“The boardwalk’s rough planks, a nod to maritime authenticity, present a design flaw perhaps foreseeable in this city: Women with Louis Vuitton handbags are forever extracting their spike heels from the cracks.”
Habib (see note 2) criticised this article and wrote:
“That’s correct my beautiful people, you might want to leave those Louboutins at home. One air-kissing lipstick lady cooed in a mix of Beirut Italiano: “Finito la mishkala!” (The problems are over!)
To whom the headline “Resurgent Beirut Offers Haven Amid Turmoil…” apply to?
Does it address the hundreds of thousands of Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Sudanese and other refugees that scrape together a meager existence against the xenophobic threats of locals in this tiny fear-soaked, lawless strip of Mediterranean coast?
Or is it the majority of Lebanon’s 4 million population that spends half their lives without proper electricity and no adequate potable water because the Sate is too corrupt to provide it?
Does this “eddy of peace” as the Times writer calls it, provide refuge to young college grads who flee this country in droves (50% of them) because they know they cannot be protected against the gangsters that brazenly roam the streets in black tinted windows?
Does it shelter the hard-working young professionals who have no choice but to remain and cannot afford a home in Beirut because their clan did not rob a bank or buy one?
Does Lebanon appeal to aspiring local journalists when there is no rule of law, no functioning judicial system and where assassinations are the norm?
The Times writer reminds us that “Lebanon’s leaders scramble to keep the political peace.” But missing in this shallow missive is the fact that over $100 billion dollars is sitting in secret deposits managed by the country’s banking dynasties to help those leaders “cope” with the rough job they have, and have had for generations.
Other dictators must be envious of the Lebanese elite.
Who wants to spoil the couch comfort food of the Saturday Times with real problems and real people? This article is not about locals. Why should it be? It’s written for tortured Western minds for whom “Lebanon’s image remains frozen in old snapshots: sectarian massacres, hostages tied to radiators…”
What a shame that: “Many Westerners do not realize that Lebanon is still safe, and fun.”
Perhaps what Beirut really needs is more signs like this:
“Surely a small measure could help bring us closer to “Lebanon’s latest effort to recapture the prewar 1960s — when Brigitte Bardot was a regular and Beirut was a fashionable port of call.”
Or was that whole “Paris of the Middle East” narrative, so effortlessly recast, just a product of a long tradition of American editors sending reporters parachuting into ‘exotic’ places they know little about?” End of Habib quote
Note 1: I am reading an exciting French book “A Taxi for Benghazi” by Marie-Lys Lubrano, and the author was in Egypt as Mubarak was ousted from power as a free-lance photographer, and she had a mind of going to Yemen where the action is. Libya had just started the insurrection, and Marie-Lys had no idea that Libya was on the border with Egypt, and she thought Tripoli was the Lebanese norther port city, and she could not recall the name Qadhafi who erected his tent in 2007 in Paris before meeting with President Sarkozy…. And these young foreign photographers and correspondents rush to cover dangerous events, not knowing that the country is in a state of war…