Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fairuz...

... and who doesnt know the 'legendary' Fairouz??

Born Nouhad Wadi Haddad and raised in Lebanon, Fairuz began her musical career as a teenager. From chorus girl at the Lebanese radio station in the late 1940s, to critical and popular acclaim from the 1950's to today, Fairuz is acknowledged not only for her musical talent and contribution, but also as a cultural and political icon. A symbol of a people, a heritage, a quest for peace, and of humanity.

During most of her career, Fairuz reflected two other great artists, Assi (her husband) and Mansour Rahbani. They wrote the lyrics and composed her tunes. Today, many of her songs reflect the composing talent of Ziad Rahbani who is Fairuz's son. Her songs testify to the Rahbani musical genius, as well as to Fairuz's broad musical background.

Fairuz is worshiped by millions worldwide. She is routinely received by kings, presidents, and illustrious dignitaries. Unlike any other artist, Fairuz holds the key to almost every city where she has performed, given to her as a symbolic gesture of appreciation and recognition. Though she never sang in the holy city, the key to Jerusalem presented to her during a private visit with her father is among her most prized possessions.

In recognizing Fairuz, which means “gem”, American poet Andrew Oerke says this of heaven’s gift to humanity:

“The land of the prophets formed a river in
your throat. You cannot help it, you were
found in a church. Fairuz, you are a cloud,
I know for I have floated in your song.
I could see the rain, at first I thought it was
tears, but it was thirst creating its own answer
in a mist of hope for the land you sing.
Your secret is that the moon constantly
melts and reconstitutes in your voice.
Your secret is the Source that populates
you with the spirit of the people.
Your curtains dance with the wind through
the flutes whose drapes are woven from
grass and under the trudge of Jesus’ feet,
and you sleep well on angels’ hair.”

In Mel Gibson controversial movie, "The Passion of the Christ", the crossifex sound track is a Byzantine passion that was chanted 25 years ago by Fairuz. (clip of the Greek Orthodox chant sung by Fairuz here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=9QCZc2A1p7Y&feature=related)

http://fairuzonline.com/

Lebanon is a great destination for...

In addition to Scuba Diving, Lebanon is a great destination for skiing/ snowboarding, hiking, rafting, snow-shoeing, mountain biking, camping, etc...

Such excursions are organizing frequently by specialized companies, for example:
Vamos Todos: http://www.vamos-todos.com/
Esprit Nomade: http://www.esprit-nomade.com/
SkiLeb: http://www.skileb.com/; http://www.skileb.com/lebanon/rafting/
Lebanese Adventure: http://www.lebanese-adventure.com/

You Have Your Lebanon and I Have My Lebanon (by Gebran Khalil Gebran)

You Have Your Lebanon and I Have My Lebanon
by Gebran Khalil Gebran
(written after the first World War, in the 1920's)

You have your Lebanon and its dilemma. I have my Lebanon and its beauty. Your Lebanon is an arena for men from the West and men from the East.

My Lebanon is a flock of birds fluttering in the early morning as shepherds lead their sheep into the meadow and rising in the evening as farmers return from their fields and vineyards.

You have your Lebanon and its people. I have my Lebanon and its people.

Yours are those whose souls were born in the hospitals of the West; they are as ship without rudder or sail upon a raging sea.... They are strong and eloquent among themselves but weak and dumb among Europeans.

They are brave, the liberators and the reformers, but only in their own area. But they are cowards, always led backwards by the Europeans. They are those who croak like frogs boasting that they have rid themselves of their ancient, tyrannical enemy, but the truth of the matter is that this tyrannical enemy still hides within their own souls. They are the slaves for whom time had exchanged rusty chains for shiny ones so that they thought themselves free. These are the children of your Lebanon. Is there anyone among them who represents the strength of the towering rocks of Lebanon, the purity of its water or the fragrance of its air? Who among them vouchsafes to say, "When I die I leave my country little better than when I was born"?

