Riham's Blog


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The following is a list of all entries from the Events category.

Yet Another GeekFest Beirut

I would like to add my voice to that of other bloggers, and share my account of the 3rd GeekFest Beirut.

The experience for me was definitely not a negative one. GeekFest did exactly what it should do; gathered technology loving people, whether they were simply interested in it or are “gurus”, in a casual setting, and introduced them to new things in that field, as well as allowed them to meet new people, or to put it in a fancier manner, to network.

Right before they randomly decided that I do not win anything AKA the draw

The sheer amount of people who showed up for the event was definitely pleasant, to the point that there were no name tags available anymore. I enjoyed looking at people’s tags to find out who they are on Twitter,  usually the majority of people who show up to this event, only to find out that they are either new to the community, or have their name listed as they are not Twitter users.

Octavia Nasr giving her interesting speech

The presentations could have been better, that is true. The subjects covered were interesting in theory, but it was difficult to keep up at some points, mostly because of the crowd. My personal favorite presentation was GoNabit, as it was very lively. All questions were answered, and many examples were given in order to introduce the concept of “Group Buying” and show how successful and useful it can be.

Learning about GoNabIt

Other bloggers mentioned that the venue, Plum Bar in Monot, was not perfect for such an event, and I personally disagree. If the GeekFest is “unorganized”, then it shouldn’t be in a formal venue. It should be in a place that can combine fun, interaction and learning. A pub can provide all of that if it is reserved for that purpose. Drinking and music for those who want it and an area for presentations.

One of the methods used to calm people down

There were also negatives. One of them being the music being way too loud before the presentations and during the break. It is true that this is a pub, but I’d prefer talking over screaming. Another one was the people who wouldn’t keep quiet during that presentations, although that didn’t stop me from learning something new.  My final criticism is the fact everyone left as soon as it was over; I looked over and the place was empty in a second. I was honestly looking forward to meeting and speaking with the new faces, and the fact they all left made it rather difficult.


Fairouz, absolutely breathtaking

Fairouz may be the most important Lebanese icon. Many people have memories of going to school everyday, still half asleep, while listening to her on the radio in the early morning. I know I have, and that is probably when I really fell in love with her. She represented a dream to me, a beautiful artist, and I never thought I will have the opportunity to see her live.  And last night, that’s exactly what I did.
I don’t think there is a word big enough to describe the feeling that I got when she appeared on stage. Goosebumps pretty much took over my whole body.
I’ve heard what she was like on stage, but to actually see it is a whole different story. To see that without moving one finger, she is able to captivate everyone’s ears, mind and attention. It’s just amazing. I don’t think anyone has such charisma on stage. Her voice may be not as powerful as it used to be, but it is pretty impressive seeing as she is 75. You can still hear the beauty in it.
I don’t usually like to go to a concert where I don’t know the songs, but this was not the case for the new album. It was my first listen for it, and it was absolutely enjoyable. The new songs really are beautiful.
All cellphones and cameras were banned, which is a bit silly, and a lot of people were able to sneak theirs in. I decided not to even try and left them in the car. I would have loved to take a photo of Fairouz on stage, but honestly, I was there to sit down, relax and listen.
This event is and was not to be missed. Those who had decided not to go are in the wrong. Fayrouz immersed me in large amounts of joy, and no concert will ever compare.

Hamra Festival Day 2

The second day of the Hamra festival was kind of fun, but could have definitely been better.

There were three stages, and a lot of stands. It was some sort of bazar, with the occasional arcade stand and another game stand.  Again, it was definitely cool to walk around Hamra, and it was very crowded. The people were mostly parents bringing their kids, and teenagers. The festival was definitely not trying to target the parents or older people. The music appeals to the younger generations, and some games for the kids. Maybe some of the stands could appeal to the older ones, but still it wasn’t enough in my opinion. Another thing that would’ve been nice to see is if there were some sort of festival special prices. There were some things I wanted to get, but they were actually too expensive. I understand that  there may be a percentage of the sales revenues that has to go to the organizers for giving you a stand, but it’s still a festival, a special occasion. Most people are not there to shop, but they are more likely to get into some impulse buys if the prices were more encouraging. At least that’s what it was like for me.

LiHamra2i.com stand

I only took pictures of the stands I enjoyed. The “Li Hamra2i” had amazing paintings of Hamra. It promotes the book “لكم حمراؤك و لي حمرائي” (You have your Hamra and I have mine). Check out their website, it’s cool.

Photography by Mazen Jannoun

There were also displays of photography by Mazen Jannoun. They were nice to look at, as they seem to be taken spontaneously, all around Hamra.

Cool t-shirts!

This was one of the best stands. The people there are cool, and they are selling some funny tshirts. I got myself an “I heart Hamra” one.

Cocoa and Co had an awesome and colorful stand. They have the most amazing brownies (in the boxes). I hate brownies, and a friend once got those to work,  and everyone went crazy for them. Seriously, you have got to try them.

JLP

I attended some of the concerts. JLP were the best for me, and I enjoyed the songs they played. I think they even had a larger crowd than the other performances I was able to see.

