7 Hoaxes We Lived Through In Lebanon

E list

1. The Carcinogen E-List

This coding list used for labeling food additives was created by mass food production industry to list their ingredients on their packaging. Instead of writing long and scary ingredients such as Ethyl-P Hydroxybenzoat, they abbreviate it with Preservative E214. This coding system was common in Europe, Australia, Middle East and part of North America.

In late 1980’s a group of scientists at the research facility of the University of Hawaii released new nonexistent E-numbers and labeled them as carcinogenic. The purpose of this hoax was to study the life cycle of a rumor around the world, thus choosing a subject that will interest every single human being, food safety.

Didn’t we all have a copy of this list on the kitchen’s door?

olive oil

2. Dangers of Olive Oil

Post civil war and in the middle of new governmental reforms, an American study circulated in Lebanon about the dangerous health threat of frying food in olive oil.

This unconfirmed report created a drastic change of behavior on the Lebanese consumer in a country that highly produces, consumes and exports olive oil. That was the ideal opportunity for prominent importers to flood the market with new brands of corn oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil.

Later on, the American study never proved the dangers of olive oil compared to other vegetable oils, knowing that olive oil was consumed in all ways for thousands of years on the Mediterranean basin.

Eventually, you can make people believe anything as long as it starts with “A study shows that…”


3. Explosive Detectors

Following the car bombings in 2005 that targeted industrial and urban areas, a feeling of insecurity pushed many shopping malls, embassies, and private companies to purchase explosive detector devices that are able to detect suspicious vehicles entering their premises.

These small machines with a price ranging from $50,000 to $ 130,000 were capable of identifying TNT, RTX, Nitro, C4 and many other explosive elements. The high market demand allowed unscrupulous individuals to make a fortune between 2005 and 2008 selling phony devices, that turned out to be fake, cheap Chinese piece of plastic grab with an antenna, and useless in detecting explosives.

In 2013, a Lebanese newspaper debunked this treachery.

crystal tears

4. Girl Cries Crystal Tears

Reporters from around the world rushed to a small village in South Lebanon to witness the incredible story of Hasnah Mohamed, a 12-year-old Lebanese girl who claims to produce crystal gemstones from her eyes. A group of doctors was dispatched for analysis but couldn’t come up with a clear medical explanation.

From there on, many stories erupted, some considered it a miracle, others talked about the appearance of a white knight, or even a response to the Israeli cruelties following the “Grapes of Wrath” operation.

The answer soon came: it was a fraud, and the girl had admitted it, she used to place crystals with the help of her father just before the arrival of reporters. Many people were upset and disappointed, others, less inclined to believe in inexplicable miracles, were relieved.


5. Giant Carrot

The story was about a farmer in the Bekaa valley who deterred a giant carrot, followed by a picture of him holding it. Several local media agencies were duped and immediately released the story as a scoop.

Newspapers like Annahar and Al Diyar, websites likes Tayyar or Lebanonfiles all reported about it, some were aware of this forgery but still decided to publish it. But the image turned out to be of a normal size carrot shot in foreground with a farmer pretending to be holding it in the background.

The hand of the photographer that was cropped out is still visible.

Baysour fake river

6. Baysour River

It started on social media between two friends discussing their next trip to Lebanon, attaching an image of a fabulous river entitled “Baysour, Lebanon”. Then the local website souwar.com uploaded the same image and opened a discussion about the beautiful places to visit in Lebanon, among them Baysour in Aley. Many people shared the link or even went looking for this beautiful place.

It turned out that these images are from Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Still if you Google “Baysour River” you will get the same results.

Always have doubts that it’s in Lebanon when you see such clean, not polluted, restaurants free, organized and eco-friendly scenery.


7. Cedar Island

It first appeared online in 2009 and quickly became an Internet sensation as many compared it to the Palms Island in Dubai. The company behind, “Noor Holding”, announced a $1 billion budget for the project to be finished in 3 years time. This triggered a wide national reaction from civil associations and environmental NGOs, while many others believed it and proudly spread the news online. People were so blind by this project that they missed some weird facts such as “3 year project” and “$1 billion”.

At the end, it turned out to be nothing but a scam, and its founder Mohammad Saleh fled the country with 5 million dollars collected from naive investors.


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