Who among them dare to say, "My life was a drop of blood in the veins of Lebanon, a tear in her eyes or a smile upon her lips"?

Those are the children of your Lebanon. They are, in your estimation, great; but insignificant in my estimation.

Let me tell you who are the children of my Lebanon.

They are farmers who would turn the fallow field into garden and grove.

They are the shepherds who lead their flocks through the valleys to be fattened for your table meat and your woolens.

They are the vine-pressers who press the grape to wine and boil it to syrup.

They are the parents who tend the nurseries, the mothers who spin the silken yarn.

They are the husbands who harvest the wheat and the wives who gather the sheaves.

They are the builders, the potters, the weavers and the bell-casters.

They are the poets who pour their souls in new cups.

They are those who migrate with nothing but courage in their hearts and strength in their arms but who return with wealth in their hands and a wreath of glory upon their heads.

They are the victorious wherever they go and loved and respected wherever they settle.

They are the ones born in huts but who died in palaces of learning.

These are the children of Lebanon; they are the lamps that cannot be snuffed by the wind and the salt which remains unspoiled through the ages.

They are the ones who are steadily moving toward perfection, beauty, and truth.

What will remain of your Lebanon after a century? Tell me! Except bragging, lying and stupidity? Do you expect the ages to keep in its memory the traces of deceit and cheating and hypocrisy? Do you think the atmosphere will preserve in its pockets the shadows of death and the stench of graves?

Do you believe life will accept a patched garment for a dress? Verily, I say to you that an olive plant in the hills of Lebanon will outlast all of your deeds and your works; that the wooden plow pulled by the oxen in the crannies of Lebanon is nobler than your dreams and aspirations.

I say to you, while the conscience of time listened to me, that the songs of a maiden collecting herbs in the valleys of Lebanon will outlast all the uttering of the most exalted prattler among you. I say to you that you are achieving nothing. If you knew that you are accomplishing nothing, I would feel sorry for you, but you know it not.

You have your Lebanon and I have my Lebanon.

Gibran Khalil Gibran

Gibran Khalil Gibran:
One of the most recognized Lebanese names world wide!


Born: January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, Lebanon
Died: April 10, 1931 (aged 48), in New York City, United States
Occupation: poet, visual artist, painter, sculptor
Nationality: Lebanese
Genres: poetry, parable, short story
Literary movement: Mahjar, New York Pen League
Notable work(s): The Prophet

He is the third bestselling poet in history after William Shakespeare and Laozi.

Memorials and honors:
Gibran Khalil Gibran Garden, Beirut, Lebanon
Gibran Khalil Gibran Skiing Piste, The Cedars Ski Resort, Lebanon
Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden in Washington, D.C., dedicated in 1990
Gibran Memorial Plaque in Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts
Khalil Gibran International Academy, a public high school in Brooklyn, NY

The Gibran museum in Bsharri, North Lebanon, is maintained by the Lebanese Gibran Committee. It houses his original paintings and personal belongings contributed by his sister, Mary Haskell and Barbara Young following his death. The museum was an old monastery Gibran spoke of retiring in.

His most famous quote, often mistakenly attributed to J.F. Kennedy is:
"Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?"
The New Frontier (1925)

More info here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalil_Gibran

A quick list of famous Lebanese (or of Lebanese descent) people (selected):

A quick list of famous Lebanese (or of Lebanese descent) people (selected):

Designers
Reem Acra - fashion designer
Elie Saab - fashion designer
Zuhail Murad - fashion designer

Business figures, Entrepreneurs
Carlos Slim Helu - World's richest man
Carlos Ghosn - (also known as Carlos Gaune, from the Lebanese "Ghosn" family), Lebanese Brazilian-born CEO and President of Renault and Nissan Motor, nicknamed the "Cost Cutter".
Al-Waleed bin Talal - Saudi Prince whose mother is Lebanese and the daughter of ex Prime Minister Riad as-Solh
Nicolas Hayek - 'Mr. Swatch', Chairman of the Swatch Group, the 'father of Swatch'and the man behind the concept of the Smart Car.
Jacques Nasser - ex-CEO of Ford Motors, born in Lebanon

