Paris of the Middle East
One of the most cosmopolitan cities of the Middle East, Beirut is a place that’s alive and kicking and full of fascinating contrasts. Infamous for its bitter civil war, parts of Beirut still show their bullet-scattered scars; and standing on the relics of Beirut’s infamous Green Line, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Beirut is a city of haunted memories, and bogged down with its political uncertainty.
But, against this inescapable backdrop, Beirut is more than full of life. The beautifully reconstructed Downtown area of Beirut, with its restored colonial buildings, mosques, and internationally acclaimed museums shows just how resilient the city is. And there is a real appetite for rejuvenation within Beirut: the people of Beirut are intensely friendly, and a visit to some of Beirut’s younger neighbourhoods such as Gemmayzeh will show you a population determined to seize the day and party hard.
Beirut was voted as one of the top ten liveliest cities in the world by the Lonely Planet in 2009, and it’s not hard to see why – you’ll find life triumphs over adversity at every corner in Beirut: from the bars and clubs which burst at the seams every night and the fact that Beirut has the most open gay scene in the Middle East; to the ongoing restoration work and the lines of honking traffic that packs the streets and makes it almost impossible to drive in Beirut. Occasional political flare-ups show that Beirut’s troubles may not be entirely over – but, everywhere it seems, Beirut is determined to get on with living.