Nouhad Haddad, famously known as Fayrouz, meaning Turquoise gemstone is certainly one of the greatest Arab singers of the 20th century. A true gem, whose songs have become the soul of her country.
It was Lebanon’s civil war, from 1975 to 1990, that both shattered the country’s tolerant society and cemented Fayrouz’s reputation, refusing to leave the country, as a cultural symbol beloved by Arabs of any political or religious stripe. When shellfire ripped through Beirut and its residents cowered in their basements, radio stations of all persuasions broadcasted her plaintive ode to the city called Li Beirut, (To Beirut).
The 1880s to the 1960s were the golden age for barbershops. During this time, men socialized in all-male hangouts. Visiting the barbershop was a weekly, and sometimes daily habit. Men would stop in, not only for a haircut and a shave, but also to fraternize with friends. Things have shifted over the years and somehow our barbershops are being less and less frequented specially by the younger generation.
The Sursock mansion, completed in 1912, is an ornate, white wedding cake of a building. It combines Venetian and Ottoman architectural styles. The building is a melange of influences, much like Beirut. Originally the residence of aristocratic art-lover Nicolas Sursock, it was bequeathed to the city on his death in 1952. When it opened as a museum in 1961. The mansion housed exhibitions from artists in the Middle East and around the world, as well as the prestigious Salon d’Automne for local figures. It’s finally open again after 8 years of renovation and a 12 million$ lift.
Like most Mediterranean countries, much of what we eat is dictated by the seasons. Lebanese recipes are a rich mixture of a variety of ingredients that come from all the regions. It is known that each area has its special dishes that reflects the culture of the area.
Mezze, is an array of small dishes placed before the guests creating an array of colors, flavors, textures and aromas. This style of serving food brings people together over a table where they share dishes, ask for plates to be passed on. Discussions, jokes, and heated conversations fall in between “oh but you should try this.” It’s a reflection of the social pleasure that Lebanese get out of food.
The park, which accounts for 72% of all green space in Beirut, started off as a pine forest planted by Emir Fakhr Edin II in the 17th century. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, during the country’s 15-year-long civil war, the park was heavily damaged, with many of its trees burned and destroyed. It’s been closed for the general public for the last 25 years. Thanks to the amazing effort of an NGO called Nahnoo, it’s now open every Saturday.
A more sensitive issue behind the park’s closing is its precarious location directly between Sunni, Shia and Christian neighborhoods known as flashpoints for sectarian conflict.
Enfeh is the only town along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to be carved out of its rocky surroundings. Some of the carvings go all the way back to the Phoenician period, and possibly earlier.
Along the length of its bay, the salt marshes add a typically pretty note to the landscape, especially with the traditional wind wheel which pumps seawater. The production of sea salt is a staple of its local economy, dubbed the “white gold.” Ancient tablets dating from 1400BC describe the superior quality of its salt.
Beirut… How do I start?
Beirut’s name is derived from the Canaanite name of Beʾerōt (Wells), referring to the underground water source that is still tapped by its inhabitants (note the modern irony). It is a city of baffling contradictions blending the cosmopolitan with the provincial.
Beirut is a collage of high-rise buildings, modern buildings, walk-up apartments, traditional four-story houses, beautiful dilapidated 2 story houses with red roofs, and run down buildings.