Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Reports’ Category

Mykonos, one of the world’s most sensational islands if not a piece of land from heaven. With it’s fabulous temperament and large cost scattered around the island every year Mykonos gets about 750,000 tourists that visit it. Walking around the Island means a journey into the past that narrates ancient Greek history with each step you make. In the centre of the town, you see visual impact of the Greek blue and white color scheme. If the blue component is crazy loud, white is an quiet; If the blue is a blue, white heart is a bliss.

As the body in the magic world, Mykonos Town Street with its many churches, pubs, and squares with all terraces having the ocean as their front yards; is the secret behind the quintessential of the Greek island. The more you walk with your plastic slippers and comfy outfit by the harbor, the more you explore that behind every corner in this island there is a surprise. Even on the womb of the sea sceneries are never taken by surprise.

During the day, the town street is wearing a white smile. Between the tiny passageways through the lively blue windows you see a natural burn island. When nature speaks, it speaks blue and white, Mykonos. With nature speaking, and sun dazzling lively beach activities are the highlight of Mykonos town street.The combination of the beautiful harbor, and the romantic sandy beaches trigers in you a brave desire to dive deeper beneath the ocean in which Amphorae and pots and the traces of the ancient Greece and the Roman Empire can be seen,

In the evening the party in Mykonos breaks loose, all around the city. And while bars and pubs are competing to sound louder than the other, the tourists stroll through the narrow streets and the port. This high-beat street never sleeps. Who ever enters the centre of the island at night turns to be a nocturnal creature, just like owls.

Spotted on the top of a small hill with traditional Mycenaean architecture, Mykonos Downtown is a brilliant blend of multi-cultured elements, with sophisticated luxury all surrounded by the great Peloponnesus mountains. The romance of the Aegean Sea combines the blue with white and pure simplicity in how to celebrate life day and night.

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Mohammed Al Turki attends amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS Gala party during the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Hotel Du Cap

Mohammed Alturki can be known as (Mister has-it-all). As a Saudi Actor, Producer and Philanthropist Alturki surpassed all the imaginable challenges that exist in any cinema industry, in particular the ‘turbulent’ Hollywood.

As a child, his talent took place before a camera was ever switched on. And as a man, his passion separated him from being just a good producer/actor to being a highly talented one. For Alturki, “There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life” as Federico Fellini-the famous Italian Director- stated.. No wonder why both did crack the “Holly-Wood!”

Was it difficult, as a Saudi, getting into the Film Industry (Hollywood) at that time?

It’s hard as is it is getting into the Entertainment industry you can imagine how much harder it is for a Saudi or a Middle Eastern.Contacts and networking are key in this industry I’m blessed to have that. It eased my way in working on certain projects. You have to be open minded and accepting to a lot of criticism you get.

For me the factor of being a part of an industry that has no value or a proper understanding of its purpose in my country doesn’t make things easier.

I’ve grown up loving film. I grew up in a household where we were told we could pursue whatever we want as long as we work for it. I wanted it I worked for it and now I’m a member of an industry I longed to be a part of.

Tell us more about your latest project “Arbitrage”?

Arbitrage is a film about Robert Miller “Richard Gere” a hedge fund billionaire trying to get rid of his empire before being caught in his scheme, in modern day Manhattan with the after math of the financial crisis.

We got a great ensemble cast that includes Oscar winner Susan Surandon, Tim Roth , Nate Parker, Sundance favorite Brit Marling and French sensation Latetica Casta. It is directed brilliantly by Nicholas Jarecki and we have a great cinematographer Yorick Ke Saux who worked on “I am love”.

Who was the most important mentor in your life and why?

The most important mentor in my life is my father Abdulaziz Al Turki. I’ve learned so much from him. I am so proud to be his son. I learned from him the importance of giving back to the community you both live and work in. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is important to him. I now understand and see why. The simple fact of joy and the feeling of satisfaction after you helped others. Simply makes you appreciate what you have nevertheless wanting to do better in life.. My father made us appreciate small and big things in life. Family for me is important as friends come and go but family lasts forever. They are the support system that will always live by your side.

