Posted on December 6, 2019
Posted on November 15, 2019
Been a while since MB wrote about anything other than cheery weekend thoughts and photo challenges. Day-1 of the Middle East weekend is now upon MB and he is sipping coffee in a Doha coffee shop, having just wolfed back a warm chocolate tart. All, generally speaking, is good with the world. A short trip to the UK is imminent (of which more anon), and two weeks back home for Christmas break is eagerly awaited.
MB has been following the US Democratic Party primaries in recent weeks, watching lots of it on YouTube, and actually mentioned one of the candidates in a HX blog post of mid-September, related to Artificial Intelligence. As MB followers of old would expect, same candidate went from zero to hero in the following weeks and managed to raise USD 10M in a month. In the last week alone he has raised over USD 1M. So it seems that when MB gives a should-out, miracles are possible!
MB just watched a YouTube video of the same candidate, which is approx 1 hour long, but extremely engrossing. If there is a smarter guy running for the White House who understands the issues of the day, and how they might be solved, MB is unaware. MB will go a step further, and state – there is not (unless MB enters the race!). This guy is the real deal, and MB (again) wishes him well.
Back in the Middle East, there is much bubble, bubble, toil & trouble. MB has many Lebanese friends who are stressed out to a man and a woman at present. Past political mistakes have allowed rampant corruption and now chickens are coming home to roost. The people, regardless of their religious affiliations, which in the past might have kept them in check, are protesting at their poverty, lack of opportunity, and more recently at the failure of banks to allow full access to people’s own funds and to introduce ‘rationing’ of cash. The corrupt politicians are making matters worse every time they open their corrupt mouths and are pouring fuel on the fire. Recent days have seen matters regress further and most are fearful for their futures.
A similar story is unfolding in Iraq with the population protesting violently for the same reasons. However, the Iraqi army are far more trigger-happy than the Lebanese, and hundreds of protesters are dead.
Related to the above stories, and never written of previously by MB he thinks, is a very prevalent theory amongst Arab nationals. When things are going badly, one will hear many of one’s Arab friends blame “outside forces” who “control” their region (USA, Israel, the West generally). This ‘theory’ is obviously the easy option, so it’s grabbed with both hands by the locals. When you ‘know’ that ‘outside forces’ are in ‘control’ then you never have to look in the mirror and ask yourself any serious questions. In no other location that MB has ever traveled to has he heard locals so vocally blame others for their own troubles and mistakes. The coincidence of people’s protests in Iraq and Lebanon at corruption and poor governance in recent weeks was evidenced by an Arab friend to MB last week as yet further proof of “outside forces” pulling the strings and “controlling” the region. Strooth!
So dear followers have a good weekend.
Regards from MB.
Posted on October 4, 2019
Posted on March 29, 2019
Approximately two years back, with the permission of parents E&R, MB started to chronicle the life of baby Sofia. Post Nr 1 was on the occasion of her Christian baptism. The idea was, and is, to record her life and its bigger moments, against the backdrop of the political situation in the Middle East. Two more posts followed subsequently. Read More
Posted on December 5, 2018
HX Report has followed the progress of baby Sofia since her birth on 10 February 2017.
Sofia is the daughter of Lebanese parents R&E who are friends of MB, all earning their crust in Doha, Qatar. It’s MB’s intention to chronicle the life of Sofia in the years ahead as she grows up in the crazy Middle East, against the backdrop of regional shenanigans. Read More
Posted on May 4, 2018
Soon after Sofia’s birth over one year back, MB agreed with Lebanese parents R&E that he would chronicle Sofia’s life in the years ahead. She is the firstborn to R&E, and to date is not joined by additional siblings. On 10 February 2018, she was one year old. Already Sofia has been the subject of three of MB’s past blog posts, the most recent being a post on her Christian baptism.
R&E, continue to work in peaceful and prosperous Doha, Qatar, and are building a new house back in their Koura/north Lebanon home region where they and Sofia will one day return. The shell of the house is now complete and the more expensive internal finishings will soon start. Architect mom R will spend her 2-week August vacation painting arty pictures on the internal walls, as she informed MB in recent days.
