Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 4th, 2016

8 Lebanese Female Entrepreneurs who are Changing the Country, the Region and the World

Jul 20, 2016

Anyone who is familiar with Lebanon will tell you that it is a vibrant, diverse and resilient country. Anyone who has visited or lived there most certainly experienced Lebanon’s distinctive lifestyle and culture— modern yet rooted in tradition.

Anyone who has interacted with the Lebanese people will certainly concede the array of general knowledge they hold, their entrepreneurial spirit and their business acumen.

The Lebanese people are business-savvy and entrepreneurial indeed. While the entrepreneurship scene has been on the rise in the last couple of years, however, it remains largely male-dominated.

Lebanese women still face hurdles to conducting business in the country on an equal basis with men. This is unsurprising, given that Lebanon still scores low in terms of women’s rights and women’s access to equal opportunities.

According to the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report, Lebanon ranks 138 out of 145 countries.

However, perhaps out of resilience, perhaps out of wanting to do better and more, women entrepreneurs are slowly but surely emerging with innovative concepts, business ideas and successful ventures.

In the hopes of inspiring the many other brilliant women Lebanon holds, here’s a list of notable women entrepreneurs who made it big locally and internationally.

Aya Bdeir – Founder and CEO of littleBits
littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that is empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small. Her company is among the leaders in the open source hardware field. An alumna of the MIT Media Lab, Bdeir was listed as one of Business Insider’s 26 Most Powerful Women Engineers and figured in Inc.

Magazine’s 35 Under 35, in NY Business Journal’s Women of Influence, in CNBC Next List and in Entrepreneur’s 10 Leaders to Watch, among others.

Christine Sfeir – CEO of Meeting Point (Dunkin’ Donuts) and Treats Holding (Semsom, Green Falafel).
Sfeir is one of the pioneers of the food franchising business in Lebanon. At the age of 22, she persuaded Dunkin’ Donuts to hand over the company’s Lebanese franchise to her.

“It was a huge risk because I was 22, I was female and the idea of American coffee and doughnuts was the last thing on people’s minds”, says Sfeir. Today, Dunkin’ Donuts has more than 30 branches in Lebanon, and Semsom is established in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the US.

Sfeir is an active member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business. She was selected as one of the 19th most powerful Arab women by Forbes. She was also recognized as one of the most 100 powerful women for three consecutive years (2012, 2013 and 2014).

Delphine Edde – Co-founder and publishing director of Diwanee
Diwanee is a digital media company that creates contents and distributes it through its several Arab websites, including, and Diwanee was featured in Executive Magazine’s Lebanon’s top 20 entrepreneurs 2013.

Hala Labaki – CEO and co-founder of Shahiya
Shahiya is the first cooking website in the Arab world and the largest Arabic language digital library with more than 2 million visitors per month and 15,000 published recipes. Labaki, an AUB and HEC Paris alumna, worked for several years in France in consulting, finance and marketing before launching Shahiya.

Hind Hobeika – Founder of Instabeat
Hobeika is the mastermind behind Instabeat, a pair of goggles that monitors swimmers’ heart rate.

At only 21 years old, Hind won the 3rd prize in the Qatari Reality TV Show ‘Stars of Science’. She also won 1st prize in the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Business Plan competition, which gathered over 4,500 applicants.

Hobeika was selected as Endeavor Entrepreneur, and Instabeat was rated first in the ranking of the Best of Wearable Technology in 2014. She is currently trying to develop her product in San Francisco.

Louise Doumet is the co-founder of Lebelik,
Lebelik is an online shopping website with the aim of showcasing Lebanese creations and designers to the world. She came up with the Lebelik idea when she was approached by random women in the streets of New York asking her about her clothes and accessories— which happened to be of Lebanese designs. Doumit quickly realized that there was a need to export Lebanese fashion to the world. The website delivers items to the US, Russia and the Middle East.

