Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Captain & Captain: a New Concept in Men Gift Shopping

 A variety of "Men" related gift ideas in one store

Shop by Personality - take the Personality quiz: http://apps.facebook.com/what-is-your-befjfgi/?start=1&target=home

Their mission is to provide you with the solution to your men gift-hunting expeditions.
Their aim is to be the address for all your men gift-buying occasions.
Their strategy focuses on suggestions to help you make quick decisions.
Their slogan is "Definitely Not a Tie!"

They are already open so feel free to visit!
You are cordially invited to the official opening Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th Dec. 4 p.m. -10 p.m.

Captain & Captain
Dbayeh Inside Road, Beirut - Lebanon
P. +961 4 542 365

Join the facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=97361948672

Hot for 2010: Lebanon and six more sizzlers

Hot for 2010: Lebanon and six more sizzlers

Beirut may be the number-one place to visit in the whole world, but the rest of the country is now our top tip for a cool holiday

I can remember mist, spooky clouds of swirling mist, lapping around us. We were all perched up high on a huge rock in the middle of a cedar forest. Around us was a picnic — I can definitely see corned beef. A happy memory: a family picnic in the early 1970s, in the mountains of Lebanon. People always assume that if you grew up in Lebanon, as I did, your memories must be monopolised by war. Certainly, I have loads of those. Whenever I think of Lebanon, however, the projector in my head plays nature films — swimming in ice-cold rivers, clambering over deserted Roman ruins, walking rhodesian ridgebacks through pine forests. This, in my opinion, is the problem with this year’s fad of recommending that you visit Beirut. A huge article in The New York Times at the beginning of the year told readers that the number-one place to visit in the whole world was the Lebanese capital. The Rough Guide made the capital a “must-see” city of 2009, and CNN showed a film on Beirut, calling it the best party city in the world. I’m not disputing any of this. Beirut is a fabulous place to visit — amazing bars, great food, extraordinary history — but, when you really get down to it, it’s pretty much like any other large, buzzing Mediterranean city, just with a bit of war chic. To me, the real magic of Lebanon starts the moment you leave Beirut, leave the traffic and noise, and head for the mountains that serve as such a wonderful backdrop. I drove up to Faraya for lunch. The snow had not yet fallen on this sedate ski resort (it normally arrives in December), but the place was still buzzing with hikers and quad-bikers. I had a splendid lunch in a huge Bedouin-style tent. I always forget just how fabulous Lebanese food is. After a long and lazy meal, I meandered off back down the mountain. I kept stopping along the way — I hadn’t seen the Jisr al-Hajar, a natural stone bridge with an arch of 125ft, since I was a kid. I drove on, but I was soon out of the car again when I got to Faqra. Just below the road on my left were the ethereal ruins of a Roman temple, half built into the natural rock. I wandered in — there was nobody about. The afternoon sun was melting into the old stones and I sat on the highest point and stared down the lonely valley towards the distant Mediterranean. The following morning, I was back in my car, heading for the Bekaa Valley, to revisit Baalbek. When I arrived, I parked up outside my favourite hotel in the whole of the Middle East, the Palmyra — which is where all the great and good of Levantine history have laid their heads at one time or another. I had a cup of staggeringly strong coffee in the courtyard over­looking the ruins before heading off for some serious temple-trampling. Baalbek is an astonishingly beautiful place — an architectural homage to all things bacchanalian, plonked right in the middle of a Hezbollah stronghold. Hezbollah, however, are not the Taliban, and the two live side by side in true Lebanese pragmatism. Whenever I visit Baalbek, I like to sit on the edge of the temple of Baal, my feet dangling over, feeling the cool, ancient stones on my skin and reading the centuries-old graffiti on the pillars surrounding me. I try to imagine what it must have been like to come across this place for the first time as an ancient traveller. I so wish I lived in an age when you could still be an explorer...

