Ice Ice Baby: Lebanon picks up ice bucket trend

BEIRUT: Despite the ongoing water crisis in Lebanon, the growing phenomenon that is the ice bucket challenge has been readily adopted, with many dousing themselves in buckets of ice water while seemingly missing the philanthropic point.

“I thank those who nominated me for the ALS ice bucket challenge, and I would like to nominate Ragheb, Melissa and Ahlam,” Lebanese pop diva Najwa Karam said, before screeching while being drenched in ice cold water.

The ALS ice bucket challenge is the latest social media frenzy in the name of charity that gives those nominated 24 hours to respond - either by filming themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads and passing on their nomination or instead donating to the ALS Association in the United States.

The challenge began as a viral fundraising campaign by the ALS Association, with those refusing the challenge being told to donate to the charity instead. However, it has since evolved to most nominees donating to the charity regardless of whether they participate in the challenge.

According to the ALS Association, "amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as 'Lou Gehrig's Disease,' is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord."

With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

So far, the campaign seems to be successful in raising funds with the ALS Association saying that as of Wednesday they had received $31.5 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to Aug. 20).

In Lebanon, the trend is taking off, with the country's basketball players ditching the ball for ice cubes and challenging their teammates to follow suit.

Basketball players Ali Mahmoud, Omar El Turk and Joey Accaoui all have participated so far.

“UF Chou Laziz,” a local YouTube comedy channel, featured two of its hosts dousing themselves in buckets of ice water before nominating Gino Raidy from Gino’s blog and Najib Mitri from Blog Baladi.

Zaven Kouyoumdjian, a prominent Lebanese talk show host, also joined ranks and poured an ice bucket over his head.

It is not clear whether participants will donate to the charity in the United States or contribute to an organization that is closer to home.

With an increasing refugee problem in the country, an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and civil wars in Iraq and Syria, some Lebanese may choose to redirect their philanthropy toward one of those causes.