Maya Karanouh – CEO and co-founder of TAGbrands
TAGbrands is a branding agency that aligns business strategies to communication objectives. TAGbrands clients include Bank Audi, L’Oréal, British Council and the World Sports Group among others. TAGbrands’ work is not limited to Lebanon; it is also present in the Gulf countries.

Karanouh has won several awards and distinctions; she was selected as the “Rising Talent” by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society in France, and was part of the World Business Magazine‘s “35 under 35 Global Women Entrepreneurs”. She is also the founding member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business.

Rana Chmaitelly – Founder of The Little Engineer
The Little Engineer was launched by Chmaitelly in 2009 as a company that enables youth to engage in science through workshops. Today, she has centers in Lebanon, Qatar and Libya. Chmaitelly was selected as one of the most promising entrepreneurs by the MIT in 2009.

In 2010, she won the ‘Coup de Coeur Femme’ by Medventures for the Mediterranean in 2010. She was also awarded the Cartier prize for best pioneer woman in 2011 and the Green Mind Award in 2012.

The various proposed election laws in Lebanon in the last 10 years?

Apparently, the political system is Not interested in reforming the current election law that goes as far back as in 1960.

It does Not matter who proposes the reforms or how often the militia leaders meet around the Dialogue Table (Tawelat al 7ewar), the end result is to postpone delving in the details. The current Parliament that extended its tenure twice is comfortable about being re-elected, if election ever take place, according to this majority takes all.

The youth movements have been demanding a proportional law on all the territory. The militia leaders have been trying to find a consensus among themselves for half the parliament elected on proportional (one vote, one candidate) and the other half according to the majority takes all the seats in every district.

This week and for successive days, these leading politicians have been trying to find a consensus: So far, nothing materialized.

مشاريع القوانين الانتخابية في السنوات العشر

وليد حسين | الأربعاء 03/08/2016

لطالما شكّل تقسيم الدوائر الانتخابية موضوعاً خلافياً بين جميع الأطراف السياسية. وإذا برزت مؤخراً إشكالية الإتفاق على النظام الانتخابي، سواء كان الأكثري أو النسبي أو حتى المختلط، فمرد ذلك يعود إلى أهمية هاتين المسألتين في وضع القوانين الانتخابية.

تستعرض “المدن” أبرز النقاط في مشاريع القوانين الانتخابية التي قدمت في السنوات العشر الماضية، مستثنيةً النظام النسبي على أساس لبنان دائرة واحدة وخارج القيد الطائفي، لأنه بقِيَ كلاماً وشعاراً سياسياً ولم يرتقِ ليصبح حتى حبراً على ورق.

قانون “لجنة بطرس”
وضعت هذا القانون “الهيئة الاستشارية الوطنية الخاصة بقانون الانتخابات النيابية”، التي عرفت لاحقاً بـ”لجنة بطرس” نسبة إلى الوزير الراحل فؤاد بطرس. وكان مجلس الوزراء برئاسة الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة شكّل هذه الهيئة العام 2005، وقدمت إقتراح القانون في العام 2006 الذي تضمن العديد من الإصلاحات.
النظام الانتخابي: يقوم النظام المختلط على انتخاب 77 نائباً وفقاً للنظام الأكثري و51 نائباً وفقاً للنظام النسبي.
الدوائر الانتخابية: 27 قضاءً للنظام الأكثري و6 محافظات للنظام النسبي.
معايير توزيع المقاعد بين الأكثري والنسبي:
1- المناصفة بين الدائرة الخاضعة للنظام الأكثري والدائرة الخاضعة للنظام النسبي عندما يكون عدد المقاعد المخصص لمذهب معين في القضاء مزدوجاً.
2- ترجيح حصة الدائرة الخاضعة للنظام الأكثري على حصة الدائرة الخاضعة للنظام النسبي عندما يكون عدد المقاعد المخصص لمذهب معين في القضاء مفرداً.
3- عندما يكون هناك مقعدٌ واحدٌ لمذهب في القضاء يكون من حصة الدائرة الخاضعة للنظام الأكثري شرط ألا يكون عدد ناخبي هذا المذهب في هذه الدائرة أقلّ من نصف الحاصل الانتخابي فيه (والمقصود أقل من نصف عدد عموم الناخبين المسجلين في الدائرة مقسوماً على عدد المقاعد المخصصة لها).
4- عندما يكون هناك مقعدان لمذهب في الدائرة الخاضعة للنظام النسبي، لكن في قضائين يكون من حصة الدائرة الخاضعة للنظام الأكثري المقعد حيث نسبة ناخبي هذا المذهب هي الأكبر.
العملية الانتخابية: أقر القانون بضرورة تشكيل هيئة مستقلة للانتخابات، وإعتماد كوتا نسائية إلزامية لا تقل عن 30% تدرج على اللوائح في الدوائر الخاضعة للنظام النسبي، وإستخدام قسائم إقتراع مطبوعة سلفاً من “الهيئة”، وخفض سن الإقتراع إلى 18 سنة.