Film, Theatre, Television, and Radio Personalities
Joseph Barbera & William Hanna - Hanna-Barbera (Lebanese pronunciation: Hannah & Berbere) Creators of the Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Yogi Bear and many other world renowned cartoons
Shannon Elizabeth, (full name Shannon Elizabeth Fadal) actress with roles in American Pie (film) and Scary Movie
Lili Estefan, Cuban American television hostess, (niece of Emilio Estefan; Lebanese ancestry)
Jamie Farr, actor of M*A*S*H fame
Jack Hanna, host of the US hit television series "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures"
Salma Hayek, Mexican actress (Lebanese father and Mexican mother)
Wentworth Miller- television actor; stars in Prison Break
Omar Naim - Director of The Final Cut
Tom Shadyac, motion picture director
Tony Shalhoub, television and film actor
Amy Yasbeck, Lebanese-American film and television actress, widow of actor John Ritter
Vince Vaughn, actor
Nadine Labaki, actress/director

Musicians
Assi Rahbani - Music Composer (Fairouz's husband)
David Yazbeck - Music composer who wrote the lyrics and score for The Full Monty
Emilio Estefan - Husband of Gloria Estefan, Cuban musician/producer (Lebanese parents)
Elias Rahbani - Music Composer (Mansour's youngest brother)
Fairouz, born Nouhad Haddad - singer
Frank Zappa - Former legend in the world of rock - A famous musician that played in a wide variety of music.
Guy Béart - French singer
Gabriel Yared - Academy Award winner (composer for The English patient) and Opera and cinematic music score composer.
Guy Manokian - Classical and Electronic music Composer and Pianist
Herbert Khaury - (Tiny Tim), singer, Ukulele player (Lebanese father)
Karl Wolf - (Karl Abou Samah) Canadian singer, songwriter and producer
K-Maro - Canadian rapper of Lebanese origin
Mika - Pop singer born in Beirut to a Lebanese mother.
Marwan Awad - 2 time Academy Award winner
Massari - Lebanese pop and hip-hop singer who grew up in Canada
Mansour Rahbani - Music composer (Assi's brother)
Matthieu Chedid - Lebanese-French Rock/Blues songwriter and singer
Paul Anka - Pop singer
Paul Jabara - Oscar winning composer for Last Dance from Thank God It's Friday
René Angélil - Music composer and manager. Husband of Celine Dion
Shakira - Colombian singer/songwriter, born Shakira Mebarak Chedid (Lebanese father from Zahle, Colombian mother of Catalan descent).
Soraya - American-Colombian-Lebanese singer/songwriter (Lebanese mother)
Tony Hajjar - At the Drive-In and Sparta drummer
Tiffany - The first teenage singer to have her first two singles both hit number one in the U.S.A
Wadih Safi - Musician and singer
Walid Akel - world acclaimed pianist
Zaki Nassif - musician and singer
Ziad Rahbani - Classical/Blues Music Composer and singer(Assi's and Fairouz's son)

Doctors, Scientists
Sir Michael Atiyah - (Lebanese British father) - mathematician, Fields Medal (1966), Abel Prize (2004)
Elias J. Corey - Chemist, Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1990)
Michael Ellis DeBakey - is a pioneering cardiovascular surgeon and researcher.
Georges Harik - former Director of Googlettes (department of Google Inc). His team was responsible for the product management and strategy efforts surrounding many starting Google initiatives including Gmail, Google Talk, Google Video, Picasa, Orkut, Google Groups and Google Mobile. Harik was also the co-developer of the technology behind AdSense, the first engineering manager of the Google Search Appliance, and the co-author of the original product plan for the AdWords Online system.
George Hatem - (Chinese name: Ma Haide) Lebanese-American physician who became Mao-Zedung's main doctor
Peter Medawar - Nobel Prize Physiology /Medicine 1960 for immune system. Brazilian born. British father Lebanese mother.

