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AVIATION

AGRICULTURE

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C O N T E N TS

T H E

E M OT I O N

OWNER AND GENERAL MANAGER Pascale Choueiri Saad

14 THANK YOU, GOVERNOR RIAD SALAMÉ

B E YO N D

Lebanon’s first green bus is a gift to the nation

CO-OWNER Ronald Saad

30 WELL, HELLO THERE!

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Pascale Choueiri Saad

T E A M

A new guest in Lebanon bears glad tidings

CHIEF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANT Edgard Chehab ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANT Bassam AlKantar

ESSENCE

COPY EDITOR Jody Jaffe

36 LEBANON’S OIL AND GAS "LOTTERY" Will the Lebanese people strike it lucky too?

ART DIRECTOR Lamia Maatouk

40 FROM ONE CRISIS TO ANOTHER The influx of Syrians has crippled an already ailing electricity sector

RESPONSIBLE DIRECTOR Antoine Hajj

46 WHEN CONCRETE IS AN UGLY SHOCK…

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tamara Batshon, Alia Fawaz, Bassam AlKantar, John Gray, Nour El Hachem, Sawsan Bou Fakhreddine, Varouj Tenbelian, Malek Hakim, Yousra Bustros, Dianna Tannoury

48 …AND GREEN IS A BEAUTIFUL SURPRISE

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHERS Yousra Bustros, Phillippe Khoury, Olivier Scheffer, Karim Thoumy, All Rights Reserved

60 DON’T WORRY… BE HAPPY

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Lebanon’s hidden treasures are revealed through the eyes of Yousra Bustros

LET’S GO OUTSIDE IN THE SUNSHINE

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MAGAZINE

LET’S GO OUTSIDE IN THE SUNSHINE

PUBLISHED BY Five Stars Tourism s.a.r.l. Azarieh St. Azarieh Bldg. Block 01 Beirut, Lebanon Tel: +961 1 994 006 Fax: +961 1 994 007 THIS MAGAZINE IS PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER


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Beyond magazine is a creative culture and sustainable living publication that takes the time for meaningful moments of observation. We cover subjects that matter, all of them deeplyrooted in nature and related to Mother Earth. We aim to be a source of inspiration for those who seek a responsible lifestyle, for now and for generations to come. As we become ever more accustomed to the polluted cities of our "developed" world, we experience less and less of the essence of this amazing planet on which we live. Yet, as Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “Beauty will save the world,� and this is a concept in which Beyond magazine believes and aims to showcase in each and every publication.


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L E TT E R

F RO M

"IT WAS ONE OF THOSE MARCH DAYS WHEN THE SUN SHINES HOT AND THE WIND BLOWS COLD, WHEN IT IS SUMMER IN THE LIGHT, AND WINTER IN THE SHADE." CHARLES DICKENS Goodbye winter blues and welcome to spring’s hopes and new beginnings! It might still be cold and it may still be wet, but the mornings are getting lighter earlier, the evenings are lengthening, and the nights are getting shorter. Spring is in the air, and for me this is the season for taking the time to observe the uniqueness of little things in our surroundings, collect small wonders that can be found in simplicity, and appreciate the beauty

O U R

E D I TO R

of nature as it awakens and blossoms. It’s the perfect opportunity to go outside in the sunshine, to enjoy life and get inspired by fresh ways of seeing things, to embark on new adventures off the beaten path, and to move onward to a great sense of fulfilment. In short, it's the time to be happy. N.B. While on the subject of cheerfulness, and being an eco-conscious and environmentalist type of person myself, I can't help but be thrilled by discovering lately that MEA and its chairman Mr Mohammad el Hout have financed the plantation of more than 70,000 trees in various locations across Lebanon. That's certainly happy news to me.


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M A I N

C O N T R I B U T O R S

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 Ministry of the Environment. Beyond is lucky to have Mr. Chehab as its environmental consultant and dear friend.

ALIA FAWAZ Alia Fawaz is a freelance writer based in Beirut with a passion to see a greener, cleaner Lebanon. Can we influence others to be environmentally responsible? Trying to answer this question is both a challenge and the source of inspiration for her as a regular contributor to Beyond. She covers the increasing renewable energy projects and eco-initiatives in the country and shares snippets of natural wonders from around the globe.

BASSAM ALKANTAR A seasoned Lebanese journalist, Bassam Al Kantar frequently writes about environment, information communication technology, and human rights. Beyond's environmental consultant, he is the managing editor for greenarea.me. 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.

SUZY HOAYEK Suzy Hoayek is currently the coordinator of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan at the Ministry of Energy and Water. She holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in the management and treatment of water, wastewater, soils and solid waste from AgroParisTech in France. She has previously worked as an engineer and a consultant on various engineering projects for Lebanese and French companies. On her days off, Suzy enjoys cycling and hiking in the lebanese mountains.

DIANA 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.

NOUR EL HACHEM Nour El Hachem has been head of the Legal Department of Middle East Airlines since 2012. She is a passionate defender of the environment, believing that nature is God’s kindest gift to humanity. Having obtained a master’s degree in international and comparative law of the environment from Limoges University (France) in 2006, El Hachem argues that Lebanon’s legal system should be used to protect the country’s green spaces. She urges all Lebanese to work together to preserve the natural treasures that God has bestowed on them.

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E M O T I O N


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THANK YOU, GOVERNOR RIAD SALAMÉ LEBANON’S FIRST GREEN BUS IS A GIFT TO THE NATION words sawsan bou fakhreddine

How to handle its trash is one of Lebanon’s most pressing problems. In the summer of 2015 it reached a tipping point, as domestic trash was simply not collected. This led to protests and shameful images of garbage being piled up everywhere. A small country such as Lebanon that is densely populated does not have enough space for more landfills to absorb its trash. While a decision to establish waste-to-energy facilities has been taken by the Government, it is still a long way off to implementation. If anything, this garbage crisis (which may rear its stinky head again, when these current temporary landfills fill up) has taught us is that there is a widespread lack of understanding of waste management by the general public.

Awareness on Wheels Concepts such as reducing, reusing, sorting, recycling, and composting need to be promoted and taught as part of a sustainable, long-term solution. Informing people about these issues is essential. Thanks to the generous funding of the Banque du Liban (BDL) and its governor, Riad Salamé, a green bus has recently taken to the road in order to fulfill this important mission. Designed to travel around the country and educate the Lebanese about waste management, “Awareness on Wheels” was officially launched on January 18, 2017, and since February of this year it has been touring schools. Modeled after an American green bus initiative, “Awareness on Wheels” aims to teach youth, especially schoolchildren, the concepts of sorting, minimization of waste generation, reusing of wastes, and recycling. This green bus will be visiting public and private schools all over Lebanon during the school year, and will also be available to municipalities and local groups that wish to organize community activities to raise awareness about solid waste management. A wide range of information The materials on the bus are provided in three languages (Arabic, French, and English) and include interactive tools from which the public can benefit. The bus has a mini- library with

multimedia information about the environment, all the latest promotional materials, easy-to-read information about minimizing waste generation for both schools and at home, plus computers to enable students to seek additional information on the Internet. For nursery school children there are storytelling and artwork activities, and for older children and adults there are many hands-on-activities that involve the sorting of solid waste and reusing waste through art. In addition, assistance is provided to help the school administration to develop and implement a plan to sort, reduce, reuse, and recycle waste that is generated at the school or university. “Awareness on Wheels” is a joint initiative by Green Cedar Lebanon and AFDC, a private initiative and an NGO, both of which are dedicated to the preservation of Lebanon’s natural resources, along with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education. In addition to the financial support from the Banque du Liban, Beyond magazine and Bank Audi have contributed toward making this project a reality. The Ministry increases awareness in private schools The Ministry of Education and Higher Education, through the Unit for Health Education and Environment, has developed an integrated program for increasing environmental awareness of


15 PASCALE CHOUEIRI SAAD, SAWSAN BOU FAKHREDDINE, LARA HANNA DEBS

solid waste management in private schools. The project aims to train and strengthen the capacity of health advisors, to integrate the concept of strategic planning, to involve teachers, and to work together to develop solid waste management plans in each school. Counselors, teachers, and students will contribute to developing and designing an integrated plan, raising awareness about issues related to solid waste, and finding sustainable solutions to the problem. Counselors and teachers will cooperate in order to integrate the concepts of waste reduction, sorting at source, recycling, composting, and others. The Ministry will develop training material and activities that will be distributed to the schools. In addition, the program

H.E. MR. RIAD SALAMÉ

also aims to involve the local community, such as municipalities, environmental associations, and the concerned institutions in the procedure of waste collection and sorting, and aims to encourage students to participate in the process through different incentives that are used to buy containers, to distribute flyers for awareness, and to organizing activities related to solid waste management. The “Awareness on Wheels� green bus is designed to spend one to two days in each school that it visits. To book your turn during this academic year, you can call 03-381082/ 01-898475(6) or Email: afdc@afdc.org.lb with your details and request.


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MEET THE MOTHER OF ALL TREES words tamara batshon


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In India you will commonly find large trees marked by a tangle of branches, roots, and trunks mixed together in a sort of elegant disarray. These trees, known as “banyan,” can be found throughout the country near homes, temples, villages, and roadsides. The banyan is considered the national tree of India and the long and deep roots have come to symbolize the country’s unity.