In the last five years, what has been your most unforgettable meeting or experience and why?

I have many memories and experiences that are unforgettable. I cant decide which one is the most unforgettable. But I am on the start of my journey and I am looking forward to more unforgettable memories.

What is the one question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview today?

I’m not sure, but I sure know the questions that I wouldn’t want to be asked in an interview. (Smart one!)

Ya Charbel Aoun…I am a Geek!
By Weam Al Dakheel

Geekfest

Am I a ‘Geek’? Well, if you were there, you are probably considered as a geek or on the process to be an extreme one. I first recognized that when artist Charbel Samuel Auon came to me and asked this question, “are you a geek? I mean a person who is obsessed with something,” said Charbel.

Me (left), Charbel, Reef (right)

“To make it clear to you, it is called ‘sociable’,‘’ added Aoun with a French accent. Personally, I just starred at him, and said,” maybe, on the process to be one!’’ After a while when we ended up the conversation, I turned back to my friends and thought, ‘Yes, I am a GEEK, if not then what am I doing here?!’

By Charbel Aoun

Who is Carbel Aoun? He is an artist who explores a multitude of dimensions that he marks in one single painting through different sequences of light.

By Charbel Aoun

He draws the inner feeling of a society in a movement within different shapes; forms become clear, whether strips of light or transparent masses.

Me behind Aoun's paintings in Art Lounge

His paintings exist to enhance the spatial, social, temporal and psychological dimensions.

Brochures and Flyers at Art Lounge

Geekfest took place at Art Lounge (May 29, 2010) in the city’s Karantina district. It is a social event that brings the right feeling of togetherness to the geeks, who are involved in the online and twitter world and they’re to entertain, promote, or educate themselves in social networking and blogosphere.

Antoine Naaman (Centre)

The event brought together online innovators, web developers and designers, tweeple (a term describes the obsession of Twitter and tweets), bloggers (Lausocial and others), photographers all in one cozy place where we all felt good to be geeks. A group of local speakers presented from 8:45 till 10:15, in which all of the discussions encircled inside the social media gigantic world.

Geekfest speakers list

The breaking news is that Lausocial class created a big buzz in geekfest Beirut!

Thank You lausocial and Ayman Itani


Me, Lema, and Reef

Wearing their tags with names and hearing cheers and clapping all over the place, with all this cheerfulness atmosphere for lausocial, a big smile of proudness was drawn on Ayman Itani ‘s face. He is our instructor, and the master head in social media technology.

lausocial Class

lausocial with Ayman Itani

Seriously Ayman is our savior in this gigantic social media world. He just brought the utmost commitment out of us and coached us to be the ultimate survivors on twitter with a record reached more than 10,000 tweets by the end of the semester.

The interesting news is ”young leaders social media café”

Young Leaders Social Media Café (YLSMC) is a part of Young Leaders Visitors Program which was successfully launched in 2008

For more information, please visit http://www.independence05.com/blog/2010/03/young-leaders-social-media-cafe-launch.html

Me in Art Lounge Entrance

Me, Reef, and Isra with Geekfest T-shirts

By Weam Al Dakheel

Published in ‘The LAU Tribune’ (Newspaper)

fashion in lebanon

Lebanon has been the fashion capital of the Middle East. Thanks to the Lebanese designers such as Georges Chakra, Zuhair Murad, Abed Mahfouz, Rabih Kayrouz, and Elie Saab who are considered as the beloved ones in most of international fashion runways. In addition, the Lebanese people have a reputation for being among the most fashionable people in the Arab World. The fashion in the country is alive especially among young women wearing the latest and trendiest brands. “In Lebanon, fashion is becoming a progressing phenomenon matching one of the lead industries in Europe. The Lebanese designers are producing striking fashion designs in London, Milan and Paris runways. They add glamour to stars in the red carpet,” said Nabila Nazer, a Saudi Fashion Designer. As a result, fashion has become a creative and active representation of Lebanese men and women.

