Category Archives: Tourism

Thank You, Beirut. Your Friend, Dubai.

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Dubai Marina – Picture taken from Chennibus.com

More and more people prefer going to Dubai rather than coming to Beirut. We’ve lost our competitive advantage and we are falling behind as a top destination for tourists, even the Arab ones.

Before I left for my trip to Lebanon this December, my 84-year-old neighbor told me about the fantastic nightlife in Beirut. She had visited the city after World War II, while her husband was stationed in Europe. She told me about Beirut’s unique blend of European sophistication and liberal leanings in an Arab milieu. Just about 150 miles from Cyprus on the Mediterranean, Beirut served as a gateway to the Middle East.

Flash forward to today. A generation of Lebanese disenfranchised by 15 years of civil war, a technical state of war with Israel, the presence of the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the war in Syria have contributed to the decline of Beirut as a safe, reliable point of entry into the Middle East. As a result, the soul of Beirut’s Western-leaning temperament was mimicked in Disney-esque style by the city of Dubai. And it’s a crying shame.

It’s sad because Dubai is now viewed as the preeminent, culturally westernized city in the region. Dubai, as an urban personification of the West, is the spoiled little boy who has to have the biggest piece of candy. It’s a place with Texas-inspired adoration for the new, big and sparkly; a town with a New Yorker’s greed to have more. Cops drive in Lamborghinis. Visitors party at nightclubs imported from Las Vegas, Amsterdam and… Beirut. [Link]

U.S and Canada warn against traveling to Lebanon

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It looks like it will be yet another tourist-less summer for Lebanon.

The most recent travel advisories and warnings issued by the US and Canada warned against traveling to Lebanon. While the US urges its citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon, Canada was more lenient and asked its citizens to avoid non-essential travel.

LEBANON – AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Lebanon due to heightened tensions and crime.

Ensure that your travel documents are up to date and register yourselves and your families online with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service in order to receive the latest advice from the Canadian embassy in Beirut.

Source: Foreign Affairs – Canada

April 01, 2013
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on September 17, 2012, to emphasize information on security, kidnappings, and an upsurge in violence in Lebanon and the region.

The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders, airports, roads, and seaports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently with little warning and have the potential to become violent. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes often escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with little or no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may be severely limited.

Source: US Department of State

If you want to check out the most dangerous countries to visit this year, check out this [Map] and this [article].

CNN Travel: 10 Best Bars in Beirut

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Source

Here are 10 places where Beirut warms up, gets hot and winds down according to CNN Travel.
1. Dragonfly
2. Torino Express
3. Kayan
4. February 30
5. Bar ThreeSixty
6. Internazionale
7. Ferdinand
8. Dictateur
9. Behind the Green Door
10. SKYBAR

It’s good to see some of my favorite bars on that list, specially Kayan which I’ve been going to for the past 7 years if not more.

Thank you Ralph

Nahr al-Kalb (Dog River) Rafting

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Picture taken from Sietske

I thought they stopped organizing such activities in Nahr el Kalb river. There are about 5 rivers in Lebanon where you could go on a rafting trip based on what Sietske posted.
- Nahr el Assi in the Beqaa valley.
- Awali and Litani Rivers in the South.
- Dog River and Nahr Ibrahim north of Beirut.

That’s a great way to spend your Sundays indeed. Read more about it [Here].

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Picture taken from Sietske

Skiing in Beirut: Picture by NatGeo

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Picture taken from Gino via NatGeo

I was tagged in this picture earlier today by a friend of mine and I didn’t know what was the big deal behind it until I read some of the comments and the controversy it caused. Honestly I don’t see what’s so offensive or disrespectful about it, even if there was an army-related event up there, as we are among the very few countries in the world where you find army men on the roads and at the entrance of churches, mosques, restaurants, pubs, banks and others. We had an official who would deploy the army everywhere he goes even if it’s for a swim or tan.

On the other hand, there is one thing that I found annoying:
- You’d expect the National Geographic people to know the difference between Beirut and Lebanon. Kfardebian is not in Beirut for all I know.

Bikeathon 2013: Bike for peace

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Bikeathon Association Lebanon and Baldati.com are organizing the Bike for Peace event on April 14, 2013 in an attempt to promote cycling in Lebanon, create awareness to alternative transportation methods that reduce traffic and demand a friendly-cycling road environment.

A Press Conference will be held on March 5 at ABC Achrafieh to discuss further details of the event.

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I found out about this event by mistake on the Ministry of Tourism’s website and there was no mention on how to subscribe or where to check for further info. It wouldn’t hurt to promote such an event in a proper way and encourage Lebanese to join. It’s definitely better than throwing thousands of dollars on lousy promotional ads.

If tourists don’t want to visit Lebanon anymore, let’s encourage domestic tourism and organize events all across Lebanon that bring Lebanese together and benefit everyone.

Entrance fee for Bikeathon is 10$. You can check out more details [Here].

Tourist numbers still in freefall in 2013

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[High-Res] – Via ZiadKamel

The number of total arrivals for the month of January 2013 dropped 15% when compared to last year’s total, noting that the 2012 total had also dropped by 2% from 2011 [2012 vs. 2011].

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I don’t want to sound pessimistic but at the rate we are going, we should count ourselves very lucky if we reach 1 million visitors by the end of 2013.

Former Bond Girl Carole Bouquet coming to Beirut

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Bouquet won the role as the Bond girl Melina Havelock in the 1981 movie For Your Eyes Only. She’s one of the hottest Bond girls and For Your Eyes Only is one of my favorite Bond movies. Carole Bouquet is coming for “Le Mois de la francophonie” and is staying at Phoenicia Hotel.

I can’t believe she’s 55 and still looking that hot [Picture from 2012]. I should email Phoenicia and ask them if it’s possible to meet her.

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