Writers & Journalists
Nidal Achkar - poetess
Said Akl - writer, poet, philosopher
George Salim Abi-Esber - Writer and poet (recipient of Lebanese president high order medal)
Dr Edward Alam - writer."Out OF The Shadows And Into Reality",Professor Of Philosophy at Notre Dane University.(Born in Utah , resides in Lebanon).
William Peter Blatty - writer, "The Exorcist"
Gibran Khalil Gibran - poet and writer, "The Prophet"
Elias Khoury - novelist
Amin Maalouf - writer, Prix Goncourt (1993)
Helen Thomas - White House correspondent and Dean of the White House Press Corps, covered eight US Presidents starting with John F. Kennedy in 1961

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lebanese_people

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Club Grappe

For the Lebanese Wine lovers, "Club Grappe" organizes courses and frequent wine tastings as well as weekends and trip to the very vineyards in the Bekaa valley.
Check out their website for events calendar.
Next 1 day trip to vineyards will be Sunday May 11th, i think.

Massaya's 10th anniversary festivities

Massaya Vineyards are organizing a series of 10 events to celebrate their 10th Anniversary... they start on Th. May 1st until Sat. May 10th...

10 days of festivities across the Bekaa, "Back to Bacchus":
Arak Workshop, Arak & wine book signing, Picnic at Massaya's vineyard,
Dinner & Oud recital in the gardens of Massaya Resthouse, Hike and tour of the Roman ruins in Niha Central Bekaa,Open Buffet at Massaya's Vineyard Restaurant, Showcase of 10 vintage Massaya wines at Massaya's Tasting Room, Yoga session in the Bekaa, Traditional Lebanese Dinner & Night at the Palmyra Hotel Baalbeck, Dinner, Oud & Nay recitals and Dabke in the gardens of the Resthouse...

Bookings are a must. Contact Massaya for reservation if interested to take part in any of the above:
+961 8510 135 or +961 3 735 795
services@massaya.com; coordinator@massaya.com
http://www.massaya.com/EventDetails.aspx?ID=93

FYI :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lebanon Educational System

The Lebanese national literacy rate stands at slightly more than 89 percent. Nearly all males (93 percent) are literate. The literacy rate for females stands at 85 percent. Statistics indicate the literacy gender gap is almost non-existent among the very young.

The educational system is based on the French Baccalaureate.

Lebanon has 41 nationally-accredited universities, several of which are internationally recognized.

The American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) were the first Anglophone and the first Francophone universities to open in Lebanon respectively.

The 41 universities, both public and private, largely operate in French, or English.

This is a list of notable universities that are founded in Lebanon:
Académie libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA)
American University of Beirut (AUB)
Antonine University (UPA)
American University College of Technology (AUT)
American University of Science and Technology (AUST)
Arab Open University (AOU)
Business and Computer University College (BCU)
Beirut Arab University (BAU)
Beirut University Online
C&E American University(C&E AU)
Ecole Superieure des Affaires ESA
Global University
Haigazian University
Hariri Canadian University
Islamic University of Lebanon
Al Jinan University
Lebanese American University (LAU)
Lebanese International University (LIU)
Lebanese University (UL) (French)
Manar University of Tripoli (MUT)
Matn University
Middle East University
Notre Dame University - Louaize (NDU)
Université de la Sagesse
Université Saint-Joseph (USJ)
Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK)
University of Balamand
The Near East School of Theology, Beirut
Pigier Business Schools

Little facts about Lebanon:

