Tag Archives: Middle East

Perspective on a visit to the Cedars land.

I just came back from visiting Lebanon.

Year after year i discover how i have changed and how Lebanon changes, I was lucky to leave but I never expected Lebanon to become a country so full of hate, of fear, of anger, of worries like it has become!

Lebanon is dangerously on the edge due to the Syrian crisis. The blood, killing, hate and merciless war of Syria is stretching to my home country. It feels like a black cloud of evil is covering the region.

The worst part of the trip was to see how much fear is in the people, rumors around the streets of a car bomb here or a potential car here. Police asking for drivers to put tags of their contacts on their car, family advising to avoid this or that area.

It is important to note that above all this life goes on, like it went during the civil war but then you knew your enemy, you knew its a war. The situation is that Lebanon dangerous due that political parties in Lebanon  are now involved in the Syrian crisis. Our both neighbors are nothing then trouble. Human values are non-existent for the Syrian regime and in the name of the god they both worship they are causing havoc to my homeland.

The Syrian refugee crisis has taken a toll on the economy, the country resources cannot hold another million person. Food prices are high, a minority of Lebanese elite are living well as always but the Middle class is suffering badly. The main issues that are making refugees life hell is that Lebanon does not recognize the presence of these refugees in fear that they remain due to historical facts like the Palestinian refugees that remain in the country for decades now.

The Syrian refugees are paying the price, they are really living in miserable conditions in camps on rented land from land owners with support from UNICEF and local NGO’s but the longer the crisis continue the longer the Lebanese will become hostile to the refugees.
I feel that writing this might seem very gloomy and depressive, but the reality is Beirut didn’t feel the same. I shopped, i ate myself full, i enjoyed a great weather but Beirut does not feel back to life or alive as it used to be.

Helsinki on the other hand never change, extremely quiet and awaiting summer to get its people out of their hibernation back to their parks and summer festivals and back to life. I somehow wonder if we really live only 3 month(almost) a year here.

Visiting Lebanon, makes you feel hopeless that how much you tweet and try to advocate for a better nation in your homeland, your voice reaches nowhere. The hungry for power war lords are still in power, their sons and daughters are in power. Small changes are occurring but i wonder will we ever reach a stability/economical growth/solutions in our generation?

Hate seems to rule and the poor and the weak pays for the arrogance of the war lords. Lebanese are not united, they are born with the disease of religion in their blood to difference them from others. They believe that your religion, your sect is above your Lebanese nationality. I always said i wish Lebanese had 10% of the nationalism of the Finns, we would be in peace and prosperous.

When you visit the cedars land, your heart ache when you notice how much ignored is this crisis from where you come. In Finland, the issue of 1.2 million refugees is out of the Finnish media and barely mentioned in the society, we even debating as Finns if we take another 500 refugees in here. It’s a sign we are growing as humanity more selfish less caring of whats happening in the world. We think we are alone but we are not isolate, with social media with travel growing, with Europe, Finland is not alone as the countryside of Europe. We get affected by any event happening. Finland needs to be more present on the international scale, advocate for more peace, for more humanity and for more diplomacy.

I wanted to share a video to remind the Finns of a reality released by save the children UK :

“Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”

Here are some pics from the refugee camps in Lebanon, Heartbreaking that they had no right to build homes, or basic food and were being used honestly in slavery in a way, there was lots of news of child labor told to us. We fight daily against our life stresses by living our #firstworldproblems while they are fighting for their life, for basic food and for water.

Syrian Refugee Camp in Zahle

Syrian Refugee Camp in Zahle

Zahle Camp of Syrian Refugees

Zahle Camps of Syrian Refugees.

A School for Syrian Kids.

A School for Syrian Kids run by UNICEF

Some Facebook pages working with Syrian Refugees in Lebanon if you are interested to follow or offer support:

https://www.facebook.com/beyond.association

https://www.facebook.com/Lebanese4Syrian

https://www.facebook.com/Sawa.4.Syria

Where is really Home?

The basic reference of the word home comes as follows.
/hoʊm/noun, adjective, adverb, verb, homed, hom⋅ing
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3. any place of residence or refuge: a heavenly home.
4. a person’s native place or own country.

I have been for the last 7 years now in this northern part of the planet trying to figure out really what is home. Is it really true that when you are an immigrant to a new country, it’s like you are reborn. Is it true that you do the baby steps again, you build yourself, you integrate, you learn?  But does that make where you are now, your home?

