the most dangerous place in the world no more
beirut today is a phoenix on the rise
With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WW 1, Lebanon came under French control. Beirut became the Paris of the Middle East.
but then from 1975 to 1990 a civil war wracked the city. This was the Holiday Inn.
this was a house on the deadly Green Line
now there is peace, and the city is busy rebuilding
we stayed at The Commodore, where daring journalists camped during the war (including Tom Freidman). Most of the bullet holes have been buffed away.
today cranes everywhere rise above the ruins
global chains have opened doors
there are certified tourism guides
once a nest for snipers, the national museum has rennovated and reopened its doors
sharing secrets of men who stepped these shores 50,000 years ago.
and a display of source of early wealth: Phoenician murex, shells that produced the purple dye coveted by royals throughout the Mediterranean
lebanon is exuberant with high mountains, and on its slopes grew cedars, ideal for ship building
and with these sturdy cedar ships, Phoenicians sailed to & traded with the ancient world, and beyond (some claim they reached the Americas)
they became so wealthy that all the surrounding empires set out to conquer
Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Arabs, Egyptians, Ottomans all put stakes in the ground here.
now Beirut is a hub of diversity and tolerance. there are 18 officially recognized religious sects in country.
and of course one cannot talk Lebanon without mentioning the food.
we lunched at farm-to-table Tawlet Beirut (that's baked kibbeh she's serving.)
there are 18 sects of dessert, all living in harmony
and a few hours later we supped at Enab
pleasantly stuffed now with the mezzes of peace
My Lebanon is like a poet between one eternity and another.
Gibran Khalil Gibran
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