Category Archives: Tourism

You can now visit the Lebanese Republican Palace in Baabda

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The President’s office – Picture taken from Presidency.gov.lb

A Press Release was posted on the Presidency’s official website where it was stated that the Baabda palace will open to visitors the first Saturday of every month starting June. Looking at the pictures, it is definitely worth a visit.

The first Saturday of every month, beginning in June, will be an opportunity for people to visit the presidential palace in Baabda. Visiting times will be from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those interested in making a visit may consult www.presidency.gov.lb for further details.

At least three weeks are needed to process applications for a visit. [DailyStar]

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Jbeil (Byblos) Crowned Best Tourist City In the Arab World For 2013 .. Twice?

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[YouTube]

I read on the LBCI website yesterday that Jbeil was named the Best Arab tourist city in 2013 and then watched in the news that it will receive the award on the 15th of June.

I tried looking for the source of that information online but I could only find articles dating back from April stating that Jbeil or Byblos was named the best Arab tourist city in 2013 by The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and that the ceremony will take place on May 4th at Bourj Al Arab Hotel Dubai under the patronage of the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Dr. Taleb Rifaii, and a number of Arab leaders and representatives of the diplomatic corps. [NNA-LEB] [MTV] [Daily Star]

However, I couldn’t find any event related to The United Nations World Tourism Organization or Burj Al Arab on the dates mentioned. Having said that, I don’t know honestly if both sources are talking about the same award, and I have no idea where did this event take place if it ever took place.

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Picture taken by myself: @LeNajib

In all cases, Jbeil deserves the award as it’s a great touristic city with beautiful souks and ruins, as well as plenty of pubs, restaurants and resorts. Walking down Jbeil’s old Souks all the way to the Sea Castle and having dinner at its many restaurants is a MUST if you are coming to Lebanon this summer.

Too bad UAE citizens are going to miss out on that as they were urged not to travel to Lebanon yet again. It’s quite sad to read that when we thought this summer was going to be better than the last one.

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Picture taken by myself: @LeNajib

Giveaway: Two invitations to The Roof at the Four Seasons Hotel – Beirut

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Picture taken by myself [@LeNajib]

As I posted two days, the highest and coolest rooftop in town, The Roof at Four Seasons Beirut, has kicked off its summer season this weekend. The Roof is located on the hotel’s 26th floor and is a great place to chill out after work or on the weekends.

For those of you who still don’t know where it’s located, it’s on one of the two tall building overlooking Zaitunay Bay at the best possible spot in Beirut. I circled it in red in the picture below.

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Original picture via Zaitunay.com

Anyway, Four Seasons Beirut were kind enough to let me give away two invites to The Roof for BlogBaladi‘s readers. Each winner will get to bring some one along and enjoy the unique experience The Roof has to offer. You will get to try signature drinks as well as a selection of Asian tapas and watch the sunset from the best possible spot or just enjoy a chill-out night.

Lebanese singer Lara Rain performs there every Thursday and Saturday starting 9 pm for those of you who like live entertainment.

If you want to win one of these two awesome invitations to one of Lebanon’s most luxurious 5-star hotels, you just have to leave a comment on this post with a proper email address. Competition ends on Tuesday May 7th at 6 pm. I will pick two names randomly (Using random.org) and post the names of the winners at the end of the day.

If you have any questions regarding The Roof or Four Seasons Beirut, you can follow them on [Twitter] or on [Facebook]. They are very friendly and fun to talk to.

I will post the names of the winners and more pictures of the Roof on our Facebook page. You can check them out and like the page [Here].

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NB: You need to put your proper email in the email field while commenting since winner will be contacted by email. You can only comment once, anyone caught commenting more than once will get disqualified.

Revisiting an old post: Is it profitable to open at the Zaitunay Bay?

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Zaitunay Bay almost empty during Winter – Picture taken via Instagram [@LeNajib]

This was posted on Thursday on Amarres Bistro & Cafe Francais’ Facebook page:

Our lovely restaurant Amarres in Zaitunay Bay has had to close down. A word from our CEO:
Business in Lebanon is going through bitter/sweet times. We decided to close our restaurant Amarres in Zaitunay Bay but are opening our 2nd Couqley branch in Blueberry Square, Dbayeh on May 15th. Since 2012, the economic climate in Lebanon has been too harsh to sustain large restaurants in Zaitunay Bay, a destination that demands stability. It is sad to shut down a good restaurant in a beautiful location but the decision is the correct one for us. The business model is unsustainable. Amarres at Zaitunay Bay depended on 3 customer pillars: (1) Lebanese Living in Lebanon (2) Lebanese Expats (3) Tourists. Since May 2012, with the harsh political & security issues affecting Lebanon, Amarres at Zaitunay Bay has seen only 1/3 of the required 3 customer pillars. The good news is that our other outlets are thriving; Couqley, The Angry Monkey, The Tanning Salon + Couqley 2nd Branch opening May 15th in Dbayeh :-)

In the words of Churchill: ‘never, never, never give in’

Having read that, I remembered a post I had written more than a year ago on whether it’s profitable to operate at the Zaitunay Bay, and another post in December 2012 on how businesses are struggling at the Zaitunay Bay.

Here are the rough calculations I did last year:
Let’s assume a restaurant named X pays 750,000$ a year for a 150m2 place that can fit 80 people.

750,000$ means 62,500$ a month and almost 2000$ a day.
- If a meal costs on average between 30 and 50$ at restaurant X, it will need between 40 and 70 customers EVERY day to break even.
- This will only cover the rental fees without taking into consideration wages, maintenance and operating fees etc…

We’ve already had a bad summer season and this one doesn’t seem too promising, so it might be a good idea for the Beirut Municipality and/or whomever is managing the Zaitunay Bay to lower these exorbitant rent prices and let businesses survive this crisis Lebanon is going through. If no initiatives are taken, expect more closures in the upcoming weeks/months.

The Roof at the Four Seasons Beirut re-opening this weekend

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The Roof, Four Seasons Beirut

The Roof is currently my favorite rooftop in Beirut. It’s the highest rooftop in town, located at the best possible location overlooking the Zaitunay Bay and the St. Georges Club and offering a great view. It’s a great place to go to after work or in the weekend, have drinks or cocktails, enjoy an amazing view and just relax for an hour or two.

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Picture taken from FSB Facebook Page

In case you missed my first visit to The Roof, check it out [Here].

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