Lebanon: Jeita Grotto… To Vote or Not to Vote

A few hours are left to vote for the New7Wonders of Nature today (11.11.2011). And since the famous Lebanese Jeita Grotto is a finalist, online and offline campaigns (check this clip and two ads) are flooding the country encouraging people to vote for the Grotto.

However, some Lebanese are calling upon people “not” to vote and an online debate emerged now on whether it's a national duty to vote for the Grotto or not. Below are some of the reactions of Lebanese netizens.

Many netizens voted and urged people to vote continuously through Twitter:

@BeirutTalks: Today is one of the last chances to vote for our one and only solution against lebanese stereotypes. Make it real! Jeita to 1070(0.1$/vote)

@MJGharios: Voted 160times for Jeita now !!!

@KarimAbiSaleh: you gotto love the “vote for Jeita” movement. I just hope that Lebanese can feel patriotic for important issues as well… #Lebanon #Posers

Jeita Grotto, Lebanon. Image by Flickr user Hibr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Jeita Grotto, Lebanon. Image by Flickr user Hibr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Even Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri voted and asked people to vote through their Twitter accounts:

@Najib_Mikati: Hopefully, #Jeita #Grotto will become 1 of the #New7Wonders of nature. Keep voting: results are expected tomorrow 11.11.2011 (#Lebanon)

@HaririSaad: Everyone please vote for jeita, I did already but I want everyone to do their best good night everyone

Many others were skeptical and some even urged people “not to vote”:

@Plus961:You just need to google “new 7 wonders scam” to see the wonders

@saraHsh:I really am so sick of this whole Jeita mania! ياريت بتعرفوا تصوّتوا لممثلين الكن بمجلس النواب احسن من هالبهايم يلي مبسوطين فيهن!

I really am so sick of this whole Jeita mania! I wish you people know how to vote to better parliament members than the morons you're currently happy with

@arzleb:lets say Jeita won… what next? Lebanon's debt is paid? we get our salaries doubled? our future is secured? watermalons grows on trees?

@LebaneseVoices:I'm sick of every radio host, tv host, figure, cat, and sticker that tells me to vote for #Jieta! #Lebanon #Fail

Bloggers against voting shared many reasons. Gino said that the competition is a scam and that Lebanon should get itself out of it immediately and listed his reasons:

Why Is It a Scam?
Multiple Votes
Voting Since 2009
UNESCO does NOT Support It
The Maldives Have Withdrawn Their Entry Because N7w Wanted HUGE Sums of Money

Racha declared that she won't vote in her post and said that all of this effort made by the people and the government should be wasted on more useful things:

Jeita Grotto’s revenue won’t save our crumbling economy, however some hard work and less wasting money on useless sms-ing would! Of course, some government care, laws and actually work would be savior as well, but who are we kidding!
The Lebanese obsession with world records has got to come to an end!

Mustapha actually thinks that this whole energy and attention to the competition serves the dormant government:

Actually, that’s precisely why everyone is in such a lather over Jeita. Politicians love Jeita because it creates an illusion that they’re working on something. The Lebanese people love Jeita because it creates an illusion that their vote matters, and the media loves Jeita for the same reason they love reality TV shows where the viewers vote: Everyone wants to tune in to see if they won.

Khodor also said he won't vote and asked his readers not to vote as well. He stated his reasons in his post [ar]:

لن أصوّت لجعيتا، لأن رسم الدخول اليها يقارب العشرين ألف ليرة،يضاف اليها كلفة الوصول اليها التي تقارب تنكة بنزين واحدة تفوق الثلاثين ألف ليرة، ما يجعل كلفة الزيارة تقارب الخمسة بالمئة من دخل اللبناني العاديّ جداً، ولن أصوّت لجعيتا، لأن حكومات الطائف الحريرية الممضية بخط يد المعارضة أيضاً، سلمتها لشركة خاصة بقوانين مبتكرة تخالف نص القوانين اللبنانية، يستنفع منها أزلام النظام. [….]

صّوتوا يا أصدقائي لكهرباء لبنان المقطوعة الغالية على قلبكم، عجيبة، ولاتصالات لبنان الغالية على جيبكم، عجيبة، صوّتوا لمعارضة تقبّل الموالاة في صفقات الفساد، عجيبة، ولرؤساء ثلاث، يخرجون في فوضى المنطقة والمنعطفات التاريخية التي نمر فيها، والحالات المأساوية المعيشية، والغلاء العارم، والفوضى الأمنية، يخرج رؤسائنا الثلاثة مع موظفيهم ليعلنوا موقفاً تاريخياً واحداً: صوّتوا لجعيتا.

I won't vote for Jeita because its entrance fee is about 20,000LL, adding to it the fuel cost which exceeds 30,000LL for one gallon, making the visit fee cost almost 5 per cent of the average Lebanese citizen's income. And I won't vote for Jeita because the government and the opposition as well handed the resort to a private company with made up laws against the Lebanese ones so the regime people are the only ones with benefits.

Vote my friends to the dear non-existent electricity in Lebanon for this is a wonder. Vote for your dear and expensive telecom system, this is a wonder. Vote for your opposition which becomes friends with the government when it comes to corruption, this is a wonder. Vote for your presidents who come out ignoring the chaos, horrible living conditions, security problems just to tell you “Vote for Jeita”.

Seif, on the other hand, said the competition will eventually bring the country tourists and revenue. He visualized it in his post “Dear Lebanon, Grow Up“:

So I have something to say. Who cares if it’s $20 to enter Jeita? Most of you have been to Jeita, just like me, twice in your life – 4 times MAXIMUM, so complaining about this is just RIDICULOUS. It’s owned by a private company someone tweeted. Big deal. I think there is something that people are forgetting, whoever owns it or not – it is still Lebanese. Bringing recognition to Jeita, brings recognition to Lebanon, which in turn would bring tourists and revenue to the country. I will show you how.

Elie as well voted and stated to his readers “13 Reasons to Vote for Jeita” in his blog. He also disagreed that the competition is a scam and gave his proof in this post in response to Gino's post.

People are criticizing the whole “Vote for Jeita” campaign, with about 3 weeks left on the vote. They can’t even accept that the competition is NOT scam.
“Jeita doesn’t deserve to be a wonder,” is one of the things I’ve heard. “Why charge for the SMS to vote?” is another. “If the government wants Jeita to win, why don’t they vote?”

All of us need to want Jeita to win. Not the government. Not anyone else. We, as a people, should be proud that our country has something that has gained enough international recognition from international panels that judged Jeita as being worthy of being one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Everyone today, -against or with the competition- is waiting for the results. Will the Jeita Grotto win a place among the new seven wonders of nature? And if it does win, will the country's economy get better? You can follow the hashtag #Jeita for live updates on Twitter.

1 comment

  • Natalie

    Like seriously? why do you have to include politics and everything else in this issue?
    And what pisses me off the most, when people say Jeita lost. First of all we tried our best, the failure is when a person stops trying, we never stopped trying! Second of all, out of hundreds of places, Jeita made it to the 28 finalists, even more, Jeita made it to be one of the 14 finalists. I think that’s a great thing to be proud of !
    hahah or the people yali bi2ulo ” di3an l 10 cents” saraha di3an l jensiye l lebneniye fiyon.
    I voted 500 times w fideke ya Jeita!
    Actually, if all lebanese people were optimistic from the beginning and voted only 10 times each one, we would’ve won! That’s why I think, Lebanon deserves better citizens, the citizens which are dedicated to their country!

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