20 May 2012

* Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahed: scholar, politician and philanthropist

BEIRUT: Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahed, who was killed at a Lebanese Army checkpoint Sunday, was a prominent figure in local politics, and a philanthropist. Born in 1969 in the town of Bireh in Akkar, he received his primary education in Bireh’s public school and his higher education in Islamic Shariah at Rashid Karami Institute.
He served as imam at Bireh Mosque from 1993 to 1998 and, at the time of his death, was the imam for Al-Majdel mosque in Akkar.
Abdel-Wahed established the Al-Nour Islamic School and the Al-Nour Educational and Charity Organization.
He served as a member of the Bireh municipal council in 2001-2004 and earlier this month, headed the Future Movement list “Support for the Syrian Revolution” during Akkar’s municipal by-elections. When the list won, he became the mayor of Bireh. He was also a candidate in an election set for later this month for head of the Union of al-Dreid Municipalities.
Following the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri, Abdel-Wahed frequented Future Movement gatherings alongside Akkar MP Khaled Daher and took part in the organization of many of the movement’s events.
He also spearheaded rallies in support of the popular uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Abdel-Wahed is survived by his wife and four children. He will be buried in his hometown of Bireh Tuesday at noon.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.