قانون حكومة ميقاتي

قدمت حكومة رئيس الوزراء الأسبق نجيب ميقاتي إقتراح قانون إنتخابات العام 2012 إلى المجلس النيابي الذي عُرف لاحقاً بقانون حكومة ميقاتي. بموجبه، ارتفع عدد أعضاء البرلمان إلى 134 نائباً، بعد إضافة 6 نواب للبنانيين المقيمين في الخارج، يوزعون على 67 نائباً مسيحياً و67 مسلماً.
النظام الانتخابي: يعتمد النسبية مع وجود صوتين تفضيليين.
الدوائر الانتخابية: يقسّم لبنان إلى 13 دائرة إنتخابية، بالإضافة إلى دائرة المقيمين في الخارج.
العملية الانتخابية: أقر هذا القانون بوجوب أن تكون اللوائح الانتخابية مقفلة ومكتملة مع مراعاة التوزيع الطائفي والمناطقي للمرشحين. بالإضافة إلى إستخدام قسيمة اقتراع مطبوعة سلفاً من وزارة الداخلية، بينما اقتصرت الكوتا النسائية على لزوم تضمن اللائحة الانتخابية مرشحاً واحداً على الأقل من كلا الجنسين. أما إدارة الانتخابات فبعهدة وزارة الداخلية مع وجود هيئة غير مستقلة للإشراف على الإعلام والإنفاق الانتخابيين.

قانون مروان شربل
تقدم به وزير الداخلية السابق مروان شربل في العام 2013، ولا يختلف عن قانون حكومة ميقاتي إلا في عدد الدوائر وتوزيع المقاعد، حيث قدم شربل إقتراحات عدة في هذا الشأن.
ولحظ القانون إلزامية إعتماد مبدأ الكوتا النسائية بنسبة لا تقل عن 30%.

قانون “القوات – الإشتراكي – المستقبل”
تقدمت بهذا الإقتراح “كتلة نواب 14 آذار” باستثناء حزب “الكتائب” في العام 2013.
النظام الانتخابي: مختلط، 68 نائباً وفقاً للنظام الأكثري و60 نائباً وفقاً للنظام النسبي مع صوت تفضيلي واحد.
الدوائر الانتخابية: 6 محافظات على أساس النظام النسبي و26 دائرة إنتخابية على أساس الأكثري.
العملية الانتخابية: إدارة الانتخابات بقيت في عهدة وزارة الداخلية لكن مع وجود هيئة غير مستقلة للإشراف على الانتخابات. وأقر بأن تكون اللوائح الانتخابية مقفلة ومكتملة مع مراعاة التوزيع الطائفي والمناطقي للمرشحين. بالإضافة إلى استخدام قسيمة إقتراع مطبوعة سلفاً من وزارة الداخلية، وتحديد كوتا نسائية إلزامية على اللائحة الانتخابية بنسبة 20%.