As hard as it was to learn how to adapt, work, communicate in a new culture. Finland became my home! Every aspect of its society affect me, from its politics, to the little things of everyday life, even to the way i think. I have become “Finlandized”

When i came to Helsinki, i fell in love with the peace, with the system, the mentality of the Finns, their appreciation of everything given to them, their modesty, and the real democracy and freedom. This freedom and democracy is something people in the Arab world seems to be eager to have now, the youth of the Arab world are revolting to be able to live free, have jobs, a good life, standards, infrastructure, development and “democracy”.

But democracy cannot sadly be given in matters of days or even months, as i see after my experience here in Scandinavia, it is given by the way people  are raised, people learn to live  it, learn to be free, they learn to be given these rights. Our choices are ours, we are responsible of our actions.  The way you behave to respect  other humans even if different from you is the real democracy, the way you live is the real democracy.

Responsible for our actions is something that the Finns take seriously, they stand up to their country. I always say that the nationalism in Finland is not a curse, i wish my real home country was as nationalistic as we are here or patriotic and not divided over religion, over foreign interests or assets.

It is not the flag put on every building, it is not the love to “Lihapulla” or “Makkara” or the love to the “Suomi T-Paita” that makes Finns nationalistic really in my opinion, it is the way they are proud of their country, or the way they are proud of what they have built from the welfare state to the way how they  handle any breach of their air space or to the way they respect the value of a citizen. You can feel safe in Finland.

Many might say i am wrong, but i appreciate the love people have to their nation even though it is changing and maybe not toward the best. But well Home is a place where you are valued as a human, where you are treated with respect, where you are not scared from the police like the case in most of the Arab world. Home is the place where you can say to a certain extent what comes to your mind without fearing to lose your job or get in trouble. Yes! I know it is not the paradise, Finns still tend not to like being criticized and it is one of their weakness but the reality I feel home here and i am blessed to feel so. Domi ego sum!

The Hours

” Happy Birthday me!” 1 year older and a 100 wiser, is a popular proverb from back home.

It has been again a while, but thanks for a week of holiday’s or well sickness in bed that I managed to come back here.

I have so much to write about, and really don’t know where to start but well I will let the words fall one after the other.

There has been so many events lately happening in where I come from and where I am today, Finland lack no action as some of you might think! There has been elections, a strong win for the True Finns party and awesome celebration’s after with the golden win in the ice hockey championship, Finland defeated Sweden 6-1 in that game and that my Helsinki became a mini Beirut, I actually did hear enough car horns on those 2 days of festivities to compensate on the 4 years of silence!

The events in the middle east lately, Lebanon and Syria fill a lot of my free time, watching all kind of media sources and following up but comparing my new home to my ex-home is  taking  a toll when I mostly check the Lebanese media, Finland is a fair place even if I sometimes fear what the future hides us here with the win of the True Finns and the rise of the extreme right-wing . I admired this nation since I came back in 2006 for things that differs it from the corrupted, sickening Middle East.

I  see though beautiful things that makes me grateful, like the excellent medical system that showed its care to me this week.

But let’s, go back to the hottest zone on earth, the land of the Arab spring. Is this spring still kicking? It seems many believe that it is fading. I see that it will fade but will rise again, the people want change but what is this change.
Coming from that region, I have enough knowledge of the people and their ways. This might not be fair, but I believe that hunting down the leaders will not make much effect, democracy and I mean the one I enjoy daily is taught, it comes from learning and understanding and respecting the values of humans, animals, ourselves. something we lack!

I see lots of young Arab youth on Twitter, Facebook revolting but the dreams they aim for need one thing they forget: A system of education and time and hours. nothing changes in one day, there will be chaos then perfection, it is the way life works.

These freedoms and democracies comes from rising above selfishness and working hard to build a sustainable system for all, equal citizens. But well, that spring is still very young and we will live to see its future. Meanwhile,I wish that the western societies become more supportive to those young groups forming there, the Arab spring youth of Egypt, of Lebanon, and sadly the youth of Syria are dying fighting for a better future without tyranny. Europe and the west, should do more.

While all this uncovers, and the future becomes clear I keep counting the hours and days I spend  comparing this world to that world.

Will write again soon, meanwhile I enjoy the peace and stability wishing that one day,the youth of my home country will taste the beauty of this real democracy!

A year of change, a year since that winter!

Wow! What a year it has been since my last post here.

You might think that this blog is dead! Well, you are wrong. big time wrong.