The sprawling banyan tree (an old one can reach more than 200 meters in diameter) provides much needed shade. According to historians, Alexander the Great camped under one of these trees that was large enough to provide shelter for his army of 7,000 men. The word banyan comes from the word “banias,” which refers to the Hindu merchants who used to conduct business under this tree. Asia’s oldest stock exchange, the Bombay Stock Exchange, was also born beneath a banyan in Mumbai where stockbrokers would gather in the mid-19th century. Today the banyan tree is considered to be a focal point in India as a gathering place for village councils and meetings (who needs to sit in a dismal boardroom when you can converse underneath such a marvelous tree?). The Banyan crusader In many cities today the banyas are cut down by construction companies or to make way for roads, but there is one remarkable woman who has made it

her life mission to keep them thriving in her native India. Saalumarada Thimmakka, born into a poor family, was married off to a farm laborer and expected to start a family. However, after 25 years of marriage she could not get pregnant. Thimmakka and her husband began planting and taking care of banyan saplings after relatives and neighbors shunned her for being unable to bear a child. The social stigma of being childless no longer bothered her as she and her husband started an ambitious project to grow and look after trees, like their own children. In fact the couple has planted and tended to 300 banyan trees that stretch for four kilometers from Thimmakka’s village of Hulikal to the next one. The work was by no means easy. After a hard day’s work on the farm Thimmakka still had to dig holes, plant samplings collected from the vicinity, and carry water for several kilometers from the nearest well to nourish her trees. Thimmakka’s


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SAALUMARADA THIMMAKKA

husband, who passed away in 1991, used to help his wife with carrying water and by planting thorny bushes around the banyans to protect them from hungry wild animals. Her local community sees her as a role model today and she was given the name “Saalumarada,” which means “row of trees” in her native Kannada language. Thimmakka has earned many awards over the years and even has a foundation in her name. In 2016 she made it onto the British Broadcasting Corporation’s 100 Women list, where the world’s most influential and inspirational women are featured.

Today at 105 years of age, Thimmakka is no longer physically active tending to her trees but she still gets invited to many afforestation programs in India. She is also working on other green projects, such as one for conserving rainwater in her village. Her dream is to construct a hospital in her village in remembrance of her late husband, and a trust has already been established for this purpose. With Thimmakka’s passion and determination, there is little doubt that this hospital will someday come to fruition. Let’s hope that she will still be around to see it.


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WE NEED TO KEEP OUR OCEANS CLEAN THE TOXIC TRUTH OF OUR WASTE words alia fawaz


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Midway Atoll is a deserted paradise in the Pacific Ocean approximately halfway between California and East Asia, dominated by endless sandy beaches and exotic wildlife. However, this idyllic remote island, which was once a strategic American air base during World War II, has become a graveyard for its indigenous birds. Today, it is not the dangerous weapons of war that the albatross population should fear but the plastic waste and debris that constantly washes up here, impacting the birds’ diet and health.

Most of our plastic ends up at sea, and a huge chunk of it finds its way into the waters of the Pacific - be it parts of a fishnet, a headless plastic baby doll, a cigarette lighter, a foam cup, a bottle cap, a golf ball or maybe a torn swimming cap seen bobbing on the surface of the water. Almost everything that we throw away can be found in the ocean. Most of it isn’t even visible to us, as much of the pollution is far out at sea or on a microscopic level (an estimated 11 million tons – and growing – mass of floating plastic is swept in the currents of a massive swirling vortex in the Pacific Ocean, known as the North Pacific Gyre, or what many call “the largest landfill in the world”). Eating plastic inadvertently To us these discarded items found in the water are simply garbage, epitomizing our careless and dangerous throwaway culture. For the albatross population however, these colorful fragments of plastic have a whole different meaning. Unfortunately, plastic appears to be a favorite of the albatross, along with flying fish eggs, as they spend much time at sea in search of food. Albatross are more prone to eating plastic because they fish by skimming their beaks across the top of the water, and inadvertently take in plastics floating on the surface mistaken for food. The plastic is often then regurgitated by the parent and fed to its chicks. Ninety-eight percent of albatrosses on Midway have plastic in them, and forty percent of all albatross chicks die each year as a result of plastic ingestion. The actual causes are usually choking, dehydration, or starvation as the plastic leaves little room for water or food. Sharp-edged plastic parts can easily kill the birds by punching holes in internal organs. A study of Laysan albatross chicks on Midway Atoll showed large amounts of ingested plastic in naturally dead chicks compared to healthy chicks killed in accidents. While it is not the direct cause of death, the plastic causes physiological stress and causes the chick to feel full during feedings, reducing its food intake and the chances of survival. The rate of plastic in sea birds is growing steadily as global production of plastics increases. Plastic disposal in our waters must be curbed. If it is not, the albatross and other seabirds will eventually disappear, just like many other species that humans have already driven to extinction.


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A FINE EXAMPLE: NEW DELHI’S DISPOSABLE PLASTIC BAN India’s capital city, New Delhi, has recently introduced a ban on disposable plastic, including cutlery, bags, cups, and other forms of single-use plastic items. According to the Times of India, the country is responsible for 60 percent of the plastic that is dumped in the world’s oceans every year. It is reported that New Delhi’s pollution is 36 times more toxic than London’s, mainly because of the illegal mass burning of plastic. India’s plastic crisis has already led to innovations, such as reusable tea cups, edible cutlery, and even edible plastic bags. Let’s hope more cities around the world will follow New Delhi’s lead.


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GLORIOUS BIRDS The Albatrosses are incredible birds, and seeing them in flight is truly spectacular. They have the longest wingspan of any bird – up to 3.5 meters – and are able to soar vast distances without even flapping their wings. These large birds live up to 50 years, flying at least six million kilometers during their lifetime. There are around two-dozen species of the wandering albatross that have been recorded. They are rarely seen on land and gather only to breed, at which time they form large colonies on remote islands. Mating pairs produce a single egg and take turns caring for it.


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L'Albatros Souvent, pour s'amuser, les hommes d'équipage Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers, Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage, Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers. À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches, Que ces rois de l'azur, maladroits et honteux, Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches Comme des avirons traîner à côté d'eux. Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule! Lui, naguère si beau, qu'il est comique et laid! L'un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule, L'autre mime, en boitant, l'infirme qui volait! Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer; Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées, Ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher. — Charles Baudelaire

The Albatross Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds That indolently follow a ship As it glides over the deep, briny sea. Scarcely have they placed them on the deck Than these kings of the sky, clumsy, ashamed, Pathetically let their great white wings Drag beside them like oars. That winged voyager, how weak and gauche he is, So beautiful before, now comic and ugly! One man worries his beak with a stubby clay pipe; Another limps, mimics the cripple who once flew! The poet resembles this prince of cloud and sky Who frequents the tempest and laughs at the bowman; When exiled on the earth, the butt of hoots and jeers, His giant wings prevent him from walking. — Charles Baudelaire translated from the French by William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)


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WELL, HELLO THERE! A NEW GUEST IN LEBANON BEARS GLAD TIDINGS words bassam alkantar


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Even though Lebanon has witnessed many environmental tragedies on more than one level, especially in terms of biological degradation, in the last week of 2016 a video recorded a unique and distinctive historic event of a documented brown Syrian bear walking in the barren areas of the eastern chain of Lebanon’ mountains, specifically in the barren mountains of the town of Nahleh (District of Baalbek). According to the available information, a group of young men recorded a videotape, showing a female Syrian brown bear with her cub in the Lebanese territory on the snow. Fouad Itani, a photographer who specializes in documenting wildlife, states that the video was recorded by a group of young people on the night of December 29, 2016.

The Executive Director of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, Assad Serhal, confirms that the return of the Syrian bear to Lebanon, when it is confirmed conclusively, is a historic event and a very positive index, as the nearest point where this kind of bear is seen is about 500 kilometers away from the Turkish border. Serhal, who published last year in partnership with Saeed al-Khuzai, the book The Field Guide of Mammals in the Middle East, adds that there are about sixteen subspecies of brown bear in the world and this one used to occur widely in the Mediterranean area. The chairman of the association “Animal Counter” in Aley, Dr. Munir Abu Said, stated that “if this video is real and the brown bear is really spotted in the Lebanese territory it would be the first time in 58 years, because the last time it was spotted in Lebanon was in 1958.” The brown bear has a body length of about 153 centimeters, a small tail of 3.5 centimeters, a shoulder height of 82 centimeters, and a weight of around 170 kilograms, relatively smaller than other subspecies. This subspecies of bear is characterized by the light yellowish color of its fur. It has a powerful body structure and strong muscles. It has a very short tail with short heavy legs (the hind legs are longer than the forelegs). Each wide paw has five toes ending in sharp claws. It has short round ears, small eyes, and powerful jaws.

Habits of the brown bear Brown bears inhabit caves and are known for their tendency to roam at night, covering considerable distances. They can live in high, snow-covered mountainous areas, hibernating during the winter. Those bears that live in warmer areas do not hibernate. The female bear is sexually mature at three years of age. After a gestation period of seven months she gives birth in spring to two cubs, which are dependent on their mother for a year or more. The life span of this bear is between 15 and 30 years. Bears are omnivores, feeding on grass, roots, grain, berries, fruit, fish, insects, and carrion. They will attack cattle and other domestic and wild animals, particularly in spring when they wake up ravenous after hibernation. Bears also like to feed on chickpeas during the spring and can devastate an entire field. In late summer bears also feed on grapes, and they love honey. Referring to the appearance of the bear in Lebanon in late 2016, Serhal says, “It’s probably that this bear was trying to move to a safe area, especially since the Lebanese-Syrian border is experiencing sporadic battles as a result of the war in Syria.” The presence of the cub with his mother means that he was born in the spring of 2016 or the previous year because the female does not take care of its young for more than two years.