- We have 42 universities, 40 daily newspapers and over 100 banks
- Beirut was destroyed and rebuilt 7 times (this is why it's compared to the Phoenix)
- Lebanon is the only Asian/African country that doesn't have a desert
- There are 15 rivers in Lebanon (all of them coming from its own mountains)
- The words "Cedar" and "Lebanon" each appear 75 times in the Old Testament
- There's 3.5 Million Lebanese in Lebanon and around 10 Million Lebanese outside of Lebanon
- There are over 350 pubs/clubs in the City of Beirut alone
- People say that the cedars were planted by God's own hands (This is why they're called "The Cedars of God", and this is why Lebanon is called "God's Country on Earth"
- Byblos is the oldest, continuously living city in the world
- The first alphabet was created by Cadmus in Byblos
- The only temple of Jupiter (the main Greek god) is in Baalbeck (The City of the Sun)
- Lebanon's name has been around for 4.000 yrs non- stop (it's the oldest country/ nation's name in the world)
- Lebanon is the country that has the most books written about it
- 70% of the students are in private schools
- There's 1 doctor per 10 people in Lebanon (In Europe & America, there's 1 doctor per 100 people)
- Lebanon has been occupied by over 16 countries: (Egyptians-Hittites-Assyrians - Babylonians- Persians- Alexander the greats Army- the Roman Empire Byzantine- the Arabian Peninsula-The Crusaders- the Ottoman Empire Britain- France- Israel- Syria)
- The 1st law school in the world was built in Lebanon, in Downtown Beirut
- Jesus Christ made his 1st miracle in Lebanon, in Qana (The miracle of turning water into wine)
- The Phoenicians (In Lebanon) built the 1st boat, and they were the first to sail ever

Lebanon's Olive Oil: A Gift from the Ages

Lebanon's Olive Oil: A Gift from the Ages

A proud, important part of Lebanon’s history and culinary tradition is producing the finest quality olive oil from rich and abundant groves of indigenous olive trees. Lebanon's authentic olive oil tradition dates to Phoenician cultivations in the 3rd millennium BC. Today, the artisanal, but sophisticated Lebanese olive oil industry specializes in extracting pure quality extra virgin olive oils from ancient local olive varieties.

Though a small country, Lebanon's diverse topography, microclimates, and olive varieties, produce uniquely flavored olive oils with distinct aromas and tastes catering to the most distinguished palate.

http://www.lebaneseoliveoil.com/

Wine of Lebanon

Wine of Lebanon

Lebanon is one of the oldest sites of wine production in the world. In Baalbeck, the ancient Greek city in the Bekaa Valley, the majority of vines are grown. French influence on the country is apparent in the grape varieties most commonly planted: Cinsaut, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah.

Although today more known of its majestic cedars, Lebanon is blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, and enjoys a burgeoning industry producing award-winning wines for export to a wide Lebanese community now living throughout the world, mainly in the UK, Europe and the United States.

With wine making tradition dating back 5,000 years the Phoenicians, the ancient dwellers of Lebanon, were tending vineyards, making wine and trading with other major cities long before the Greeks and Romans. And it was here that later Jesus changed water into wine, performing his first miracle at the wedding of Cana.

Below are some wine producers in Lebanon:

Chateau Musar
Chateau Ksara
Chateau Kefraya
Domaine Wardy
Vin Héritage
Chateau Faqra
Chateau Nakad
Massaya
Domaine des Tourelles
Clos Saint Thomas
Cave Kouroum
Cloas de Cana
Nabise Mont Liban
Enotica
Chateau Khoury
Couvent St. Sauveur

http://www.lebwine.com/

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lebanon Festivals

Several musical and cultural festivals that take place in Lebanon mostly during the Summer season:

Byblos festival:
Byblos is one of the oldest continually inhabited towns in the world. The "Byblos Festival Village" incarnates ambition, creativity and dynamism. The Festival pursued its development based upon its success(in regard to the quality and quantity of audience), while consecrating a significant part to innovation.
http://www.byblosfestival.org

