June 24, 2006

Yes, It's Fun, Really

Lots of people I know have a hard time believing me when I say Beirut is a good time, that it's a terrific destination for tourists, that I haven't turned myself into one of those morbid "war tourism" types who goes to disaster zones for cheap thrills.

I'm far from the only one. Here's an excerpt from a Daily Star article on Beirut's rave scene:
John Askew - who is returning to Lebanon for a gig with Van Dyk on July 8 - started it all when he headlined the Monot Music Festival in June 2002. It remains one of his favorite nights.

"Beirut was nuts," he says. "There were all these really dressed-up, sexy, affluent-looking clubbers going crazy and yet in every direction you looked there were buildings riddled with bullet holes. [I was] a little apprehensive, but it's an amazing place. Mental. Wicked party scene."

Beirut has been fun longer than I've been alive. It's even fun when it's (almost) at it's worst. Lebanon.Profile recently filed this on a visit to the U.S.
The driver picked me up from the airport.

He asked, "Where you coming from?"

I said, "Lebanon."

He said, "Tell me. Is the St. George Hotel still there?"

Stunned, I said, "Yes, but it's not been repaired or renovated since the war. Are you Lebanese?"

He said, "No, no. I served in the US Navy and was sent to Lebanon in 1958. The whole 6th fleet was there. From the beach, it was battleships, boats, and aircraft carriers as far as the eye could see. We boarded the beach and there were all these women in bikinis all over and guys selling stuff. We didn't see any war going on. All we saw were people enjoying themselves. We couldn't tell who the enemy was. From our view, it didn't seem like there were any.

"I got one of those checkered things in a shopping district near the St. George."
Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2006 12:31 PM
Comments

Beirut, Tel Aviv & Dubai are three cities sharing the Middle East clubbing scene.

Posted by: Lira at June 24, 2006 02:51 PM

Who are those 9% of the Kurds?

Posted by: Yafawi at June 25, 2006 07:42 AM

Some Kurds live in the red zone, not in the Kurdish autonomous region. I presume they make up most if not all of the 9 percent.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2006 10:30 AM

Michael, and commenters, thank you for bringing an interesting vacation destination to someone to whom it would never have occured!

Posted by: DagneyT at June 25, 2006 12:01 PM

Dagney, there is nowhere in the world I would rather go on vacation than Beirut. Seriously.

I dragged my mother (a typical suburban mom) out there and she said her trip was "absolutely outstanding." The difference between her expectations and reality was galactic in size.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2006 02:37 PM

Am a little biased but gotta agree with Michael :)

Posted by: Free Cedar at June 26, 2006 04:15 AM

Lira, Dubai is definately NOT even close to Beirut when it comes to clubbing. Beirut is still the craziest clubbing scene I have ever been to, and people from all over the world are realizing this too. Dubai is a joke compared to Beirut, not sure about Tel Aviv but I heard that place was also an amazing party scene. Trust, when I say to all that have not been there to visit Beirut, from the beach parties to the women, to the great food, hospitality, and the great clubs (that never stop) this is the place to be.

Posted by: Daniel at June 26, 2006 12:25 PM

Took an American friend of mine to Lebanon last year, he had the time of his life! He was totally shocked with the partying, girls, scenery, food, hospitality...I could go on and on. Whats great is that everywhere he goes he brags about his experience there, and is always trying to paint Lebanon in a brighter light to the many uninformed people here who think its STILL a war ravaged nation where all women where veils.

Posted by: Sam at June 26, 2006 01:05 PM

It occurs to me that those 9% of the Kurds might be the ones that already had it good in pre-war independent Kurdistan - and maybe liked that better than being part of Iraq.

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