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LEBANON’S OIL AND GAS "LOTTERY" WILL THE LEBANESE PEOPLE STRIKE IT LUCKY TOO? words alia fawaz

Lebanon’s nascent hydrocarbons industry promises to provide a big boost to the economy. After a sluggish few years, things picked up at the start of 2017 when two critical decrees were finally passed, allowing the offshore reserves tender process to begin. Beyond speaks exclusively to Wissan Chbat, head of the Geology and Geophysics Department and chairman of the board at the Lebanese Petroleum Administration, to discuss the background and outlook for this industry.


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The role of the Lebanese Petroleum Association (LPA) The LPA is a government body attached to the Ministry of Energy and Water (MOEW). We are responsible for regulating the upstream sector (exploration and production) according to Law No. 132 that was promulgated in 2010, which is the “Offshore Petroleum Resources Law.” We are at present a team of 20 people covering six departments: legal, technical and engineering, geological and geophysics, strategic planning, economic and finance, and HSEQ (health, safety, environmental and quality). Our main role is supervision and monitoring of the offshore petroleum activities. Our team has already been working on various projects, drafting degrees, preparing new laws and preparing the detailed 3D seismic data (which is available for the companies to have so that they can assess the risk of offshore Lebanon). Lebanon’s hydrocarbon path: What took so long? At the end of 2012, the government approved the opening of the first offshore bidding round, with ambitious plans to close it by November 2013 and award the companies by February 2014. That however, did not take place. There are two parallel tracks in this industry: one is execution, which is related to operations and the second is the legal side and fitting it into the constitutional framework. We had issued many decrees, which were approved (around 27) before April 2013. The two most vital decrees - one concerning the offshore blocks (seen on the map) and the tender protocol with the associated exploration and production agreement – were issued during this period. In mid April 2013 we announced the results of the pre-qualifications, so we also organized a pre-qualification round. We opened the bid round to receive the applications in May 2013, which was supposed to close six months later in November. This was not achieved. These decrees were not ratified – which meant that these pre-qualified companies were unable to bid – and the Minister kept on postponing for various reasons, but mostly because there was no consensus. It could be because of the political stalemate and it could be that there were lots of technical information that people wanted to digest and assimilate. Kick-starting the stalled decrees When Prime Minister Tammam Salam assumed office in February 2014, there was an appointment of a ministerial committee from different disciplines and political parties to study these two decrees. Comments were shared and we then modified what we could and submitted revision 5 in October 2015. Since then we have not had any progress. After the election of President Aoun in October 2016, who expressly mentioned in his inauguration speech that Lebanon’s natural resources must be explored speedily, followed by the same pledge in the new government’s action plans, we still did not see any progress until January 2017, when these two decrees were finally passed. Lebanon cannot afford to sit idly by These decrees come at an important time in the area. We cannot sit back and wait any more. There is exploration activity going on in Cyprus, the Israelis are drilling in offshore Palestine, there are new discoveries in Egypt, and companies are interested in this area. On the geopolitical and the market scene, if we do have hope to extract gas, first we have some local market obligations, then we need to think of export – to where and how? We cannot be outside of all these agreements taking place because gas is dealt with differently than with oil. With gas you have to make sure you have a market, then agree on long-term contracts before you start drilling and producing. This market will become tougher with time because we are arriving late. Lebanon’s timing and its hydrocarbon neighbors It’s important to note that the Israelis have opened several blocks in offshore Palestine and they are expected to close their bid round in spring 2017. Cyprus is now on its third bid round having already awarded a few blocks. This is why the completion of our bid round is coming at a very strategic time, because if we did not take action these companies would think Lebanon has nothing to offer now. This is why we are pushing to have our pre-qualifications round, which should be announced by mid-April 2017. We then open a five-month period for bid receiving. We had 46 companies from 2013 that were pre-qualified, but maybe they are not all interested in bidding again. So we have this group, plus a new set of companies that will be interested in this new pre-


39 qualification round that would be entitled to bid. Then from April 15 until September 15 is the timeframe for submitting the applications. During this time companies who bid buy the seismic data, analyze data, and submit their proposals. Until October 15 we are assessing these proposals followed by reporting them to the Minister. Next, everything goes to the Council of Ministers to decide which blocks will be awarded in the first bid round, which should take place by mid-November of this year. If things go as planned with no major setbacks, we should be able to award by the end of 2017. Potential oil and gas revenue for Lebanon We know that Lebanon is part of the Levantine Basin and thus far studies on paper show good potential, which has been confirmed by good discoveries. In Lebanon’s case we have undiscovered resources estimated on paper from the seismic data. However, since we are in a basin that has had good discoveries we can assume this too in our blocks, but we do not know yet about volume. We are looking at an exploration area of 22,700 square kilometers (almost double the area of Lebanon). Definitely we are seeing something prospective, so the next step is to have a commercial discovery. For that there are risks we have to mitigate, such as geological and exploration and so forth, so it’s still early to estimate revenue. How oil compares to gas There are two ways to deliver natural gas: either via pipeline or to liquefy it and send it by ships. With oil, since it’s a fluid, you can deliver it via pipelines or you can store it in tankers; therefore it is easier to process and deliver. Also it is sold as “spot contracts,” which means that your ship can be sailing and you may get a request for oil that you can immediately deliver to the client. Oil as a commodity is preferred because it is easier to sell. Gas however, is strategic because both the increase in environmental requirements and the demand for hydrocarbon fossil fuels can no longer be met by oil alone. We have reached a certain ceiling or saturation in oil production, whereas with gas we are still a long way from the saturation point. Maritime space disputes with hydrocarbon neighbors There are always issues at the borders that both sides won’t agree on. With Cyprus to the west, we both have the same legal bases – both nations have approved the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and a median line has followed. The northern border to Syria has been done the same way taking the equidistant median line. To the south however there is an area of 860 kilometers, which is for Lebanon but the Israelis are claiming it to be theirs. However, Israel and Syria did not sign the UNCLOS agreement. As usual in cases like these a third party has been involved and a U.S. envoy has been mediating this issue. Drilling distance from the coast and environmental protection measures We have our maps with our targets indicating where drilling could be, which are at least 15-20 kilometers away. We also created a buffer zone, which is about 6-9 kilometers along the coast for touristic purposes and fishing so there can be no conflict. The operation will be set with floaters and rigs at one to two thousand meters water depth. Law No. 132, along with our decrees, are very strict on environmental protection, plus the Ministry of the Environment has its own regulations, so we have covered this the best we can before the offshore work begins. The hydrocarbon industry and creating jobs for the Lebanese There would be job creation but most of the roles would not be in the exploration phase but in the production and the industries resulting from that, such as construction, facilities, and petrochemicals. So for every engineer I would say in the field, during exploration and production, if you follow all the business cycle and have people working in all the business cycle of oil from upstream to downstream and you have proper planning and energy strategy for the state and you manage to intensify the returns to the Lebanese public - it will create eight to 10 jobs between technicians, assistants, and so forth. So most of the jobs will not only involve the actual production of the hydrocarbons but also how to use the oil and gas, in making fertilizers, in petrochemicals, in processing, in the shipping and the piping, and so forth.


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FROM ONE CRISIS TO ANOTHER THE INFLUX OF SYRIANS HAS CRIPPLED AN ALREADY AILING ELECTRICITY SECTOR words suzy hoayek and alia fawaz


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Reliable electricity generation has been a longstanding problem for Lebanon. The current system simply does not have the capacity to power the country for a full 24 hours. The Lebanese Government had been making improvements in the electricity sector, but this has been offset by the influx of Syrian refugees over the last six years. This additional burden on the electricity sector has compelled the Government and the Ministry of Energy and Water to propose a plan, in parallel to its Policy Paper for Electricity, that would alleviate the pressure on the national grid and that would be financed by grants from the international community.

1.5 million too many users Lebanon’s electricity sector simply has insufficient generating capacity. The efficiency of the existing system is below normal levels because of poor maintenance, deterioration of facilities, high losses, and the need for reinforcement of the transmission and distribution networks. In fact, service delivery standards are low as compared with other countries with similar per capita GDP. Even prior to the Syrian crisis, Lebanon suffered from extensive load shedding, with supply cuts in Beirut of at least three hours per day, and up to 12 hours per day outside of Beirut. The majority of consumers are therefore forced to rely on costly, environmentally unfriendly, small diesel generators to provide the balance of their electricity requirements. The electricity sector causes a massive financial drain on the Government of Lebanon, which subsidizes the cost of fuel used in Electricité du Liban’s (EDL’s) power plants. The sector cost the government $3.056 billion in 2014, $2.056 billion in 2015 and $2.1 billion in 2016. Add to this an additional 1.5 million users (the refugees), and you can imagine the strain that the system is enduring. To assess the additional consumption of electricity by the 1.5 million displaced Syrians, the Ministry of Energy and Water, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Lebanon, conducted a study that revealed the need to supply an additional 450 to 500 megawatts of electricity (the equivalent of five hours of power supply on the national grid) to cover their demand. The cost of

generating this additional power was estimated at $313 million in 2016, causing an estimated deficit to the Government/ EDL of $222 million a year. In addition, the Ministry’s figures show that the Lebanese consumers, deprived of these 500MW and relying on private generators to cover the supply gap, incur expenses of almost $111 million a year. This implies that the total losses of the electricity sector are more than $333 million a year. The study also found that, on average among the different governorates, 45 percent of the electrical connections of Syrian households to the grid were done in an illegal manner, which not only implies as much lost sales to the already exhausted Government and EDL, but also causes technical losses on the grid manifested in the deprivation of other legally connected customers from proper electricity. The Ministry of Power and Water was actually making strides toward securing longer hours of electricity for its users. To do so it increased its output to 443 megawatts through the rented power barges and the upgrade of the Zahrani power plant (approximately the same amount of power being consumed by the Syrian refugee population). In order to accommodate the additional usage by the refugees, the public didn’t see the difference that it was promised, and it continues to have the same number of hours of electricity from EDL and keeps paying for generators.