I was back in Beirut in time for supper. I sat on the terrace of Karam, in the newly rebuilt downtown, and atea bowl of the best fattoush in the world while the world and his harem wandered past. There are few places better for people-watching than Beirut. I spent 20 minutes listening to some Starbucks workers converse in that oh-so-Lebanese way of chucking three languages into one sentence: “Yanni, hier, t’as vu ce mec? I told him, ‘Shou baddak, cheri? Wahad soy milk machiatto?’” (“So, yesterday, did you see that bloke? I told him, ‘What do you want, darling? A soy milk machiatto?’”) I had wanted to do some hiking, and there is a superb organisation that has set up the Lebanon Mountain Trail. This allows you to walk all along the mountainous spine of Lebanon, from north to south, staying in local houses and walking with local guides. Sadly, my schedule didn’t allow enough time, but I managed a day in the forest of Ehden with one of the organisers to get a taste. We took a 4WD up a rough track out of Ehden towards the entrance of the forest. Once there, we hiked in on one of the multitude of trails. The views were breathtaking and we quickly spotted signs of wild-boar activity, as well as wolf and polecat tracks. It was the silence that hit me the most — Lebanon is a gloriously noisy place, and it’s so rare to be able to escape from it all. Up here, however, the only sound was the pad-pad of our feet on the thick path of pine needles. Up and up we climbed, until we reached an almost mystical clearing in the middle of a clump of young cedars. To our left was a rock that looked strangely familiar. I clambered up it and sat on the top. It was the misty rock of my youth. The last time I’d sat here, I could only have been four or five years old, but I remembered it vividly: the little holes that served as natural cup-holders, the spongy moss, the smell of cedars... I sat in a daze for 15 minutes or so, gazing over the forest to the port of Tripoli, far, far below. As I got up, I remembered the words of William Faulkner: “The past is never dead, it is not even past.”

Dom Joly travelled as a guest of Cox & Kings

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Independance Day!

Happy Independance day to my beloved Lebanon and to Lebanese everywhere! w inshallah 3anjad very soon!!! :)
Lebanese Independence Day
History of Lebanon

Monday, November 09, 2009

Garage Sale (Braderie) for Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone)

It is that time of year again! Because of the Christmas season and in support of Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) for Social Care and Development, the Social Department of Y.A.N.A. / C.C.U. organizes its 2nd annual Garage Sale (Braderie) which will take place as follows:

Wednesday 02 until Friday 04 December 2009
C.C.U. HQ Bldg, SS1, St. Joseph str., Dekwaneh
10:00 am to 05:00 pm

Offered items will include:
• Home and kitchen appliances
• CDs, books, toys, Christmas decoration, Colifichets, bags, scarfs, glasses, wallets, etc…
• Clothes in very good shape
• Home-made sweets by some of association’s members

This event is open to all and we hope to see you there! :)

In addition, if you wish to donate any of the above kindly contact us and deliver items before 30/11/2009.

Contact details:

CCU - YANA tel / fax: +961 1 691 115
Mobile: +961 3 326 107

Please do help us by spreading the word to your families and friends and by forwarding this message to as many people as possible !

Join us on Facebook:
Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) Group
Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) Page
Thank you so much for your assistance! And see you there! :)
Merry Christmas in advance… God Bless.

Beirut is back… And it's beautiful

Beirut is back… And it's beautiful
How the Lebanese capital went from warzone to 2010's most glamorous tourist destination

Carole Cadwalladr
The Observer,
Sunday 8 November 2009

A whole new road system has been built from Beirut airport to the city centre since the last time I visited. What's more, there are new, exciting roadside accessories. "Oh my God!" says my friend Anna. "What's that?"

"It's a traffic light," I say although it's somewhat self-explanatory. "You're not stopping, are you?" says Anna. "Oh don't be so ridiculous! As if anyone's going to pay any attention to that!"

She has a point. We lived in Beirut for eight months back in 1995, a time when there were not only no traffic lights, there were also no road signs, no speed limits, no traffic police, and, indeed no apparent traffic laws. None.

Our friend Khaled's means of negotiating jams was to take his gun out of his glove compartment, strap it to his under-arm, and if the traffic was really bad, wave it around a bit.

As it turns out, the lights are a mixed success: some people stop, some people don't. A very Lebanese solution. You can do what you want, but you may have a super-charged Lebanese yuppie ram you in the back. Ah, yes, the memories come flooding back. It's that signature Beirut cocktail of adventure and excitement – with just a hint of sudden death.

Fourteen years ago, Anna and I wrote the first post-civil-war guidebook to Lebanon. I don't think either of us have felt the same about anywhere since: Beirut looms over our lives like… well, like the kind of psychotic ex-lover who you worry might strangle you in your sleep.

But it's thrilling to be back. We cruise along the seafront Corniche, and around the reconstructed downtown. On Martyrs' Square, Beirut's Ground Zero, the southernmost point of the old Green Line that divided Muslim West Beirut from Christian East Beirut, we reel at the sight of a Virgin Megastore and practically faint when we see a Dunkin' Donuts. Although – thank God! – the hulking Holiday Inn with its bullet holes and bomb craters is still there, as derelict and abandoned as ever.

It's beautiful, Beirut, beautiful and ugly and pock-marked and damaged and glamorous and unstable and exciting and just a bit mentally unhinged. It's the Elizabeth Taylor of the Mediterranean. Or it would be if you replaced the words "alcohol" with "Israel" and "a string of unsuitable marriages" with "15 years of civil war".

