprivileged in the Lebanese community. Founder Dr. Lina Zaim Dada talks us through this charitable NGO.

Tell us about your work helping children with cancer We began the Life Petals Fund in 2009 to assist children with cancer through hospitalization, monthly chemotherapy or medication. We are proud to have been able to contribute towards the treatment of 27 children who could later resume their normal lives. The fund covers patients in the Rafik Hariri hospital as well as children in Makassed, Hotel Dieu and Saint George hospitals. Healthcare is a large sector of your charitable organization Yes, Ajialouna manages two medical centers, one in Beirut and one in Tripoli. Each year around 9,000 patients benefit from the services provided free of charge. For the elderly, we can provide care for them in the comfort of their own homes. We also have the surgical aid fund to help families cover a portion of expensive operations costs. The cornerstone of our association is our “School Health program” which was developed to improve the health status of school children. Today around 165,000 students benefit from seven health clinics and three dental clinics in the Beirut and Tripoli areas. We also provide various health awareness programs for schools throughout Lebanon

Tell us about your social department We sponsor orphans, widows and persons/families in need, playing the role of mediator between the guarantor and the beneficiary. Assistance can be in the form of health, scholarships, food, financial or in-kind. We also established a successful catering service comprised of 18 women and widows who have been trained at the Kafaat cooking institute. We offer a large choice of cuisine and can cater for all occasions to all areas of Lebanon. In addition, we have set up a sewing unit in 2005 to empower widows and women in need of a steady income. Our talented team of 15 artisans produces a wide range of items from tablecloths, bed covers, clothes, towels to prayer carpets. The products are sold in the Ajialouna store in the Beirut Souks. Tell us about your educational program It is our Tomooh scholarship program in partnership with PepsiCo. The program targets the low income students (aged 18-22) who are academically gifted, providing them with scholarships to pursue their higher education. In the last 8 years Tomooh has awarded nearly 1,830 scholarships to students throughout Lebanon. What has been the most rewarding aspect of Ajialouna? Well, we built a big family! Today we are one of the largest charitable organizations in Lebanon and we are the biggest in school health and women empowerment. We started as eleven ladies and now we are up to 95 volunteers who donate their time to our various causes. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we still have so much more to accomplish. 40

Second edition of the

Lebanon Water Festival

On September 3, 2013, the Lebanon Water Festival will open the doors to its second edition in Tyre. It is an event that will last for 26 days along the coast. It will travel from the south to the north of Lebanon, passing through Jiyah, Dbayeh, Kaslik, Batroun, and closing in Anfeh. In 2012 the Lebanon Water Festival attracted over 14,000 people. Ever since, we have received a growing number of requests for water sport activities. The public’s motivation and the enthusiasm manifested by municipalities last year prompted us to expand the event even further in 2013. One of our main objectives is to encourage leisure water sport activities among Lebanese by supporting federations and sport centers that are eager to promote their sport. Jointly, we are creating identifiable locations along our coastline to attract international sports tourism to Lebanon.

Committed to conservation This Lebanon Water Festival will be held under the auspices of the Minster of Tourism and the Minister of Sport, in a continued effort to develop leisure water sports in Lebanon. This initiative could not have seen the light of day without our dedicated partners, who are driven by the same commitment to our country and our people. The Lebanon Water Festival’s mission would not be complete without recognizing the importance of nature in all of our events. Nature protection and sea conservation are at the core of LWF, and we have joined forces in 2013 with an established NGO, Purple Reef, whose executive director is Ziad Samaha, to address these important issues. The Lebanon Water Festival was founded in 2012 by Simon Khoury and Annette Khoury.

Three new events We open this year with three new sporting events: surf and stand-up paddle boarding, kite boarding, and apnea-free immersion diving. These events will be held in three new locations: Jiyah, Batroun, and Anfeh. With the aim of making leisure sports more accessible to all Lebanese, we have helped organize sport clinics in surfing/SUP, kite boarding, and water skiing. A Lebanese Water Ski Show Team will be taught and trained under the supervision of Simon Khoury. It will participate in two ski shows during this festival: Tyre on the 8th of September and Dbayeh on the 15th. For the first time ever in Lebanon, international water skiing champions will be performing in a night show with fireworks in Dbayeh at La Marina on September 14th. The underwater photography and the apnea-free immersion competition are being organized by the Arab Diving and Rescue Federation, the Lebanese Diving and Rescue Federation, with the support of the World Underwater Federation (CMAS). The regional sailing regatta involving Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, will set sail from the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon in Kaslik and embellish the bay for two consecutive days. 42


Waiting on Warsaw

What the least developed countries can expect from the COP 19 talks.

- Gaps between the expectations of developing countries and the low emissions targets and climate financing promised by developed countries must be bridged at the Warsaw climate conference. Climate change negotiators will face several challenges at the COP 19 talks.

Words BRIANNA CRAFT* Photos Oxfam International


This undated handout photo received on October 15, 2013 shows Adelie penguins at an unidentified location in Antarctica. AFP PHOTO/Nisha HARRIS



elegates from more than 190 countries will meet next week in Warsaw, Poland for COP19, the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the latest round of negotiations to reach an international climate agreement. Likely to be among the most outspoken in the talks are the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This group, which represents around one billion people, has high hopes for the climate talks. The LDCs have contributed less than one per cent to historical greenhouse gas emissions, but they are suffering disproportionately from the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report in September painted a grim picture of increased negative effects on the LDCs in the coming years. That’s why the LDCs will come to COP19 seeking to negotiate lasting solutions for those who are most vulnerable to climate change. Where’s the money? Financing is key to addressing climate change in developing countries, but climate financing has fallen short. Out of the assessed $5 billion needed to implement the projects identified by the LDCs, developed countries have committed only $775 million. In 2009, developed countries committed themselves to mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. The World Bank estimates that $30-$100 billion will be needed to finance climate adaptation annually by 2030 and $140-$175 billion will be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The sums required are significantly larger than the pledged $100 billion.


Need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions Almost 200 countries agreed in 2010 to limit rising temperatures to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 F), but many countries have failed to make sufficient emissions reductions to back up their promises. The UN Environment Programme’s annual emissions gap report shows that global emissions of carbon dioxide are set to rise by 59 gigatons by 2020. This means that we’re on a trajectory to exceed the two-degree Celsius ceiling. Roadmap for the 2015 agreement A key conference aim is to agree on emissions reductions under a new climate agreement. It will be signed in 2015, but come into force in 2020. The LDC proposals call for agreement on a clear roadmap that will pave the way for negotiating the 2015 agreement. Loss and damage Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change will help reduce the loss and damage that people have to endure. There are some losses and damage that are unavoidable because of historical emissions. When loss and damage can’t be avoided, they need to be addressed and reimbursed. The LDCs will continue to push for a decision regarding an institutional arrangement for loss and damage in Warsaw.

* Consultant working with the International Institute for Environment and Development climate change group.

COP 19 Warsaw The hard work is just beginning

- UN negotiators agreed in overtime talks in Warsaw on cornerstone

issues of an ambitious, global climate pact to be signed in 2015 to stave off dangerous Earth warming. Words Bassam Kantar


day after negotiations threatened to collapse, delegates adopted a modified text in Warsaw that both developed and developing countries said they could live with. The nineteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) were held from 11 to 22 November 2013 in Warsaw, Poland, bringing together more than 190 countries. Poland is notably hostile to tougher emissions targets, and attracted controversy early in the talks by giving a prominent role to the coal industry, that supplies 90% of the country's power. By the first quarter of 2015, countries must come forward with their "contributions" to global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, that will come into force beginning in 2020. Those contributions – not the stronger "commitments" wanted by the developed countries – will be the centrepiece of any new worldwide agreement on climate change, scheduled to be concluded in Paris in late 2015. They could take the form of curbs to the future growth in emissions, in the case of developing countries, and absolute reductions much tougher than those agreed up to 2020, for the developed contingent. The contributions will be fixed at a national level and overseen domestically, but they will also be subject to "assessment" by other participants. The exact format


of this assessment has yet to be established, but will involve attempts to judge whether the contributions are fair and equitable, and commensurate to the challenge of staying within the global carbon budget, set out starkly by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in September. Publishing targets in the first quarter of 2015 does not leave much time for the assessment process to take place. However, that timetable has been drawn up chiefly to take account of the realities of the US electoral timetable. The US government announced earlier this year that it would set its post-2020 targets in the first quarter of 2015. That is necessary to ensure that the decision does not get tangled up in the US congressional elections in autumn 2014 – they are likely to be touchy enough, without introducing the incendiary subject of climate change. Other countries, led by the EU, are sympathetic to the need to adopt this timetable, even though it means time will be squeezed, and some countries may try to take advantage of this to let the clock run down on the Paris talks in December 2015. There is little indication yet of what the future targets from most countries might look like. The European Union is most advanced on this, and the proposal likely to be put forward is for a 40% reduction in emissions, relative to 1990 levels, by 2030.