43 The strategy going forward In order to mitigate the effects of the additional electrical consumption, the Ministry has proposed a number of initiatives through the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan for the next four years (2017-2020) that are sustainable and beneficial in the long term. Rehabilitate the distribution and transmission networks With respect to the distribution network, today around 18,200 MV/LV transformers along with LV cables service more than 5.85 million people (Lebanese and Syrians), which implies that each unit is servicing 320 people, instead of 220 people as was planned before the crisis. This overloads the national grid. It is necessary to rehabilitate 1,535 of the existing 18,200 transformers and to provide 700 new transformers to be installed in highly vulnerable communities in order to improve services to both Lebanese and displaced Syrians. To have a significant impact by the end of 2017, it is planned to rehabilitate 40 percent or 280 transformers and add 614 new ones. As for the transmission, several HV/ MV substations require rehabilitation, upgrading, or construction, especially in regions with high concentrations of displaced Syrians where the load on the existing infrastructure has significantly increased. Increase electricity from renewable energy sources and use energy-efficient products A number of renewable energy and energyefficient projects are proposed to target both the vulnerable Lebanese and the displaced Syrians that would contribute to alleviating the load on the national grid: 1. Solar water heaters for homes. If fully implemented, this activity would save 750,000 MWh/year and cause a yearly reduction in CO2 emissions of 500,000 tons. 2. Solar off-grid lighting around informal settlements and on public municipal streets (5,000 off-grid solar lighting poles in different outdoor areas recommended). This would ensure safer

circulation zones for both Lebanese communities and displaced Syrians. 3. Solar pumping for public wells that would reduce electricity and generator bills (pumps need electricity to function). The maximum estimated installed capacity is seven MWp and can be distributed among vulnerable localities according to the pumping requirements and land availability surrounding the public well. 4. Solar photovoltaic (PV) farms for electricity generation. This requires installation of solar PV panels to serve a small community or to be installed in public institutions. This targets vulnerable localities and is intended to provide cheaper electricity to consumers, while alleviating the demand on the national grid. The maximum estimated installed capacity is 7.5 MWp and can be distributed among the different governorates. 5. Energy-efficient products must be introduced in homes and public institutions. Solar cookers must be introduced (currently many Syrian families use electric cookers while being illegally connected to the grid). Incandescent light bulbs should be changed to LED lights and energyefficient lighting should be installed in public schools, hospitals, and other public institutions. An estimated $444 million is required to implement the needed changes over the period of four years, which works out to be only a third of Lebanon’s estimated incurred losses over the same period ($1.33 billion by 2020). If these proposed projects are executed, Lebanese hosting communities and displaced Syrians will feel an improvement in the quality of the electric current supplied and an increase in the hours of supply, which is often interrupted by the excessive load on the transformers and the substations. As such, their reliance on private generators will decrease and their bills will be less of a burden. It is also expected that these projects will decrease illegal connections to the grid and the losses in the system.


H O R I Z O N S


46

WHEN CONCRETE IS AN UGLY SHOCK… words bassam alkantar

Beirut’s biggest green space, the Horsh Beirut pine forest, is partially closed to the public. Wherever you walk in Lebanon’s capital, huge buildings have risen. The city has become a conglomeration of massive concrete blocks. Large parts of Beirut have been rebuilt since the country's civil war ended 27 years ago, but much of the reconstruction has taken place by way of rapid and often unregulated private construction that has benefitted big companies. The transformation of the downtown area by Solidere was highly controversial; it changed the nature of the city’s center. “The area is now a ghost town of luxury retailers and empty office blocks,” as described by The Guardian in a report published in February 2017. Encroachment on the public spaces Beirut's rocky coastline, the Dalieh peninsula, is a rare open space in the Lebanese capital. Fences have gone up around the site. Yet another luxury resort will soon demolish the site. The situation in nearby Ramlet Al Bayda is not better; an exclusive hotel or beach club looms next door. One decision after another is enabling owners to use this part of the coast for private profit. A project of more than 5,000 square meters that will become “a sanctuary of luxury and refinement” began construction last year, sparking outrage among beachgoers, civil society activists, and public space advocates. Beirutis who have been going to the beach for generations see this project as an encroachment on one of the few public spaces that remains. Horsh Beirut is our heritage In Lebanon, private land is sacred. People expect the Municipality of Beirut to do something to protect the remaining “public” green and ecological areas of Beirut. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening. With little urban planning, Beirut has just 0.8 square meters of green space per person, far below the minimum of nine square meters that is recommended by the World Health Organization. The city's largest park, Horsh Beirut, is partially closed to the public. Small sections on the outskirts are open, but only Lebanese over 35 years of age and with a permit can enter the main grassy, tree-filled area. A plan to build a hospital near Beirut’s park is ongoing. The project has angered some of the nearby residents, who use the area for recreational activities that are not permitted within

the gates of Horsh Beirut. Another project that is also proposed is to build a sports stadium that will shrink the remaining green area in Beirut. Horsh Beirut is our heritage. It’s our only remaining green space, but unfortunately decisionmakers don't care. New high-rise towers High-rise towers are mushrooming in Beirut. Soaring demand for property has driven the price of land upward, motivating developers to buy property and build vertically. In the process, many old buildings have been torn down (sometimes illegally) to be replaced by high-rise buildings. Often, adjacent plots are annexed to make way for a larger and taller building. These buildings increase the ratio of rentable and/or sellable floor space per unit area of land. High-rise buildings are eroding Beirut’s heritage, affecting its social and urban fabric, and changing the city’s skyline. Powerful developers, backed by lending institutions, are leading the drive to reshape Beirut. The city is fast losing its traditional old houses, with their red-tiled roofs, arched windows, and beautiful balconies and inviting gardens. Many buildings with French colonial and Ottoman architectural features are being demolished to make way for high-rise apartment complexes. The number of vacant lots used as parking lots is rapidly declining, to be replaced by cranes and jackhammers. If the current rate of construction continues unabated, without legal and policy restrictions, Lebanon will undergo drastic and irreversible transformations in the coming decades. Urban Heat Island In Beirut, the Urban Heat Island effect was modeled using the Town Energy Balance (TEB) model. Simulated urban canyon temperatures showed a difference of 60˚C between areas of high vegetation fractions and dense urban fabric areas for summer and a difference of 20˚C for winter. According to cientific research conducted by Noushig Kaloustiana, Hassaan Bitarb, and Youssef Diab and published by Elsevier Ltd., various Urban Heat Island (UHI) modeling scenarios showed that the most appropriate mitigation measures could be achieved by increasing the albedo of rooftops as well as that of garden fractions. The results also confirm that rooftop surfaces with higher reflective properties and albedos ranging between 0.6 and 0.8 as well as increasing vegetated areas have a positive, alleviating effect on the UHI. To this end, a campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits of such a mitigation measure would be highly effective. As for the increase in green areas, this would require more proactive measures potentially grounded in more sustainable urban planning policies.


47

YOU’RE CROWDING MY SPACE!


48


49

…AND GREEN IS A BEAUTIFUL SURPRISE words alia fawaz


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As we enter a new era of sustainable living, there are more and more attempts being made to reduce our carbon footprint. Scientists have warned us about the negative consequences of climate change, and now we have to think about how sustainability can be cleverly integrated and practiced in all aspects of our lives. One sector that is showing a major shift in this direction is construction. Buildings account for over half of global energy use and are responsible for 20 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide. This is why a sustainable approach in the construction industry is crucial.

Today architects, engineers, contractors, and building owners around the world are beginning to incorporate green design and construction into their projects. This practice embraces a wide range of elements, the aim of which is to enhance the socalled triple bottom line (TBL): social, environmental, and financial performance. However, the reality is that green construction is still a challenging task to put into practice, and for a number of reasons. One is the concern for extra cost, as green construction is seen as non-profitable for investors. Other reasons are the lack of public awareness and the lack of political support, especially in the developing world. Green is cost-effective There is a misconception about green buildings with respect to cost. Research and evidence have shown that green buildings don’t necessarily cost more than conventional ones. This is especially true when environmental strategies are integrated into the entire process from the very beginning. Decisions taken at the beginning can impact the long-term value of a building and its return on investment. Green buildings don’t have to mean costly fully-fledged green roofs (i.e., a garden installed on the rooftops). A simple tweak in a building’s design can save on energy use and take advantage of on-site light and air. The GCC countries, because of their soaring temperatures, are among the world’s highest consumers of electricity, thanks to air conditioning. They have already started to aggressively implement wall and roof insulation in new buildings, which can reduce energy consumption by up to 30 percent. Insulation can be done for both heat loss and for heat gain, so bills can be saved on both heating and air conditioning. Other cost-saving features include LED lighting, double-glazing windows, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting systems, to name just a few. Rainwater harvesting means collecting rainwater from roofs and then storing it in a tank. The collected water can then be used for other purposes such as toilets and sprinkler systems. More aesthetic and gaining lots of momentum lately are green walls. These are self-sufficient vertical gardens that are attached to a freestanding frame or to the exterior or interior of a building. More and more green walls can be seen in new developments in Lebanon and around the Middle East.