And like a hardened celebrity hack, I've learnt the hard way not to be taken in by its appearance. Because Beirut is back. Again. It's having a moment. Another one. There are two spanking new hotels – Le Gray, a sister hotel to the feted One Aldwych in London and Carlisle Bay in Antigua, has just opened; and that seal of international luxury approval, a Four Seasons, is opening soon. What's more, this year the New York Times nominated it its number one destination in the world.

Yadda, yadda yadda. Talk to the hand… I've spent the past 14 years telling people how great Lebanon is. How vast the mountains and sublime the food and empty the ruins and friendly the people and cool the bars. And periodically they've even believed me. And then news breaks out. There's always too much news in Lebanon: 2005 when prime minister Rafik Hariri got blown up by a car bomb; 2006 when Israel subjected the country to a month-long bombardment, blowing up the airport, highways, bridges, electricity sub-stations, and killing some 1,000 or so people; winter 2008, when Hezbollah gunmen took to the streets.

Could reports of a new dawn really be true this time? I hope so, I really do, but I worry that I'll jinx it somehow. I said the same when our guide came out in 1996, when we did a new edition in 1998, and when I returned to see the south after the Israelis pulled out in 2000.

And I'm not the only one. When I talk to Nehme Abouzeid, the publisher of Time Out Beirut, he starts telling me about the record-breaking forecasts for next summer, and then has to interrupt himself: "I mean, if everything stays the same... We always have to say that in Lebanon, because you never know. God willing..."

He speaks from experience: he started publishing Time Out in the spring of 2006, with a brand new office, a new editor, new staff. And then the Israeli bombardment began. "It just came out of nowhere. No one was expecting it. I was in Switzerland at a meeting where I'd just been telling people how, even at the height of the war, the airport never closed. And then came the news: the airport was closed. It was so shocking. Particularly for the youngsters, I think. The war was just something that their parents talked about. They'd never had any experience of it."

The magazine closed for two years, but it's back now, presiding over a nightlife scene that the recent unpleasantness seems only to have enhanced.

We wander through Gemmayzeh – which in our time had been an atmospheric but entirely ramshackle quarter, and has now become Beirut's Shoreditch, stuffed full of trendy bars and huge 4x4s disgorging chic young things – and then head up the hill to a bar called Centrale.

To get to it, we go down a jasmine-lined, floodlit walkway into a bombed-out building encased in wire, up inside an industrial wood-panelled lift, and out into a long, narrow, metal tube, one of whose walls had been removed to give a view over the Beirut skyline. Maybe I've caught a touch of Lebanese hyperbole but it just seems to be the most amazing bar in the world.

"Do bars like this exist in London and it's just that we don't go to them?" asks Anna as we sip our perfect cocktails and gaze on the perfect people. It seems unlikely, and, anyway, in London they'd be stuffed with Hoxtonites with annoying haircuts, whereas the Lebanese are beguiling, fluent in three languages, English, French and Arabic, often in the same sentence. "Bonsoir habibi, how's it going?" is their version of "Hello".

It's so impossibly glamorous, Beirut. The people so cosmopolitan. The nightlife so sophisticated. There's nowhere else like it in the Middle East, invigorated as it is by its sizeable diaspora, who fly back from London and Paris and Sydney and LA, with a thriving gay scene (although homosexuality is officially illegal), a free press, and an urban fashion code that encompasses everything from micro skirts to full-length abaya and veil.

Khaled shows up in his latest 4x4, which has the size and manoeuvrability of a tank, and whisks us around the city.

"That's the Skybar," he says. "Where a bottle of Cristal champagne costs $10,000 and they deliver it to your table with fireworks to make sure that everyone knows. People don't bother to drink it usually.

"That's White's – probably the most exclusive nightclub. See the cars outside.Look at those Ferraris. You know the popular thing right now? Plastic surgery loans. My secretary got a pair of new breasts with one. You know there are 10 million plastic surgery procedures a year in Lebanon? And we have only four million people!"

But then showing off is in the Lebanese DNA. Khaled wears the biggest Rolex you'll ever see or "Lebanese travel insurance" as he used to call it. "You can cash it in anywhere in the world."

He's probably right. Khaled always seemed to us to be Lebanon personified, enterprising, clever, brilliant at business. Like most of the Lebanese he's a "businessman" – something involving mobiles phones, possibly, I've never quite caught the details. Anna and I once watched him try to negotiate a 20% discount off a suit in Selfridges. "Khaled," I said, "in England, we have what is known as a price." Needless to say, he got the discount.

