Author Archives: samzzzz

Hellofood.com – 1 platform for all your food deliveries

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Hellofood is now live in Lebanon after successful launches in several markets around the world, including Jordan and KSA.

The concept is very simple. Hellofood aggregates restaurants’ menus on their online platform. As a user, all you have to do is choose your restaurant, enter an address and order. The restaurant then delivers to your door.

Though most restaurants deliver in Lebanon, this is most interesting because very few restaurants actually have online interfaces for deliveries. After only 2 weeks live, Hellofood already has 26 restaurants registered and growing fast.

The interface is very intuitive and user-friendly, and also soon launching as a mobile app, which has proven successful in Jordan and Saudi.

You can try the service for yourself here:

When you do try it, let us know what you think in the comments.
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Ya batrak, ya mufti… I love u But!

Amidst the social turmoil in France around ‘le mariage pour tous’ and gay rights in general as well as the pseudo-debate in Lebanon concerning civil marriage comes a timely and relevant webseries entitled ‘I Luv U But’.

Mouna and Sam are second-generation Lebanese immigrants to  Australia who are having a hard time coping with the contradictions between their gay identities and their parents’ conservative, religious views.

The way out: classic. Fake a heterosexual marriage to each other.

The result: a series of very light-hearted, somewhat cynical, but mostly spot-on funny short episodes following their life as a married couple. Some scenes are somewhat lacking in substance, others are full of wit and humor.

Take a step back and remember homosexuality is still illegal in Lebanon and our current societal debate is around…civil marriage rights. A few thousand miles behind.

I guess better to laugh about it: Check their Youtube channel, Like them on Facebook

 

Cultural terrorism prevents Mashrou3 Leila from opening for RHCP in Beirut

I haven’t posted here in a long time but this grinds my gears so i’m typing again.

Context is here for those unaware.

Disclaimer in expectation of simplistic, partisan comments: I am not an Israel supporter, I am not a traitor of the Palestinian cause…yada yada yada

Seriously? Simply because RHCP won’t back down on performing in Tel aviv, you’re arrogant enough to be self-righteous enough to pressure the band from opening for them in Beirut? Are you forgetting the essential part of the story here? They’re performing in Beirut!!!

Whether you like it or not, Israel is a nation with an economy, a government, and an influence in today’s world as well as a diaspora (and hence consequences around the world) that far exceeds the Lebanese one.

(Update): The band is also to blame here as they may have caved a little too easily.

Many have tried before to use cultural sanctions as an answer to the Israeli government’s political and military actions without success. You, ‘activist’, are willing to deny an up and coming band with a great opportunity ahead, the chance to open for one of the greatest bands of the past twenty years because you don’t agree with the Israeli government?

‘Cultural terrorism’ is the word you’re looking for. I saw you, activist, request they cancel their Tel-aviv concert. I didn’t actually see you ask them to *choose* between Beirut and Tel Aviv. Even after they tweeted their “joy, pleasure and excitement at playing in Tel Aviv,” as well as their “great love for Israel.”

But of course you can’t ask them to choose. No artist would ever perform in Lebanon again if that was the choice offered to them. Every single artist you can name who’s ever performed in Lebanon, by the way, has also performed in Israel.  Every movie you’ve seen has been aired in Israel. Every series you’ve watched has been aired in Israel. Every product you buy is on sale in Israel…

Where is the logic?

But it seems, unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, you do have somewhat of a reach, to pressure the local band into pulling back. Despicable.

How would you have felt if Israeli activists had decided that Lebanon, being a ‘terrorist country’, they wanted to pressure them to boycott their concert in Lebanon?

Rhetoric question, i guess… not even really expecting this post to make a difference, but wanted to write it…

Do you speak Lebanese?

It seems “In polyglot Lebanon, one language is falling behind: Arabic”.

The article starts with the following questions

-Have you ever seen a Hollywood movie dubbed in Arabic?
-Did you ever solve a math problem in Arabic?
-Did you eat in an Italian restaurant where the entire menu is written in Arabic?