The Finnish experience is on and on and that winter in my last post is way gone, but hell the current winter isn’t going anywhere. A bit of spring shows today though in Helsinki.
A year has passed and i have been busy with life, integrating, adapting, cooking, going on holiday’s, dreaming of how a democratic Middle east will look. Dictators have fallen, others have risen, majorities became minorities, disasters that shatter the heart have taken place in great nations. and even a nuclear fear populated by the world media that sparked the Finns to empty the pharmacies of Jodi Tablets.
But my Finland, is the same except of course Timo Soini is a powerful leader with 17.2 % of the voters wanting him to lead them to the new Finland, the nation of perfection.

Anyhow, before going into politics, I could talk a bit about how did Finland change in my eyes in the last year, last summer was extremely hot, the fans ran out from the stores, the Finns were sun worshipers again, nobody stayed indoors, the terraces were full of the happy Finns, but then …

Came winter again, a harsh one with -0C and much below for more then a 100 day, skins have dried, hearts have shaken, minds gone nuts, but all what i did was work. Working at night in Finland is scary for a lebanese soul sometimes.

In Lebanon, we are hyper, active, too sociable, and imagine the peace of the night of Helsinki, tasks are there to be done but the night is quiet, really quiet. sometimes at least!

But this year also, has been full of surprises, of hours spent watching Aljazeera, watching a new world being born, a new middle east, Tunis and Egypt got rid of their pain in the ass aka dictators, these brave nations youth showed that they are too eager for democracy, for change. Hoping few others will follow.

But what they forgot, that the democracy has taken the west years and decades to be learned, it is not something that you get after toppling a dictator in a matter of weeks, this is gonna be a long process and eduction will play a huge role in it. The future will show us great success in the region if the youth of these nations take control and know how to go from here.

As for the disasters of this year, the upcoming Finnish elections will be one heck of a disaster with the True Finns leading. It seems that the trend of blaming the minorities for the problems of the majorities, has become a habit in the Finnish society, leader like Soini tend to fool the people into following them promising them a better Finland (without modern art???!!! ).

What is wrong with today’s Finland ? That answer i keep it for my next long post. And i promise it will be before the upcoming heated elections.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for my following post dedicated to the brave nation of Japan.

The Latest Posts …

This was a collection from the blog before the database went totally burned.  The posts have the dates below them.

Mar 22

Home and after … the return!

Category: News, Finland, Lebanon

A month ago, we came back to Finland and change came after our trip of 10 month, we have been going thru dramatical times trying to reintegrate in one society and living the end of the harsh winter and the start of the great spring.

Well the cold is not over, we still have 2 to 3 C temperatures daily and it’s getting  a bit sunnier day after day now.

Marika has been looking for a job back here, but the economic crisis which GW Bush has left us as heritage has reached even the northern part of the Globe and its affecting Finland. No job! same applies for me.

Thanks to my last boss i got my job back there though everything feels like a drama sometimes, every business in suffering directly and indirectly and it doesn’t show as there is a way out because simply nobody knows how to deal with it.

A sneak peak at Finland after a year, shows that not much have changed, life is still super organized to extremes sometimes and it sounds like the society still suffers from loneliness.

As for me, I am integrated for sure and proud of being part of this country since things just work here, everyday there is something new for me and there is something i compare to Lebanon and see the good and the bads.

I hear a lot a lot about the news from home and think of it often, Lebanon is a beautiful place specially my home town where my dad garden keeps coming to my internal vision. I was not a nature guy, but when you live in a place where everything is frozen for 6 month and the only thing you eat is fruits and veggies coming from Spain or Italy, you start to remember places like Rechmaya where everything grows, from peach trees to onions and mint. You remember how my mom, used to pick the mints and the tomatoes straight from the garden to the salad dish. That’s the beauty of Lebanon, it’s nature but unfortunately we do not preserve it, we do not recycle there, we do not care.

Finland and the Arabs is my next Blog title and i will be writing a small overview about Scandinavian way of thinking v/s Arab and Middle Eastern way of thinking and many of the integration issues that faces us daily here in Finland. What makes us the land of the chaos and the land of the misery and what makes them so advanced.

Keep tuned!

Sasi from the flee market with the Power Girls.

Feb 19

Back to home …

Category: News, Crazy, Finland

It has been 10 month since we have first hit the road to our unknown destination and now we are back!

Back, did not mean any peacfull time for us since i have started working and Maiku is on the search to her path also. It’s really cold here, been now -7 to -11 all the last 10 days.

I have missed Finland so much, it is peacfull quiet and easy place though life tend to be hard to make your income and it’s not an easy task.