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ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF THE NANJING GREEN TOWERS ONCE COMPLETED (2018)


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CASCADING PLANTS BRING LIFE TO THIS BUILDING'S FAÇADE


53 Growing evidence is proving that going green has a host of advantages, both cost-wise and for reducing the carbon footprint. While some green construction technologies cost more upfront, companies reap benefits in the long run. In addition, sustainable construction technologies are constantly being advanced for wide-scale and more affordable distribution, meaning that it is only a matter of time before they will become a conventional practice for buildings and houses. A breath of fresh air for China Some new buildings are so green on the outside that they are even called “Vertical Forest,” as is the case with Nanjing Towers, an upcoming development in the Nanjing Pukou district of China. Scheduled to be completed in 2018, the Nanjiing Vertical Forest project will consist of two towers hosting a total amount of 1,100 trees from 23 local species and 2,500 cascading plants and shrubs to cover a 6,000-square meter space. It will be a vertical forest that will help to regenerate local biodiversity, which can provide 25 tons of CO2 absorption each year and produce about 60 kilograms of oxygen per day. Designed by the Milan-based Stefano Boeri Architects, the two towers will stand 656 feet tall and 354 feet tall, respectively. The taller tower will contain offices, a museum, a green architecture school, and a rooftop club, while the shorter tower will house a rooftop pool and a 247-room Hyatt Hotel. No doubt once completed these green towers will be a breath of fresh air for a country known for being the world's deadliest in terms of outdoor air pollution.

THE TWO TOWERS WILL HOST 1,100 TREES FROM 23 LOCAL SPECIES AND 2,400 CASCADING PLANTS AND SHRUBS


54

A FINE EXAMPLE OF GREEN CONTEMPORARY HIGH-RISE LIVING IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA


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A GORGEOUS FAÇADE OF GREENNESS AT THE QUAI BRANLY MUSEUM IN PARIS, FRANCE


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57

A NATURAL WONDER OF THE WORLD ONE OF THE GREATEST SHOWS ON EARTH IS ALL ABOUT LIGHT words tamara batshon


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We all love a great light show – whether we are viewing spectacular fireworks or a laser show at a concert venue – as there is something magical about a symphony of lights in the dark. However, when we are able to see a light display in nature and produced entirely by living things, the experience has a whole new dimension. The performers at the world’s most stunning natural light show are the Elkmont fireflies of Great Smokey Mountain National Park in the American state of Tennessee.

Nature’s Light Show In an area surrounded by forests straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is the habitat of one of the earth’s most rare species of synchronous fireflies. The Elkmont firefly (Photinus carolinus) is one of 19 species of fireflies in the park and the only one that is synchronous, meaning that they all light up at once and in a dramatic wave effect. No doubt people flock to this national park – which is America’s most visited known for its diversity of plant and animal life - to see this phenomenon during the mating season of the fireflies, which only occurs during a two-week period, usually in the late spring. The park has to actually limit the nighttime access to Elkmont during this fourteen-day period and can only allow up to 8,000 people to enjoy this outdoor spectacle. Visitors usually bring their own folding camp chairs and blankets so that they can sit back and enjoy the show. In fact, reservations can be made six months in advance and parking permits are even distributed via a lottery. The insects usually start their light signals when it is totally dark (around 9:30p.m.), beginning with the males in short random bursts from six to eight times for about eight seconds before the night goes pitch black. Then this cycle starts all over again until it ends at about midnight. The fireflies’ blinking produces a ripple effect resembling Christmas lights. Light up to find your mate When you visit to see the Elkmont fireflies, you’re actually watching

these lightning bugs in their annual mating ritual. The fireflies glow in the dark, each with a specific flashing pattern. Female fireflies don’t do too much flying, and they stay near the ground, so the males are usually the ones lighting up the sky. When a female becomes interested in a male, she will blink back from the ground. It all starts when the females lay their eggs on the ground. When the larvae hatch, they nestle into the soil, feeding on the organic matter, such as decomposed leaves. This larvae period can last for one to two years until they transform into adult fireflies. Once they reach maturity, they only live for about twenty days, which means that they must mate during this brief period. So the brighter the male the better the chances of reproduction. Generally the males flash as they fly around while the females remain on the ground and respond with a fainter double flash that has no set interval. The response allows the males to see the females on the ground so that they can fly down for mating. Experts believe that the females need lots of light to respond back, which is why the males flash in synchrony to get their utmost attention. Generally fireflies can be found in all sorts of habitats, from wooded areas to open fields but the synchronous lighting types are truly rare. Photinus carolinus exists throughout the southern Appalachians in the United States, but they seem to be the most populous in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.


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60

DON’T WORRY… BE HAPPY HOW QUALITY OF LIFE IS FINALLY BEING MEASURED words john gray


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62

In life we all strive to be happy. But what constitutes happiness? Are they the series of perks in which we indulge? Perhaps the scrumptious meal enjoyed at lunch, the wonderful vacation we just had, the nice apartment in which we are living, or having spent a great night out with friends? Experiences and conditions that are pleasurable or make us feel good about ourselves contribute to a sense of positivity, which no doubt contributes to happiness. Happiness, however, is more than simply being in a positive mood. It’s not only about momentary pleasures but it is rather an overall state of wellbeing that encompasses living a good life. Today experts can survey the state of global happiness based on the science of measuring quality of life. Countries are actually ranked by their happiness levels as seen in The World Happiness Report. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress. The science of measuring quality of life is taken seriously and ultimately serves as a guide to improving public policies. The first World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, came out in 2012, and since then a new updated report is released almost yearly. Measuring happiness The latest report ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels and reviews the state of happiness in the world today. It shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness. If anything, this report reflects a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criterion for government policy. Key variables To prepare this report data is collected from individuals in the 156 countries represented. Six variables are looked at, which has been identified as the reason for three-quarters of the differences among countries. These variables are: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. Each country is also compared against a hypothetical nation called “Dystopia,” which represents the lowest national averages for each variable and is used as a sort of regression benchmark. Denmark came in first in this report, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Canada. The last five countries on this list were Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria, and Burundi, respectively. Lebanon came in somewhere in the lower middle at 93, just after Pakistan and before Portugal. Overall this report finds that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. They also find that over the years, happiness inequality has increased significantly in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole. This type of report really highlights the need for countries to look into policies that promote the wellbeing of their citizens on all levels. Too often countries pursue individual objectives, such as economic development while compromising on other key areas. For example many countries in recent decades have achieved economic growth at the cost of rising inequality, social exclusion, and extensive damage to the natural environment. On a positive note, the cause of happiness as a primary goal for public policy continues to make progress. So far, four national governments—Bhutan, Ecuador, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela— have appointed ministers of happiness responsible for coordinating their national efforts. In Bhutan ensuring its citizens’ happiness is even written into the 9th article of the constitution. As a result the Bhutanese practice what they preach; it is a country free of wars and crimes and they have completely banned fertilizers - so its people eat only organic food. There are also cities and communities around the world committed to setting up policies for people to live happier lives. There are even organization such as the Happiness Research Institute based in Copenhagen and the Action for Happiness in the United Kingdom—designed to implement actions that can increase wellbeing in homes, workplaces, schools, and local communities. Let’s hope that more governments and organizations will start to cater to the pursuit of happiness. Data for this article was taken from the World Happiness Report 2016 Update


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COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

It’s no surprise to see Denmark top the happiness list, with its abundance of free public services, such as health care and education. It also prides itself on its strong sense of social life and community. “Hygge” is the Danish word for cozy social gatherings and intimate get-togethers with family and friends. Denmark is also considered to be one of the most egalitarian societies in the world, where both men and women have careers.


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CARPE DIEM [kahr-pe dee-em] Latin. seize the day; enjoy the present,

as opposed to placing all hope in the future.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

A prosperous nation famous for its gorgeous ski slopes, fine watches, and rich chocolate, Switzerland has plenty of outdoor spaces for its people to explore and in which to practice sports (it has the lowest obesity rates in Europe). Perhaps the happiness comes from its fine chocolates, which cause the brain to release dopamine; or perhaps it could be related to the fact that its cities are often situated besides lakes (working by the water is sure to ease your stress levels).


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Iceland is defined by its dramatic landscape, including volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. It has a population of 332,530 people, of which the majority lives in the capital, Reykjavik. The country ranks high in economic, political, and social stability, as well as equality. An impressive 85 percent of the country’s energy supply is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources (mostly geothermal).

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Because I'm happy Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof Because I'm happy Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth Because I'm happy Clap along if you know what happiness is to you Because I'm happy Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do


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There’s plenty to explore in this expansive and culturally diverse country that has ranked particularly well in the citizenship, entrepreneurship, and open-for-business categories. Canada also has a great deal of uninhabited space and beautiful national parks.

MONTREAL, CANADA


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HAKUNA MATATA Swahili phrase; roughly translated, it means "no worries". It is formed by the words hakuna (there is not here) and matata (plural form of problem).

OULU, FINLAND

In Finland, people believe that children learn through play, imagination, and self-discovery, so teachers allow and encourage play during school hours. Perhaps the country’s educational system has something to do with happiness. Or perhaps its happiness can be attributable to its traditional saunas, where the Finns can steam their worries away!


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This Nordic country is renowned for its breathtaking mountains, glaciers, and deep coastal fjords. It’s a wonderful place to be anytime of the year, where people can enjoy fishing, hiking, and skiing. Norway is also one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, with much of the country dominated by mountainous or high terrain. Perhaps having fewer neighbors is the key to happiness!

BERGEN, NORWAY


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LEBANON BEING RANKED AT 93 OUT OF 156 MAY NOT BE SOMETHING TO BOAST ABOUT, BUT PLENTY OF LEBANESE WILL CLAIM THAT THEIR COUNTRY IS THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IN WHICH TO LIVE, DESPITE ALL ITS FLAWS. LET’S HOPE THAT THE “JEWEL OF THE MIDDLE EAST”

WILL

MAKE

THE

NECESSARY

CHANGES AND CLIMB UP THE LIST SOON. WE ARE ROOTING FOR YOU!