Michelle, Nokia X3 winner, and JLP

They also offered free Nokia X3 phones to anyone who was willing to go on stage and sing with them, a song of the person’s own choice. This was an awesome opportunity to the few willing to do that. The first volunteer was seriously, seriously, SERIOUSLY excellent. She definitely deserved the phone. So were the two other girls who came up. However, what everyone around me said was that these very talented ladies were in a band. If that is the case, although that wouldn’t mean that they shouldn’t have gone up there, I wish more chances were given to those people who wanted to go up and sing, and were not picked to do so (such as @DinaMyColors who actually can sing decently). Plus, even if someone came up to sing and was awful at it, they’d earn the phone by embarrassing themselves.

All in all, it was fun. I hate sounding too negative, but this was my experience and I thought there was room for improvement. I am still going to try to go tomorrow as well, I enjoy outdoor concerts, crowds, Hamra and walking around. If you can pass by and you haven’t already, then you should because it was pretty okay, but don’t feel too bad if you are unable to.


Hamra Festival Parade

We do love Hamra!

Walk Walk Walk! Camera and instructions credit to @DinaMyColors, while the photo was my attempt 😉

Which is more exciting, making Hamra a pedestrian street for three days, or the festival? Answering this question is difficult. For all the people who love Hamra, driving there is a challenge due to traffic. Having the ability to walk around in the middle of the street with no cars in sight was amazing. The first day of the festival was just as good.

It was kind of disappointing to see that the first day was so short, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Security was also everywhere.

Volta Ao Mundo - Capoeira performance

The parade included Capoeira performace by Volta Ao Mundo association (found on FB here, Capoeira Lebanon site), which a lot of people seemed to enjoy. Many even said that they thought they were the best. It’s basically Brazilian art that combines martial arts, dance, and catchy music.

After that came a small group of the AUB Music club, followed by some young people who were wearing white tshirts with “Breathe” written in Green. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out who they were, but they were making noise and screaming  “Wel3aneh!” non stop.

AUB music club

Tamashi Japanese restaurant had a huge truck with lots of people on board. All of them were wearing kimonos, and partaking in several activities related to Japanese culture. Fortune cookies were being distributed, minus the cookies. Mine said “Don’t let your daughter-in-law eat your autumn eggplants / Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of”.

Tamashi Japanese Restaurant, http://www.tamashii.me

Scouts performances followed, in addition to a fabulous mime who kept imitating everyone and joining the crowds. Animals Lebanon were also present, giving out flyers regarding Trap-Neuter-Return program, which aims to decrease the overpopulation of animals in Lebanon, in a healthy and safe manner, of course.

Scouts, and the mime!

The final show I witnessed was the motor bike one, the one and only Harley Davidson show (#AkhYaAlbeh, yes), which was amazing and included some hardcore bikes. Mickey Mouse even got to ride one, which I wish I could prove in photos. The parts I unfortunately missed included some sort of a wedding/zaffe, in addition to a showing of a lot of beetle cars.

Lots and lots of bikes

Mickey Mouse, running to the good stuff!

People watching the fireworks

At the end, people kept walking around Hamra street, while fireworks went off. We have witnessed time and time again the negative consequences of fireworks, and many people are not fans of the sounds, but this was one to enjoy.


Seven Jewish Children – LAU Theatre Festival

Somehow, this blog has turned into the place where I share my experiences of different events. I did not intend this to happen, but I do like it since it allows me to write it instead of actually talking someone’s ears off with it.

Let’s start with the facts. Seven Jewish Children is a play for Gaza, which was done by Caryl Churchil in the UK. Friday’s performance was directed by Fuad Halwani, and is part of the International University Theatre Festival. The cast consisted of two actors, Hussein Nakhal and Assyl Ayyash, along with a doudouk player, Kevork Manoukian, who played some really nice background music.

In just 25 minutes, the two actors were able to represent years of experiences, mainly in Jewish history, as well as the creation of the state of Israel and the events that followed. The best part is that the play doesn’t directly mention any of these issues, but indirectly touches them, through Assyl’s words and Hussein’s movements. It isn’t a heavy play that talks about political or historical events, but says a lot through the words of only one of the actors, while the other actor, who in my opinion would represent the Palestinians, presents some movements in each scene, that eventually end up showing us the suffering of his people. The whole play uses the form of “Tell her / Don’t tell her” which was very interesting, and leaves the audience to interpret whether it is an internal struggle or battle that she is having, or if she is actually expressing what she would want her people and the world to know about every issue. You can sense the transition from scene to another, and from event to another, through the words said and Assyl’s attitude on stage. She goes from discussing their helpless condition (Holocaust) to stating that they are the “iron fist” and eventually, a state of war.

I have enjoyed seeing this play for more than one reason. For starters, Hussein is one of my oldest friends, & I had never seen him perform before that. Assyl is also someone I had heard about, since her mother volunteered where I used to work during university, and always told me about her and her passion for theatre. The second and most important reason is how much I miss theatre. It was one of my activities in school, and I always found time to go see plays, and somehow I do not do that anymore. It’s funny, but I ran into one of my theatre friends there, bringing back lots of memories.