(c) Beyond

The biggest factor at these talks was the strong influence of the self-styled "like-minded group of developing countries" (LMDC). That grouping comprises several oil-rich nations including Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, and Malaysia; the coal-rich and fossil fuel-dependent China and India; and satellite nations including Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Thailand. The LMDC first emerged just before last year's Doha conference, and in response to the Durban meeting in 2011 at which governments agreed to work on a post-2020 agreement. The only two countries to hold out on the "Durban platform" until the final hours were China and India. At Warsaw, the efforts of the LMDC focused on attempting to reintroduce into the key texts a restatement of the separation of countries into

"developed" and "developing" that was first set out in 1992 and enshrined in the 1997 Kyoto protocol, under which developing countries bore no obligations on their emissions and rich nations faced steep cuts. The US, the EU and other developed countries regarded this separation as having been left behind at Copenhagen in 2009, which marked the first time both developed and developing countries signed up under a single agreement to curb their emissions. Key points of the Warsaw consensus UN climate negotiators reached agreement in Warsaw on Saturday on key elements for the road to a new 2015 deal to curb global warming.



(c) Beyond

Here are the main points:

ROAD TO PARIS - Countries reaffirmed the core principle that the deal will be "applicable to all" 195 parties to the UN climate convention – with no differentiation between rich and poor nations as under the pact's predecessor the Kyoto Protocol. - Parties should volunteer targets for curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions "well in advance" of a Paris conference, where the deal must be signed in two years' time. - Those "ready" to do so, must announce their contributions by the first quarter of 2015. - A draft negotiating text must be ready by next year's round of talks in Lima, Peru. - In the runup to 2020, when the new pact must enter into force, countries are "urged" to do what they can to reduce emissions. FINANCE - A separate document agreed after a fortnight of heated negotiations, urges to developed countries to deliver "increasing levels" of public finance for climate aid to poor and vulnerable countries up to 2020. - It also calls for "a very significant scale" of initial funding for the recently-formed Green Climate Fund, which is meant to disburse such aid.


LOSS AND DAMAGE - Negotiators agreed to set up the "Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage" to assist vulnerable countries deal with future harm from climate damages they claim are no longer avoidable. - These include sudden extreme weather events like storms, but also slow-onset events like landencroaching sea level rise or desertification. - The structure, mandate and effectiveness of the mechanism must be reviewed in three years' time. - Vulnerable countries are disappointed that the mechanism will fall under existing structures for climate change adaptation. Its funding is not specified. FORESTS Negotiators also made progress in the designing of a programme called REDD+, which aims to fund poor country projects for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, with pledges of $280 million in financing. ADAPTATION FUND The UN's Adaptation Fund, which helps poor countries deal with the effects of climate change, received pledges of $100 million.

Rugged ambition Reaching the top was just the beginning

– Up until 2011, Zeina Abdo was a single mother of two boys (aged three years and five years), with a corporate job in Abu Dhabi. However, she believed that change had to come to her life, and so she embarked on a journey of mountaineering and passionate environmental adventure. Beyond poses some questions to this remarkable woman. Words Zeina Aboul hosn

Zeina Aboul Hosn: Why did you climb Island Peak in Nepal? Zeina Abdo: Initially the climb was intended to raise funds for the treatment of two pediatric cancer patients, but it changed my life. I started aligning the dots between environmental and social action and raising awareness. We can no longer be so careless about what nature has given us. ZAH: What was the most important thing that you realized on Island Peak? ZA: Climbing the 6189-meter peak made me face my fears and face myself. It was a difficult, humbling experience. I realized how much we were polluted by “should” in our society, by people telling us what we can and cannot do. Society tries to box you in. Most of the time people want to hold you back. It takes so much effort to break free, to learn to love your decisions, and not to care whether or not others agree with them. ZAH: Why did you organize the Mont Blanc climb? ZA: In Abu Dhabi we have a real issue concerning water, and I wanted to raise awareness about this by telling people about the melting glaciers. We’ve lost a great deal. I saw so clearly that whatever you do and wherever you are impacts everything. The glacier receding in Europe affects me in the UAE, and the consumption of water here affects Antarctica!


ZAH: How did being in Antarctica affect you? ZA: Antarctica is a reconnection with who we really are. It’s totally pristine. Life there is so wellconnected, self-sustainable and intricately balanced. We should learn from the Antarctic creatures how to simply exist, coexist, and respect each other. We also saw the fragility of this ecosystem. Coming back from Antarctica is a shock. You realize the nonsense in which we live, and how fragile our cities are. We pretend that we can contain and tame nature. If nature wakes up, there will be nowhere to hide. ZAH: Did you feel bad leaving your kids behind to go climb mountains? ZA: This is exactly one of the examples of how society tries to hold you back. There was resentment against my leaving my kids behind, especially as I am a single mom. Now I know that it was the best decision of my life. My sons now want to go to Antarctica! My passion for protecting the planet has become a part of them. ZAH: Are you hopeful about our planet’s future? ZA: When you see these incredible things out there, you understand that the planet can look after itself. It just needs common sense from our end. It’s important to understand that we are all in this together: We are on the same boat, the same planet; we either drown together or float together.

When you see these incredible things out there, you understand that the planet can look after itself. It just needs common sense from our end.


Chocolate is the first luxury. It

has so many things wrapped up in it:


that remains in childhood memories, and that grininducing feeling of getting a reward for being good. Mariska HargitayÂ



(c) (Richard Semik)

Going loco over cocoa Words Cherine Yazbeck


C h o c o l at e i s a p r o c e ss e d , s w e e t e n e d f o o d t h at i s p r o d u c e d f r o m t h e s e e d o f t h e caca o t r e e . It h as b e e n c u l t i v at e d f o r at l e ast t h r e e m i l l e n n i a i n M e x i c o , C e n t r a l A m e r i ca , a n d n o r t h e r n S o u t h A m e r i ca . Its e a r l i e st d o c u m e n tat i o n d at e s b ac k t o 1 1 0 0 B C . T h e M e s o a m e r i ca n c o m m u n i t i e s m a d e c h o c o l at e b e v e r a g e s . T h e A z t e cs m a d e i t i n t o a b e v e r a g e k n o w n as x o c o l ä t l , a Na h u at l w o r d m e a n i n g " b i tt e r w at e r . " C h o c o l at e p l a y e d a s p e c i a l r o l e i n b o t h Ma y a n a n d A z t e c r o y a l a n d r e l i g i o u s e v e n ts . P r i e sts p r e s e n t e d caca o s e e d s as o ff e r i n g s t o t h e d e i t i e s a n d s e r v e d c h o c o l at e d r i n k s d u r i n g sac r e d c e r e m o n i e s . A l l o f t h e a r e as t h at w e r e c o n q u e r e d b y t h e A z t e cs w e r e r e q u i r e d t o p a y caca o b e a n s as a t r i b u t e . T h e T h e o b r o m a C aca o L . ( caca o t r e e ) c o m e s i n t h r e e v a r i e t i e s : C r i o l l o , t h e F o r ast e r o , a n d t h e T r i n i ta r i o , w h i c h i s a h y b r i d o f t h e f i r st t w o . C r i o l l o a n d T r i n i ta r i o a r e o ft e n r e f e r r e d t o as f i n e o r f l a v o r caca o b e a n s , w h i l e F o r ast e r o is considered to be the ordinary or b u l k b e a n f o r m ass p r o d u ct i o n . T h e English word “cocoa” comes from the S p a n i s h w o r d “ caca o . ” 60