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71

A Moment of Happiness You and I sitting on the verandah,

apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.

We feel the flowing water of life here,

you and I, with the garden's beauty

and the birds singing.

The stars will be watching us,

and we will show them

what it is to be a thin crescent moon.

You and I unselfed, will be together, indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.

The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar

as we laugh together, you and I.

In one form upon this earth,

and in another form in a timeless sweet land.

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi


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Happiness In you, my beloved, my dreams sought

a lightness of being, a thought

of moonlit blue skies,

the color of your highs

Into you my earth, my roots bowed,

into lush green heavens, they grew,

into rivers, oceans and seas

blissfully, I flowed In our kindred souls, my companion,

our laughter resounded,

my journey, your footsteps gently threaded upon,

through a lifetime, our joys echoed

In freedom of life,

in sunlit dawns, moonshine on fields,

in heavens’ dew drops on thirsty flesh,

naked, my spirit rejoiced


73

In the dimples of innocence,

the gurgles of faraway lands,

the scents of angels,

the secrets of the beyond

held in the tiniest of hands

In the miracle that I am,

In love, in nature, in friendship,

In my spirit that drew me in,

In the gift of life that came through me,

There dwells happiness‌

Diana Tannoury


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What is happiness for you? Editor-in-Chief Pascale Choueiri Saad decided to throw this philosophical question out to her friends on social media and this is what came back

Fadi Saad: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Buddha

Francois Bacha: “Ce qui compte, ce n'est pas le bonheur de tout le monde, c'est le bonheur de chacun.” Boris Vian Traité de civisme (édition 1979) Joëlle Jammal: “Happiness is from within.”


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Yousra Bustros:“Le bonheur c'est

comment et non quoi, un talent et non un objet.”

Hermann Hesse

Theresa Mansour: “Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” Kevyn Aucoin

Shah Fayad: “Le bonheur se trouve dans les enfers pernicieux.”


‫‪76‬‬

‫‪Richard Nasraoui:‬‬ ‫”‪“There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path.‬‬ ‫‪ Buddha‬‬

‫‪Rouba Taouk:‬‬

‫”قلت ابت�سم‬ ‫قال ال�سماء كئيبة ! وجتهما‬ ‫!قلت‪ :‬ابت�سم يكفي التجهم يف ال�سما‬ ‫قال‪ :‬ال�صبا وىل! فقلت له‪ :‬ابتــ�سم‬ ‫!لن يرجع الأ�سف ال�صبا املت�صرما‬ ‫قال‪ :‬الليايل جرعتني علقما‬ ‫قلت‪ :‬ابت�سم ولئن جرعت العلقما‬ ‫فلعل غريك �إن ر�آك مرمنا‬ ‫طرح الك�آبة جانبا و ترمنا‬ ‫�أتُراك تغنم بالتربم درهما‬ ‫�أم �أنت تخ�سر بالب�شا�شة مغنما؟‬ ‫قال‪ :‬الب�شا�شة لي�س ت�سعد كائنا‬ ‫ي�أتي �إىل الدنيا و يذهب مرغما‬ ‫قلت ابت�سم مادام بينك والردى‬ ‫�شرب‪ ,‬ف�إنك بعد لن تتب�سما “‬ ‫�إيليا �أبو ما�ضي‬

‫‪Maya Achkar Saliba:‬‬ ‫”‪“Le bonheur ecrit blanc.‬‬ ‫‪Henry de Montherlant‬‬


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Elio Sassine: “Where is paradise? It is here. It is now. It is within us and without us. It is in our thoughts and in our actions. It is in our lives and in our loves. It is in our families and in our friends. It is in our communities and in our world. It is in the courage of our convictions and in the character of our souls.” Michael Shermer

Rana Kalo Jaroudi: “The mind is its own place, and in itself. Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.” John Milton

Jeannine Yazbeck Abi Khalil: “Life is too short, I choose happiness.”

Wassim Henoud:“Les personnes que j'aime... pas toujours faciles à déchiffrer mais un plaisir incommensurable à les écouter et à vivre parmi elles.”


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An interesting exchange of ideas about the meaning of Happiness - Edgard Mounib Seikaly: “I'm happiest when I breathe.” - Fady Saad: “How would you know if you wouldn't be more happy when you don't?” - Edgard Mounib Seikaly: “I just tried holding my breath. I was happy when I was done. So now I know for sure.” Olfate Timani: “Le bonheur est de le chercher.” Jules Renard

Niovi Haddad: “Le bonheur, c'est un choix.” David Sandes

Roger Gaspar: “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.” James Oppenheim


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Tony Danayan:

“ ‫ ت�ضحك لك الدنيا‬،‫”ا�ضحك‬

Dina-Sue Musallam: “You are responsible for your happiness. In fact, you create it. You attract it, You manifest it. You are the architect of your reality. You choose your thoughts, your perceptions, and your reaction to external forces. You possess all of the tools needed to expand your awareness, to orchestrate the evolution of your consciousness, to choose happiness, to choose love. You are that powerful. Create the life you deserve. Vibrate love.”


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Gabriel Jureidini : “Pourquoi chercher désespérément la clef du bonheur alors que, de toute façon, la serrure n'a jamais existé .” Jacques Sternberg Tracy Nehme: “The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” Anaïs Nin

Alexandre Najjar: “Le bonheur c'est le malheur évité.”

Nadim Zarka: “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Maia Maatalani Fayad: “I am who I am because of you.” The Notebook


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Nad Blu: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” Marcus Aurelius

Youssef Nader: “Don't look for happiness, create it.”

Nathalie Habchi Harfouche: “Where fear is, happiness is not.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Talal Abou Mrad: “Le bonheur le plus doux est celui qu'on partage.” Jacques Delille


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An extract from an inspiring dialogue on the pursuit of Happiness - Carine Mouzannar Murr: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi - Nadim Haddad: “What if the thought was corrupt to start with?” - Pascale Choueiri Saad: “(Nadim) What you think is what you are, your thought is what defines you. "We are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls," said Churchill. Meaning we control our thoughts.” - Nathalie Habchi Harfouche: “(Nadim) The thought can be corrupt but satisfying to its owner...” - Carine Mouzannar Murr: “(Nadim) We will have a happy corrupted Being.” - Nadim Haddad: “(Pascale) I agree but this isn't what I was alluding to. (Nathalie) It depends who do you mean by "owner". If it's the intellect then yes it could be. If it's the soul , which I know to be the seat of experience, then it can't be satisfying. It will only lead to misalignment.” - Nadim Haddad: “(Carine) The Being can never be happy with corruption. Only actions that erupt from love and go in the direction of freedom can make the being happy.” - Nathalie Habchi Harfouche: “(Nadim) I don't want to bore you with philosophical narratives but again, this will depend on the person's true nature and level of consciousness.” - Nadim Haddad: “You can't bore me with wisdom Nathalie.”


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Nana Kfoury: “Le secret du bonheur est de regarder chaque situation telle qu'elle est plutôt que de la regarder pour ce qu'elle devrait être.”

Fred Hilal: “Les mathematiques de la vie : la vie + les rires x l'amour - la haine = le bonheur.”

Michel Araman: “Les peuples heureux n'ont pas d'histoire... ils vivent, voilà tout, et leur bonheur leur tient lieu d'histoire”


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Happiness on Earth

“Happiness” is a simple word that

morning, the purpose of every move,

sums up all of mankind’s endeavors

every sacrifice made, every pain

to reach that state of bliss.

endured, every breath taken, the

The hardest of tasks is to have the

extra mile walked to get closer to the

guts, wits, and luck to maintain it

clichéd targets: that certificate, that

for the rest of your living days, in

job opportunity, that promotion,

order to remain happy on Earth.

that house, that wealth, to meet that

“Happiness” during a life journey

right person….

could be the reason we wake up in the

All that stamina to reach the crest


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of those targets … And I ask, to

of man, and shared with humanity

reach exactly what? Security? A

a glimpse of His paradise, through

comfortable life style? A future with

freely endowing the greatest gift–

a lifetime partner? Success? Power ?

“Nature”– we must imitate the

What if you had a great career, were

Divine Creator and share the

loaded with material things, had

“Green Environment” with our

a life partner, and you were not

future generations. For life cannot

happy? What if you had children,

exist without “Nature,” and its

but you could not get along with

mesmerizing effect on human beings,

them? Had success and power, but

invigorating them immeasurably,

were not happy?

healing, remedying, sanctifying, and

Imagine yourself with all earthly

strengthening the soul and body,

supremacy, but surrounded by a

inside out.

forsaken natural environment?

Through Nature on Earth, we can be

So what is the real prerequisite of

blessed with a savor of “paradise”

“Happiness”? To be happy, or not to be?

in heaven: Now that is happiness!

“Happiness” cannot be rejuvenated

Nature is a replica of heaven’s peace,

or treasured without the sense

serenity, beauty, with its freedom

of “sharing” with the universe:

from stress, fear, anxiety, failure

giving benevolently, and creating

indignity, betrayal, the way that

a certain kind of happiness in the

paradise is adorned by the immensity

spirit of others.

of the enchanted green trees and

Just as God took time to create

crystal pure waters … I bet that it is

lovingly the “Green” of our Earth,

filled with cedars too!

before breathing life into the soul

Nour El Hashem


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A "PROMENADE" IN WEST BEKAA VALLEY LEBANON’S HIDDEN TREASURES ARE REVEALED THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUSRA BUSTROS words tamara batshon photography by yousra bustros


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YOUSRA BUSTROS


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Beyond’s very own contributing writer and photographer, Yousra Bustros, tells us about the lush pastoral region of the West Bekaa Valley. Set on the foothills of Mount Barouk overlooking Qaraoun Lake, the charming village of Kherbet Kanafar is ideal for hiking, with plenty of mouthwatering local delicacies with which to reward oneself after a workout.