It's so flashy, so very un-PC. In a shop in the chi-chi suburb of Achrafiyeh, I spot a stuffed polar bear for sale. A stuffed baby polar bear. And Gordon Campbell Gray, the hotelier behind Le Gray, tells me about going out for dinner and being offered bluefin tuna. "I said, 'Isn't that an endangered species?' And the host leaned over and whispered, 'Not here'."

But, oh God, the food! It's the food of your dreams, the apotheosis of all Middle Eastern cuisine, made from only the freshest ingredients, beautifully presented, and served in the kind of abundance that suggests it might be your last meal on earth. At the end of dinner with Khaled there seems to be more food left on the table than when we started (including a platter of little birds, roasted in pomegranate molasses, complete with their heads and little beaks, and a plate of raw liver so fresh it's practically quivering).

"In Lebanon," says Khaled, leaning back and spreading his arms out in an expansive fashion, "we have everything. We have the Mediterranean. We have classical ruins. We have..."

"Religious extremists," I say. "Armed militiamen."

"Exactly. If you want religious extremists, we have religious extremists. If you want mountains, we have mountains. If you want lingerie shows on the ski slopes of Mount Lebanon, we have lingerie shows. We have everything. Everything."

It's true. They do. Even Beirut manages to be all things to all people. We leave the flashy bars of downtown and head south, but we get lost and end up in Haret Hreik, the suburb where Hezbollah had its headquarters, flattened in 2006. We drive down an avenue that's strung with the portraits of "martyrs" – the unmistakeable "heroic"-style photographs of dreamy-looking young men and women who've gone to their maker.

The old boast about Lebanon used to be that you could swim and ski in the same day. But even more astounding is that you can swim and tour Hezbollah country in the same day. We spend a day driving to Baalbeck to see, again, the amazing Roman ruins ("How many visitors today?" I ask. "Ten," the guardian replies. And these, bear in mind, are some of the finest Roman ruins anywhere in the world). And then through the hot, dry Bekaa, not so much a valley as a high-altitude plain, with its Hezbollah flags and roadside effigies of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, waving his machine gun in the direction of Israel. And then through the military checkpoints and over Mount Lebanon, on a high and lonely pass where Bedouin graze their sheep.

In one direction, there's the Mediterranean, in the other Syria. And then it's down through lush, cloudy orchards, the villages of the Christian heartlands, with shrines to the Virgin Mary on every corner until, finally, we reach the tiny port of Batroun, where there are women in bikinis lounging on the beach.

It seems impossible that this is the same continent, let alone the same country, just an hour or so apart. The mystery isn't why the Lebanese tried to kill each other for 15 bloodthirsty, murderous years; it's why they finally stopped.

I meet Gordon Campbell Gray on the roof terrace of his hotel, Le Gray, and it seems sure to be a huge international hotel hit, a Wallpaper* sensation... if everything stays the same. God willing, etc, etc. Elections were held in Lebanon in spring, and it still hasn't got a government. Squashed up against Syria and Israel, its constitution delicately balancing the rights of 17 different religions, its destiny has always been at the mercy of greater Middle Eastern politics. "How many years are you behind schedule?" I ask Campbell Gray.

"Oh God, years. We were very close to opening when the Israelis started bombing. It was very difficult to crank it back up after that."

"Everybody assumed he'd pull out," Nehme Abouzeid tells me. "It's quite amazing that he hasn't." And when I repeat his comments to Campbell Gray, he says, "I know! I'm quite the accidental hero. Of course, I was just too stupid to think about pulling out. It didn't even occur to me."

But then Campbell Gray has been through the same sort of Lebanese love affair that Anna and I have. Rapt adoration, mostly; interspersed with moments of appalled horror. "The social snobbery is just something else, isn't it? I mean even the nationality of your help is a status thing." He came out for a weekend in the mid-90s and just fell in love with the place. "Oh it was just wonderful. It was so beautiful but such a mess. There were all those security checkpoints yet it felt quite safe. And the people were incredible."

And he has persevered with the project against all odds. "You know every week we get asked to open a hotel somewhere but this is where I wanted to do it. It really is just the most exciting city on earth. It's not perfect. That's what makes it, I think. You can wander around at two in the morning, quite safe, and I leave my car unlocked, but there's still an edge, isn't there?"

There is. Even with Dunkin' Donuts and TGI Fridays. In 1995, they'd just started bulldozing the ruins of the old downtown. Solidere, a private company owned by former prime minister Hariri, bought the entire area and was hell-bent on total transformation. We watched ancient, decrepit, bullet-riddled Mandate-era mansions being pulled down, and worried that they were going to turn the place into a new Dubai. But the restoration work is impressive. Street after street of hand-carved stonework, beautifully restored mosques and churches, and floodlit Roman ruins and new fountains and designer boutiques bursting forth all over.

