Posted on March 25, 2021
Seems like only yesterday when MB wrote the story of Sofia’s birth.
Two or so years later, baby sister Maria arrived. And two years later again, four years since he started, MB now finds himself sitting down to write the next installment.
And so, the chronicles of Sofia & Maria continue.
2. 1st Birthday
3. Feast of St Barbara
4. Sofia is 2!
5. Sofia’s got a sister – Welcome Baby Maria
6. Sofia & Maria – Birthday Time.
7. Tooth Fairy
Recently S&M celebrated Valentine’s Day with mom & dad R&E in Doha, Qatar, where R&E reside and work. Sofie’s 4th birthday took place on 10 February just past, and as ever, artistic mom R didn’t spare any effort for either occasion. As followers can see from mom R’s pics below, these two young ladies are growing up fast for sure.
However, whilst the family thrive and prosper in Qatar, their Lebanese homeland has all but collapsed economically, particulary in the last six months, and event more particularly in recent weeks. Ominously, according to many Lebanese friends on MB, the worst may be yet to come. The currency has lost 90% of its value against the dollar in the last year (and its still sliding), the banking system has lost the confidence of the people (with very good reason), prices of food and life’s other staples have sky-rocketed, and more than 50% on the population now lives in proverty. Crime levels, understandably, are rising. People with little savings, most of the population actually, are in dire straights. In a country that was once referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Mediterranian’, chronic unemployment, and even hunger, now stalk the land.
MB had a meeting with a client earlier this week. Lebanese national Walid. Walid informed MB that in 30 years on employment (mostly in Qatar), his reasonably well-paid wife had managed to save USD 400,000.00. Each month she would religiously send home her monthly savings to her bank account in Beirut. About two years back, at the suggestion of her bank, she converted her entire dollar savings into a local Lebanese pounds account. The Lebanese pound accounts were paying double the interest rate of the dollar accounts at that time, so it seemed appealing. Two years later, his wifes USD 400k is worth USD 40k – 90% of her life savings have disappeared. He has a similar tale to tell, but MB will not tell it as it,lest he depress readers too much. Sadly, the tale of Walid & his wife is replicated through hundreds of thousands of other ‘Walids’ and other ‘wives’.
MB works with many Lebanese. Most have now given up the ghost of ever returning to their homeland to work. That possibility may now not even exist for their young children. Sadly. Comparisons with Venezuala are often mentioned.
Sofia and Maria, thankfully, have many years to go before career decisions will need to be made. Let’s hope for better times for both of them, come that time.
Thanks to mom R for the following pics:
Posted on March 7, 2020
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
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: FIFA 2022, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics, Sofia, Syria
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!
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Adventure, Koura, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics, Qatar, Sofia, Travel
Posted on July 1, 2015
“Seems like this whole region is going backwards”, said a friend to MB a few days back. Read More
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Bigotry, Culture, Doha, Intolerance, islam, KSA, Middle East, Mohammad Abdul Wahaab, Politics, religion, Salafism, School, Teacher, Wahaabi
Posted on January 2, 2015
MB has just arrived back in the Middle East after two week break back home. Even if MB was not a native, he would still be impressed with Ireland and the Irish. Read More
Category: Irish man in the Middle East Tagged: Addiction, alcohol, Alcoholic, beer, Conversation, Culture, farming, Free, Ireland, Irish Pub, Lottery, Mary Howard, Politics, Pub talk
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