Lebanon: From Bombed to Beautiful

Fourth stop, Beirut, Lebanon! The area where we were staying in was a very modern and luxurious area filled with street after street of interior design stores, art galleries, high-end fashion shops, and chic cafes. This dynamic represented that the people living in those areas must be rich enough to be catered to by such high-end shops and boutiques. Some of the stores can’t even be found in San Francisco! I was really impressed by how chic and clean the streets and people walking them were.

View of Beirut from rooftop of Le Gray hotel

The tourism and commercial success seems to be increasing due to the amount of construction, representing the country and Beirut’s efforts towards modernization. While the city was becoming more and more industrially modern with new skyscrapers and Parisian chic shops, the driving seemed to stay in a very erratic state with speeding, no lines, and one too many close encounters.

One night after dinner we decided to explore the other neighborhoods in Beirut. I noticed that in the Muslim areas, hijab was left to the choice of people, which I thought was very modern and open-minded. We also saw a very large Armenian area in the city, a little preview to our next destination!

Artwork found in a local gallery

Lebanon — a very old country created in 5000 BC — was invaded by many great powers throughout history. This was very evident in the massive collection of Roman, Ottoman, and French remaining artifacts and influences. Before the 15-year civil war, Lebanon was regarded as “The Paris of the Middle East,” but after being heavily bombed, the city has been on an uphill road towards reestablishing that title. After the civil war, Lebanon improved its tactics in housing these different cultures in a way to limit conflicts. For example, the different positions in government are allocated to a specific religious and cultural group in order to restrict interferences and disruptions of that kind in the political system. Obviously, it would be great if there was no civil war, but maybe if that hadn’t happened, the country would not have reached the equilibrium they are at now. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to peace is through violence…