I wish i will be able to post more and soon we will post more pics from our trip and blog posts and maybe a lovely ending post on maikusasi.com before we turn it into our routine daily life blog. or maybe next trip soon ?! nobody knows …

Jan 2

Happy Holiday’s!

Category: News, Backpacking

To all of you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2009 from Bali in Indonesia.

Wishing that all of you will enjoy their holiday’s and maybe you will see more postings from in the coming year 2009!

Kisses and Hugs.

Sasi

Dec 7

In the Land of Smiles 🙂

Category: News, Backpacking

After the amazing trip in ancient Egypt, I decided to go to Beirut for a week to visit my beloved parents and get some visas issued for SE Asia.

We arrived to Thailand around 3 weeks ago, it has been nothing less then an amazing experience. We love it! I fell in love with the nice people, the laughing faces and the giggling girls.

Everything burst with life here, the outstanding beaches to the white sand to the jungle.

We will be for Christmas and New year’s celebrations in Bali it seems so more beach, more fun :)

Keep updated to http://www.maikusasi.com for more news of our trip!

Nov 8

In Egypt … Desert, heat and fun!

Category: News

Seems that our trip gets much better with time.

We are now in Egypt and it has been 6 month on the road for us. We have decided to head to south east asia after touring 3 countries in the middle east and getting a bit fed up from the hassle and my beloved Maiku’s eagerness to head to thainland ASAP.

So i will head to Beirut to fix some hanging things and spend few days with parents then will follow Maiku to Bangkok.

Egypt, can’t be less fun then it is well it si a bit of all. Museums, Egyptian god’s and the rest.

Time to go Maiku wants her facebook :)

Oct 18

In heaven …

Category: News, Backpacking

It is a new experience me, sleeping otudoor has never been done in my life. And here we go again with Maiku traveling in the Middle east, we are now in Jordan in Aqaba and it’s been a few days since we are relaxing in this small Bedouin Village Camp a very easy going place.

Here, you can sit and relax and enjoy your time around the camp from swiming to snorkling to diving to just relaxing and using their free wifi, it seems to many like a paradise. well, more or less it is for the people that are for example living in Finland now in the +5C (not trying to tease anyone). Oh here comes my dive! she was diving all ove the red sea and enjoying watching old tanks.

you can know more about our current location in this small heaven by checking on the website of http://www.bedouin-hotels.com and on http://www.diveaqaba.com

I know these are short posts but my energy is going mostly to http://www.maikusasi.com!

Sep 25

Tripping the Middle East again …

Category: News, Crazy, Backpacking

We are back on the road!

After a long stay in Beirut, we decided that it was time to continue our trip and discover new world’s, be nomads and discover new cultures and destinations.

So bags are packed and trip goes on!

Read more about our trip details and follow our route while we cross thru the crusader’s lands to Salaheldine fortress to Petra and to the Pyramids.

Find more about our trip in Syria, Jordan, Egypt on www.maikusasi.com

Aug 29

Mad at today’s Lebanon!

Lebanon can really show you the differences of society classes, the cigars, the fake boobs, the huge lips and full make-up girls of downtown Beirut that have linked their lifestyle with freedom and democracy of the west.

A bunch even claimed that if you wear a Prada or a Gucci that means you are linked to the west and support a certain political party! Yellow just wear trash as it seems to some people’s mind, maybe they do not know that they real Gucci’s are also made in fake in the Yellow people’s land:)

But still I believe it isn’t all in vain, things will change in the future. People will go back to their sense and evolve. I came to a conclusion that people did not really want it to turn like this, they just wanted the same like Georgia’s freedom and democracy example. Wonder who’s helping Georgia’s now?! Where is the west, If they can’t save Georgia, will they save Lebanon from it’s bigger neighbors.

I write this article just to let you have some hope and give a bit of motivation to come to Lebanon, that truth is that regardless of how this community turned into, there is good. What is the good being done?! Where is the good?!

I do not know, neither see myself  but it exist. Maybe the good old tradition, maybe the good food but there must be something that still makes Lebanon special.

After all, why would you blame a young generation that was raised having an extreme rich lifestyle based on the support from immigrants that plunged yearly thousands millions of Dollars and Euros from African diamond business, to telecom business, to war and gun raising in certain places on the planet to their relatives and family that just care about SHOW OFF, about CLASS, about SNOB, about taking everything first world countries have and living it to the EXTREME. They do not take human rights and environment care, they just take the nice cars concept and etc… In 2006, before i left to Finland i had applied for a job in Abu Dhabi just to go and make more money like most of the expats but today i praise myself for making the wisest decision in my life by going to a country like Finland instead and living with my Maiku. Tell you why?!

