Category Archives: Social Issues in Lebanon

What type of parent are you going to be?

“In Lebanon, a country where most people under 30 still live with their parents and are financially dependent on them, it’s hard to properly define the youth segment.”

This quote appeared in a March 2011 article in Communicate Magazine titled, “Children’s best interest.  Lebanon’s financial institutions are targeting younger consumers.  We find out why.”

..It also serves as the perfect introduction to this post.

Perhaps one of the most striking things about Lebanese culture/society in general, is how dependent young people – and when I say young people..I mean between the ages of 20 – 30..and sometimes older – are on their parents. But what’s interesting about this phenomenon, at least for me..is that this is usually at the behest of parents, not of children. Since (from my understanding), parents’ ability to provide for their children (even if their children are well into their 30′s) is very much a part of what Lebanese society considers “good parenting.” As well doing their “adult child’s” laundry, waking up early to prepare lunch and pack it in tupperware, making all of their appointments, etc etc the list goes on. I mean, after living most of your life in this type of environment, it must be close to impossible to move out of your parent’s house for two reasons: 1. you don’t know how to fend for yourself 2. you feel that you owe it to your parents to stay at home until you get married especially after all they have done for you throughout the years!

Over-parenting

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I know what many of you are going to say.. “Well, in America..parents kick you out of the house at 18!!”  And I’m here to tell you that that couldn’t be further from the truth. (But at the same time, I can’t blame people for thinking that, especially given the way American society is portrayed on TV and in movies.) Just as a point of reference, 90% of people I know who are around my age (24) still live at home.  That being said, they’ve also had part-time, or even full-time jobs since they were in University (and sometimes even in high school!).  And not because their parents forced them to get a job..but because it’s just “the thing to do.” (Hell, at 15 I was working two part-time jobs! And loving it!..) I like to think of it as a preparation of sorts..for the challenges of the real world.

And as you start working, your parents gradually give you responsibilities (both household as well as financial) so you can learn the value of money and hard work.. This couldn’t be more opposite from Lebanese society (well, most of Lebanese society as I understand it. I know I’m making a hasty generalization here). For example, I remember asking one of my girlfriends if she worked during her University years. She went on to tell me that her father explicitly told her, “No daughter of mine is going to work during University!”..as if it’s something that people of a certain social standing “just don’t do.”)

Over-parenting

Parents need to cut the strings!

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I thought about this during a conversation with a recently married friend of mine.  She was telling me that it’s only since she’s married that she understands how much life “costs.” Having lived at home for over 30 years, it was a very hard adjustment for her,,and I can see why! I mean, going from a household where you’re treated like a princess and don’t have to lift a finger to having to work full time, run errands, cook, clean, raise kids, and manage a household budget must be sooo overwhelming! (Hence my argument in favor of working and having responsibilities when you’re young, as well as living with someone before you get married! But the latter is definitely an argument for another day.) ..Yet still, I have heard many cases of Mother’s still sending food for their daughters even after they’ve gotten married!

Hearing stories like that of my friends” really make me wonder whether parents in Lebanon are actually doing their children a disservice by treating them like little prince and princesses. How is doing everything for your children preparing them for the harsh realities of today’s “real world” (whatever that means)? Writing this makes me think of yet another story of a friend of mine who had an opportunity to study in France when he finished High School in Beirut, but decided not to because he had been so sheltered all of his life that the mere thought of having to fend for himself was too overwhelming!

over-parentingsource

So, all of this to say..I’m really interested in hearing what type of parent you think you’re going to be? Do you think societal values are changing in Lebanon? Do you plan on raising your children the same way your parents raised you? What do you think about family dynamics in Lebanon? Agree? Disagree? In need of revision?

I’m all ears.

Come to think of it maybe I’m just jealous that you Lebanese got it made!

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Unnecessary PANIC.

My parents sent me an email in a panic over this article that appeared in CNN yesterday:

(CNN) — The Lebanese army fired anti-aircraft guns on Israeli warplanes Wednesday after what it said were repeated violations of Lebanese airspace, state media reported.

According to the National News Agency of Lebanon, the army opened fire after Israeli planes entered Lebanese airspace for a third time over a two-hour period in what would be a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.

“The Israel Defense Forces does not comment on Israeli Air Force activity or rumors regarding it,” an IDF spokeswoman said.

Airspace violations by Israel have been reported since a cease fire was established following five weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. The Israeli military attacked after Lebanese-based Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers during a cross-border raid.