قانون نبيه بري
تقدم بهذا القانون نائب “كتلة التنمية والتحرير” علي بزي في العام 2013، وهو قانون قائم على النظام المختلط وتمحور حول توزيع المقاعد على المحافظات والأقضية من دون التطرق إلى عملية إدارة الانتخابات والإصلاحات الانتخابية.
النظام الانتخابي: مختلط، 64 نائباً وفقاً للنظام الأكثري و64 نائباً وفقاً للنظام النسبي.
الدوائر الانتخابية: 6 محافظات للنظام النسبي (تقسيم جبال لبنان إلى محافظتين) و26 دائرة إنتخابية على أساس الأكثري.
توزيع المقاعد: المعايير المتبعة أفضت إلى وجود 60 مقعداً على أساس النسبي و68 على أساس الأكثري. لكن لردم الهوة وتصحيح الخلل جعلت المقاعد مناصفة بين النظامين، حيث تم إختيار بعض المقاعد الأقل تمثيلاً في الدوائر الخاضعة للأكثري لتنقل إلى حصة النسبي.

قانون الـ 50 دائرة
تقدم بهذا الإقتراح النواب بطرس حرب وإيلي ماروني وجورج عدوان في العام 2012، وهو يقسم لبنان إلى دوائر مصغرة.
النظام الانتخابي: أكثري.
الدوائر الانتخابية: خمسون دائرة.
العملية الانتخابية: أقر هذا القانون إنشاء هيئة مستقلة ودائمة للإشراف على الانتخابات، بالإضافة إلى إستخدام قسائم إقتراع مطبوعة سلفاً، وحق الناخب في الإقتراع في مكان السكن لمرشحه في دائرة قيده الأصلية.

القانون الأرثوذكسي
تقدم بهذا القانون النائبان آلان عون ونعمة الله أبي نصر في العام 2012، وعرف بقانون “اللقاء الأرثوذكسي”.
النظام الانتخابي: يعتمد النسبية مع صوت تفضيلي واحد، على أن تنتخب كل طائفة النواب المنتمين إليها حصراً.
تقسيم الدوائر: لبنان دائرة واحدة.
توزيع المقاعد: توزع المقاعد على الطوائف والمناطق وفقاً لقانون الانتخابات الحالي رقم 25/2008.
العملية الانتخابية: لوائح مكتملة تضم مرشحين من طائفة واحدة فقط، بعدد يوازي العدد المخصّص لهذه الطائفة من مجموع أعضاء المجلس النيابي، مع مراعاة توزيعهم على المناطق. كما تضمن هذا القانون إستخدام قسيمة إقتراع رسمية مطبوعة سلفاً من قبل وزارة الداخلية.

قانون أكثري على دورتين
تقدم بهذا الإقتراح النائبان ميشال فرعون وسيرج طورسركيسيان في العام 2013.
النظام الانتخابي: أكثري على دورتين.
تنتخب في الجولة الأولى كل طائفة المرشحين المنتمين إليها حصراً، على أن يراعَى وضع الأقليات إذ يحق للناخب المقيم في دائرة معينة غير ممثلة أن يقترع لمرشح الأقليات من بين المرشحين المتنافسين في الدائرة الانتخابية التي تقع في الإطار الجغرافي الأقرب إلى مكان إقامته. يفوز في هذه الدورة كل مرشح ينال نسبة 20% من الأصوات. أما في الجولة الثانية فتحصر المنافسة بين الفائزين في الجولة الأولى، حيث تجرى الانتخابات على أساس النظام الأكثري كما هو معمول به حالياً.
الدوائر الانتخابية: 26 دائرة إنتخابية كما هي مقسمة حالياً في قانون إنتخابات 25/2008.

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Persian poets: Life was written before you were born…?

 November 3, 2008

Khayyam and Hafiz, (November 1, 2008)

I finished reading a French translation of the quatrains of the Persian poets Khayyam and Hafiz.

