Lebanon’s 2020 Digital Telecom Vision

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Earlier this month I was invited to attend the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications’s launching ceremony of its 2020 Digital Telecom Vision (لبنان ٢٠٢٠ رؤية الاتصالات الرقمية) which occurred on Wednesday July 1 2015 at the Grand Serail (ie; Governmental Palace).

Among the attendees were the Prime Minister Saeb Salam, Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb, head of Ogero Abdel Moneim Youssef, and several others including tens of invited businessmen and technology experts.

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The Great Famine of 1915

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In a previous post I shared maps of the the number of dead in Batroun, Lebanon due the great famine of 1915. The maps have since been updated after normalizing the data so they display the “percentage” of dead. Below is the full story of the Great Famine.

The years 1915 to 1918 are considered one of the worst years in the history of Lebanon if not the Middle East. At the time the country was not known as Lebanon but was rather part of the Ottoman Empire. While many were dying on the front lines of the First World War in Europe the Lebanese were starving to death.

When the Ottoman Empire joined Germany in the war the allied powers enforced a maritime blockade on the Mediterranean to prevent any resources from reaching the empire. In return Jamal Pasha, appointed as minister of navy over Lebanon at the time, also enforced a similar blockade along the eastern Mediterranean to block supplies to the British in the Seuz Canal which also prevented any supplies from reaching the people of Lebanon. This was a major cause to the death of thousands. He came to be referred to as “Aljazzar” or “Alsaffah” which mean “the butcher” and “the blood shedder” due to his killings of Lebanese and Syrian people.

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Lebanese start to face unprecedented water problems

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Water shortages due to low precipitation levels and lack of nation-wide water management

Lebanon has long been a country abundant in water and as such most Lebanese have taken water for granted thinking that they will never have a shortage in or problems with it.

It was apparent that this year has had very little rain [1,2]. Indeed the numbers indicate that the precipitation levels have not even reached half the average annual of 900 ml. This, of course, has led to a huge deficiency in water reserves [3,4]. But the main problem does not lie in the low precipitation levels this year rather it lies in the incompetence of the Lebanese authorities “and most Lebanese” to manage and conserve water.

On one hand, the authorities have not been doing their job of investing in the main source of life by managing the water (and sewage as a matter of fact; see below on this) in order to effectively exploit it and not waste it. They have not been working on conserving this abundance in water by preventing leakage, building dams, replenishing underground reservoirs, introducing artificial ponds, or dealing with the r
andom wells being dug and un-licensed water suppliers.

This is demonstrated in what Claude Tabbal, an expert on the water resources in Lebanon, said to Azza el-Masri and Raed Khalil of the Al-Akhbar newspaper [4] on June 26:

”We get 800 cubic meters of water per year, but up to 65 percent of it is lost each year”

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