Beirut…

Corniche

Corniche

A Light in the Shade: Beirut…

Beauty, charm, elegance, pride and hospitality… Those would be the first words to describe my first impression of Beirut…

Even my arrival was very seductive at 2am in a plane landing with a short distance to beautiful Mediterranean Sea facing all the night lights of Beirut proving its fame of “never sleeping city”.  From the very first moment, I knew I have made a very right decision visiting this famous Middle Eastern treasure standing in the shade of recent war literature.

Beirut has not been a usual travel spot for a long time because of the inquietude surrounding travellers’ mind in particular after the 2006 War; however, Beirut is decidedly not such a dangerous place. In contrast, citizens themselves play the role of guardian to protect the visitors as well as their reputation. Not to mention the soldiers standing each and every corner with their rifles in arms, which first cause a short term intimidation that ends right after a warm smile they receive from tourists. Because of the unfortunate political reasons, war and conflict accompanied the country’s well known charm. However, just a ticket and a bit of personal research would be more than enough to break this misleading perception which still causes many to miss such an enriching opportunity to discover the uniting spot of the worlds’ long existing cultures.

Beirut sets a unique example of “unity within diversity” with not only its women covered in hijab walking alongside with the ones in miniskirts, tight tops and high heels but also with its buildings of French architecture remained from the mandate and Ottoman sculptures showing off in different parts of the city. Mosques and churches are not so distant from each other which also reflects how the society embraces this cultural richness by respecting religious choices. Thinking about the recent protests in the middle of Europe to prevent construction of mosques in their neighbourhood, Beirut sets a true and strong example of tolerance for not only the Middle East but also Europe and America.

Beside the charming beauty of the city as a whole, what makes it unique is its enduring pride and resilience. Remaining scars of devastating war are hidden behind the newly constructed luxury buildings standing as proud coastal guards of the town.

As a meeting point of East and West, Beirut notably well represents its people as fresh, lively and open-minded community that enjoys long table gatherings with excellent foods and never-ending coffees always accompanied by intellectual conversations. Chic, trendy, and stylish bars located side by side in narrow streets of Gemmayzeh, “cafés littéraires” hidden in Hamra, “les petits bistros” surrounding Ashrafiyeh and “nargileh” corners of Corniche are the common areas of interests for many “Beirutians” as well as the visitors. 

In terms of cultural richness, there is no doubt that Greater Beirut and other parts of Lebanon have more to offer, but although it has been quite a while since I moved here, I still see that Beirut did not yet fully open its chest of wonders.

The only common concern of foreigners visiting Beirut including myself would be nothing but the road safety. I wish there would be less klaxon and more drivers able to distinguish red from green…

Comments Off on Beirut…

Filed under Drafts of my life

Comments are closed.