Baalback International festival:
Baalbeck "Heliopolis", the City of the Sun, is considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. The Baalbeck International Festival is the oldest and most prestigious event in the Middle East. The Festival is an annual event which takes place in the Roman Acropolis during the two months of July and August each year.
http://www.baalbeck.org.lb/

Beit el Din festival:
Held in a 200-year-old palace in Beiteddine, a little town in the mountainous region of the Chouf, 45 kilometres south-east of Beirut, the festival occurs during the festive summer season (early June ? late August). Built at the beginning of the 19th century by Emir Bechir Chehab II, the Palace was once the headquarters of the moutassarifia and served later as the summer residence of the Lebanese Presidents.
http://www.beiteddine.org

Tyre festival:
Phoenician Tyre was queen of the seas, an island city of unprecedented splendor. The importance of this historical city and its monuments was highlighted in 1979 when UNESCO declared Tyre a world Heritage Site. Tyre Festival hosts folkloric wedding parties, traditional exhibitions, folkloric dancing and modeling, amusement activities, popular theater, competitions... etc.
http://www.tyrefestival.com

Al Bustan festival:
http://www.albustanfestival.com/

Lebanon is a also a prime location when it comes to electronic music:

Tiesto's first gig in lebanon attracted 15,000 people, it was the largest event to take place in the country, second only to late Pavarotti in the early nineties : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFZithsr3Ok

Nick Warren at the old train station
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMt2xJA_TwU

the fantastic DJ Sasha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YD0JYj4c-c

Armin Van Buuren
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvemRlH-XT4

Paul Van Dyk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDnFDDyPXsw

Ferry Corsten
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Sd8we0Y14

Danny Howells
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARroh_dfyjI&feature=related

David Guetta
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhmnxTLzyMU

etc...

For more info on the upcoming events, check out the Lebanese trance community website: www.trancehits.com

Discover the Hidden Beauty of the Lebanese Sea: Learn Scuba Diving


Lebanon: a Scuba Diving destination!

Did you know that LEBANON is also a destination for SCUBA DIVING in temperate waters allowing diving year round, in addition for being a winter ski destination with numerous resorts?

Lebanon has many activities to offer to its residents and visiting foreigners such as: trekking, rafting, skiing, sight seeing and hiking, mountain biking, and of course scuba diving.

Dive sites in Lebanon include:

Souffleur Submarine:
This French Vichy government WWII submarine was sunk by the British in 1943. The allied torpedo ripped her hull and left her in two pieces off of Khalde bay on a sandy bottom. The periscope remains at the ready as it was on her fateful day, in addition you will find one of her torpedoes still within its hull and the other faithfully on her side on the sandy bottom. Many types of fish and rays have taken this submarine as a sanctuary.

Alice B (cargo ship):
This is a large cargo ship that sunk under mysterious circumstances during the Lebanese civil war. The wreck is beautifully preserved and is sitting upright. The Alice B starts at 30 meters and bottoms out at 38 meters. A huge hole remains as a reminder of the blast that took out its engine room. Some of the most notable feature of this site is the ships huge mast that extends right up to 18 meters. An array of fish and other marine life have made this ship their home.

The Lesbian:
This is a British freighter facing Beirut port at a depth of 60 meters after being blown by the French Vichy Navy during World War II .

VTB8:
French torpedo supplier sank during world war II. It lies at a depth of 60M with the Torpedos on its deck.

Oil tanker wreck (toro negro):
This is a relatively large oil tanker that ventured within the range of local artillery during the Lebanese civil war. She carried her wounded body close to the shoreline where she sunk her way down to her final sandy resting place. Sitting on her port side she eagerly displays her insides revealing the massive storage areas and the ladders that lead to the depth of her belly. The sandy cradle allows for various wildlife sightings, particularly rays

Military barge wreck:
As the civil war came to a close, all armed factions were supposed to hand over their military gear to the national army. However, and as is often the case in such cases, some preferred to dispose of these equipments in the welcoming ocean rather than the Lebanese army barracks. One of these ocean guests is a WWII military landing craft (barge), which is similar to those used for the D-day landing. She sits in a dreamy pause of sorts her landing door always open as if recapping all of the different wars, men and machines she helped deploy over the years. Only water and wildlife fill her empty holding space, but she does allow you a glimpse into her modest navigation and engine rooms. Always check for the enormous resident stingray usually resting in the passage way of the open landing door.