If you answered “no” to all of the questions above, you’re probably Lebanese. A “yes” answer on the other hand means that you could be Syrian, Egyptian, Jordanian or a holder of any other Arab nationality.

That got me thinking. Back in the Grand lycee Franco-Libanais in Ashrafieh, it always seemed to us, students, that the “-Libanais” part of it was just there to recognize the geographical location of the premises, nothing more. While half the students were exempt of Arabic classes, a considerable chunk of the other half saw Arabic class as the only one in which competition was over who could get the lowest grade. The lack of interest in the subject even had us competing over who would get kicked out of class the fastest, or make up the funniest answer on the Lebanese history or geography test. As such, what got me the respect of the “cool kids”, was my answer to “describe geological properties of the Lebanese coast” in 3eme (or 9th grade). It involved (in very bad literary Arabic), a gay couple having sex on the sandy beaches of the north, and if memory serves me well, a bunch of geography teachers swimming to Cyprus by fear of getting beaten up by their students. While the importance granted to history, math or biology (taught in French) was personal, depending on how much each student liked the teacher, the class, or simply had a knack for the subject, as soon as a class was taught in Arabic, “on s’en fout” seemed to be the consensus.

I won’t get into explaining the symptoms of the tri-lingual phenomenon that still takes place in Lebanon, it is too well-known. I won’t go either into the responsibility of the school system and the grouchy, grouchy oily bitter-antique boniches we had as Arabic teachers. Because that’s not the main reason we didn’t find a use for Arabic in our daily lives. What makes up our language is, (beyond family and school) the media we are exposed to and the level to which we can relate to it.

I had all the Lebanese channels at home, as a kid, and I had cable too. In the evening when I sat in front of the TV, I had the choice between the Lebanese channels, who in their majority, offered a Mexican soap opera, dubbed not in “Lebanese” spoken language but in literary Arabic, which I could barely understand and for which I had no use whatsoever in my daily life. To top that, it told the story of a maid falling in love with her master and getting a kiss on the cheek from him once every 17 episodes.

At the time, I was already going out with friends on weekends, be it to the movies, restaurants, bars or clubs (I started early, but that’s not the point). I had the choice between the cheesy Mexican soap and (to take the simplest example), “Friends” (the sitcom). I don’t think I need to go much further with the explanation. Be it for the content of the show or its quality, I could relate. I lived similar situations with my friends. So when, at some point, I saw a chick checking out my friend, I very naturally said “that chick’s checking you out”. Couldn’t have dreamed of saying “inna hazihi el fatat toursilou nazraten ilayka”.

All this to say, you can’t really blame the kids for favoring western culture to, well, mostly Mexican-dubbed-in-Arabic culture. It’s good to see, on the other hand, the Lebanese that are attached to their mother tongue and actually export it abroad. A great example is the work of Tarek Atrissi who’s reinventing Arabic calligraphy through his design works in the Netherlands. (thanks @Bruz for the link)

Now this isn’t really the case anymore but that doesn’t stop the tri-lingual phenomenon. On my last trip to Beirut, I was sitting in front of my TV watching LBC commercials, and at one point, it struck me that during a Lebanese show, in Arabic, about 20% of the ads were either in English or in French. Not even subtitled. How would you, educated polyglot Lebanese, like it, if during your TV show, you had to sit through three minutes of commercials in German?? (And don’t you even dare changing the channel).

You wonder why other Arabs speak better Arabic? Countries like Saudi and Kuwait acknowledge their language and make even brands such as H&M translate their logo into Arabic characters to have the right to set up stores there. In France, on a billboard advertising McDonald’s McChicken, Chicken is translated into *poulet, right there on the billboard. In the meantime, we allow ads in English and French to air during a Lebanese show on a Lebanese channel, not even considering the many who are in front of their TV, in their homes, in their own neighborhood, in their own country and don’t even understand their local television!!!!!!! As proud as we want to be of our westernized, multi-cultural, polyglot people, this can never ever be at the cost of forgetting our own language.