Cocoa is grown throughout the world. West Africa is the biggest producer, with nearly three-quarters of the world’s cocoa. Most cocoa farms are smallscale and family-run, spread across just a few acres. Inside the pods are the coveted cocoa beans, packed tightly into a white, pulpy mesh. It is this sweet encasement that gives the kernels their dense flavor, reacting chemically with the beans when the pods are laid out on wooden racks to ferment. Then comes the drying process and shipment across the globe. Ivory Coastis the largest producer, with over 800,000 small-scale farmers who produce over 40 percent of the world’s supply. Since cocoa was brought to Africa from Latin America in colonial times, Ghana has been a leading global producer of cocoa beans for the world market. Ghana is the second largest producer, contributing 16 percent of the global supply. There is widespread child labor on its small farms. Awareness campaigns and the creation of the cooperative “Kuapa Kokoo” in 1993 are changing mentalities, as they have triggered a new challenge to the statedominated system. Kuapa Kokoo has put the members of the cooperative into a direct relationship with fair trade buyers and it has given them an outlook on the global chocolate market. Thanks to the cooperative, farmers receive 70 percent of the export price. Because it is so well organized at the village level, Kuapa Kokoo has been able to leverage many supports from government, development agencies, and sponsorships providing local service such as scholarships, credit, farm inputs, and development project resources that have improved the farmers’ daily lives.



(c) Christopher Pillitz

Fair trade for a better future for farmers Chocolate can help lift developing world farmers out of poverty. It is a key product in the organic and fair trade movements, which seek to build a more equitable, cleaner planet. Conditions of chocolate farmers are difficult and wages are low on conventional chocolate farms. Small farmers often receive pennies on the dollar from unscrupulous middlemen. The only way to tackle this issue is through fair trade, a growing movement that guarantees a "fair price" to producers and sets rigorous, transparent social and environmental standards. The goals of fair trade include economic self-sufficiency and stability for producing regions. There are fewer middlemen involved, and participating producers are organized into co-ops. Chocolate is also increasingly being offered as certified organic, meaning no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used in its production. Organic cacao is typically cultivated on small plots under existing forest canopy, which preserves valuable habitat for birds (particularly migratory songbirds) and other wildlife. Biodiversity is much higher on organic cacao plots than it is on conventional plantations.


A growing interest in small farms that produce high-quality cocoa beans Madagascar is home to some of the world's finest rich orange and red pods of cocoa, used by the finest chocolatiers. Raw cocoa beans, used to make premium chocolate, are in high demand. A surge in appetite for high-end chocolate sourced from single-origin growers

Nosy be coastal scene


has created a frenzied rush for the “dark gold,� which is highly praised by international chefs. Sambirano is an area in the northwest of Madagascar especially known for the production of high-quality cacao, also known as the "green gold" of Sambirano. The cacao harvest grown in the region can contain up to 10 percent Criollo beans. Cacao harvested from Sambirano is especially suited for high-quality, low bitterness, dark chocolate and it is used by premium quality chocolate brands.

In recent years, Madagascar, in particular, has yielded the most sought-after beans. For the local cocoa farmers, the surging demand for chocolate should have been transformative, especially after years of poverty, but their newfound livelihoods are

under threat from armed bandits running rampant in remote areas, hijacking stores and road shipments of the precious beans that make chocolate. Some small-scale farmers are considering arming themselves in order to defend their crop!

(c) image source

The craving for luxury chocolate has fuelled an increase in the price of some varieties of cocoa in the past few years, with traders paying 10 times the world cocoa price for the best beans.


(c) Yai

The fruit, called a cacao pod, contains 20 to 60 seeds or beans, embedded in a white pulp. Each seed contains a significant amount of fat. Their most notable active constituent is theobromine.


(c) Dr. Morley Read

Another small actor: Venezuela

Venezuela's native criollo beans are sought after by chocolatiers the world over for their lack of bitterness and their flavor. Today Venezuela produces about 17,000 tons of cacao a year, less than one percent of the world's production. However, the country is part of a select group of countries producing fine aromatic varieties of cacao, along with Ecuador, Trinidad, and Tobago, and some other Caribbean islands. Despite its success among connoisseurs, cacao has long been viewed as an artisanal crop here and hasn't received state funding to promote it worldwide. Gourmets differentiate between the rich assortment of varieties of cacao in Venezuela, such as Porcelana and Rio Caribe, as they would with fine wines.


(c) Christopher Pillitz

(c) fred brummer

(c) Simon Rawles

A Cocoa plantation worker harvests cocoa pods off trees.

Cocoa pods at harvest time.

coffee cocoa

Both and beans contain caffeine.


cocoa pod harvest.

Cocoa pod harvest.

(c) Christopher Pillitz (c) gavin parsons

Man cleaning pulp from meat of cocoa, at the Bukare cocoa hacienda.

Cocoa beans (Theobroma cacao) being dried in planation.



flows in deep dark, sweet waves, a river to ignite my mind and alert my senses.




Cocoa facial, museums, spa‌ Words Cherine Yazbeck



(c) Roques-Rogery


(c) Lissandra Melo

HERSHEY, PA: Hershey Chocolate World in Hershey, PA USA.

HERSHEY, PA: Hershey Park in Hershey, PA USA. The factory has many attractions that include making your own chocolate, 3D movies, and trolley bus rides around Hershey City.


(c) Monika Olszewska


Famous Chocolate Spas

- Yunessun Resort in Hakone in Japan features a chocolate spa. It is a key venue for all chocolate lovers. - Cocoa Juvenate Spa, Rabot Estate, Soufrière in St. Lucia. >>



Come over to the dark side: Chocolate that can give you a boost Words aline sara

It isn't everyday that you hear nutritionists ramble on about the perks of eating chocolate. Yet, despite its bad reputation, the highly desired and always tempting cocoa treat can actually be packed with impressive health benefits. First, it's important to be clear about exactly what kind of chocolate we are talking about here. Yes, we love those chewy, crunchy, sweet and nutty chocolate candy bars that always catch your attention at the cash register, but it isn't these treats that will do you much good. Venture over however on to the dark side, in particular to chocolates that consist of at least 60 percent cocoa, and you've got yourself a good deal.

Chocolate and cavities are no longer a given Dark chocolate contains theobromine, another chemical that resembles caffeine and that has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your likelihood of getting cavities, if combined with proper dental hygiene. Dark chocolate helps control blood sugar levels By keeping blood vessels in good shape as well as improving blood circulation, dark chocolate can actually help protect against type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance, a key symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, can also decrease with the presence of certain flavonoids contained in dark chocolate. These flavonoids help to ensure a cell's proper functioning, while maximizing the body's use of insulin. Moreover, because of its low glycemic index, dark chocolate does not trigger spikes in blood sugar levels. Dark chocolate stimulates not only the brain, but also the heart Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that enhance blood flow, while helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure. As such, dark chocolate can actually diminish the risk of a heart attack and complications resulting from high blood pressure.

A chocolate vitamin? Dark chocolate contains a number of vitamins and minerals in relatively high concentrations. These include potassium and copper, both of which help to decrease the chances of strokes and cardiovascular disease, as well as magnesium and iron. Iron prevents iron deficiency anemia, while magnesium decreases the likelihood of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It improves your mood...and not just because it's chocolate Chocolate energizes and decreases chronic fatigue. Like coffee, cocoa contains caffeine but also phenylethylamine (PEA), the chemical that is secreted by the brain when you have that feeling of falling in love. PEA triggers the release of endorphins in your brain and ultimately, combined with other compounds, gives your mood a lift. And finally...dark chocolate is good for your sex life! Ever wondered why Valentine's Day is often dubbed chocolate day? The reason may be biological. Dark chocolate contains L-arginine, an amino acid that is critical to healthy blood flow, and that can help to increase the flow of blood into the sexual organs. By increasing the body's concentration of nitric oxide, which also promotes better blood flow, dark chocolate can indirectly enhance a person’s bodily sensations, thereby nourishing his sexual desire.