As Lebanon attracts a large number of tourists, especially Arabs, the country have witnessed growth in the fashion sector. “Last year a million tourists visited Lebanon. This is the first time since the end of the civil war in 1990 that Lebanon has seen such high numbers of tourists,” quoted by Radio Netherlands Worldwide. In addition, the U.S. apparel exports to Lebanon reached 9 million dollars in the first 10 months of 2009, constituting around 3% of total apparel imports to Lebanon, statistics done by U.S Commercial Service. This means, the fashion industry in Lebanon extensively advances retail activity in the country.

One minute Lebanon was just a site of war and chaos and then the next second, a battlefield of beauty and fashion as Lebanese designers continue to create buzz all around the world. Armed with unparalleled hands that create attractive and wearable designs, competitive Lebanese fashion designers rise to the global arena and are favored by famous Hollywood stars in red-carpet events, shows, and events because their designs “correspond to Hollywood celebrity standards: feminine, sexy, glamorous, but not provocative, not too personal,” said Lydia Kamitsis, a fashion curator and writer based in France.

abed mahfouz

One of the big names to come up in the world of fashion design is Abed Mahfouz. In 2009, he was #78 in Arabian Business’ list of 100 World’s Most Influential Arabs. Though an Electrical Engineering graduate, Mahfouz found his calling to be a fashion designer even as a child as he assisted his dressmaker sister Ghada Mahfouz. “I love to be random but distinctive. I go for new standards in every collection I design. My aim is to keep searching about the beauty of fashion to solve the woman’s secret,” Said Mahfouz.

In 1999, he entered the fashion scene with his first-ever bridal collection held at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Beirut. Following this, he showcased another bridal and evening dress collection in the same capital in 2000. Then in 2001, he launched “The Dreamer” or “Al Halima” Collection, which featured bridal couture and became the first of the many successful “Al Halima” collections. However, his international fame came in 2004 when he took part in the International Fashion Week in Rome. Here, he displayed his Autumn-Winter Collection. He has since been showcasing collections most notably his Fall/Winter 2008-2009 Collection presented in AltaRoma AltaModa Fashion Week in the garden of Villa Borghese Gallery and Museum, with the attendance of the Italian Prime Minister of Culture and the president of Alta Roma Style and Events Agency, among other prominent celebrities and public figures. “Abed Mahfouz is an exceptional designer with extraordinary style and character. He is so humble, respectable, and decent. When ever I attend his fashion shows I get inspired by his fashion perspective.” Said Rabiaa Breghli, a regular customer of Abed Mahfouz from Morocco.

Hence, in the recent New York Fashion Week, Abed Mahfouz announced the launch of his prêt-a-porter collection. “This season’s colors are natural colors such as pink, green, yellow, orange. The mood of the dress portrays a calm appearance towards a fruitful future. And the woman of Abed Mahfouz is always glowing, when she appears everybody would look at her,” said the creative director Ghassan el Hoyek referring to fall 2010-2011 collection launched in New York.

abed mahfouz

The collection reflects Mahfouz’s design principle of celebrating the female form, accenting silhouettes with draping and highlighting the shoulders and the waist. “ I attended his fashion show at the Altman Building in New York, amazing. The collection of fall 2009-2010 is inspired by a woman’s beauty and femininity. It is full of glamorous gowns with raised shoulders, the one-piece garments designed with crystals and white diamonds are very eye-catching and fashionable. Every piece Abed Mahfouz designs is fabulous,” commented Farah Kamal, a Lebanese Student in New York University, major Arts and film.

