A Visit To Beirut: Pearl of Arabia

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Women sitting in front of a beautiful sea at sunset in Beirut's Corniche, Lebanon

Although wonder has always peppered my travels, rarely did I come across the unexpected. When you go to Rome, for example, you may marvel at the sights, you may gawk at the buildings, but that is what you expect of Rome. You’ve probably seen numerous pictures beforehand, and bought the city guide.

But my visit to Beirut in Lebanon was unexpected in every way.

For one, it was far from Southeast Asia,

where I currently was. Visiting Beirut was a spur of the moment decision. And two, much like Byblos City, it went against the grain of what I envisioned it would look like. This was the Middle East. I expected the Middle East. Instead, I was received by a city which dwelled on dichotomies. I can’t remember ever visiting a place where I could go snow skiing at a nearby mountain in the morning, then hit up the beaches in the early afternoon–especially in the Middle East.

For the most part, the central part of Beirut defies its Arabic roots and leans towards a more European allure.

Its newly-paved roads, modern buildings, and ornamented lampposts suffuse romance into the soul of a city built with a purpose: to seduce. Here, patrons and tourists of faraway origins sit at Parisian-style bistros, savoring meals over drinks or coffee, as the sea-breeze shyly approaches, plants a kiss on their cheek, and quickly fades.

The best vantage point I found

was the peak of nearby Brumana. It displayed a city kissing the edge of a Mediterranean whose satin sheen is sure to capture a tranquil poem on your face.

a picture of the bombed-out buildings and hotels in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. The facades are riddles with bullet holes and rocket fire.
These holes in the buildings are the result of rockets and bullets.

And although the scars of a twenty year civil-war remain–with buildings riddled with bullet holes and rocket fire–the overhaul of the downtown area is especially astounding.

The new architecture resembles a coastal Italian city.

A city which broke off from Europe and beached ashore here, commanding the best real estate on this side of the Mediterranean. It is a definite mark of artful modernism amidst its Arabian neighborhoods.

But when I say it resembles Italy,

or even France, I don’t imply that it copies either one. It’s skyline, just like its culture, is unique in every way. Nothing can replace the light-heartedness of its citizens either, a people without worry and who live for the moment with a joie de vivre hardly found anywhere else.

This joviality pollinates the atmosphere of Beirut, but is quick to dissipate beyond the country’s borders.

As many Lebanese revolts,

or bombings, or faction wars as there have been, the city pulses with the electric ambiance of Arabian youth co-mingled with a Western element. I’ve included a picture to show you the spirit of my words. I chose not to show you the beautiful skyline, but instead a picture on a typical day, at a pool, of a joyful world which goes on despite the bombed-out hotel in the background.

Beautiful Lebanese girl at a pool in Beirut near a bombed out building that looks completely destroyed. The girl lays by the pool, smoking a sheesha.
A picture speaks a thousand words. This hotel was completely destroyed during an assassination attempt.

For even in the depths of murky oceans,

nature has learned to adapt and fashion beauty from danger.

Just as the Lebanese have learned to fashion hardships into this pearl.

Have you visited Beirut before? Would you consider going there, despite the nearby unrest?

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4 comments on “A Visit To Beirut: Pearl of Arabia

  1. if you could….would you live in Lebanon versus Thailand…. what are the pluses and mistiness of each….your feedback is greatly appreciated

    1. Hi Paul, Lebanon is undoubtedly gorgeous, but it is always WAY more expensive than Thailand. You also don’t need a car in Thailand, but that’s almost a necessity in Lebanon. Food and lodging are much cheaper in Thailand, and the need to “dress to impress” isn’t as prevalent in Thailand (no need to wear Versace shirts when going to the grocery store, if you know what I mean). Thai women are much more considerate. The internet in Thailand is FAR more advanced. Once you get out of Beirut, the web slows to a crawl. So all in all, Lebanon is a fantastic place, I love it. But living? Thailand wins without a doubt.

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