Tuesday, August 22

Dreamer... but i'm not the only one.

I've been away…

I really wanted to post, but issues in my personal life have kept me away from my blog (Yes, we still have problems in the future.)

It might be another few days before I get an original post together, so in the meantime check out this very interesting project :

Imagine the “city of peace” in Jerusalem in the year 2050, C.E.

Jointly sponsored by MIT's Department of Urban Studies & Planning and the Center for International Studies, with the participation of Palestinian and Israeli scholars, activists, business leaders, youth, and others, Jerusalem 2050 is a uniquely visionary and problem-solving project. It seeks to understand what it would take to make Jerusalem , a city also known as Al Quds, claimed by two nations and central to three religions, "merely" a city, a place of difference and diversity in which contending ideas and citizenries can co-exist in benign, yet creative, ways.

Taken from Jerusalem 2050

(I'd be happy to know of anyone who decides to take part in the project or would like to maybe form some sort of team and submit to the design competition)

Thursday, July 13

Interrupted... back to Beirut

I had a post almost ready about Jerusalem. I wanted to change the scenery after the previous post. I wanted to move away from Beirut and save it for later, so as not to sound redundant and keep the blog well rounded.

I found it hard to sit down and actually imagine a future for Beirut, a city that is almost always mentioned with picturesque descriptions of its past, comparisons with Paris in a country compared to Switzerland.

I found it hard, but the photo above inspired me, if banks can do it, so can I.

I landed in Rafic Hariri international in the late morning, with all my talk about trains and cars to Beirut lately it's a pity I had to take a flight, but this was an emergency.

I was picked up at the airport by good friends who were in great haste to cross the city on time. Urban Transport in Beirut is constantly improving and every time I hear about the capital someone mentions the progress.

"With this traffic, who knows when we will get there? It's not the right day to be late, today is deffintly not the right day to be late" Refugee's grandson son hardly had the relaxed demeanor of as his elders regarding traffic, or maybe it was just the stress of this most complex day.

As if reading my mind, Cedar's daughter completed my thought "It's the younger generation, everything has to be so quick for them, they aren't used to relaxing like we are"

I was about to state that we aren't really that old…

The phone rang and after informing her that she was on speaker, our young driver and his wife went into an argument turn agreement about my sleeping arrangements, conducted in what seemed to be about 4 different languages of which I could pick out Arabic, Hebrew and what sounded like some English and French sprinkled in, I vaguely understood my fate was sealed and I had absolutely no say in it… It seems like Middle Eastern hospitality was the same, all over the Middle East.

We continued our briefly interrupted conversation about the younger generation and discussed other issues like Solidere's latest project downtown, one of her cousins enrolling in AUB's School of Business and other catching up.

Despite the development of the actual transport routes, parking in Beirut seems to be the same as it ever was, I guess it's a cultural thing and that phenomenon we call a "Tel Aviv Parking Spot" in Israel, isn't so extraordinary after all. On the other hand, we still were in quite a hurry.

Entering the apartment where many old friends and their families were, many looking nervous or excited. I picked out Lisa in the crowd, I told her that except for my being a day late everything was fine and not to worry, things weren't as complex as they were 40 years ago.

A loud knock at the door, suddenly everyone was silent, some of the children hid behind furniture, but the adults among us knew it wasn't necessary, it was enough to just switch off the lights.

Then we heard the keys in the lock, the tension in the room was extreme, every tiny noise sounded as if it would give us away to the expected intruder.

The door slowly opened, as the old man stepped in the lights were flicked on and four generations of his friends and family cried "surprise" in four different languages (yet again)

The aged retired taxi driver pretended to be shocked, looked around and smiled "You must all be crazy, trying to give me a heart attack on my Birthday like that."

Thursday, June 29

The Scenic Route

Lately I've been hearing a lot of great things about Beirut from an ex-perpetual refugee and a truly free cedar, I'm thinking of going up there for a long weekend. We'll see how it works out.

(Note: If you check only one link from this whole post... Take the scenic route)

I'm getting tired of airplanes and airports… so these are the 3 popular options to get from Tel Aviv to Beirut by land:

1) The fast and easy way:

The Pilgrim Express, often referred to as the Jerusalem-Beirut Express even though there is one stop at Galilee Station for people who want to visit Nazareth or The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The Express is actually one of the worlds most advanced Maglev trains and was a joint venture funded by various Christian organizations and the joint Israeli/Palestinian tourism offices.

A regular ticket is quite expensive, but discounts are available via various churches worldwide.