When did you move to the Bekaa Valley, and to which part did you move precisely? The Bekaa region is divided into three constituencies where the nature and landscapes differ: the North Bekaa, the Central Bekaa, and the West Bekaa. I started by coming to Kherbet Kanafar in West Bekaa to spend the weekends seven years ago. Normally, I live in Kesrouan on the coast, and I knew the area as a visitor coming for social and family gatherings without having had the time to discover it in depth. Being a lover of hiking and photography I knew many parts of Lebanon, but I had never had the opportunity to travel and explore the trails of the West Bekaa. Today, I spend most of my time here. The nature must be spectacular in this part of Lebanon, right? Spectacular is the right description of the West Bekaa, which is much greener than other parts of Bekaa. Nothing irritates me as much as when I hear people who come to us say: "How beautiful! We don’t believe we are in Lebanon! ". There are many regions in this country that are magnificent and must be preserved at all costs, because land and roots are the only real assets that we will be passing on to the next generation. Like looking out to sea or to the desert, the opening of the horizon to the West Bekaa gives an impression of infinity, which is breathtaking. This area is rich with fertile agricultural plains, as well as the verdant

mountains of Mount Lebanon, which border the plains on its western flank and the majestic Mount Hermon to the east. Hence the richness and contrasts of the landscapes gives this beautiful region of Lebanon its unique character. Also the four seasons are perfectly defined, so the landscape of the Bekaa offers rich and new colors every few months. Tell us about your upcoming project: Kherbet Kanafar Promenades The idea came to me one day after inviting friends from Beirut to hike with us and enjoy breakfast on the terrace made with local products. When I noticed their joy and enthusiasm it really got me thinking about how to take it further. I've been out of the workforce for three years now; if I wanted to work again it would be impossible for me to be confined to an office with a fixed schedule. I believe that the West Bekaa region has enormous potential in eco-tourism and that it is necessary to do everything to preserve the nature and to safeguard its beauty. Having been drawn to its charm myself, I felt obliged to defend and promote this area. I will be starting these hiking-walk groups for 10-12 people and announcing the date on Facebook and Instagram and through word of mouth. The walks – which are moderate in level – will start at 8:30 a.m. and last for two to three hours. On the way back, a breakfast will be served to the hikers at my home with products from the region. We dine on the terrace if it is a warm day or in my garden room around the wood stove if it is cool. The project is called Kherbet Kanafar Promenades (Kherbet Kanafar Walks) because the hiking starting point will often start from our home in Kherbet Kanafar. In addition, I use the word "walk" because it is not really a strenuous hike but more of a beautiful walk that will allow nature lovers to discover the region at a reasonable pace. I will limit the number of people to create an intimate group where it feels like walking with friends and also so that the walkers can enjoy the homemade breakfast afterwards. I won’t try to compete with hiking clubs and even less with restaurants. My concept is very niche, focusing on personalization and authenticity. For those interested, I will also organize walks with breakfast by appointment.


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What are the special areas to see on a hike? The area is rich in trails and paths suitable for hiking mainly farm roads or goat paths. For medium level hikes the mountains overlooking the plains are the ideal place. For easier hikes the plains, rich in vineyards and orchards, are beautiful especially in spring when the orchards are in bloom. There is the Aamiq Reserve, a breathtaking wetland with diverse flora and fauna that is recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve and classified by the Ramsar Convention, which aims to prevent the degradation of wetlands in the world. Higher on the Barouk Mountain that overlooks the West Bekaa is also the natural reserve of Cedars of the Chouf. To get the best panoramic view, where would you go? Without a doubt it is the mountains that overlook the plains, with breathtaking views of the vineyards, Lake Qaroun, and Mount Hermon. From the plains, the view of the majestic chain of Mount Lebanon is also magnificent. What are the local delicacies for which this area is famous? The Bekaa is renowned for kechek, labneh, and laban from cows and goats. The region offers a very wide range of delicacies such as kechek, qawarma, fig jams, pumpkins, quinces and apricots, peaches and apricots in syrup (compotes), tomato concentrate or tomatoes cut into jars, apple and grape vinegar, frikeh, burghul (cracked wheat), lentils, vegetables pressed in vinegar (kabiss), dried

fruits, mixtures of herbal teas, aromatic herbs, syrups of blackberries, and many more. Tell us about your other project to promote the local delicacies. In September 2017, either on the third or fourth weekend, I plan to do an open house at my West Bekaa home. People can spend a beautiful day in a charming setting while buying their delicacies, fruits and vegetables of the season from the farmers, while tasting manaqish, all kinds of saj savories and discovering local wines. They may also see local paintings, sculptures, photography and so forth. I’ll be posting the details closer to the date. How do you get to this area from Beirut? Kherbet Kanafar is 55 kilometers from Beirut and is accessible from the road to Damascus by turning off at the entrance of Chtaura to the right towards the West Bekaa. For residents of Jbeil, Kesrouan and Metn I advise them to take the road to Tarchich-Zahle, which is very beautiful (with less trucks) especially during the week. Typically on Sunday mornings the roads are much less congested and the journey from Beirut should not take much more than an hour. Are there any recommended spots to see in West Bekaa? Coming to the West Bekaa and not discovering the vineyards and tasting the wines is like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower! But this is also planned in the programs of Kherbet Kanafar (Kherbet Kanafar Promenades).


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OF THE THINGS THAT WILL DIE AND BE BORN AGAIN A TRIBUTE TO THE INFINITE CHARM AND EXQUISITENESS OF THE CYCLE OF LIFE.

Beauty — be not caused — It Is Chase it, and it ceases Chase it not, and it abides Overtake the Creases In the Meadow — when the Wind Runs his fingers thro' it Deity will see to it That You never do it emily dickinson


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they bloom as thoufh the world needs


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their beauty as a guiding light


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and then they wilt


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they take our breath away


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PRESSING FOR PRESERVATION ONE MAN’S MISSION TO SAVE AL KOURA’S LIQUID GOLD words alia fawaz


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Raffoul Raffoul, a senior manager at Byblos Bank’s downtown head office, is originally from Al Koura – a large district in the north of Lebanon particularly known for olive tree cultivation and olive oil production. Like many Lebanese, Raffoul inherited a plot of land in his ancestral village. His land was rich with olive orchards, but unfortunately there were hardly any skilled olive farmers left to tend to these trees, and he found that his situation was not unique. In order to make sure that these olive trees were not neglected, ten years ago Raffoul and sixteen other landowners in Al Koura formed a co-operative and hired permanent, trained staff to look after the olives trees over an area of several thousand hectares.

Making olive oil production sustainable “Initially we got funding from the European Union, followed by US Aid for three years,” explains Raffoul. “Today we are completely selfsufficient and hoping to start making profit from our olive oil venture,” he adds. This project, under the name “COOP for the Development of Olive Produce in Darbaachtar Alkoura Ltd.,” was established so that Raffoul and others could keep the agricultural sector alive, improve the quality of olive oil from Al Koura, and make olive oil production sustainable. With the initial funding, the cooperative invested in state-of-the art equipment to improve the processing and storage of the olives. “We got the Alfa Laval Italian-made automatic mill that washes olives using minimum amounts of water to preserve the flavor,” says Raffoul. The co-operative also has modern stainless steel airtight storage facilities and a mechanical olive picker fitted with a special comb, which is ten times more efficient than doing the job manually.

Until recently Raffoul and his partners produced olive oil from their land and sold it mostly as wholesale to friends and family. Last year they also launched a new project with their own branded olive oil to be sold as retail. Under the name “Zeit Zaman,” the co-operative produces extra virgin olive oil, which comes in both 250 ml and 500 ml glass bottles. In 2012 and in 2014, they won the award for the best extra virgin olive oil when they competed nationally at HORECA (the international event for hospitality and food service industries). In addition to oil, the team also produces olive oil soap and fire logs (made from crushed olive pits). The secret of aromatic olive oil The secret to producing aromatic and flavor-rich olive oil is to pick the olives early, which is more commonly done in Europe. This is not widely practiced in Lebanon, as growers tend to wait until olives ripen more – which produces more volume but less flavor. “Low acidity is the measure for us,”


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107 explains Raffoul. “When the olives are picked early they are healthier, as they are rich with minerals, such as phenol,” he notes. Picking early means that it is around 40 percent more expensive to produce, as you obtain less oil. However, for Raffoul and his team, by investing in high-quality equipment and well-trained staff, they are trying to maximize output so that they can still compete pricewise with the market with their extra virgin early pressed oil. “The supermarket is flooded with olive oil that is not pure and that is overripe,” explains Raffoul. He adds: “Most people, however, don’t know the difference and don’t care. Simply because this is what they are used to.”

To educate the public about the making of fine olive oil and to create a demand for the production from Al Koura, Raffoul and his co-operative organized the “Olive Harvest Festival” in Al Koura. The first one took place in late October of last year. This two-day event invites people to witness the making of olive oil, taste the different types, and hopefully educate the public about the high-quality oil that “Zeit Zaman” and others are making. Raffoul says optimistically: “We will be organizing this event every year. Last year we had 300 visitors and I am sure at the next one in October 2017 we will get a lot more.”

WHEN THE OLIVES ARE PICKED EARLY THEY ARE HEALTHIER , AS THEY ARE RICH WITH MINERALS, SUCH AS PHENOL.


