September 2009

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CISA & CISM

For IT people out there in need of furthering their careers.

Cisa & Cism courses

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Back to USSR!

 

Cafe/Club* Tovarisch (Comrade) in Minsk, Belarus

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Anyone nostalgic for the great Soviet State, or those that didn’t catch the wave the first time around will definitely enjoy this place’s concept. All is done to submerge you into that far away era, except the service, which is immaculate!

As you go down the stairs to enter you handshake with the doorknob & are greeted by a Huge hammer & sickle installation with a USSR map backdrop. The spacious dining room fully re-enacts the interior & setting of typical  a Soviet restaurant starting from the music down to the knife & fork. 

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And an alcove hides a bright red dance floor with an orchestra pit and a display of a huge variety of items Made in USSR.

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Upon further rummaging you will also find the endlessly creative bathrooms decorated with Soviet newspaper & lampshades in the forms of giant flies.

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Once you have finished you meal, you can write an Anonimka** and comment on the food.

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The food is sumptuous and really affordable ( as most places in Minsk) a 2 course meal for 2.5 cost us around 25 USD. Sorry we didn’t take photos of teh food which we gobbled on too fast!

 

Even the restaurant’s business cards enhance the restaurant’s brand through the Soviet emblem & the traditional typography.

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And their giveaway calendars forewarn in the Communist style: Have you been to Cafe Tovarisch?

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What are your favorite themed restaurants?

 

*Well it is actually a restaurant, but in Belarus there’s a huge tax & licensing difference between cafes & restaurants

** In the Soviet times people would anonymously snitch on each other to the authorities, this was called an “anonimka”

 

Find out more on Tavarisch’s Website

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LGU Octoberfest

Brilliant idea on LGU’s part, enhancing its German identity with the most renowned German festival! But should German education be associated with booze?

 

Tell me about it if you do go!

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Thank you for bearing with me through my internet silence. I would like to wish you & your families a Happy Fitr, hope you have been enjoying the holidays as much as I have! Certainly, once I return back to the office there will be a huge post dedicated to Corporate Fitr Greeting Cards.

But today I would like to take a look at a few un-traditional “Halal” Products & Resources which have popped into my scope this month.  What is the idea behind those? Are they serving their purpose?  And most importantly, how genuine are their brands?

First stop, Halal YouTube alternatives.

While IslamicTube isn’t something new, there’s a new kid on the block – Naqa Tube. Unlike Islamic Tube which only offers Islamic content, Naqa Tube is trying to offer a full alternative to YouTube. Visitors can upload their own Videos, which they can edit themselves through the site, and publish it after it gets sensored by Naqa. Some of the YouTube content is  also edited by Naqa and hosted on their site. Curious of what these standards may be ? Asides from the obvious, no nudity, comes an array of prohibitions: no images of women (even properly covered), no music whatsoever, content harming the Saudi state, any of its scholars or citizens is prohibited ( talk about freedom of speech).   The founders claim that during the first two months of its launch the site has received around 6000 visitors, a nothing by YouTube standards.  And then let us sigh and wonder how come Naqa’s team haven’t a doubt that Naqa is the viable alternative for the conscious muslim?

& What about Halal Search Engines?

The developers are ecstatic at having over 500,000 visitors in the first two months since I’m Halal’s launch and are hoping it will be he default search engine in every Muslim home. So how does it work? We’ve been having a party at twitter trying to beat this engine and researching what it considers as Halal & Haram. Basically, it works on the principle of  ‘ignore it & it will go away’ , where words such as sex are classified as completely Haram  (3 out of three) and no results whatsoever are displayed, no explanations offered. So you can not even fetch religious and educational texts on forbidden subjects, or rather keywords. So the search formula implemented by the developers is completely out of focus. Of course it must be easier programming wise to just block keywords rather  filtering out immoral  and offering alterative beneficial content as this will involve ranking & indexing.

Take it for a spin: Pork is completely Haram, Bacon isn’t. Haifa is all halal, Pamela Anderson is 1/3 Haram.A ll sexual innuendo including the words gay & ass are 3/3 haram though these words are initially neutral.

Another failure in I’m Halal team’s search capabilities is awareness (or honesty). They position I’m Halal as the first Halal search engine, but with just a basic Google search I’ve found a bunch of alternatives : http://www.musulman.co.uk/, http://www.theislamicsearch.com/, http://www.islamicsearchengine.com/, which are far more viable.

& Halal Cosmetics?

In products leveraging on religious values, the most important element of the brand’s  success & continuity lies in having an untainted reputation, with the public identifying and believing in the brand’s integrity, moral values and honesty. In our Social Media world any veering from the straight path becomes all too apparent… And that is why I am wondering why the following story hasn’t hit spotlight and angered the public, because personally, I felt really duped when I found out this,  by just doing simple google search. But let us hit it from the top….

Layla Mandi has recently been all over the media promoting her new line of Halal cosmetics OnePure now sold in Dubai, which she conceived after converting to Islam and finding out ”that even touching haram animals was forbidden and it was natural for me to understand that to use haram products on my body would prohibit me from praying. I would absorb forbidden ingredients into my skin which I could not wash off”(from the company’s about page).  Layla’s pitch of sincere devoutness came packaged in photos of her proudly sporting a traditional 3abaya and a veil, both on the OnePure website and across the media… making us perceive her as someone who embraced Islam in all of its details and lived by it.