Under Resolution 1701, Israel is not supposed to conduct military operations over or in Lebanon. Israel has accused Hezbollah of smuggling arms into southern Lebanon, also in violation of the resolution.

First of all, what the hell are anti-aircraft guns?

I find it so ironic that my father is in Trinidad, worrying about my safety..while I’m living it up here in Lebanon..I’m only now realizing how skewed the news (CNN in particular) is and how they are to blame for the perpetuation of inaccurate preconceptions of Lebanon.

Stop talking trash CNN!!  I’m trying to get my father to visit me, and you’re not helping!

Can anyone refer me to some unbiased news sources outside of BBC International?

Thanks.

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A Red Cross checkpoint..

Ever been through a Red Cross check point? I have.

My friends and I went through this particular one on the way back to Beirut from Batroun..I don’t mind people asking for donations when cars are at a stop light, but to stop traffic in the middle of the highway to ask for donations?

Now that’s something.

Red Cross Lebanon

Give us yo money!

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Beit Beirut

Recently a lot of people have been voicing their concerns over the demolition of historic buildings in Beirut..but there are some, albeit few, instances where steps are being taken to preserve Beirut’s cultural and architectural heritage..Namely the transformation of Maison Jaune, or The Yellow House, into Beit Beirut – a museum and urban cultural center..

“Maison Jaune” (The Yellow House) THEN..photo credit: Beit Beirut FB fan page

“Maison Jaune” (The Yellow House) NOW..photo credit Beit Beirut FB fan page

According to Beit Beirut’s facebook page,

A unique architectural landmark in the heart of Sodeco, Maison Jaune will undergo a full restoration through a combination of heritage conservation, contemporary architecture, and technological innovation. This symbolic site was chosen by the Municipality of Beirut to become a unique cultural and architectural landmark.   Dedicated to the history of Beirut, Beit Beirut will allow Lebanese people along with tourists to discover the city through its various (permanent and temporary) activities and exhibitions.

Beit Beirut will also serve as an urban observatory which stresses the importance of preserving Beirut’s cultural identity and architectural heritage.  The Yellow House, a living testimony to Beirut’s war torn past, will house a museum dedicated to furthering the understanding of Lebanese history.

Beit Beirut - photo credit iSoura

The Plans..from Maison Jaune to Beit Beirut..photo credit Beit Beirut FB fan page

All material from this post was taken from Beit Beirut’s facebook fan page..support the cause!  Click here.

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How pimp is your…cell phone number?

For the record, paying for your phone number to have the numbers “69″  in it doesn’t make any girl want to sleep with you.

Whoever started this trend obviously wasn’t getting any..

It cracks me up every time I pass a cell phone store and see phone numbers plastered on the glass like this one on Bliss street below..

Call Net in Hamra

Don't you dare pay for you phone number!

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Saifi Village

After Souk el Tayeb,,I wandered through Saifi (which I learned means “summery”) village.  I wonder what it’s like to live in a place called Summery Village..must be nice!  Anyhow, it’s another project in downtown, under the auspices of Solidere, the Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut Central District.

It seems that the Lebanese are divided in their thought’s about their new identity, their plasticsurgerization.. and mainly their new downtown central district..While some think it has come at a steep cost, with the razing of historic buildings and the rising of living costs..others welcome it as a relief, a freedom of sorts, from their war torn past. 

I was thinking about this as I was heading to work the other morning, when the taxi driver turned to me and said, “Hariri was a great man for giving the Lebanese a new downtown.”  I admired the fact that he was able to appreciate Solidere, even at a distance..all the while acknowledging the fact that neither him nor his family would ever be able to fully take advantage of downtown, with its multimillion dollar apartments and its swanky restaurants..As is the case for many Lebanese…

Its experiences like these that make me keep my cynicism in check..

Anyway..here are some photos from Saifi!

Saifi Village

Saifi Village square..

Globes in Saifi..

These images serve as a stark contrast to what some of the other buildings not too far away look like..

Outskirts of Hamra..

Beirut buildings..

Beirut buildings..

Lebanon..a country of contrast and contradiction.

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Plastic surgery in Lebanon – on the decline?

A blog about Lebanon wouldn’t be complete without mention of plastic surgery and the looks obsessed.  Although there are some Lebanese women who still insist on looking like scary mutant clones  and walking around with their bandages still on (crazy I know), I think that increasingly, Lebanese women are refusing to succumb to societal pressures and embracing their natural beauty. (YAY!)

To all Lebanese women: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! :)

I mean, can someone explain to me the rationale for every woman wanting to look like a version of the below?

Nancy Ajram famous Lebanese singer

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