July 02, 2015

Zaitunay Bay, Beirut

Zaitunay Bay, Beirut

Source: Shutterstock

Yes, they have problems, but did we not live with the IRA? Did we not have the London bombings? You can argue why they happened, but they happened. That’s life, things happen. And so much is happening in Beirut, from loud fashion shows on yachts to the quiet fisherman on the Corniche. There’s nothing to fear, just fear itself. It keeps you ignorant. Fear of the Arabs is probably racist and definitely stupid. Is it dangerous? Sitting on top of Le Gray at night, you’d never think so. If you ask these people if it’s dangerous, they’ll pass you another martini. It’s a fragile peace, the students around the American University warn me. Isn’t everywhere? Did we not have the London riots, where people were burned out of their homes?

It might be that saying it’s dangerous all the time fills the pockets of the freelance journalist who’s come here looking for war, and they’ll have plenty to write, but what about the peace? Yes, there are soldiers on the streets. I’m comfortable with that. A soldier is a trained person with a weapon, wearing a uniform with the flag of the country they will defend on it. There is peace. Kids wander far from parents, old men wrestle and push each other into the sea, women sit smoking and watching the Med as history happens over the border. Those in the know are already here. On the way back to my hotel after that first day I picked up fruit from a market. This is what mangoes are meant to taste like. The Lebanese students call the rich Arabs the “€œGulfies”€ and say they’re responsible for moving people out of their homes to build a luxury destination. It is beautiful what they’ve built, though. A contrast to the slums in the south where the wars with Israel have kept it poor, but here in Beirut you can believe in something new.


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