As a designer, Mahfouz designs for the contemporary woman who wishes to be “natural, transparent, and soaring towards a confident, independent and cutting edge future” said Mahfouz. “I love the way he makes fabric dance and mingle together, his magnificent ways and techniques, simply regal,” said Nabila Nazer. Today, celebrities and stars wear his clothes and sit at the front row of his shows. Between these are Tyra Banks, Taylor Swift, Tilda Swinton, Victoria Beckham, Beyonce, violinist Miri Ben-Ari and socialite Annabel Vartanian, who sat front row in his Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week.

Since Mahfouz’s designs are haute couture, they are expectedly pricey. The current economic crisis the world is facing has undoubtedly had an affect on the fashion industry, and for Mahfouz “it made an effect, but not that much” speaking of the supplies and demands in his fashion business.

Costume Made Dress by Abed Mahfouz for Wijdan Abdul Azize, the Bride.

Wijdan Abdul Aziz, a Saudi regular client of Abed who brought eight dresses from him, revealed her affection to his yearly fashion designs. “Abed Mahfouz designed my wedding dress. He is the best in Lebanon and so professional in and outside the fashion business. The relationship between the family and Mahfouz has nothing to do with money and materialistic aspects. Although you have to cash in big money in order to get one of his glamorous dresses.” The prices of Abed Mahfouz are as superior as the fashion pieces themselves. “Every dress have cost me more than 3000$,” said Wijdan Abdul Aziz. Therefore, Abed Mahfouz dresses are high-priced, for example, fashion pieces in silk and organza, in all colors and several lengths, some with elaborate embroidery and rows of crocheted crystals in silver or colored cost around 3500$, and with more fabrics and stitching prices are up high to 25000$.

The prices stated above are not from the invitation-only haute couture; they are ready-to-wear prices from the best department stores and boutiques. It’s hard for most people to fathom such outlandish excess; it’s become hard for the excessive spender to feel the full glory of her excess when the status barometer is forever on the rise.However orders from abroad are “peaking,” said Mahfouz, and the Lebanese designers know that fashion is a business where change is everything. “Ten years ago, we said this ‘trend’ of Lebanese designers would die. Well, it hasn’t yet and it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon,” stated Georges Chakra, a Lebanese and international fashion designer.

elie saab

Another designer who is one of the tops of this elite group of Lebanese designers is Elie Saab who is much inspired by “the Middle Eastern culture, especially the city of Beirut and the richness of its culture, and my sensitivity to fashion is reflected through rich and warm items as well.” Elie Saab has skyrocketed to fame when Hollywood actress Halle Berry received the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002, wearing the famous full-skirted burgundy gown with a sheer top with strategically embroidered flowers where she looked “faultless,” stated Saab.

halle berry

He has since been designing for other Hollywood A-listers such as Christina Aguilera, and Angelina Jolie. Other names that continue to create buzz in Hollywood are Reem Acra, Rabih Kayrouz, and George Chakra, all of whom have deep affinity with their home country and have designed for the likes of Tyra Banks, Carrie Underwood, Queen Latifah, famous political wives, among others. Because of these talented and creative designers, fashion in Lebanon has since been vibrant. As more young designers are finding their voice, they are bringing new and unique perspectives to fashion. ” I strongly believe in young blood and as a result I have selected four graduates who are getting complete guidance in not only creating collections but also on how to develop the business plan as it is extremely important for building the brand in future,” Stated Rabih Kayrouz, Lebanese designer and creator. As a result, countless fashion institutes also began coming in, giving more chance to those who want to make it big in the fashion world.

reema acra

Because of Mahfouz and other Lebanese designers, the country is becoming the fashion capital of the Middle East. These designers are greatly influenced by their culture and they in turn influence the way locals dress. Since Lebanon is an open country compared to its neighbors, Lebanese are now more fashion-forward, edgy, and stylish, thanks to the designers who are making everyone proud. Given that Lebanese designers are adept in wedding gown creation like Mahfouz and Acra, Lebanon is an unexpectedly beautiful place for a destination wedding and other important fashionable events.

