Sofia is 2!


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

Sofia & The Feast of St Barbara


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

Happy 1st Birthday Miss Sofia


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!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Pedestrian


Pedestrian.

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!

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The Baptism of baby Sofia


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

Foto Friday – Views from the castle


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

Weekly Photo Challenge – Waiting


Waiting.

The expression ‘waiting for a miracle’ is well known, and mostly the miracle never happens. But sometimes it does. Read More

The Wedding of David & Myriam (6)


Feeding Time.

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!

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The Wedding of David & Myriam (4)


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……..

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The Wedding of David & Myriam (3)


The Guests Arrive (2 of 2).

And they just kept arriving………..

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The Wedding of David & Myriam (2)


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:

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The Wedding of David & Myriam (1)


The Church.

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!

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Sunday Shot – No Comment


Foto Friday – Assaha Hotel, Beirut.


MB will head to Lebanon next weekend (the Islamic Eid Holiday weekend in the Middle East), where he is invited to a wedding in the ancient town of Byblos. Having seen the church and party venue online, it promises to be a great photo opp occasion for MB and his camera. Big thanks to work colleague DAM and his wife-to-be for the invitation.

The below photo is from the inside of Assaha Hotel, where MB spent the first night of his December 2016 previous Lebanon wedding trip. He received some special hospitality from local residents on the following morning on a local street when he went to buy a local phone sim card. But that’s a story for telling at another time.

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A New Irish Passport


It was not until MB arrived in the Middle East (ME) some nine years ago that he learnt the true value of his Irish Passport. Read More