E s s e n c e


Always you

Diana Boudargham Tannoury

Ancient oak, your roots seep into me, entwine my being My spirit embraces your splendors, breathes into your glories past One pure autumn morning, led by a love I prayed forever would last Enticed with visions of a secret garden, seeking I climbed over an iron gate, into a magical place Three enthroned majestic trees stretched into the heavens, where I sought to behold your face Branches and leaves in each other enmeshed Lovers’ entangled embraces lurk in an abandoned house, in its veins, life throbbing so fast Nearby, a small chapel, through its window, a sun filtered rainbow on grass enlaces memories of lost wedding colors from a time past Oak tree, what stories hide beneath your branches? Which broken hearts have you soothed over lost chances? Was I ever here, in lives long gone, a spirit adrift in your leaves? Did I love in lifetimes of passion and in pain, did I cry heaves? Where are the maidens asleep in your lap? Where are the beings awake in your shadow by moonlight? In this moment, the universe beckons me, fragile as glass to lay myself on your silken bed of grass Where I am in my hearth Within my heart, Earth’s Beats to the rhythm of creation In unison with mine Remembrances of a time, of a splendid oak in a seed To the beginning, always in truth, one returns indeed.



(c)Â Beata Becla

Rain Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. Langston Hughes


(c) andreiuc


(c) lafoto

89 (c) Andrew Chin

(c) lafoto


91 (c) slhy


“The Winter snow envelops the land in a sparkling coat of purity” Anonymous














Far away from it all

In remote Indonesia, ecotourism is blooming


To many eco-travelers the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia represents the “Underwater Eden.� The archipelago of over 1,500 small islands in Western Papua is guarded by local fishermen who regularly venture into the reefs that are teeming with sharks and fish. Their adventures have paved the way for an ecotourism movement that not only protects their marine oasis and livelihood, but also attracts teams of researchers and nature lovers who are interested in exploring remote areas as well as conserving them. Words Alice Hlidkova



n Raja Ambat, researchers understand that an epicenter of tropical marine diversity is dependent on alternative income sources that directly preserve the local habitat. Maurine Shimlock, who studies the region’s reef systems says, “Often ecosystems are intertwined, with both corals and mangroves providing a substance upon which all other reef life flourishes.” Shimlock notes that “the income generated from tourism is used to educate locals about the marine environment, which instills a sense of stewardship to help ensure the long-term viability of the area’s marine habitat.” She refers to the leadership of Dr. Mark Erdmann from Conservation International, who has instilled the value of ecotourism in the local community as “a replacement for destructive fishing, mining, and logging.” She adds that “Erdmann believed that the only way for this area to remain somewhat protected was to involve locals in the management of conservation initiatives.”

Making the locals involved in conservation Making the locals participants and stakeholders relieves pressure on the most visited areas and promotes ecotourism in the entire region. Shimlock says that “tourists are encouraged to stay beyond the beaten path and discover what lies beyond Raja Ampat’s better known regions.” In the surrounding Birds Head Seascape, villages are encouraged to welcome tourists. She says, “Kayaking is now a popular way to see some of the area and local homestays are available.” Bird watching and trekking are gaining in popularity. However the area needs infrastructure to accommodate new forms of tourism, as it is still relatively remote. Shimlock believes that the national government is taking notice of the value of promoting Raja Ampat as a worldwide tourist destination. Despite the distance and expense of reaching Western Papau, tourism is increasingly yearly. Shimlock says, “It is strikingly beautiful and will, no doubt, become a haven for ecotourism in the next decade.”


(C) Ethan Daniels (C) Ethan Daniels

A diverse coral reef grows in the shallows of a lagoon in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This area is known as the heart of marine biodiversity and is within the Coral Triangle.

A cave looks out upon a remote lagoon near the island of Misool in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This area is known for its spectacular marine biodiversity and great scuba diving. 103


(C) Ethan Daniels

A Giant clam (Tridacna gigas) is an endangered species of bivalve found throughout the IndoPacific. It can grow to hundreds of pounds in weight.


Just can’t get enough Nutrients sourced from the sea are at risk Words Alice Hlidkova


he marine food chain starts with plankton, which include bacteria and viruses that nourish larger species of fish up the chain, ultimately reaching human beings. Each step in the food chain has different levels of eicosapentaenoic acid ( EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two omega-3 fatty acids that not only promote human development and reproduction but also preserve the ocean’s genetic biodiversity. “Examining the preservation of the ocean’s resources through the lens of nutrients such as EPA and DHA is not necessarily a traditional way of managing marine species,” noted Adam Ismail, an executive of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3’s ( GOED ). Because the human population has grown to a size where the omega-3 requirements exceed what can be sustainably harvested from the oceans, management and preservation of these precious resources is difficult to achieve even under optimal conditions. A nutritional gap To paint a better picture of the situation, the daily EPA and DHA intake of at least 250 mg per person per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization ( WHO ) and the European Union ( EU), is equivalent to a total of 0.65 million tons. The Japanese quadruple that recommendation with at least 250 mg per person day, or 0.65 million tons. However the ocean’s production capacity is only 0.53 million tons, leading to a nutrition gap that

106 106

excludes pharmaceutical and clinical needs. “The problem is that the oceans do not provide enough EPA and DHA today and there are already fears of overfishing of many species,” argued Ismail, who referred to eleven fishery groups that account for more than half of the Earth’s EPA and DHA capacity, and that are in danger of being overfished, polluted, and improperly managed. Seeking new sources of EPA and DHA To close the nutritional gap and relieve the pressure on mainly aquaculture and hatchery fisheries new sources of EPA and DHA outside of the natural marine environment are being explored. In the last six months, new algae, fish, and zooplankton projects include commercially growing and harvesting singlecell organisms, improving aquaculture operations, and genetically modifying plants and oilseed crops. The potential of algae to meet the demand that oceans can’t provide depends on the economies of scales that these projects can achieve in order to compensate for their higher capital costs. Ismael pointed out that even with more than 23,000 published papers and 2,500 human clinical trials, understanding the role of EPA and DHA in human health is in the beginning stages. To realize the destruction of genetic diversity that threatens global fisheries and thereby reduces the ocean’s ability to provide these vital nutrients is a frightening thought.


Sea Nutr ient s s are at risk

(C) Willyam Bradberr y


(C) Elisei Shafer



Oceans Words Alice Hlidkova


The areas of the ocean for which no one country bears management responsibility is the gold pot of marine genetic biodiversity. The water column of the high seas and the seabed, including the subseabed, encompass the marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). Although these areas constitute 40 percent of the planet’s surface, 64 percent of the ocean’s surface, and nearly 95 percent of its volume, only five percent of these areas have been explored.

consideration the developing world. “Although sector-based Strategic Environment Assessments (SEAs) and region-based Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), collect data on activities in the high seas, they are rarely undertaken in the ABNJ,” noted Marjo Vierros, adjunct senior fellow at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies. Therefore, developing nations have limited access to the database and assessments on the large scale of ocean ecosystems. Potential value of genetic resources cannot be measured While no authority can legally restrict commercial activity in the majority of the ABNJ, safeguarding genetic resources is immeasurable. Ester Serrão, assistant professor of biology at the University of Algarve in Portugal, said, “The potential value of existing genetic resources cannot be determined, because the future environmental conditions and new future technologies are unknown.” Serrão concluded that the potential is enormous in this important reservoir of biodiversity, with genetic resources “acting as insurance agents against environmental changes by allowing adaptation to take place.”