The Middle East continues to provide a crazy backdrop to Sofia’s early life. Syria and Yemen remain in war-ravaged chaos. Neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan struggle financially and socially under the weight of displaced Syrian war refugees. Lower level extremist violence continues in Iraq and elsewhere. Qatar, where MB & R&E abide, remains under a non-sensical travel and economic blockade by (unneighbourly) neighbours UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. There is no end in sight to that particular saga. Recent comments from a senior Saudi politician maintained the high temperature, commenting that if the US closed its Qatar air base, Qatar would not last long, implying a Saudi-led invasion. The US, UK & France bombed Syrian government installations only a few weeks back in response to an alleged gas attack by the Syrian government on a rebel-controlled Damascus suburb. MB says ‘alleged’ on account of the fact that there is no actual proof, and international inspectors have not yet released their findings. An Independent newspaper article by reporter Robert Fisk makes for interesting reading in that regard.
Sofia remains oblivious to all the regional nonsense that goes on about her. At 13 months, she started to walk, cocking a snook of sorts to all the madness. A few weeks back, she travelled back home with mom R to visit happy grandparents and extended family. MB’s first below photo was provided by mom R from that trip. The second is from her recent birthday party.
Belated 1st birthday wishes to Miss Sofia from MB!
Posted on October 4, 2017
The ruins of ancient Byblos look quite pedestrian today. The history of Byblos is far from pedestrian however and is worth a read and some research if you have the time.
The below shot was taken during MB’s recent trip to Lebanon when he attended a wedding next to the ancient ruins. The shot even features three pedestrians!
Posted on September 22, 2017
A number of months back, MB welcomed baby Sofia into the world via one of his blog posts, mom & dad (R&E) being friends on MB, hailing from the Khoura region of northern Lebanon, but working in recent years (and presently) in Qatar. Read More
Posted on September 15, 2017
MB has some external shots of the Crusader Castle at Byblos, Lebanon, somewhere in his photo library, from a previous visit of a few years back, but he is too lazy to search for them. So, for today’s Foto Friday post, MB gives HX followers some shots that he took last week, from atop the castle, of the surrounding countryside, without any shots of the actual castle itself.
Some of the views are quite typical of the Lebanese coastline, countryside, and townscapes. Read More
Posted on September 8, 2017
Posted on September 7, 2017
Weddings are tough work. For the participants and guests alike. The food can not come soon enough for most. And on the occasion of D&M’s wedding, MB can assure followers that the food was mouthwateringly delicious and amazing!
Posted on September 6, 2017
The Bride Arrives.
Nobody cares about the groom. Any groom. In any country. Except maybe his mom. He just arrives as early as he can with his best man in tow and prays that half of those invited actually show up. He prays even harder that the bride will show up. Inshallah she will!
But when the bride arrives, that’s when the excitement starts……..
Posted on September 6, 2017
Posted on September 6, 2017
The Guests Arrive (1 of 2).
MB lodged himself just inside the church entrance under some foliage to protect his follically-challenged head from the warm August rays. He had arrived at the church grounds some 30 minutes before the wedding ceremony was to take place to capture the location and the guests as they arrived. Despite wearing an open-neck shirt, minus any tie, it was still perspiration weather due to Jbail’s summer humidity, a consequence of its juxtaposition next to the adjacent sea.
And so the guests arrive:
Posted on September 6, 2017
MB mentioned in a recent post that he was again amongst the Lebanese for the wedding of a work colleague. The ceremony took place on Sunday last in the 900-year-old Christian Maronite Church of St Jean Marc in Byblos, in the modern-day town of Jbail, Jbail being situated on the Lebanese coastal highway approximately one hours drive north of Beirut. The beautiful old stone-cut church lies in the port area of the ancient habitation, next to the Crusader Castle which was built around the same time.
The church was constructed in the year 1115 AD, according to MB’s research, as the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, and is today dedicated to St John Mark, the patron saint of Jbail. It is thought that St JM was the founder of the first Christian community in the locality.
As a location for a wedding ceremony, perfect!