Archive for Travel

Iran 1 – 0 Lebanon

A neat mountain road in Iran …

… and a bridge on the entrance of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon; notice the modern separators in the middle of the street:

Road to Beirut, Achrafieh Read the rest of this entry »

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Sexism in the Arab world

To apply for a visa for the UAE, a Lebanese married woman travelling alone requires a no objection letter from her husband, plus a copy of her husband’s photo ID.

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A Bike Superhighway in Lebanon?

While the Lebanese are busy following their respective political colors, people in London opened 2 new “cycle superhighways” in the city. The Barclays Cycle Superhighways is planned to be completed in 2015, while some routes are expected to be finished by summer 2011 and October 2012.

Here is the map of the bike superhighways, compared to the map of Lebanon using the same scale:

The Barclays Cycle Superhighways map, superimposed on the map of Lebanon

Highlighted on the map: Byblos on the North, Baalbek on the East, Jiyeh on the South, and Beirut on the West
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Tip for Renting an Apartment in Cairo

Egypt Cairo Cairo is divided into many districts, and each part has a special way of life and its own type of people. There is also a particular price range for each district. Some areas have a high living standard and others are very rustic. I will give you some advice about where are the better places for a foreigner to live happily and comfortably.

Downtown

Cairo Downtown This is the center of Cairo and the people here are used to seeing foreigners. Prices for flats start from 400 dollars for a two-bedroom flat. Downtown is a good place for shopping and to have fun. You can meet people from all over the world in the cafes and make friendship. Here you really feel the Egyptian culture. But be careful there are some Egyptians, especially on Talaat Harb St. or Bustan cafe that will offer to find you a flat but trick you instead. It is better to work with a real agent who thinks about his reputation and not fast money. You should be careful in some places in Abdin, because here some people are not used to seeing foreigners, especially girls.

Zamalek

This is an island on the Nile river. It is a small area and close to Downtown (15 minutes by car). This area has a high living standard and the prices for rent begin from 700 dollars. The area has a lot of foreigners living there and it is a quiet area. You can find many places to relax and have fun like the Mariott Hotel, Cilantro coffee shop and many nice bars. There are also ships on the banks of the Nile where you can enjoy food and drinks. There is nowhere in Zamalek that I would not recommend for foreigners.

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Dubai Metro… a flop?

After 5 months of service, did the Dh28 billion (75% above the original estimates), one of the most advanced, longest automated driverless WiFi-enabled train system live up to the initial hype and fanfare?
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The world’s newest & most advanced metro aimed to join the league of megacities around the world, to ease the traffic problem, and to reduce road congestion and distances between key locations… Beyond its posh & mesmerizing design, did it meet these goals?
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On the positive side, the metro fare is affordable, and the surrounding of the metro stations (mainly malls) will flourish…
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On the other hand, the researchers and experts from around the world who have been working on the project since 1990, missed a key issue: that last mile connecting people from and to the stations:
Long walks in the desert heat is not the greatest ideas,
the 300 taxis assigned to support Dubai Metro network charge the regular fare (wasn’t the metro supposed to reduce the number of cars?),
and busses do not allow passengers that do not have a pre-paid card.
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Rent a Flat in Cairo: Dealing with the landlord

Many foreigners have difficulty dealing with their landlords in Cairo. Given the difference in language and culture, it can be difficult to make sure you are not taken advantage of. As a real estate agent and lawyer who works with foreign clients in Egypt, I have seen many problems arise that could have been prevented. To help protect yourself and maintain your rights, there are a number of things you should remember to do when negotiating and signing the contract. I will also provide you with some suggestions about how to resolve misunderstandings with your landlord.

  1. From my experience, it is always better to sign a contract written in English so that you know exactly what is included in the contract. You can buy a contract in English from any stationary shop. If your landlord does not want to sign in English, be firm and have your real estate agent translate the contract for the landlord. Because it is a standard form that can be found in any shop, he should accept it.
  2. Be sure to clarify if you will pay by day or by month, so that the landlord doesn’t ask for money for extra days in months with 31 days. This can be confusing and is especially important if you are staying a short period between two months or if you have an irregular start date for your contract.
  3. Ahlein.net

    Ahlein.net is a web 2.0 website where people can post for free their furnished apartments for rent in in Cairo & Egypt.

    If you have some complaints about the flat and you have asked the landlord to change things or fix things, make sure it is written in the contract. This is because sometimes after the contract is signed, the landlord will try not to do what he promised. If the changes are listed in the contract, you will have a legal basis to complain so that he will carry out his promise. If he will not, it is always best to talk to him. You can ask your real estate agent to help you with this problem or have an Egyptian friend talk with him. If nothing works, then you can go to the police. They will fix the problem, but the police can often be rude and it may embarrass the owner, so he might start problems with you. This is not the accepted practice, so weigh this decision carefully first before you decide to go to the police.

  4. Be sure to change the lock after you move in your rented apartment, and this is especially important if you will stay long term. It is your right and very common to ask the landlord to do this. What is more, it is very cheap, so he should not complain. You do not know who else has a copy of the key, so it is important to protect yourself.
  5. If the landlord tries to pressure you to increase the price after you have signed the contract or demand unnecessary things, first tell him you will complain at the police station or at your embassy. This is also why it is important to have a good real estate agent who can intercede on your behalf and speak with the landlord. In reality, the embassy will probably not help you, but you can ask the police for help if problems continue. However, you will likely have a bad relationship with the landlord if you stay. In this case, you might want to change your flat, because it could be dangerous or bothersome for you. Be sure to ask your real estate agent to help you get your deposit back. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vote for Raghida Haddad to win the Earth Journalism Award

Raghida has currently 203 votes, and is ranked #3

Vote for her!

The Earth Journalism Awards started as a competition of approximately 450 submitted applications from over 100 countries. It is now 15 finalists from just 10 countries.
Until December 9, this is YOUR chance to select the winning story which will be presented at the Earth Journalism Awards ceremony in Copenhagen, on December 14.

Raghida Haddad on the Amundsen

Raghida Haddad, from Lebanon, is executive editor of Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia (Environment & Development), a leading environment magazine in the Middle East. In 2008, she spent 2 weeks in the Arctic Ocean to witness global warming.

2 Scientists Testing Ice & WaterRaghida was among 14 journalists invited by the World Federation of Science Journalists to join an international scientific expedition onboard the Canadian research icebreaker Amundsen.
In July-August 2008, she took a two week voyage in the Arctic Ocean to get first hand experience of global warming where it is unfolding the fastest, and relay this experience to readers throughout the Arab region.

She was the first Arab journalist to go this far north and field-report about meltdown and global warming.

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Sunrise in Saghbine

Those images were taken from the Macharef Saghbine hotel in Saghbine, a village near the Qaraoun lake in Western Beqaa.

Sunrise

Sunrise

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Saida

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