With Maiku, i have learned that humans are more valuable then money, i have learned that we are all equal and that we do not need to have big cars and huge bank accounts to be happy. That, maybe just reading a book in the park equals a huge party in Sky Bar And to top it all, i have learned, the real meaning of freedom and lived it, to do what I want really without caring about the say of my friends or the opinions of others. I have learned that history, education, books, reading, writing, being honest are keys to make a better future for the generations to come.

Now after 2 years, I came to a conclusion that I do love my homeland for the history it has, for the sweethearts of the old ladies that make Kibbe and excellent Tabboule, but i do not want to live ever again in it. I will be leaving out of here soon and will try my best never to come back here. It has been to stressful to live and adapt again to the system here, a system based on connection and classes of humans and rich and poor to a sick extreme.

Damn it! The Lebanese do it always to the extreme.

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Jul 15

Lebanon: What is looming on the edge ?!

Category: News, Politics, Lebanon

After our trip in Europe and living in Finland for the last 2 years, I came to the conclusion that nowhere on earth is like Lebanon, of course, am talking carrier wise and hospitality sector.

I wanted to write this article to introduce the “a la libanaise” way of doing things. In Lebanon, you have 2 kinds of sectors, private and public sector and the gap between both is huge. The public sector, is a corrupted, non-organized, chaotic sector and the most hypocrite side of it is that they claim (the newly or old elected government) claims that they are on the path to reforms.

Funding for reforms from EU and US and other GC has reached its peak but where are these funds that have pledged to the Lebanese government? As a Lebanese, see no progress in any sector. Electricity cuts still go on in on daily basis, some areas even do not get electricity for more than 6 hours daily. And the business of owning a generator to cover a few blocks might get you rich. There are even a few persons ( and I do not mean companies ) that run cable tv service, internet service, generator service in the same blocks and these people do not belong to any company and do not pay taxes neither there is any control over them .

The system goes by the fact that if you have money, you can be a king! The Lebanese situation is frustrating for many people living here; the locals are suffering from the rise of prices. The expensive lifestyle and the demand of a society that claims to be modern and take as it’s idol the west, but shame that people take everything in a contradiction, if you were D&G it is not for the sake of buying quality labels but for the sake of showing off to your friends and surrounding that you are something or you are better than the rest of the people.

The frustration and despair of the local middle class (that is basically non-existent) or that have immigrant is shocking, People are dreaming to go abroad, the dreams of becoming a citizen of a first world country or going to the GC where job opportunities are higher is everyday’s talk. One of my friends when I came back goes and tell me “Jad, there is no more guys in Lebanon” I cannot find a descent boyfriend.

And since I work in the hospitality industry, I can see on daily basis Lebanese immigrants or non-Lebanese men visiting to get engaged or to get to know more their future wife from Lebanon to say.

I went too far maybe with explaining the conditions of life here, but since I am back here temporary or maybe permanently, I figured that it is nice to put a small overview on life in Beirut. Now coming back to our private sector, the private sector suffers deeply from the old systems and the non-advanced way of adapting to its progress by the Public sector. The progress shown by the company that are Lebanese owned is amazing, Lebanese companies specially in fields of F&B, hospitality, industries, architectures are all now based in UAE, KSA, KW and Qatar. These companies from Lebanese origins are now a core in the fast progress of the gulf. Lebanese, have invaded these countries to say. Lebanese banks have opened branches all over the Arab world in a plan to attract investors and rich Arabs.

Lebanon benefits highly from Dubai, Doha and other countries and fortunately this is what keeps it stable financially regardless of the unstable political situation that it has been suffering. The shame and I say shame is that Lebanese people living here do not benefit from these steps. The law of the jungle still rules in Lebanon, regardless of all the promises of reforms and promises of a better life for Lebanese citizens that have the biggest asset for their country, the successful immigrants abroad.

In my opinion, Lebanese didn’t change much after 15 years from the civil war, there is huge reconstruction, huge investments and loads of money being plunged here but unfortunately it is not distributed equally and it supports the massive corruption run by the Media and politicians. I will remain in Lebanon, for the few coming month and will keep u updated how will the tourism industry will do and how will this promised summer after the Doha accord will benefit or take Lebanon into stability and prosperity.

Thank you for reading and my apologies to my readers for not posting more frequently.

JaD

Write soon!