Case Study- Moral Reasoning

By Weam Al Dakheel
books

The enrichment of the information exchange nowadays is highly unrestrained. From web surfing, Internet, online books, libraries, and wikipedia all are forms of information technology that creates new ethical problems.
In universities, the information exchange can be limited between two parties, students and instructors. But the ethical problems occurring can affect one party than the other. One of these ethical problems raises a question: should university faculty sell virtual textbooks and course material to students in their own courses?

Utilitarian approach

To solve this ethical issue using the utilitarian approach we should:
1. Identify the various courses of action available to us.
2. We ask who will be affected by each action and what benefits or harms will be derived.
3. We choose the action that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm because the ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.

According to that “everyone is obligated to do whatever will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number”. The greatest numbers in this case are the university students taking the course. The greatest good and benefit is the course material since it is produced from the instructor himself who is more knowledgeable about the content of the course than anyone else and have a duty to help students learn. However, if the professor decided to sell his virtual texts and material to his students according to this principle it is an acceptable act since he is giving proper and accurate material and information of the course for “greatest number” which is for the students.

Rights approach

In deciding whether an action is moral or immoral using the right approach, then, we must ask, does the action respect the moral rights of everyone?
According to the rights approach, everyone has the right to do whatever he or she wants. Based on that, the instructor has the right to sell his virtual texts and the students have the right to decide whether to buy or not.

The basic principle of Immanuel Kant: “Everyone is obligated to act only in ways that respect the human dignity and moral rights of all persons.” In this case, there is a conflict of rights, because the positive right (welfare) of the instructor to do what he wants with his one’s property (virtual texts) is considered a negative right for the university principle and regulations. Since it is prohibited in almost all universities to involve acts between the students and their teachers that don’t contribute learning and educating methods and has something to do with materialistic aspects. But still, in the right approach Kant emphasizes if an individual (instructor) has a moral right, then it is morally wrong to interfere with that right even if large numbers of people would benefit from such interference (university).

Kantian approach

According to Kant’s golden rule: “do unto others as u have them do unto you.” In this case, it is morally incorrect for the professor to take such an action since it is prohibited case under the university’s regulations. If this professor was a dean, administrator or an officer in the university he wouldn’t have accepted the exchange procedure between the students and the teacher.

Virtue approach

According to the virtue approach, or virtue ethics, virtues are habits because once they are acquired, they become a characteristic of a person. Based on the “virtue ethics”, there are certain ideals, such as excellence or dedication to the common good, toward which we should attempt and which allow the full development of our humanity. These ideals are discovered through thoughtful reflection on what we as human beings have the potential to become.
If these students want to become “better” individuals in their education career and achieve good grades they should buy the virtual texts from their instructor. Aristotle said: “a person can improve his or her character by practicing self-discipline, while a good character can be corrupted by repeated self-indulgence.” In this case the instructor should demand nothing from students that isn’t instrumental in their learning. Even if the decision was made between the instructor and the students to sell the course material, he/she shouldn’t take advantage of a power imbalance and sell low quality materials with large profit especially if it is a big course in the number of students. Therefore, he will be considered a corruption to the idea of “community.”

morality

Student Exibition

By Weam Al Dakheel

The US Educational Group has arranged US University Fair exhibition on Tuesday, in Movenpick Hotel, Beirut where learners can meet with international student admissions officials and communicate face-to-face with them about studying in the US. This provides cross-cultural capability for Arab students seeking twenty-first century skills through international high standard education.
USEG is seeking to assist young men and women in the Arab world in experiencing higher education level that will lead them to a successful career in the future. The group is staffed by Arabic-speaking educators experienced both in the Arab world and in the United States, such as Abdullah Bokhari, Professor of Architecture in King Abdul-Aziz University and Musa Subbak, 
Professor of Mathematics in Applied Science University.

The U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele J. Sison who attended the US University Fair is a big supporter of education as he presented a check, on Monday, for $457,475 to the American University of Beirut (AUB) providing them with scholarships to students. The United States has supplied AUB this year over $2.3 million in scholarship’s cost support. 740 students were able to qualify regarding their financial need, from all over Lebanon.

