Lebanon back on the travel map: the Rise of the Phoenix!

A few months ago, Erwin and I were trying to look up how to make the perfect travel plan for Arjan (my brother in law) for his future trip to the Emirates and to Lebanon. As you might know by now, I was born and raised in Lebanon and lived there until just two months ago. As for Dubai, we both have been there plenty of times already. Having said that, we still decided to check Tripadvisor and go through what they propose. I was not really surprised by the contrast of “things to do” in both countries: The Emirates is after all a very recent country mostly famous for its city Dubai, which has magnificent monumental architectural skylines including the world’s tallest building, huge entertaining malls, the famous fountain, the luxury lifestyle, the desert, the water parks, the beaches, the nightlife etc etc.

Dubai’s famous skyline

Lebanon on the other hand is one of the most ancient nations having 4 of the World’s oldest cities  (2- Byblos, 7- Sidon, 10-Beirut, 12- Tyre): throughout the centuries leading up to recent times Lebanon, known as Phoenicia originally, became part of numerous succeeding empires, among them Egyptian Empire, Assyrian Empire, Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Armenian, Sasanian Persian, Eastern Roman, Arab (Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid), Seljuk, Mamluk, the Crusader, the Ottoman Empire.

I know that reading about history is pretty boring for a lot of people. Now when that history is broadcasted on the big screens with a hollywood cast and production, that same category of people tend to be hooked to all the action, the combats, the battles, the conquest, the adventure. To make it easier on everyone I will try to write the next paragraph in a language we all seem to understand perfectly well: the movie vocabulary! Now if Lebanon was a Hollywood movie it would have been a mixture of the Pirates of the Caribbean’s” minus the piracy and the Caribbean. After all the Phoenicians did acquire their fame as sailors and “princes of the sea”. A bit of  Alexander featuring both Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell including all the customs, battles, army, the tactics and the famous victories. After all, Alexander the Great was one of the biggest conquerors of the coastal phoenicians cities: he had to go through one of his toughest and longest battles in Tyre, a battle he finally won after several months of strive. The grandiosity of the Tyrian combat can be easily compared to famous historical “Hollywood” battles such as Sparta and Troy except this was Tyre and it was against the Greeks ! After the Greeks came the Romans, so I can add to the Hollywood mixture the Gladiator and Ben-Hur. I can justify these choices by the simple historical facts that Beirut was considered the most Roman city in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire and Tyre had the largest Roman chariot racing arenas ever built. Then I can skip the Arab era and add to the Hollywood mixture the Kingdom of Heaven for the Crusader’s era  and Fetih  and Harim Al Sultan  for the Ottoman  except those last two were turkish and one is a serie not a movie but who’s counting. These conquest stories which  inspired Hollywood were a big part of the Lebanese history: different astonishing cultures passed through Lebanon and they left trails waiting to be discovered, promoted, visited, and mostly protected as UNESCO World Heritage. 

1- Byblos: The Princes of the Sea: It is from the port of Byblos that the Phoenicians grew to be the famous traders and sailors of the Mediterranean sea.  

Here below a slideshow of Byblos. I hope you enjoy it. Some of the pictures I have personally taken, others were taken by my cousin Claudia. Thank you prima!

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For more pictures about Byblos please follow the official promotional page livelovebyblos on Instagram.

2- Batroun: The Phoenician Wall:

Here below a slideshow of Batroun. I hope you enjoy it. Some of the pictures I have personally taken, others were taken by my best friend Rima. Thank you Rima!

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For more pictures about Batroun, please visit the city’s promotional Instagram page of livelovebatroun

3BeirutThe mother of Laws

Here below a slideshow of Beirut. I hope you enjoy it. Most of the pictures were taken by my cousin Claudia during her visit to Lebanon in October 2015. Thank you prima!

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For more pictures about Beirut, please check the livelovebeirut, livelovehamra, liveloveachrafieh promotional pages.

4- Sidon: Mother City of Phoenicia

Here below a slideshow of Sidon. I hope you enjoy it. Most of the pictures were taken by my cousin Claudia during her visit in October 2015. Thank you prima!

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For more pictures about Sidon a.k.a Saida, please check livelovesaida promotional page.

5-Tripoli: The Three cities 

Here below a slideshow of Tripoli. I hope you enjoy it. All the pictures were taken by very close friends of mine Rana Chalhoub and Adriana LeBoss. Thank you girls! Adriana is a famous Lebanese writer, a relationship and dating blogger and a copywriter.

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6- Tyre: The Queen of the Sea 

Here below a slideshow of Tyre. I hope you enjoy it. Most of the pictures were taken by very close friends of mine Rana Chalhoub and Adriana LeBoss. Thank you girls!

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For more pictures about Tyre, please check livelovetyre promotional page.

Alongside its fascinating history comes the fun part: Lebanon has one of the best nightlife in the world. From nightclubs, to rooftops, to pubs and restaurants, the capital Beirut is a city that never sleeps. Despite wars, the daily stress, terrorists attacks, the Lebanese have an endless thirst for joy, for life, for happiness and that is exactly what makes it the Lebanese buzz a unique one: you can’t find that joie de vivre anywhere else. From a psychology point of view, it is due to constant instability and wars that the Lebanese live as there is no tomorrow. That was the war generation psychological impact and despite having many disadvantages it just makes Lebanese cities very lively ones.

For all those reasons, tourism was one of the biggest industries in the Lebanese economy and for a long time Lebanon was considered the Paris of the Middle East. Unfortunately due to 16 years of war between 1975 till 1991, followed by many years of political insecurity including a Syrian Occupation till 2005, the 2006 Israeli War, and many terrorist attacks which had spread fear in many locals and tourists, Lebanon is nowadays considered a hazardous place to go to. But hey, can’t we say the same about the US, France, Belgium, Turkey or anywhere in the world these days? Are we gonna stay locked in our homes and let the fear and despair that those terrorists planted control us? While I was making my research about travel mistakes, I was very happy to encounter many fellow travel bloggers including Condé Nast Traveler (winner of twenty-five National Magazine Awards) who considered being scared away from a fascinating destinations” a travel mistake. So are you gonna keep making that mistake?

Personally,  I will dedicate a section on my blog about Lebanon and hope I can contribute even for a tiny part in clearing up some misconceptions about my country from being a danger zone, a desert, Lebanese riding camels, women being veiled, strict alcohol regulations and only hope I can be a part of this youth movement working on bringing back Lebanon to the travel destination map.