Although four centuries separate the two poets, the style, idea and philosophy are the same! The enemies are the same: tight hypocritical clerics and rigid rules governing daily moral behavior.

The main philosophy is that your life has been written before you were born, and so why all these constraints that hamper joy in this ephemeral life?

Drinking wine (mainly beer) is the main symbol for breaking into all the prohibitions.

I read in the French book “Pintades de Tehran” that many girls there brandish the collection of Hafiz poems as their amorous poetic Bible.

Many critics go a long way differentiating between the living lover and the mystical idea of a God.

There is no difference; it is a matter of level of energy and the power of abstract notions.  You cannot compare the passions of an old man with a youth, qualitatively and quantitatively.

Even a young man full of energy and zest can be lead astray by an abstract notion that he thinks cannot hurt him, and that he may manipulate it to his convenience any time he desires.

Let a young man fall in love with a real person and quickly disappointment overcomes him:  A living lover is Not as convenient as an abstract notion of a God, liberty, freedom, independence and human dignity.

What happens to a healthy person who awakes early and is invigorated by the morning breeze?  Wings develop to the mind and spirit and everything seems possible and alternatives boom.

What happens to a healthy person, tired of a day’s work, who sits down in the evening to get slowly drunk?  Wings develop to his subconscious mind and his spirit gets loose; but what his mind imagines can become real.

In every language the same imagery and selected “poetic” words in poems recurs indefinitely.  You finally realize that one good poem is representative of the spirit and poetical aspiration of a whole civilization; you read one poem in one style and you feel you read them all.  

And you realize that you are glad that you can read several languages so that you may compare the richness in imagery.

The process is as follows:

Once a poet start writing, abstract notions gradually replaces real life constraints and inadequacies.  As the poet realizes that he is indeed talking in abstraction, he explodes and soars into incomprehensible symbolism of the antiquities; the sort of odes that hard neck poets appreciate.

And what are the interests of the general public in all that?  Just leave it to the specialists to explain the meaning and beauty of the imageries and symbolism.

A one directional mind is dangerous and counter-productive to the re-birth of the spirit, and discovering newer individual truths.

Time, more time and some experiences are pre-requisites for forming minds “below average”, but time is the arch-enemy of the spirit.

It is ridiculous that youth has to cater for survival when he should be expressing his

Democratic councils in Syria: In the hands of No belligerent forces?

Have you heard of this cities of Daraya,  Zabadani,  Douma and Barzeha, all suburbs of Damascus? How about Selemmiyeh, Taftanaz, Menbij, Korin, Deraa, Rojava… ?

(I doubt that currently any region or town is Not under the direct or implicit control of a warring faction. Almost all these cities have been under the control of ISIS or Nusra-type factions)

The choices being fought out by Syrians isn’t between the dictator and the jihadists (the two feed each other), but between various forms of violent authoritarianism on the one hand, and grassroots democracy on the other. The democrats deserve our support.

Interviewing activists, fighters and refugees for our book “Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War”, we discovered the democratic option is very real, if terribly beleaguered. To the extent that life continues in the ‘liberated’ but brutally bombed areas – areas independent of both Assad and ISIS – it continues because self-organised local councils are supplying services and aid.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

A side to Syria you rarely see, the widespread local councils amid repression and bombing, as explained by Robin Yassin-Kassab

For example, Daraya, a suburb west of Damascus now suffering its fourth year under starvation siege, is run by a council. Its 120 members select executives by vote every six months. The council head is chosen by public election. The council runs primary schools, a field hospital, a public kitchen, and manages urban agricultural production. Its military office supervises the Free Syrian Army militias defending the town.

Amid constant bombardment, Daraya’s citizen journalists produce a newspaper, Enab Baladi, which promotes non-violent resistance. In a country once known as a ‘kingdom of silence’, today there are more than 60 independent newspapers and tens of free radio stations.