This brings me to the definition of “polyglot”. While it may seem pretty obvious, a polyglot is one who fluently speaks several languages. One who could sustain substantial conversations in foreign languages with natives of these languages.

In that sense, very few of our educated Lebanese people are indeed polyglot. In Lebanon, the reason we all speak three languages is because we can’t speak any one of them properly. I dare any of you to have a 10-minute conversation in only one of these languages with a native speaker. My assumption is that 90% would be lost by the third minute.

Enno, for the record, “il y’a trop de 3aj’a” doesn’t count as a sentence in French. Neither does “I’m going to the centre-ville” count as an English one.

Here are a couple videos that summarize it pretty well

Mashrou3 Leila – Raksit Leila

It’s creations like this one that make me genuinely proud of the Lebanese artistic scene.

Mashrou3 Leila and Yelostudio simply outdid themselves on this one.

A colorful, harmonious, twisted mix of image and sound.

5 minutes of pure bliss…

Lebanese laique pride – by Rayess Bek

| Le bijou est aussi un droit | Really?

It’s been a while since we’ve bashed on a campaign on here. I was starting to miss it. Clementine (agency) has just made the job real easy.

This campaign is wrong on so many levels I wouldn’t know where to start.

Let’s go for the creative concept: so “A jewel is also a right”? I realize this is a literal translation, but I have to say I really tried digging deeper to translate more meaningfully; didn’t find anything there. So a jewel is also a right. As in, a jewel is so many (obvious?) things, but what we hadn’t realized is that it is also the right of every woman. Please note that “a right” here, actually takes on the same significance as it would in “women rights”. Kind of pretentious if you ask me.

At this point, i thought I read “Le bijou aussi, est un droit”, as in “jewels too are a right” which in many ways would’ve made more sense if backed with the proper execution. That would be a woman actually taking advantage of all her rights (voting, working, gender equality in general…) and then signing with a slogan that would imply something like: “you fought for your rights, you obtained them, today you can’t live without them…well, treating yourself (or having your man treat you) to jewelery is also your right. Take it”. Now , I’m not saying that would be a good concept, but it could make sense on a certain level. “A jewel is also a right”: means absolutely nothing.

Now as if this wasn’t enough, the ad actually includes a call to action: “reclame-le”, as in “claim your right to a jewel”. Beyond the blatant lack of subtlety required for a luxury brand, the very concept of claiming your rights implies claiming them from someone. In this case, the only interpretation I can find is for a woman to claim a jewel form her husband/boyfriend (who’s been holding back?)… This, in the 21st century, from the agency that gave us “sois belle et vote” is sort of aberrant. If you’re going for global brand image, try shooting ahead of the traditional, patriarchal society’s mentality. How about empowering the woman to believe she can actually cater for herself, even when it comes to luxury items? But moving on…

So the copywriter sucks, we’ve established that. Now on to the art director and the brilliant execution. The first word that came to mind was “whaaaaatttt?”. I don’t get it. I really don’t. If someone does (or if one of the creators happens to stumble on this page, please enlighten me).

A woman, sitting alone. She’s sad? Maybe nostalgic. She’s pensive. What is she thinking about? Her lack of jewelry maybe? Notice none of the women is actually wearing any piece of jewelry. Ballsy, but you gotta have a concept behind it. In this case, paired with the solemn piano music, it looked more like an awareness campaign for breast cancer than anything else.   What’s with the closed, confined, dark spaces? Not a smile, not a single shiny object, not one of these women emits any positive sentiment whatsoever. Basically an ad for a jeweler that lacks all communication codes of the industry.

While most clients in Lebanon probably lack that kind of insight, agencies are expected to know better.

Watch with moderation. Seriously damages eyes, ears and brains!