The pictures said it all: elderly women attending a private birthday party at Cairo’s exclusive Geriza Sporting Club devouring cakes shaped like female and male genitalia and relishing every moment.

Someone decided to shoot pictures of the giddy group and share them, which inevitably led to viral distribution this week, outrage and bemusement on social media, and heavy-handed repercussions.

Screen shot of scandalous cupcakes that caused a ruckus in Egypt

Lebanon’s Al Modon news site pulled no punches headlining an article “#TheScandalousCake…Egypt’s Biggest Problem?”

It published tweets visibly featuring women holding, eating or reacting to the salacious baked goods, but cagey Egyptian media blurred the photos.

In one picture, a woman…

No sooner had news of Wednesday’s Capitol Hill onslaught flooded social media, traditional outlets and multiple sources of information than worldwide comments, analyses, posts and cartoons weighed in on the mind-boggling implications.

They ranged from hilarious, sarcastic and critical to serious and jarringly alarmist. The screen shots I selected — a sampling — tell quite a story.

African “shitholes?”

Agence France-Presse (AFP) tweeted a link to one of its stories: “As they watched a violent mob smash into the U.S. …

As Lebanon continues its slide into the abyss, memories of its attractions are becoming distant for those who lived through its “golden era,” and are non-existent for despairing younger generations heading for the exits, conditions permitting.

The land of the cedars, once dubbed a welcoming “Paris, or Switzerland, of the Middle East,” is now likened to Venezuela with all its financial troubles, minus the South American country’s oil wealth.

Lebanon welcomes you

The latest setback for Lebanese wishing to emigrate and escape a financial meltdown, rising poverty and unemployment levels, disappearance of medicines and food items, snowballing crime rate, dysfunctional pseudo government and…

A lone dancer expresses his pain against a backdrop of destruction with a melancholy bouzouki providing the haunting sounds that reflect broken dreams, torn ties and feelings of loss.

The man, dressed in black shirt and trousers, is performing the Zeibekiko — improvised steps of what’s also known as the “eagle dance” — surrounded by shattered glass, splintered wood, ripped open walls, mangled wires, see-through window frames and furniture scattered all over an apartment.

“At one point you’re way up high, and then they floor you” (courtesy George Eid)

“Zeibekiko has no rules, like Beirut; it has no rhythm, exactly like life in Lebanon,” explains George Eid, the producer of a short documentary which he…

Who would have thought a tiny virus may totally discombobulate our lives and turn the news business into a field for experimentation at warp speed?

The industry has already been undergoing rapid, major disruptions in recent years, thanks in great measure to social media and uncertain economic conditions worldwide, but the coronavirus floored the accelerator, forcing news organizations to rethink how to produce and disseminate content in untested, often creative, ways.

Reimagining the news (courtesy Innovation Media Consulting Group)

Enter the “Special Edition of Innovation in News Media World Report 2020: Reimagining the News” with valuable insights from 17 editors and CEOs of international media to shed light…

Time stands still on the Sursock Museum’s website, with the home page featuring a virtual tour dated March 20, 2020 and the downloadable restaurant menu frozen in June.

Screenshot of Sursock Museum home page frozen in time

It’s understandable.

The modern and contemporary art Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum in Beirut houses an exquisite collection of paintings, sculptures and countless works by Lebanese, Arab and international artists.

At least it did, and they were intact, until a cataclysmic explosion at the port of Beirut dubbed “Beirutshima” (after Hiroshima) ripped through the building blowing beautifully carved wooden doors off their hinges, shattering stained glass windows, ripping through the roof and causing…

Everything is trivial next to the mother who described the face of her missing son, the young man who wore his upcoming wedding’s suit at the funeral of his fiancée, and the parents who are still looking for the remains of their children amidst the rubble. Everything is trivial…

So tweeted @ghidaneh while trying to process the impact of the apocalyptic explosions August 4 at the port of Beirut that killed and injured over 6,000 (and counting), left at least 300,000 homeless, and turned the one-time vibrant Lebanese capital on the Mediterranean into a zombie landscape.

A former student from…

It wasn’t a good week for Lebanon’s information minister who shrugged off queries about rampaging rioters in Beirut due to a severe economic crisis and political strife with laughter and feigning ignorance.

Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad created a stir at a presidential palace press briefing following an exceptional cabinet meeting triggered by street riots in the wake of an economic meltdown and steep drop in the local currency against the U.S. Dollar.

Lebanese Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad laughing at a reporter’s questions (Abu-Fadil)

“Citizens want to know exactly what happened,” a reporter asked her about what caused the outbreak of violence and why vandals and looters weren’t caught.

“I’ll have…

George Zaidan’s Chemical Odyssey

I never was a big fan of high school chemistry.

Blame it on an incoherent old teacher who spat a lot in class as he wrote stuff that nobody understood on a chalkboard, and which he had no patience to explain.

The occasional trip to the lab meant smelling repulsive odors, seeing smoke come out of a beaker — fuzzy memory here — and hoping the place didn’t blow up in our faces.

Fast forward to 2020 and being delighted to learn more than just rudimentary chemistry but detailed explanations of what makes things tick in and on us, the…

Budget crunches won’t stifle creative ideas

What a time to be examining the Innovation in Media 2020–21 World Report as the industry experiences unprecedented upheavals under a dark coronavirus cloud.

I’ve read this annual survey for years but was struck by the ironic twist in the latest edition focused in great part on hiring, training, motivating, retaining, recognizing and promoting talented, committed people while media worldwide are laying off staffers by the boatload.

“Not only does having (and keeping) the best talent increase your chances of success, but it also saves you a ton of money and anxiety,” wrote co-editors…

Magda Abu-Fadil

Magda Abu-Fadil is a veteran foreign correspondent/editor of international news organizations, former academic, media trainer, consultant, speaker and blogger.

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