Despite its apparent liberalism, Lebanon scores low in gender equality, especially in politics.
On the streets of Beirut, Hadi Hassoun begs for a few pounds to feed his five children. He has little hope of a job, especially now that the economic crisis in Lebanon has destroyed wealth.
At a time when HIV rates have stabilised or declined elsewhere, the epidemic is still advancing in the Arab world, exacerbated by factors such as political unrest, conflict, poverty and lack of awareness due to social taboos.
As the region is rocked by violence against a backdrop of the rise of radical groups, Jordan’s lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community fears that new instability in the Hashemite kingdom could lead to increased intolerance towards the community.
In a country where civil liberties remain the prerogative of the powerful and wealthy, the Lebanese gay scene is to be treaded carefully.
Food price rises as far back as 2008 are believed to be the partial culprits behind the instability plaguing Arab countries and they have become increasingly aware of the importance of securing food needs through an international strategy of land grabs which are often detrimental to local populations.
A declining economy and a severe drought have raised concerns in Lebanon over food security as the country faces one of its worst refugee crises, resulting from the nearby Syria war, and it is these refugees and impoverished Lebanese border populations that are most vulnerable to this new threat.
Hezbollah clashes with Syrian rebels on the outskirts of Ersal seem to be widening the divide between residents of the Eastern Bekaa town – increasingly dominated by Syrian rebels, including the radical Nusra Front – and other regions as well as the Lebanese state.
With jihadists leading a Sunni uprising against Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are beginning to reverberate across the region, raising fears of contagion in divided Lebanon where a suicide bombing took place on Friday after a period of calm.
The war in Syria has brought back to the forefront the concept of ‘jihad’, with tens of thousands of fighters currently waging what they believe to be a religious war there.
Every day Lebanon is being plunged further into a state of general insecurity, as chaos from the war in Syria seeps across the border.
Since its inception, Hezbollah’s clout within its community has been solid. However, in recent weeks, the Party of God has been facing increasing difficulties controlling its support base and stymieing discontent. These developments have led analysts to question whether or not Hezbollah is losing its grip on its followers.
The Arab Spring brought a host of new actors to the political stage. In Jordan, it pushed the Salafists to the fore, where some of the group’s more radical elements are now calling for holy war in neighbouring Syria.
The Arab Spring sent scores of sick and injured Libyans, fleeing their war- torn country, straight to Jordan, where the influx of patients is putting a lot of pressure on Jordanian hospitals and disrupting the lives of Libyan and Jordanian patients alike.
On a warm Friday afternoon, police cars blocked the roads around the Al Husseini mosque, where hundreds of men were kneeling for the noon prayers. At the end of the service, the crowds rose and marched in a compact protest behind a car bearing a banner for the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A few kilometres separate the two Lebanese villages of Ersal and Qaa from the Syrian border, both of which have been unwillingly drawn into the violence of the Syrian uprising. Unrest has been brewing in the region for weeks and recently it was on the receiving end of intermittent gunfire from the Syrian army. The situation remains tense despite the fragile new ceasefire.
The Druze stronghold of Sweida, Syria, witnessed several pro-democracy protests last week. While the movement remains marginal, it is charged with symbolism: the Druze have long been considered the "spiritual cousins" of the Alawites, the religious group to which the Assad family belongs.
Chants erupt from the second floor of a decrepit building in Tripoli in the Sunni stronghold of Bab el-Tebbaneh. Young voices loudly sing "Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar," or "Come on, leave, Bashar," directed at the Syrian president, Bashar al- Assad. It has become the anthem of the Syrian revolution.
Odette Klysinska, a Catholic French native, sits in her living room in an affluent neighbourhood in Beirut, clutching her will in one hand, shocked to learn that it is no longer legally valid in the country she now calls home.
As the Syrian uprising enters its tenth month, the country’s economy is suffering. Since last March, the Syrian government has been cracking down on pro-democracy protests, and the once peaceful uprising has morphed into a full-blown armed rebellion in areas such as Homs, Hama and Jabal al-Zawiya.