Given the complexity of the ecosystems, including their great depths and distances from the coasts, public and private stakeholders from developed nations have both worked to protect these areas. Jim Juniper, a researcher from Canada whose country is one of the developed nations with a significant amount of patents on genetic material of microorganisms, said “Field programs in ABNJ are most commonly undertaken by consortia of research institutions, funded by state agencies in developed countries, although there have been a few recent, highly publicized biodiversity expeditions funded by Public and combinations of private, public, and private non-governmental organizations.” stakeholders These hydrothermal vent organisms, found in cold-water coral reefs and from developed nations have deep water sponges, store valuable worked both bioactive compounds from which to protect genetic information is extracted and these areas. then harvested in laboratories to produce biomass for the food and pharmaceutical industries in a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, France, Japan, and many others. This is in addition to the rapidly growing nutraceutical industry, which makes use of fish waste and harvested algae to produce health food products and restorative cosmetics. Developing countries are shortchanged Because of the scope of research and commercial exploitation of the marine environment, developing nations are often the least to benefit. Sharing of research data and bio-prospecting to search for useful organic compounds found in microorganisms often does not take into


Š Maurine Shimlock / Burt Jones / Edition Fifty Fathoms

112 Š Norbert Probst / Edition Fifty Fathoms


Š William Winram / Edition Fifty Fathoms

114 Š Maurine Shimlock / Burt Jones / Edition Fifty Fathoms


Š Enric Sala / National Geographic / Blancpain

Š William Winram / Edition Fifty Fathoms

Friend or foe? Sharks do more good than we think Words Alice Hlidkova


Š William Winram / Edition Fifty Fathoms


A bluish-gray seven-foot mass flashing past swimmers in five feet of water is a frightening thought. “Sharks come from one part of the dark castle where our nightmares live – the deep water beyond our sight and understanding,” wrote author Peter Benchley in his best-seller Shark Life, “so they stimulate our fears and fantasies.” His riveting sea adventures not only provided content for his film Jaws, but also highlighted the ocean’s natural balance in ways that we know and in ways that we are still discovering. Benchley said, “Wiping them out, through greed, recklessness, or simple ignorance, would be a tragedy – not just a moral tragedy, but an environmental one as well.” Few sharks are a threat to humans Only a handful of the 350 known species of sharks are a threat to humans. In fact, for every human being that is killed by a shark, roughly ten million are killed by humans, noted Benchley. “Sharks are being killed at an alarming rate,” declared researcher Nobert Prost, referring to a study published by Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services. The study indicated that every year 100 million sharks are killed worldwide to supply a growing shark fin trade for use in Asian cuisine. Prost remarked: “This is driving some shark species to extinction, and the international community is already taking measures, by adopting stringent regulations such as the recent inclusion of five shark species in the Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered species, which does not ban their trade but regulates it.” Sharks maintain ecological balance of oceans The United Nations drew attention to the ecological importance of sharks to healthy oceans with its Oceans exhibition held for World Oceans Day on June 8. Sponsored by the Swiss watch brand Blancpain, the exhibition showcased underwater photography by awardwinning photo-journalists including Daniel Botelho. Predatory sharks maintain the delicate


balance of ocean ecology by feeding on weaker fish, which helps to “strengthen the gene pool of the prey species, as the healthier species reproduce more,” Botelho said. Sharks contribute to human health Sharks also contribute to human health. Their cartilage is studied for possible cancer treatments at leading research institutions, including the prestigious M.I.T in the United States and Aberdeen University in Britain. The ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research, dedicated to shark and ray conservation, reported that shark cartilage inhibits the formation of new blood vessels so that the “tumor ‘chokes’ in its own waste.” According to its website, “Sharks retain their non-specific immune response throughout their lives. This generalized immune system is one of the reasons why sharks are able to detoxify many potentially harmful compounds quickly.” There is more to be explored on shark immunology and their role in the marine environment. The late Benchley understood from early on that conserving the underwater menace should be our priority, and only in recent years has the international community advocated what the great filmmaker recommended.

121 Š Stephen Frink / Edition Fifty Fathoms

Words B K Photograph USGS BIML, Sam Droege

Oblong-winged katydid


et us take a closer look at this amazing group of animals called arthropods. You are familiar with a wide variety of arthropods as a result of seeing them in your daily life. Have you thought about what they all have in common?


The U.S. Geological Survey- Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program designs and develops large and small-scale surveys and identification tools for native bees. A vital aspect of the program is to create accurate and detailed pictures of native bees as well as the plants and insects with which they interact. The U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (USGS BIML) has uploaded an astounding collection of macro-photographs.


Unknown Wasp, Yellowstone National Park, 2012

Staphylinidae, species unknown, found at moth light in Upper Marlboro, Maryland

A lovely Centris from Puerto Rico, collected by Sara Prado

Black Horse Fly

Yellow Jacket Mimic Fly, U, Face, MD, Cecil County

Dominican Republic, trypoxylon mexicanum,

Augochlora regina, female, Dominican Republic, formerly known as Augochlora elegans

Abeetle from by-catch from Badlands National Park

Melissodes dentiventris, M, side, Maryland, Anne Arundel County

Female Northern Black Widow Spider

into the wild

ARABIAN HORSES Arabian horses are a breed of horses that originated in the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian horse is a very ancient breed. There is archaeological evidence dating back 4,500 years of horses in the Arabian Peninsula that resemble modern Arabian horses. Arabian horses spread throughout the world through war and trade. Arabian bloodlines exist today in almost every modern breed of riding horse. Arabian horses are characterized by a finely chiseled bone structure, an arched neck, a concave profile, a comparatively level croup, and a high-carried tail. They are one of the top ten most popular breeds in the world today. They dominate the field of endurance riding.



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FALCONS OF ARABIA Falconry refers to the hunting of wild quarry by means of a trained bird of prey. Falconry in the Arabian Peninsula dates back to at least the seventh century A.D., and it remains an important part of Arab heritage and culture. Around 3,000 falcons are employed each year on the Arabian Peninsula. Of these, approximately 70 percent are Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) and the rest are primarily Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrines). The most common prey of the falcons includes the Houbara Bustard, the Sandgrouse, the Stone-curlew, and hares. There are falcon breeding farms in the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.


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Arabian nights With a luxury flair Words Adham Farah



(C) Sanchai Kumar

ABU DHABI, UAE - MAY 1: Emirates Palace hotel on May 1, 2013. Emirates Palace is a luxurious and the most expensive 7 star hotel designed by renowned architect, John Elliott RIBA.

Blessed is the mind that has been able to revive the Arabian traditions with a luxurious twist, which is indicative of the prosperity that the United Arab Emirates is enjoying. The Emirates Palace Hotel is a symbol of true success and good planning.


he sumptuous hotel, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, opened in November 2005. It was designed by a distinguished architect named John Eliott Riba. The construction began in December 2001. Over 250,000 cubic meters of concrete were used, and 20,000 workers were employed to complete the project. It cost around $3.5 billion. The Abu Dhabi government owns the hotel. The hotel occupies 850,000 square meters of floor space, and it has an underground parking lot that can accommodate 2,500 vehicles. It is considered to be the second most expensive hotel ever built. Gold and marble dominate the decor of the hotel. There are 15 different places to eat, including restaurants, bars, lounges, and cafes. It is one of


the rare places where all types of foods, which are typical of different cultures around the world, can be found in sophisticated restaurants in the same hotel. The Emirates Palace Hotel also offers various sports facilities such as polo, a FIFA certified football pitch, cricket pitch, four tennis courts, paddle, two swimming pools, a 1.3-kilometer white pristine beach, a spa, water sport activities, and a marina. It also has a two-helicopter helipad. Elegance and comfort The Emirates Palace Hotel has 302 grand rooms and 92 suites of various sizes. All of these elegant rooms provide the highest levels of comfort. The topmost floor has six Rulers’ Suites that are reserved only for royal families. The complex was also designed to

(C) Lyubov Timofeyeva

ABU DHABI, UAE - MAY 26: Palace suite bedroom interior of Emirates Palace hotel on May 26, 2011. Emirates Palace is a luxurious 7 hyphen star hotel designed by renowned architect, John Elliott Riba.

host international conferences, and its suites can lodge a large number of political leaders and their entourages. There is an auditorium with a capacity for 1,100 people, and another grand ballroom that can accommodate 2,400 people.

the many different hues of the desert. Furthermore, a vibrant lighting system is used to create the right atmosphere for guests. The lighting system includes elegant chandeliers, floor standing lights, table lights, and many other forms of illumination.