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Well we all live under the sun, and apparently it is at least in part a Marketing ploy. Because, only a few weeks before all the PR action Ms. Mandi is bravely sporting her blond hair and beautiful décolté line at Canada Day Party (also in Dubai). Not that I am a puritan, but it is pure hypocrisy to pretend to live a certain lifestyle to make more sales! And wouldn’t her product still sell without this dress-up?

Layla Mandi @ Okku Canada Day Party Source: http://www.ahlanlive.com/13221-canada-day-party--okku

Layla Mandi @ Okku Canada Day Party. Source: http://www.ahlanlive.com/13221-canada-day-party--okku

How do you feel about this? Do you know any other controversial Halal Products?

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boot_girl

 

Those who like the Boot-over-Jeans look will immediately appreciate the genius of this nifty accessory. No more hard manual labor stuffing your jeans in and fear of it bulging out & scrounging around the knees* … Stiruppz will keep your jeans perfectly tucked in at all times! And according to the suppliers website they provide the perfect level of tension, getting their job done sans discomfort.

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The price, 25 USD, seems a bit over for the ”alligator clips – elastics”  combo, plus one will need to ship them from the US, and everyone knows Lebanese Customs taxes are a bitch. So it’s extra skinnies-into-boots for me until a viable Syrian or chinese alternative is available. Nevertheless, one cannot but admire the products idea, it has that floating flashbulb characteristic. Right Gals?

 

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[Images via: stiruppz.com]

 

* Guys reading this are definitely thinking Gals OVER think it, but we really do!

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Very Wicked, don’t you think?

Stumbled across this very funny Matrochka interpretation via Aljaz.com. Which is a portfolio blog of a Slovenian designer. More interesting stuff there.

 

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Matreshka Ninja

Ljubljana Arts University Billboard

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Have you seen these banners on the streets or maybe received an emailer? Take a closer look…

C&E becomes AUCE

 

C&E is made up of all dried up branches & AUCE of thriving greenery. What’s your automatic association? C&E is crap! No?

Now read the tagline ” Ism Jadid Li Madin 3arik” ( Which is liberally translated to : ‘New name to a legendary past’).  Don’t you see a contradiction?

How can a some feeble shriveling tree branches represent a glorious past?

Besides knowledge is supposed to be a well rooted mighty tree and now a collection of green bushes, don’t you think?

Someone really went out their way to make AUCE look bad!

Do you know of any other re-branding campaign disasters?

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I was really extatic to find out about this training course at CCIAB because my family’s accountant nerd has been looking for this type of training for a long time. This course contains the most important thing each and every accountant in Lebanon needs to know, and yet it elusively slips through the Universities’ Curriculum being prototyped from some foreign state, an on hand course of Lebanese Taxation.

You can find all program details here: CCIAB Lebanese TAX Law Training Program 2009

Tell all you accountant friends about it & don’t let them miss the chance.

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As much as I wanted to go to the first Beirut Twestival, I wasn’t able to make it.  Seems like I am missing out on a lot lately. But , as I always say,  everything has its time! So let’s see what I’ve missed.

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Sunset as seen through the eyesTwestival Beirut

As Twestivals worldwide have been raging around the Tweet. Meet. Give moto contributing to local charities, Beirut was on the closing wave ‘Twestivaling’ on  the lucky  13th of September. As Sana Tawileh*, one of the main players in making Twestival Beirut a reality, put it, right after the event in a state of disbeleif and euphoria ( my own sermise) – it went much better than expected (and my liberal quote).

The thing that pleases me most is that , from what I’ve been able to see, throughout the organization & the event, this Twestival had a typically Lebanese flavor: the short time given for set-up, finding ‘the volunteers’, an environmental cause,  a beautiful seaview from Cafe Rawda in Manara, an international movie crew who sponsored media coverage, and tweeps who just showed up last minute… to me this is uniquely Lebanese.

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The Oragnizers: @lucyhanna @onoffbeirut @sanatawileh

While mystery shrouds the actual activities that took place at the Twestival and the number of tweeps who attended(the group photo has over 30) this is known:

- All preparantion were made under a VERY short time-period

- Avatars matched up to real people (this is the most magical part for me)

- A giant screen with a twitter stream was projected and plugins for real time updates were available

- Competitions over sponsor prizes were underway

- All proceeds went to a great cause, one that is being gaudingly overlooked in this country

-And finally Twestival is here to stay!

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Let the games begin
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@FlyingKebab team: @Matheussiq8 @clederperez & @nandoborges who provided the media coverage
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The tweeple on Beirut Twestival

Interested in seeing more of Twestival Beirut?

Anyway, if anyone who was actually there stumbles upon it, I would really like to hear your recollection of the event, so please comment or DM me:) and see you there next year!

[Photos via: Twestival Beirut]

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Please pause for a huge round of applause for this amazingly professional and sweet lady ! I really can’t wait to meet her in real life!

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This new Zain Greeting advertisement is just prolific, the first couple of times I saw it {being in a weird hormonal/lack of sleep & food state that I am} I felt I had something in my eyes, and it has been stuck in my head as well. :) I guess it is that eternal search of happiness and content that struck a cord with me with their Eid ad.

 What do you normal people think about it? Isn’t it a hit?

Well… In any case it touched more chords in me than Zain’s Ramadan Song, which I thought was just fine and no more.

 

While searching on you tube I also found the below Zaid Ad from last year. Which is really cute, still the new installement undeniably has something… something ‘umph’ to it. Don’t you agree that its Copywriting genius?

 

See also: Corporate Ramdan Greeting Cards

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