I would advise you to go see it, but the performance was the fifth and final one.

You can read the script here.


Gorillaz Concert in Lebanon

I know I have not updated in a while, but a lot has been going, and I’ve been busy non stop. I would just like to write about the Gorillaz concert while it’s still fresh in my mind. I also did not have my camera on me, so you get crappy cellphone pictures.

So, as you probably already know, Gorillaz performed in Jbeil last night, as part of the Byblos International Festival. I admit to the fact that I’m not what you would call a loyal fan to them, but I know them and some of their songs, and recognize others. The main reason I went was because it’s interesting to see a “virtual band” play live.

Kids With Guns!

The show was honestly amazing, and I very much enjoyed it. Of course, it started an hour late, which is to be expected by now. Since it was sold out, it was extremely crowded. Even though my tickets were seated, and I’m not that tall, staying seated was out of the question. We danced and sang with them, and everyone around me was very excited, which made the experience all the more fun.


One of the nice parts was that they had musicians with them from Syria, who played some arabic tunes, and were then combined with Gorillaz’s music. The Lebanese crowd did boo at some point, which was honestly annoying, but it was pretty much amazing. It was followed by Arabic rap, with the animations on the top having Arabic words on them. The “words” weren’t readable as the letters weren’t connected, but it was a nice and successful attempt at getting the crowd even crazier.

The choice of the final song was excellent, as it was Clint Eastwood. However, once they were done, a lot of “That’s it?” were heard, as we did not expect it to finish so soon. I personally expected them to come back for a few more songs, but they didn’t. This did not make the experience any less enjoyable, as it was short, but definitely worth it.

For (much) better pictures, please visit Beirut Night Life’s account of the event


Calogero Concert in Beirut

I went to see Calogero, with @MarieNakhle (proof), who performed in the Zouk Festivals on Friday July 9th, 2010. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience.

The concert was supposed to start at 8.30, but the chairs were still almost fully empty at that time. A lady kept speaking every 10 minutes, telling us the concert will start in five minutes, ten minutes, few seconds, but that was never the case. We can’t truly welcome someone to Lebanon without showing them our punctuality. Eventually, at 9.30, it finally started. The stage was always beautifully lit and the sound was excellent.


He started with the song we all know, which is “En Appesanteur”. The crowd was excited at times, and almost sleeping at other times, but he was actually successful in getting us to sing with him, even when we barely knew the song. He’s actually very pleasant on stage.

Calogero kept switching between his guitar, bass, keyboard and piano. A very talented singer, for sure. He kept telling us the story behind some of the songs, such as “Nathan”, which he & his pal Marc Lavoine decided to sing about an autistic kid, as they were extremely touched by kids suffering from autism. Another amazing performance was when he sang “Chanson pour Pierot” by Renaud, since Renaud is another artist I would love to see perform. He also sang a song for Barbara, an artist who inspires him.

What I loved the most was how much he was interacting with the public, which is something probably all artists do. He kept asking us which songs we’d like to listen to, which ended in some Lebanese intelligence standing out. Some guy asked him to sing “Caravane”, which, as known by anyone who knows anything about French music, is a song for Raphael & not Calogero.  Calogero’s reply was funny as he said “C’est pas le meme chanteur, mais je vais passer le message a Raphael”. It just shows how much some Lebanese know the artist they claim to really want to see.
Eventually he asked us to come closer, and we were able to watch him right next to the stage.

So like I said, it was a pretty good night.

Songs I recommend: C’est Dit, Yalla, Danser Encore, La fin de la fin du monde.
Songs that you MUST listen to: Prendre Racine, Tien An Mien


Summer in Beirut

Even though the weather is killing me & making me cranky, summer in Beirut provides a lot to look forward to!

To begin with, tomorrow is Fête de la musique 2010, which is extremely exciting. Non stop music, and free access? Yes thank you!
You can view the full program here, but to be honest, I can’t choose which to see.

Another awesome, awesome thing is the Zouk Mikael festivals! Last year, these festivals allowed me to see Garou, and I still get all excited when I remember how amazing it was. We were an hour late, and so bummed about it, until we realized that the fact we were late had us sit in the third row rather than the very back.
So after falling more in love with Garou last year, this year I get to see CALOGERO with @MarieNakhle. The sad thing is that Mashrou3 Leila are playing on the same night in Byblos, so I won’t get to see them.

I would also like to see Gorillaz & Archive in Byblos Festival, but I am still on the look out on who is going so I can accompany them.

There is also Beiteddine Festivals. I want to see Diane Krall, but I am not sure if I will. Also: all of them.

Previous events I didn’t go to include Placebo playing here, and a DOG SHOW! How the hell did I choose laziness over cute dogs?

Beirut, your wonderful events make up for the awful, awful weather that’s been making me want to kill myself. Let’s hope the fun summer goes as planned!