Unique luxuries This extravagant place also features unique luxuries. These include real Albino caviar, of which only six kilograms are produced per year at a price of £30,000 per kilo. The hotel has two kilograms of this delicacy. Moreover, each room contains 52-inch plasma television screens, as well as touch-screen pads that control services such as air conditioning and wake-up calls.

With all of the above-mentioned luxuries, the reader might ask about the price of such comfort and pleasure. The price of the rooms ranges from $400 to $14,000 per night. Dear reader, let’s test your desire for lavishness. Tell us: Are you ready to spend such amounts for one Arabian night?

The hotel is home to the world’s largest dome. Thirteen colors of marble decorate it, and these reflect


ABU DHABI, UAE - MAY 1: Emirates Palace hotel on May 1, 2013. Emirates Palace is a luxurious and the most expensive 7 star hotel designed by renowned architect, John Elliott Riba.

"Every state of society is as luxurious as it can be. Men always take the best they can get. "


Samuel Johnson

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ABU DHABI, UAE - MARCH 17: People coming out from Emirates Palace hotel on March 17, 2010. Emirates Palace is a luxurious and the most expensive 7 star hotel designed by John Elliott Riba.


Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, Mecca, Saudi Arabia

It is the tallest hotel and clock tower in the world, with a height of 1,972 feet.




Do you remember the last time you were in an airplane? A similar feeing of elevation can be obtained in super-tall skyscrapers. Although certain organizations are criticizing the necessity and effectiveness of such constructions, a fierce height competition between countries still exists. Here is a list of the tallest buildings in the world.


Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

It is the tallest building in the world, with a height of 2,723 feet and 163 floors. Although the construction of the project coincided with the global financial crisis, it was completed in five years, and it was named after the president of the U.A.E., Khalifa Bin Zayid Al Nayhan.


One World Trade Center - New York City

(C) Leonard Zhukovsky

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It is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere with a height of 1776 feet, which is a reference to the year of American independence.

One World Trade Center: New York City

It is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere with a height of 1776 feet, which is a reference to the year of American independence.


It is the tallest environmentally-conscious skyscraper in the world, with a height of 1,669 feet.


Shanghai World Financial Center: Shanghai, China

The center contains the world’s highest observation deck, and it has 101 floors with a height of 1,614 feet.

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Taipei 101: Taipei, Taiwan

International Commerce Center: Hong Kong, China

It is a 1,588-feet tall skyscraper, with a total of 118 floors.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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They are the tallest twin buildings, with a height of 1,483 feet.


(C) Rudy Balasko

Zifeng Tower: Nanjing, China

It was completed in 2008, and it has a height of 1,480 feet, with a total of 89 stories.


Willis Tower: Chicago, Illinois

In 1973, it was considered to be the world’s tallest building and it held the title for 25 years. The tower has 108 stories, with a total height of 1,451 feet.

Kingkey 100: Shenzhen, China


(C) GuoZhongHua

It is located in Shenzhen’s financial district, and it is named for its 100 floors, rising to a total of 1,449 feet.

Break away from routine and come away feeling exhilarated‌ Words alia fawaz


Are you getting bored of the same type of vacations where you find yourself lounging lazily by the pool, gorging on hotel buffets, or being treated like school children by jaded tour guides? Then maybe it’s time you stepped out of your comfort zone and tried a vacation that involves real exploration and serious adventure. This type of tourism may require some extra physical effort and involve some degree of risk and perhaps physical danger (depending on the activity). Here are some top destinations that can give you that adrenaline rush and excitement for which you may be itching. It is never too late to experience the inner explorer inside you.>>



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Ecuador This is a country with abundant wildlife and that is famous for the legendary Galapagos Islands in the Pacific (1,000 kilometers off the mainland). If you are a thrill seeker, try hiking in the Bellavista Cloudforest, whitewater rafting through the western Andes, or hiking among the volcanoes of Cotopaxi National Park. Motorbike trips are also a popular way to explore this nation that is rich in biodiversity (It has 15 percent of the world’s known bird species).


(c)Â Guido Amrein, Switzerland

Costa Rica

It may be a small country, but it more than makes up for it with its natural wealth of biodiversity. You can choose from spectacular tropical beaches, wildlife adventures, and exploring the rainforests, waterfalls, and rivers via rafting, fishing, or jungle treks. Diving in the uninhabited nearby Coco Island is also a real treat for divers, who rate it as one of the best places in the world to view sharks, rays, tuna, and dolphins.



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Namibia This South African nation has the oldest and driest desert in the world, majestic rugged mountains, and endless untamed landscape. You can go sand-skiing down the colossal Namib dunes, participate in wildlife safaris, or try rafting on the rapids of the Kunene River. You can go dolphin or seal watching off the coast or try your hand catching ferocious tiger fish on the Kavango River! The options are really mindboggling and Namibia is well suited to family adventure holidays.



It is only in ad ventu re tha t some people succeed in khowing themselves in finding te mselves AndrĂŠ Gide


(c) Mighty Sequoia Studio

New Zealand

Every adventure activity that you can imagine (bungee, sky diving, caving, canyoning, and many more), plus others of which you have never heard, can be practiced here against the backdrop of stunning landscapes. Exploring caves – such as the Waitomo Caves – is a popular choice here. Offroading is also popular. Tourists may choose to rent a bike or ATV and head for the sand dunes of Ninety Mile Beach or the more quiet sheep grazing countryside.



Beyond picks a few destinations that still have the wow factor. Giant bats, volcano oases in the middle of the desert, million year old salt lakes, and ancient man-made buildings with pioneering eco-design‌ Not in South America, but right on our doorstep. Uncover these hidden gems of the Middle East and North Africa. Words ZEINA ABOUL-HOSN


This is the largest salt lake in the Sahara, covering seven, square kilometers. Surreal and unique, this salt lake is being studied as one of the most Marslike places on Earth, in preparation for future missions to the Red Planet. Here is a chance to experience a totally unique environment, and to buy a bag of ancient salt, dug out and packaged by locals who work on the salt lake.


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Chott El Djerid Tunisia

Matmata’s Troglodyte Houses Tunisia

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These houses were created by digging a large pit into the ground and then carving out caves into the sides. Although built as early as 500 B.C., their energy-efficient design keeps the temperature inside a constant 20-22°C during the whole year.


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Waw Al Namus Libya

This prehistoric volcano rises out of the flat desert sands, forming one of the most beautiful spots in the Libyan Sahara. Its 100-meter deep caldera holds an oasis rich in trees, and fresh water, as well as three small salt lakes. Once a regular stop for desert caravans, today it is a site for tourists who are seeking a unique desert experience.


(c) Byelikova Oksana

Wadi Al GhulOman

Many who visit Arabia’s Grand Canyon say that it offers probably the best views in the Arab Gulf. Towering over this spectacular canyon is Jabal Shams, Oman’s highest peak, with an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. 165

Other places to see

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Lencoes Maranhense, Maranhao State, Brazil.

(c) GCelso Pupo

Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu geothermal wonderland, Rotorua, New Zealand.

(c) Natalia Pushchina

in your lifetime

Red Seabeach, Panjin, China.


(c) Chris Howey (c) Vlad Turchenko

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Maui, Hawaii.

(c) Mike Brake

Salt lake in Bolivia's Salar De Uyuni.

Hamilton Pool State Park, Austin, Texas.