And if the new "souks" are just another shopping mall, and there are too many luxury apartment blocks for my taste, at least the people have come back. In the evening, promenading families eating ice creams come out, and women in the streetside cafes smoke nargilehs.

It's outside the Solidere zone that the real horrors are happening: the last surviving seafront mansions are being torn down to make way for marble skyscrapers. And in lovely Jbeil – or Byblos – just up the coast, with its Crusader castle and Phoenician fishing port, they've bulldozed the beach! A flashy private "beach club" has been built right on top of it.

But then this – backhanders, corruption, uncontrolled development – is as much a part of the Lebanese way as roasting songbirds and driving backwards at speed the wrong way down the hard shoulder. It's a beautiful country, blessed by the gods, yet cursed by them too. As I write this, a week after I return, it still doesn't have a government. But Beirut is back. And the New York Times is right: it should be your number one destination. All things being well. God willing, etc etc. Or as we say, touch wood.


Beirut gets in the mood to party

The Sunday Times
November 8, 2009

Beirut gets in the mood to party
Johnny Paris samples the lively nightlife in the compact but culturally and religiously diverse Lebanese capital

Life in Lebanon’s compact but culturally and religiously diverse capital has always been exciting, sometimes perilously so. Now, three years since the last Israeli offensive, even our Foreign Office thinks it is safe to visit. And Beirut’s nightlife has never been livelier. In summer it sizzles and year-round there is no shortage of places to see and be seen. Some of the venues have a habit of changing their location, so keep your ear to the ground.

Monot Street in the Ashrafieh district set itself up as party central some years back and bars such as 37° and Hole in the Wall have maintained that reputation, serving iced shots and hot sounds from early evening (by which I mean around 9pm). The nearby Ice Bar has live music several nights a week.

Monot’s star has been eclipsed recently by the development of Gemmayzeh, a predominantly Christian area where the action began a few years back at Torino Express, a small place along Gouraud Street, which still has some of the best DJs in town.

Now the cutting edge places are beginning to move to an area called Mar Mikhael. One of the torch-bearers is a small, perfectly formed and very happening bar, Behind the Green Door, designed more like a boudoir and serving piscines (champagne and ice), a drink that only a Beiruti would fully understand.

You could happily spend a whole night in these areas, spending from £3 for a beer, £9 for a cocktail. But come the witching hour, Beirut’s serious party people and their friends and relations, many of them from Dubai and the Gulf, prefer to move on. If it’s summer, there is only one place to be. Sky Bar is regularly voted the world’s best bar/club and for good reason. Perched on a rooftop overlooking the Mediterranean, this is where the rich meet the beautiful in an irresistible glam-dance love-in that can cost the average table hundreds of pounds. If you can’t slip past the Sky Bar bouncers (and you’ll need a reservation to do so), head for White, another rooftop summer club full of beautiful people, overlooking Martyrs’ Square.

White and Sky Bar close for the winter, when the party moves indoors to places such as Palais on Monot Street. Occasionally it even goes underground, as at the Basement and BO18, the serious player’s favourite after-club club, dark, loud and strangely compelling.

Beirut is a city given over to visible excess and cheap is not a word currently in use. Some clubs have a minimum £20-£30 a head charge and the Basement takes £15 a head at the door including a couple of drinks (no, not champagne); some let women in free. But expect to pay at least £60 a head for a night on the town, up to £100 if you want food with your drinks.

Following the free-spending party people, British hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray has launched his latest venture in the city’s central Martyrs’ Square. Le Gray is Beirut’s first luxury hotel opening in many years and one of its most idiosyncratic (campbellgrayhotels.com; doubles from £210 per night including tax). Le Gray is chic and super-sexy, an elegant six-storey building where restrained lines and materials (plenty of white walls and walnut woodwork) are mixed with exuberant art and flamboyant furnishings. Gold taps and acres of marble, those bywords of Arab luxe, have been ditched: luxury here is in the quality of service and produce, in the materials and size of the 87 spacious rooms. There is a top-floor see-through infinity pool, so you can see shoppers at the new downtown boutiques, while being seen by friends at the bar.

Food has always been a reason to head for Beirut, and never more so than now. At Tawlet II (00 961 1448 129), a whitewashed industrial space due to open this month, Sunni, Shi’ite and Christian food producers will take turns to produce dining from 9am to 6pm and a buffet lunch expected to cost about £12 a head. A multicultural triumph.

Naharnet Lebanon News


Marketing in Lebanon