Since the reforms, Beirut is becoming one of the leading international travel hubs (The gateway to the Gulf as some people like to call it) . Many Europeans planning their trip to the Holy Land opt to land in Lebanon with their church sponsered roundtrip Pilgrim Express tickets.

2) The slow and cheap way:

For those who find going east to Jerusalem in order to go north to Beirut sort of a hassle. It's quite easy to get to the border on the cheap old Israrail, swap trains to newer Lebanese Railway at the Nikra/Naqura station, and onwards towards Beirut.

3) The independent and fun way (my favorite option):

While the Lebanese government and Green Line are trying to reduce the number of private cars and get more people on public transportation, being better for the environment, the economy and even culturally.

As a tourist I highly recommend driving up!

Rent a car, or take your own... take the scenic route!

And to think, all this was once considered just a dream

Thursday, June 22


I've been busy the past couple of weeks and got behind updating. I'm pretty surprised with all the feedback, and I promise to try and research and incorporate as much as I can from your comments and ideas. Answering questions or just flowing with subjects that come up. Note, I'd also be especially happy with any pictures you have from the future… Blogs are quite interactive in 2046, with web 12.0 technology.

Back to the future now, tonight Palestine is playing Montenegro in the final game of group E. Palestine actually have a chance of making it to the next round but it also depends on the Italy vs. Canada game.

I'm more of a basketball fan, but once every 4 years, like many others who ignore soccer most of their existence, once every 4 years that bug we call Mondial (World Cup) bites me. Since I honestly don't know much about the sport, and there is more to it than just kicking a ball around, I try to make sure to watch the games with a good friend who likes to comment here and there and in a pub with a lively crowd.

For personal reasons I'm an Argentina fan, which works out fine since they are a great team! But this year since Palestine qualified, I am intensely involved with their future as well (Like most of the rest of Israel). Just as I try to be in an English Pub for any England game I watch, and a "Russian" restaurant if I catch any former "Soviet" teams playing, I make sure to catch all Palestine's games at "Fadi's" my favorite sports pub in Bethlehem.

And you thought you could escape World Cup Fever!

Friday, June 2

Modern Traveller

Last week when in Gaza City I took some personal time to check out the Al- Mashtal Hotel and the Newer Gaza Club Med. My cousins are coming in from Europe next week, and as they are flying into Gaza Airport with Air Salam (A budget airline). I thought I might greet them in Gaza and we could spend Shavuot together at the beach. I haven't been to the airport in Gaza since I flew with Palestinian Airlines to Dubai last year and the renovations are supposedly amazing.

I spend way too much time in airports, most people hate them but I find them comforting in a way, you always know more or less what to expect in a modern airport, food, gift-shops, VIP lounges for those who have enough miles or membership.

I also love flights, most people who fly a lot will tell you how much they hate them, but I truly enjoy everything about flying, from the little trays of compartmentalized food to the smell of a different country when landing. I get a lot of internet tasks done while on flights and sometimes indulge myself in the gaming console (since I don't have one at home). Israir's direct flight to Melbourne on the Boeing 777-200LR was an especially good flight as I won 2000$ playing in-flight poker.

Wednesday, May 24

Love is in the air

Today me and my girlfriend celebrated our anniversary, we met at a Lag B'Omer campfire 4 years ago and have been together ever since. She woke me up for a romantic breakfast on our roof, and I surprised her with a picnic basket lunch at work. We skipped a fancy dinner and spent the evening watching our favorite vids.

A year from today, I think I'll propose to get married.

Sunday, May 21

Welcome to the future...

Starting a blog isn't easy, especially when you have to decide what to write your first post about, some how I reached the conclusion the easiest would be to just start from the middle as people take too long to warm up when you start at the beginning and they have no idea what's happening when you start at the end.

The only introduction I'll tire you with is:

1) My name is Shai (Which are actually the initials of my first and middle names, just like Shai Agnon)

2) I'm just under 30 and I live in Tel Aviv.

Back to the middle. Today was a good day. I had a meeting at the PADICO office in Gaza about setting up an office in the Karni Hi-Tech Zone,

I have yet to convince my boss of the idea, he still thinks Ramallah would work out better for the firm because it's closer to Jerusalem, which makes no sense since our central office is in Tel Aviv and the express train from Karni Crossing to Rishon Le Zion's Metro station is about 25 minutes from there 20 more to Tel Aviv, less in total than it would take from Ramallah to Jerusalem during rush hour.

Why must bosses always be so stubborn, I should start my own company already. Then I can be stubborn myself!