Pack your suitcase for a different kind of vacation. 168

Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” If the world is indeed a book I want to read and re-read it from cover to cover until I have memorized every word, every feeling, and every image. That means a great deal of travel. It also means a certain kind of travel: journeys where you step out of your comfort zone and engage with the world face-to-face, not through prearranged package holidays, the confines of resorts, and the schedules of commercial tour operators. The technical term for this is “sustainable travel.” It means choosing destinations where nature and wilderness are the main attractions, connecting with the locals there, leaving a positive mark on them, and being permanently marked by the whole experience. Words ZEINA ABOUL-HOSN


(C) David Varga


170 (C) Jamen Percy

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The problem of air travel There is no doubt that airplane travel is the single most polluting action that any individual can perform. I do feel the weight of every ton of CO2 that is emitted into the atmosphere as a result of my eagerness to read all the pages of the book of the world. However, I do believe that sustainable travel is not only possible, but essential. Of course there’s nothing like a train holiday, if you live somewhere that offers that opportunity. However, the reality is that the train does not go to many of the places where we want to go to. We have to find other ways of making our tourism green.

Husky safari, Finland If you feel really guilty about flying for your holiday, why not abandon 21st century modes of transportation altogether when you arrive at your destination, and go for something less polluting and more natural. For example, hire you own team of huskies to pull your sled though the Arctic landscape, far away from civilization. Lynx and wolf conservation volunteer holiday, Slovakia Why not make your holiday a chance to help protect nature, instead of just observing it? Join local scientists in the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia to record, photograph, and observe lynx, wolves, and wildcats, and help create a more sustainable future for these icons of this snowy wilderness.

(C) Galyna Andrushko

A sustainable winter break?

you the chance to experience the true magnificence of the Northern Lights, outside your traditional chalet in the wilderness, around your own log fire.

Camel caravan camping, Tunisia What is it like to ride camels through the Sahara, set up camp at night, cook couscous on a log fire, and sleep out under the stars? Whoever wants a winter holiday without snow should head to Douz in southern Tunisia. Local Bedouin families still keep herds of camels and organize trips for adventurous travellers who are after a rare chance to experience true nomadic life. Northern Lights, Finnish Lapland The locals in Lapland have left behind their traditional industry of forestry and invested in tourism, which is now their main source of income. Family-run tour operators offer



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Ten Countries with the Best Climate to Enjoy in the World. 176

When humans are questioned about distant epochs in comparison with the present time, they widely agree with the general consensus that we are currently moving in the direction of a highly sophisticated civilization, characterized by technological brilliance and scientific achievement. While there may be a great degree of truth in that idea, I see things rather differently, simply because of the fact that human beings are not able to resist the temptation to wreak havoc on their natural environment. People are thus preparing their own graves. However, my pessimistic prognostication about an approaching curse to Earth will be invalidated when people finally abandon their pestiferous habits. Earth at this moment still provides us, fortunately, with a chance to change, which is indicated by the different climates that exist around the world. One of the topics that people usually relish talking about, or starting a conversation with a stranger about, is the climate. Some constantly complain about it: “hot enough to fry an egg,” or “bone- chilling cold.” Yes, dear reader, Earth has become confused as to what people perceive to be perfect weather. Nevertheless, in this article I will present a list of countries that might possess that charming, ideal climate. Words Adham Farah


italy It is considered to be the country with the best weather on the European continent.

New zealand This country is doing the correct thing by observing one strict rule: the conservation of nature.


Rangitoto Island and Hauraki Gulf from Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand

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A typical landscape in Tuscany in Autumn

Savanna landscape in Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa During Summer season


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France has it all, from hot summers to snowy mountain peaks.


View of bay on sunny day. Cote d'Azur, near Nice and Monaco

(C) PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek


Do you like animals? If so, then Tanzania is the best country for you.



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Beautiful tropical coast. Wide angle during summer in Capri, Italy

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A photo of Autumn landscape in New Zealand 183

Football players hate to play in this country because it has the world’s highest capital city.

Picturesque view of a Spanish village in Spring


(C) Rafal Cichawa


Landscape of the Titicaca Lake in Bolivia


(C) Christopher Boswell

Its location makes it one of the countries with the best climate in the world.


USA Whatever your climate preferences are, the United States has it.


Argentina is characterized by the great difference in temperatures between its regions.


Beautiful landscape with Mt Fitz Roy in Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, South America.

(C) Christopher Boswell



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Reflection of Mountain Range Smooth Waters Redfish Lake Idaho Sawtooth Mountain Wilderness.

Spring in the mountains of Ecuador


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Ecuador is the perfect place to contemplate the beauty of nature.



View of the Annapurna South from trek near Jhinu Danda - Nepal, Himalayas

(C) Vadim Petrakov

Climbing Nepal’s mountains, which include Mount Everest, is every man’s goal.


Behold The Bamboo Bikes

In Ghana progress is taking shape on two wheels

Words B K



ropelled by women’s leadership, the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative is tackling climate change by building high-quality bamboo bicycles. The initiative has twofold climate benefits: It reduces emissions not only from the transportation sector but also from the bike production process. Compared to traditional steel bicycles, making bamboo bikes emits far fewer emissions, requires less electricity, and uses no hazardous chemicals. Not only are the bikes light and stable, they can handle rough terrain and can carry large farm loads and passengers. A female initiative Although Ghana is rich in physical, cultural, and intellectual resources, it is also a country with traffic congestion, environmental degradation, a stark urban-rural divide, low employment, and poverty. The Bamboo Bikes activity was started by, and continues to be led by, a young female entrepreneur. It promotes sustainable development, boosts trade, creates employment opportunities for women, and addresses a number of United Nations Millennium Development Goals in the process. Riding towards sustainable development The increased cultivation and use of bamboo as an alternative to wood helps preserve and rehabilitate Ghana’s dwindling forests. Bamboo improves air and water quality in areas where it is harvested. Additionally, its root system reduces soil erosion, which is a major concern for many farmers. The construction of bamboo bikes is much less energyintensive than the production of steel bikes; producing a steel bicycle frame emits about five kilograms of CO2.

Empowering communities The activity, led by women, is improving the lives of many rural Ghanaians, women in particular, not only by delivering a sustainable and affordable form of transportation that satisfies local needs, but also by creating employment opportunities and stimulating economic growth. The woman-led Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative trains people, especially women, with little or no education, in the manufacturing and assembling of bamboo bikes. Producing stable, cheaper, and reliable bikes in Ghana is helping the country reduce its dependence on fossil fuels while increasing economic opportunities for rural Ghanaians. The activity has created 30 jobs (10 jobs for farmers and 20 jobs for bamboo bike assemblers). Creating employment opportunities is reducing poverty in Ghana’s rural communities. Spillover effect Bamboo bike-making technology has been transferred to two other communities, employing 25 rural women who sell the frames to the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative’s supply chain. The Initiative is talking to investors and potential funders to scale up the project, both in size and impact. Organizers aim to build bikes – in Ghana, by Ghanaians, for Ghana – in the thousands. Each artisan, after his/her training, will be equipped to employ at least five or six people and to set up his/hers own small-scale production base in any part of the country. As part of its scaling-up strategy, the Initiative plans to establish a bamboo plantation to support climate mitigation.


Kevin Costner

Robert Redford

Matt Damon

Leonardo Di Caprio DiCaprio's contribution and attention to the environment is all-encompassing. While private jets consume mass amounts of fuel, DiCaprio flies aboard commercial airlines. He also uses solar panels in his home and invests millions in environmentally friendly charities. After establishing the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to support sustainable development in 1998, he also participated in both the production and narration of The 11th Hour, which explores ways in which to bolster environmental ecosystems across the globe.


Matt Damon Damon never fails to impress--be it through his acting or his altruistic endeavors. When it comes to the environment, water is his thing – namely ensuring that it is clean and available to people around the world. That is why he founded, whose vision includes the provision of "safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all." Going beyond mere fundraising, Damon's organization seeks new and ingenious solutions to the water scarcity problem. It is most active in Africa, South Asia, and Central America.