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TAKE A DIFFERENT DIRECTION FORGET PARIS OR LONDON AND PICK SOMEWHERE FRESH TO GO THIS SPRING words varouj tenbelian

For many people, spring marks the coming of the holiday season. Around the world people start thinking about ways of coming out of their work routine and start looking for a convenient destination to relax, have fun, explore, and renew their strength by escaping from the pressures and challenges of daily life. Many would already have bought their airline tickets and reserved the best hotel that they can afford. The world is full of places that offer the traveler a big return on every penny that he plans to spend.

It’s springtime and the season for extraordinary travel – trips that will create lasting memories – is about to begin. Today’s spring season travel market caters to all comers, offering anything from five-star to three-star hotel rooms, private lodges to guided tours or camping under the stars. And however luxurious in the city or wild in the wilderness, a refreshing pool or beach is seldom far away. The following are just a few ideas as to how travelers can build memories together this spring season. Travelers who like an Asian adventure in an exotic nature can choose Sri Lanka. It is a blend of nature and culture, with elephant orphanages next door to World Heritage temples. It can satisfy any adventurous group or family, no matter how diverse the members’ interests are.


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Sri Lanka is famed for the amazing diversity of culture, the natural beauty of the landscape and a proud history dating back over 2500 years! The ancient wonders of the cultural triangle include historical monuments, fortresses as well as religious sites. You can choose between a variety of activities from lazing on the beach to diving in coral reefs and observing dolpins and whales. Explore the ancient kingdom, feed orphaned elephant babies in Pinnawalla, sip the world´s finest tea and visit the historical fortress in Galle.


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“There's no one on the island telling them they're not good enough, so they just go ahead and sing and paint and write.� Eric Weiner The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World


111 Up to the very north of the hemisphere, towards the west, Iceland, known as the “land of fire and ice and the Northern Lights� is found at its most impressive after winter. Iceland is one of the most striking creations of nature on the planet. It is a land of dazzling white glaciers and black sands, blue hot springs, rugged lava fields, and green, green valleys.


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113 Still in Europe, from mid-April until the first week in May, millions of hand-planted tulips, hyacinths, and other spring annuals burst into bloom in the Netherland’s worldfamous Keukenhof Garden in Lisse. A spring trip to this 79-acre breathtaking park and its surroundings is second to none.


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“Te voglio bene assai ma tanto tanto bene sai e' una catena ormai che scioglie il sangue dint' e' vene sai� Caruso


115 Midway down the Italian peninsula, Tuscany is distinguished by rolling hills, snowcapped mountains, dramatic cypress trees, and miles of coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea—which all adds up to gorgeous views at practically every turn. The beauty of the landscape provides a perfect foil for the region's abundance of superlative art and architecture. It also produces some of Italy's finest wines and olive oils.


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117 Still in Italy, Florence, the city of the lily, which gave birth to the Renaissance and changed the way we see the world, is one of the most sought-after destinations. For centuries it has captured the imaginations of travelers, who have come seeking rooms with views and phenomenal art.


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To the east of Italy, Greece is a major tourist destination. Crete, the southern Greek island, could also be special. Crete is a unique world where civilization is counted by the millennium. From every point of view travelers discover landscapes of amazing variety. Miles of beaches, some with a wealth of amenities and others isolated and unspoiled, line the coast.


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“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.� Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek


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In Cuba and specifically in Havana there's a sort of energy that turns every situation into something unexpected. Fernando Perez


121 If you don’t mind crossing the Atlantic, then many other destinations promise to make your trip even more memorable. Discover the fascinating island of Cuba and its capital, Havana. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, rich in culture and history. Havana is a vibrant city that teems with beautiful, if sometimes shabby, colonial buildings. The weathered buildings have a faded charm and vintage cars continue to cruise the streets. From white sand beaches, rolling hills, forests and fields of tobacco to colonial architectural treasures and the rhythmic beat of its music, Cuba captivates travelers. After your Cuba tour why not extend your Caribbean travel and discover some of the many other Caribbean Islands - Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, to mention but a few.


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Returning to Europe, if you’re an art lover, Salzburg, the Golden City of High Baroque in Austria, the Florence of the North, will be an excellent choice. Yet, for music lovers, Salzburg is the birthplace of one of the world's most beloved composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the epic movie, The Sound of Music.


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Doe, a deer, a female deer Ray, a drop of golden sun Me, a name, I call myself Far, a long, long way to run


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South of Salzburg, Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was once a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient.


125 In Western Europe, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, combines the unrivaled beauty of the 17th-century Golden Age city center with plenty of museums and art of the highest order, not to mention a remarkably laid-back atmosphere. It all comes together to make this one of the world's most appealing and offbeat metropolises in the world.

“Amsterdam has more than 150 canals and 1,250 bridges, but it never seems crowded, nor bent and bitter from fleecing the tourist.� Julie Burchill


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Bruges in Belgium is a city that could have sprung from the pages of a Gothic fairy tale. Its cobbled streets, spidery canals, and medieval churches are remarkably wellpreserved. They were spared the devastation that saw much of Belgium leveled during the 20th-century wars.


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And when in Bruges, buy chocolate... In Bruges, the home of fine chocolate, visit The Chocolate Museum! It has the answers to all your questions about cocoa and its 4,000 year history.


128 Travel enthusiasts will never get bored with their planned visits to the old continent, but the world is full of amazing but overlooked destinations that are hidden gems that you need to visit. Such a destination exists to the very, very far east, in Indonesia. Bali, the famed Island of the Gods, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colorful, deeply spiritual, and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. Enjoy your trip and tell us about it.


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AS IBN BATTUTA SAID,

“TRAVELING IT LEAVES YOU SPEECHLESS, AND THEN IT TURNS YOU INTO A STORYTELLER.”


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BONDING WITH MOTHER (NATURE) SPRING IS THE PERFECT SEASON TO RECONNECT IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS words tamara batshon


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As technology advances and toys become more sophisticated, children today are becoming more focused on things such as the Internet and video games. Whatever happened to those wonderful games that we played as children? Our sensory world was much more nature-based and our minds were full of imagination when we played. Wouldn’t it be great to revive these games and play them all over again? To actually engage in these old-fashioned, simple activities with our children is a lot of fun. It also goes a long way towards reinforcing the special bond that we have with them. Treating our children well does not have to mean taking them on vacations or giving them lavish gifts. It is about spending quality time with them and engaging in simple activities together. As the weather improves this spring with longer sunny days, plan a few outdoor events and games that are just as amazing to do today as they were back then.

Go on a Picnic On a beautiful day, go outside and savor the sunshine with your kids. There are plenty of places all over Lebanon that are ideal for picnics. A great spot for children in tow is Horsh Tabet Park, the largest public garden in Beirut, with plenty of open and shaded areas. If you want to experience a more wild natural setting go to Jannet Chouwen in the district of Jbeil. After a big lunch you can take a dip in its breathtaking lake. If you prefer something more structured, Swings in the Mar Mousa (Metn), where you can book your picnic table in advance, may be suitable. Tag After a picnic lunch, burn away those calories with a game of tag. Pretty much a childhood classic, most people know the rules. First decide who will start out as being “it.” That person chases the other people around, trying to tag one of them with their hand. The newly tagged person is now “it.” There is often the rule of “no tag-backs” whereby you can’t tag the person who has just tagged you. The game ends when everyone is tired of running around!

Bounce a Bubble It’s simple and so easy to do anywhere! Just go outside – whether in a garden or even your front porch and blow bubbles with the little ones. There are plenty of ready-made bubble gadgets in toy stores, and it is fairly simple to make your own bubble mixture at home.


133 Fly a Kite Springtime breezes make it the perfect time to go outside and fly a kite with your kids. With its generous coastline, Lebanon has many sandy beaches you can choose from. Just take off your shoes and run along the beach with your kite on a windy day. Make Mud Pies After those rainy spring days the wet ground is the perfect medium for childhood fun: mud puddles! Don’t worry about getting messy and encourage your children to explore the world when it’s wet, to splash in the puddles left behind and squeeze the soggy earth between their fingers. Ideally find a green space near the house so you can usher them back inside to a nice, warm bath! Marbles Actually children were playing marbles as long ago as 4,000 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. It’s still a cool game and the rules have not changed much since. You can just draw a circle in the sand or on the sidewalk, and then take turns trying to knock each other’s marbles out of the circle with your one large marble. To play you just need a bunch of small marbles and one large one. Use Sidewalk Chalk Head outside on a sunny day and draw something fun with chalk. Get many colors to make the pictures lively. You can also pour some water from your garden watering can and watch the drawings transform themselves. Or draw a hopscotch board and join the kids for some jumping exercise. Don’t worry about making a mess - the next time it rains it will all disappear! I Spy Game This is a great game to play with kids while traveling in the car or on a bus. It gets them to be creative and to engage in the scenery around them. You spot something out the window and give clues by giving them the first letter of the word: “I spy with my little eye something that begins with B.” A word of warning: With several kids playing it can get quite boisterous in the car! Telephone This is a cool game if you are in a garden. Sit in a circle and choose one person who thinks up a sentence and whispers it to the next person and so on. When the sentence finally reaches the last person, that person says the sentence out loud. Errors tend to add up as the sentence is passed on bringing out lots of laughter in children. Plant Something A great spring activity is to plant seeds with your kids. Planting seeds and nurturing them as they grow will teach kids the importance of environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature. If you don’t have a garden area you can use a pot and keep it at home. The children will enjoy the process and feel rewarded when they see their plants grow.


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"Happiness is: 9 acres 3 lakes 2 mountains an endless forest no neighbors my cabin."

G c i

A e

W t m o

Al-Janab


Beyond Magazine Issue 23 Spring 2017  

Goodbye winter blues and welcome to spring’s hopes and new beginnings! It might still be cold and it may still be wet, but the mornings are...

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