Beautiful Beirut

A former Beirut resident returns to the Lebanese city to find a vibrant and emerging tourist destination, but with many of the quirks of a developing country.
November 12, 2009, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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"It's beautiful, Beirut, beautiful and ugly and pock-marked and damaged and glamorous and unstable and exciting and just a bit mentally unhinged. It's the Elizabeth Taylor of the Mediterranean. Or it would be if you replaced the words "alcohol" with "Israel" and "a string of unsuitable marriages" with "15 years of civil war".

And like a hardened celebrity hack, I've learnt the hard way not to be taken in by its appearance. Because Beirut is back. Again. It's having a moment. Another one. There are two spanking new hotels – Le Gray, a sister hotel to the feted One Aldwych in London and Carlisle Bay in Antigua, has just opened; and that seal of international luxury approval, a Four Seasons, is opening soon. What's more, this year the New York Times nominated it its number one destination in the world."

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Published on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 in The Guardian
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