Robert Redford As the son of a Standard Oil employee, Redford has long been aware of the oil industry's risks. In addition to being a staunch advocate of renewable and green energy, he is also the mind behind the Sundance Institute and its Sundance Film Festival, which is based in a ski resort that he purchased in the middle of Utah. The Green, which airs weekly on his Sundance Channel, offers insight into critical environmental issues.

Kevin Costner Having seen the damage of the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, Costner became a major investor in Ocean Therapy Solutions, a company that filters dense water from light oil using centrifugal oil-water separators, which makes water clean enough to go back into the sea in case of oil spills. In 2010, Costner even pitched his ideas for the cleanup of BP's Gulf Spill to Congress, making a case in point for the efficiency of his program.

Jessica Alba Though famed for her acting, Alba has long been concerned with the wellbeing of others. In addition to her involvement with a number of charities, she co-founded Honest Company, whose mission consists in finding the most salubrious, environmentally friendly products for children and the home.

Brad Pitt While a number of activists pooled efforts to rebuild homes after Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history, Pitt made sure to restructure homes – the green way. The Make It Right Foundation, which he founded in 2007, creates homes that are LEED Platinum certified and Cradle to Cradle inspired, meeting the utmost standards of environmental friendly building.

Alicia Silverstone Taking up the cause on a more individual level, Silverstone focuses her eco-friendly efforts on proper eating habits. In addition to her blog, The Kind Life, Silverstone authored her own book, The Kind Diet, which describes her mostly vegan- based diet.

Just say ing

"Being scared and doing it anyway"

n? don't y o s a e r e h t "Where is me it on m la b , e m n o blame it wild heart."

"when you r whole world is flat, empty and directi onless, the op ti ons for fun are pretty limited. the age of innocence"

Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

together Why don't you all get e of Innocence Wharton, The Ag h it d E " ? s and be 'they' yourselve

"And when a llt to ceryls.e" fa ils, i t's a ll r igh

"Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t how hard you can hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning’s done"

Syl ve st e r St al l one , Rock Bal boa

"My life? not even rules, more like hidden truths."

"And you'l l sit bes ide me, and

we'l l look, not at visio ns, but at real it ies. " ~ Edi th T

W h t on, he Age of Inar no cence


Freaks of nature

15 cool wonders of the world Fact



Cave of the Crystals

Rainbow Eucalyptus This tree is located in Kailua, Hawaii. It can be named one of the most colorful trees in the world. The barks of the trees can take on a yellow, green, orange, and even purple shading!





Giant Crystal Cave is connected to the Naica Mine, which is located in Chihuahua, Mexico. The crystals are said to be 500,000 years old and were formed from the underground magma. But watch out, the conditions there are so extreme, that it is impossible to be there without special equipment. The temperature of the hot air inside the cave can go up to 136째!

Light Pillars It is not a UFO. Everything is way too simple. Light pillars occur when flat ice crystals float close to the ground and cause light to bounce in vertical columns.City lights enhance the light pillar effect, as with these glowing columns seen over Moscow, Idaho.





Geologists found the Blood Falls in Antarctica in 1911. The red color on ice is said to be caused by microbes living off sulfur and iron in oxygen-free water trapped beneath the ice for nearly two million years. How amazing mother nature is!

The Wave

The Door to Hell It may look like a dramatic scene from a science-fiction movie. But it is actually a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan. It was discovered by Soviet geologists in 1971. They tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas, but the ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a hole with a diameter of 70 meters. They thought that the fire would use all the fuel within days, but the gas is still burning today. At night it definitely looks like an attack on Earth launched by other civilizations.

6 Fact

The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located in the United States of America near the ArizonaUtah border. It is real Red Rock Country, with a wind-shaped mesas and water-carved canyons that began their slow formation millions of years ago. If you are a photographer, you will definitely appreciate its interesting detail. The Wave does not have shadows in the center a few hours around midday.

Blood Falls


>> Freaks of nature

The Crystal Cave

If you are looking for new adventures in the natural world, this Crystal Cave is perfectly good for it. Emerged as a result of its glacier meeting the Icelandic coastline, it has an access via a 22foot entrance at the water's edge. So, be ready to get a new portion of adrenaline just accessing it!



Shimmering Shores


The super romantic view of the shimmering shores of Vaadhoo, Maldives can cause lots of pleasant emotions… and many memories… The shoreline glows at night because of bioluminescence. This occurs when a micro-organism in the water is disturbed by oxygen. More like a miracle, right?





Frozen Air Bubbles This place is very popular among photographers. Located in western Alberta, Canada, this lake was created in 1972. The plants on the lake bed release methane gas and it gets frozen once the gas reaches close enough to the relatively colder lake surface. Isn’t it beautiful?



Cocooned Trees



In 2010, millions of spiders climbed into the trees to escape the flooding in Pakistan. Because of the scale of it, many trees became cocooned in spider webs. People have never seen such a phenomenon before. We bet, you too haven’t seen something like this until now!



The Blue Dragon River This river looks like it was photoshopped. But it really was not. Its real name is Odeleite, and it is in Portugal. The river is known as the Blue Dragon River because of its dark blue color and shape.

The Sunken Forest of Lake Kaindy Lake Kaindyis a 1,300 feet long lake in Kazakhstan that is nearly 30 meters deep in some areas.The lake was created after an earthquake in 1911 that triggered a large landslide forming a natural dam. Then rainwater filled the valley and created the lake. The water is said to be very cold there even in summer. But if you are fond of trout fishing, it is a great place to do it.


>> Freaks of nature



Lake Hillier



Reflective Salt Flats It is almost impossible to distinguish where the sky ends and the ground begins‌. The flats, located in Southern Bolivia near the Tunupa volcano make up the world's largest salt desert, around 11,000 square kilometers. It is also a popular travel destination. Everybody is curious to see not the water, but the ground that is covered in a layer of salt crust so reflective, that it perfectly mirrors the sky. And we understand those people!

Lake Hillier in Australia is only 600 meters wide, but its rose pink color is seen from a far. Its color is still under investigation, but one of the reasons for that is the low concentration of Dunaliella salina and Halobacterium. Whatever the reason for all this, Lake Hillier looks absolutely incredible!


Lake Retba


Lake Retba is located northeast of Dakar, Senegal. Its water is pink, because the Dunaliella salinaalgae in the water produce a red pigment that uses sunlight to create more energy. The lake is also known for its high salt content, so it enables people to float easily.


Did You Know that... My kidney can smell! Biologists have been stunned at the discovery that the elements that help us to identify odors and tastes exist everywhere in our bodies. Studies have revealed that the kidney, an organ known for its filtration functions, contains scent receptors. Scientists have tried to search for a possible explanation for such a phenomenon. Some of them have suggested that these receptors are evolutionary leftovers the previous functions of which have been lost over time. Still others have speculated that these structures are active and essential to our health.

system attacks. Thus, receptors might not always have a propitious association with microorganisms. [The meaning is not clear]. Further investigations need to be carried out to clarify and explain all the mysteries that lie behind the presence of such scent receptors in our bodies. Finally, don’t be shy to point out that sperms have bitter taste receptors. Sour scent receptors have been identified in the spine. Words Adham Farah

Bacteria make use of scent receptors in the kidney After many studies, biologists now believe that the scent receptors that are found in the kidney have a functional role related to microorganisms and bacteria that reside in humans and fulfill various important tasks (preventing allergies, breaking down food to energy and useful nutrients, suppressing harmful microbes, etc.) For example, one type of scent receptor is utilized by the bacteria to advise the kidney to regulate the blood pressure changes in the body, so that they (the bacteria) can perform their healthrelated functions. Bitterness receptors detected in the human airway protect the body by intercepting signals that the bacteria send to each other to strengthen their defenses against the immune


"Let us make the flowers our bed, and the sky our blanket, and rest our heads together upon pillows of soft hay." Gebran Khalil Gebran


Beyond Magazine Issue 13 Winter 2014  
Beyond Magazine Issue 13 Winter 2014  

Beyond Magazine is an artistic publication that focuses on the environment, nature related issues, and green lifestyle. Published in Beirut...