Posted on May 19, 2019
The circular-shaped church at the village of Mosta in Malta has an interesting history. Its design was/is based on the Pantheon in Rome, and the church was built over an existing older parish church which was later demolished. The Church is also referred to as The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady or The Rotunda of Mosta or The Mosta Dome.
The most famous incident in the church’s history, a miracle according to the Maltese, happened on 09 April 1942. Read More
Posted on January 13, 2022
MB had not traveled to Lebanon since the financial meltdown of recent years and the August 2020 Beirut Port bomb blast. But in recent months, he received an invitation to the wedding of a young friend and work colleague and found himself on a 29 December flight to Beirut for the wedding festivities on following day.
Since MB’s last visit, Lebanon has changed.
The collapsed currency means that when you exchange 200 or 300 USD or Euro, you receive in return, (assuming you use a black market dealer and not some rip-off governmental controlled exchange) a very fat wedge of Lebanese pounds. In times past the same wedge would have been 5% of its current thickness, when the currency traded at 1,500 to the USD. Now, it’s hovering around 30,000; a loss of 95% of its value. Those that have access to foreign currency are doing well, such as relatives of those working overseas, which is, thankfully, a substantial portion of the country, maybe 40% of the population. For the remainder, however, life is a desperate struggle to make ends meet. The average Lebanese army soldier, for example, now takes home the equivalent of USD 30 per month, when previously his salary was worth USD 600. With many goods and services priced in dollars, the struggle is easily imagined.
Mostly, there is no electricity. On a good day, the governmental electricity company can supply 2 to 3 hours of power. After that, businesses and the public at large, depend on diesel generators to supply light, work their air conditioning, or whatever. When the electricity is out, naturally enough, there are no working traffic lights. It’s surreal to drive around a darkened capital city of some 2M people at nighttime with drivers playing chicken at every traffic intersection. Bigger or faster cars have right of way, smaller slower cars await their turn, seems to be the general rule.
People with education and skills are leaving in droves, to any country that will have them. And with the Lebanese Passport being one of the worst on the planet, the choices are limited. The Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar are especially popular. MB had a sad interaction with the immigration official which sums up the whole Lebanon situation.
MB hands his Passport to Passport Official (PO). PO scans the passport onto the system and looks carefully at it. And looks some more. And some more. And more.
MB is starting to wonder what the problem is and the people in the queue behind MB are getting a tad annoyed that MB is holding up the entire show. MB is thinking of many things that could be wrong. He worked in Saudi Arabia for a few years, and now Saudi and Labanon are having a bit of a spat about political issues. And other stuff.
Finally PO says to MB………
“Yes?” replies MB quizically.
“How can I get a job in your country and travel there?”
‘Phew’ – thinks MB to himself.
“Well my young friend, I see you are working all this IT Security technology here today, so I suggest you go online and try to get a job with one of the big IT/Social Media companies who are all hiring like crazy in Ireland. With your IT skills, MB is sure they will snap you up. Then try to get a working visa” says MB, giving the young lebanese lad some hope for his future, probably false hope, given the Passport situation.
[For the benefit of HX followers, the Passport of North Korea gets you ‘visa on arrival’ at more countries than a Lebanese Passport. Seriously. Reason – that’s a whole other story!]
“Actually Sir, I am not an IT professional, I am an Interior Architect.” – replied PO, looking pleadingly into the eyes of MB.
MB then threw PO a few construction company suggestions in Qatar, which PO could google and try to submit his CV.
After that final suggestion, which PO scribbled down on a piece of scrap paper beside the Passport Scanning Machine, MB and PO said adieu to each other and bon chance.
MB discovered a few days later that immigration officials in Lebanon, such as PO, are earning the equivalent of approximately USD 15 to 20 per month.
MB was sad for PO.
And for Lebanon.
But the wedding was great fun. It lifted spirits. It was a mixed-Muslim wedding, between a Shia boy and a Sunni girl. Such mixed weddings happen frequently in Labanon, but not in any country outside, or very rarely, as far as MB is aware. Lebanon is mostly a tolerant country, with all religions living side by side and in peace. They have moved on from the days of the civil war, thankfully. And in that sense, they are an example to their neighbours.
In the following video, which MB shot at the start of the wedding party, followers can see and hear traditional drummers and musicians welcome the bride and groom to the wedding ceremony – welcoming them in a special way to their new life together. This special welcome ceremony is called the Zaffe (Arabic word). Its all a bit crazy and noisy but very atmospheric and great fun.
As followers can also see, the dress style is very modern, with many wearing western-style dress, reflecting the open Lebanese mentality and the fact that the young couple getting married, family and friends are not religiously very conservative. The guests are a mix of religions. Apart from the lively Arabic music, it would be difficult to say which country, region or religion this service belongs to. It could even be an Irish wedding!
Best wishes to Adel and Meerna for their future life together. Thanks for the invitation!
Posted on November 28, 2021
Question lads – What does MB, Satoshi Nakamoto and Don Williams have in common?Read More
Posted on November 13, 2021
Posted on November 11, 2021
Chances are, followers have heard of the Elgin Marbles.
The EM are not marbles, in the round spherical sense. They are marble statues and other marble antiquities that were looted from certain Greek temples at the start of the 17th century. The related dispute between Greece and Britain hits the international headlines with some regularity. The EM dispute is a complex international dispute, but MB has written a short play on the subject, to enlighted followers on the various intricacies, as is his wont:Read More
Posted on November 10, 2021
Thanks to Tina for a great challenge this week. Followers of MB can view Tina’s post HERE. MB suggests that you stop and take a look. Tina’s shots are always awesome and being a well-traveled lady, she takes followers on a virtual world tour on almost every post. Shukhran Tina!
Posted on October 19, 2021
Posted on October 15, 2021
The Lens-Artists ladies have set The Ordinary challenge for MB.
On recent trip to Tbilisi, MB & daughter MB2 stayed in the cosy Amente Narikale hotel in the citys Old Town area. On morning Nr 1, MB got up for an early breakfast (as MB2 snoozed on!) and chose the outdoor courtyard to dine under the clear blue Tbilisi sky. The hotel cat was soon a beneficiary of MBs’ decision, and MB went to the breakfast bar for seconds to ensure he and Mr Cat had a filling start to the day.Read More
Posted on September 29, 2021
MB said in his previous post that he was done posting about his and MB2s’ recent Georgia trip.
But here’s another one!Read More
Posted on September 26, 2021
Gamarjoba to all.
Last ‘Georgia’ post coming up from MB & MB2s recent trip to Tbilisi, Georgia. This time it’s food and drink.Read More
Posted on September 19, 2021
Posted on September 18, 2021
MB and daughter MB2 took a day out of their Georgia trip to head into neighbouring Armenia. The northern part of Armenia where MB & MB2 visited is a poor region, with a poor road infrastructure and architecture that harks back to the days of the Soviet Union. Tall featureless apartment blocks abound, giving a sense of depression to the locality, on the surface-level at least.Read More
Posted on September 16, 2021
On the appointed day that God gave land to all the peoples, the Armenians and Georgians were late. The Armenians were late by one hour and the Georgians by one day.Read More
Posted on September 13, 2021
It’s 10 minutes past 1am on 14 September 2021. MB finds himself in Georgia.Read More
Posted on September 3, 2021
Posted on June 2, 2021
After almost eighteen months of desert dwelling, MB got to make the trek home.Read More