Many students have attended the exhibition from different schools, institutions, colleges, and universities here in Lebanon. The majorities were seeking a new challenge in the US, and curious about the American culture that is beyond the screening images we receive via visual communications. Natalie Gharibeh, a student from AUB said: “ I came here to ask, getting to know about universities in the US, where I am looking forward to spend some exciting years in doing my biology masters somewhere in the states.”
To have a chance, and then to choose where to study in the US is like choosing where would you like to have dinner amongst the best Italian restaurants in the world. There are more than 4,300 colleges and universities in the US, any one of which can offer excellent educational services, high academic courses, programs, faculty, and a range of social and academic environments. Diablo Valley College (DVC) -one of the participators in the exhibition- offers 2 years of excellent academics level and two years at any of California universities such as UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Merced, UC Santa Barbra and UC Santa Cruz. In addition, DVC is consistently rated as number 1 in transferring students to UC Berkeley, and has transfer agreements with all 23 California State Universities with tuition fees of $5,000 per academic year, which is among the lowest tuition fees in the US. “ Lower cost, means better value” Brian Davey, International Student Advisor commented.

While Ahmad Sabri, a student who was applying for DVC said: “ we students who are studying and paying lower tuition fees can save thousands of dollars that will help us later, compared to starting at a four-year university and paying huge amounts of money while at the same time having the same or similar quality of education.”

The US Educational Group fairs around the Arab and Western world have shown that students are interested in reading articles about universities, American life style, exciting student stories and more about universities lifestyle in general. Therefore, they published Al-Jamiat magazine that includes editorial contents and interesting articles, both English and Arabic to attract students not only from the Middle East but also Asia, Eastern Europe and North Africa to discover their self-endowment in the United State of America.

By Weam Al Dakheel

The Day Oprah Cried

On Friday’s live episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey announced her decision for ending her show September 2011 after being a loyal inspiration to her watchers for the past 25 years.

“After much prayer and months of careful thought, I have decided that next season, Season 25, will be the last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show,” said Oprah.

As it is said, all good things must come to an end. The supernatural power all began back in 1973. By the age of 19, Oprah had her first appearance on television as a reporter covering local news in Nashville. But she felt herself in a closer role to people throughout the media. As From the beginning, Oprah says, “I preferred telling people’s stories to reporting straight-up news.”

First, The Oprah Winfrey Show was launched nationally in 1986, viewed by an estimated 43 million viewers weekly in the United States. It is aired from Chicago by Harpo productions, broadcasted domestically in 215 stations, and internationally in 145 countries by CBS studios.
“You have enriched my life beyond all measure. And you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives,” said Oprah. “You had your families, and you raised your children and you left a spot for me in your morning or your afternoon, that’s why I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say goodbye.” she added.
Remained the number one talk show for 23 consecutive seasons, winning every recognition since its debut in 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show went on to become one of the most successful television talk show programs in history, and that earned Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show 48 Daytime Emmy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Winfrey’s business and personal investments as being a talk show host, producer of her own show (Oprah Winfrey Show), actress, Founder of the successful “O, the Oprah Magazine”, co founder of “Oxygen Media”, and the first African American to be one of America’s top Philanthropist, all this made her the richest African American of the 20th century, and was once the world’s only black billionaire.

Above all, Oprah is famed for her vivid spirit, humanitarian side, and top charity donor desire to change society for the better. “What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives.” Said Winfrey
After Oprah revealed her statement, the countdown to the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show has started from the viewers and Oprah herself, and until that day arrives to make an end to the show, Winfrey is intending “to soak up every meaningful, joy-filled moment ” with her viewers.

Behind the production wraps the last sets of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey is not planning not to stop her TV blessing appearances and now planning to hit networks field and participate in new program for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a 24-hour cable network that produce a content reflecting Oprah’s vision, values and interests. The launch date for OWN is now set for January 2011, revealed by Discovery Communications.