And as soon as the bombing eases, people return to the streets with their banners. Recent demonstrations against Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaida’s Syrian franchise) across Idlib province indicate that the Syrian desire for democracy burns as fiercely as ever.

After five years of horror, protestors repeat the original revolutionary slogans of freedom and unity. Assad, having no answer to this, bombs the province’s marketplaces in reply.

Where possible (in about 45% of cases), the local councils are democratically elected – the first free elections in half a century. For the poor, these are the first meaningful elections in Syrian history.

A Syrian economist and anarchist called Omar Aziz provided the germ. In the revolution’s eighth month he published a paper advocating the formation of councils in which citizens could arrange their affairs free of the tyrannical state. Aziz helped set up the first bodies, in Zabadani, Daraya, Douma and Barzeh, all suburbs of Damascus.

He died in regime detention in 2013, a month before his 64th birthday. But by then, as the Assadist state and its services collapsed, councils had sprouted all over the country.

Some council members were previously involved in the ‘tanseeqiyat’ committees, the revolution’s original grassroots formations. They were activists, responsible first for coordinating protests and media work, then for delivering aid and medicine. Other members represented prominent families or tribes or, more often, were professionals selected for specific practical skills.

In regime-controlled areas, councils operate in secret. In Selemmiyeh, activist Aziz al-Asaad told us, security constraints meant that the council practised “the democracy of the revolutionary elite” – only activists voted.

But in liberated territory people can organise publically.

Anand Gopal reported in August 2012 that the citizens of Taftanaz had elected professional councils – of farmers, merchants, teachers, students, judges, engineers, the unemployed – which “in turn chose delegates to sit on a citywide council …  the only form of government the citizenry recognized.”

These are tenacious but fragile experiments. Some are hampered by factionalism. Some are bullied out of existence by jihadists.

Menbij, a northern city, once boasted its own 600-member legislature and 20-member executive, a police force, and Syria’s first independent trade union. Then ISIS seized the grain silos and the democrats were driven out. Today Menbij is called ‘Little London’ for its preponderance of English-accented jihadists.

In some areas the councils appear to signal Syria’s atomisation rather than a new beginning, the utter impossibility of reconstitution.

Christophe Reuter calls it a “revolution of locals” when he describes ‘village republics’ such as Korin, in Idlib province, with its own court and a 10-person council, “WiFi on the main square and hushed fear of everything beyond the nearby hills.”

But Omar Aziz envisaged councils connecting the people regionally and nationally, and democratic provincial councils now operate in the liberated swathes of Aleppo, Idlib and Deraa. In the Ghouta region near Damascus, militia commanders were not permitted to stand as candidates. Fighters were, but only civilians won seats.

In Syria’s three Kurdish-majority areas, collectively known as Rojava, a similar system prevails, though the councils there are known as communes. In one respect they are more progressive than their counterparts elsewhere  – 40% of seats are reserved for women. In another, they are more constrained – they work within the larger framework of the PYD, or Democratic Union Party, which monopolises control of finances, arms and media.

The elected council members are the only representative Syrians we have. They, and strengthened local democracy, should be key components in any serious settlement.

In a post-Assad future, local democracy could allow ideologically polarised communities to coexist under the Syrian umbrella. Towns could legislate locally according to their demographic and cultural composition and mood. The alternative to enhanced local control is new borders, new ethnic cleansings, new wars.

At very least, the councils deserve political recognition by the United States and others. Council members should be a key presence on the opposition’s negotiating team at any international talks.

If the bombardment were stopped the councils would no longer be limited to the business of survival. They could focus instead on rebuilding Syrian nationhood and further developing popular institutions.

In the previous decade, ‘democracy promotion’ was sometimes used as rhetorical justification for the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Of course that didn’t work out very well – ‘demos’ means ‘people’. Only the people themselves can build their democratic structures.

And today Syrians are practising democracy, building their own institutions, in the most difficult of circumstances. Their efforts don’t fit in with the easy Assad-or-ISIS narrative, however, and so we rarely deign to notice.




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