Batroun wreck:
This cement carrying ship took its captain with her as a penalty for his decision to take her out on a stormy day. The crystal clear waters make for a wonderful and transparent final resting place for this ship. The Batroun wreck is often visible from the surface where she starts peeking out at 35 M. and bottoms out at 40 M giving advanced and technical divers a wonderful look at her.

Aqua Wall:
Having its base at 60 m its head at 5 and spanning over 500 m. the Aqua wall feels like its holding up the shoreline. Its 2 caves and many protruding boulders add to the exotic nature of this beast. This wall is buzzing with an array of fish and other wildlife that use its awesome might for protection these include: jewfish, cornet fish and octopus to name but a few.

Halat Mushroom:
One of the most beautiful natural dive sites in the Halat area. This huge mushroom shaped boulder is flanked by a reef that seemingly extends for ever in both directions. This rocky reef is bustling with a multitude of wildlife forming a complex and diverse ecosystem whose hallmark is the many cracks which define this reef.

(Adra) Stingray Cave:
This one kilometer ledge starts at 30 and drops to about 60 m. Divers begin their journey by visiting the three statues and end their dive at the stingray cave, the home of some resident and very large stingrays. Keep your eyes out however, a variety of fish and turtles often peer out from within this ledge.

AUB wall (Beirut):
This particular site caters to all levels of divers. It starts at about 5 and eases its way down to about 20 where a very steep wall appears to sink into the abyss. Unfortunately visibility is usually at the mercy of the two currents that are always colliding sandwiching Beirut in the middle. This site is occasionally visited.

Shark Point (Beirut):
If you’re interested in sharks this is your spot, particularly August and September when the water is quite warm. The top of this finger like series of reefs starts at 23 m at its shallowest and drops to a little over 60 at its deepest. Shark point features saints statues sunk by divers as homage, a cavern, families of stingrays and best of all small tooth sand tiger sharks which you usually will meet at the fourth reef (shark island)These pregnant females are accustomed to the bubbly critters that visit their summer home, and they almost always come and check you out. Bleeding divers are especially welcome on this dive just kiddin’…

Volcano crater:
One of the most breathtaking dives in the south of the country; this dormant volcano peaks out at 38 and bases itself at 55 meters. Its diameter is 40 m.. we recommend an inclined approach giving you the best site of the inner walls where large fish will look right back at you and the lobsters will scatter. At its bottom large nurse sharks nestle the sand peacefully ending your dive with the gentle rhythm of their gills.

Barbur (Amchit):
Considered to be one of the most exotic dives in the north of the country; Barbur features two tunnels at around 35 meters which leads the divers to a drop of up to 60meters.

Natural Bridge (Amchit):
This is the Lebanese coast’s answer to the Faqra natural bridge. The Mediterranean carved this bridge out using its currents as a chisel; hundreds of years of gentle carving have resulted in this natural engineering miracle. This dive features both the natural bridge and nestled under it is the opening of the tunnel (48 meters).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lebanon is located in the NEAR East (not middle east)

Lebanon is located in the NEAR East (not middle east)
I just want to correct some misconception in that regard:

Just because Lebanon is a major player in the middle eastern game doesn't make it so....

Geographically speaking, the Far East being Thailand, Malaysia, China, India, etc... the Middle East being KSA, Iran, UAE (which by the way, is about 4hrs flight away from Beirut!), etc .. which makes Lebanon in the NEAR East on the Eastern side of the Mediterranean sea ...

Furthermore, Lebanon's climate's sets it appart from other Middle Eastern countries as Lebanon has a Meditarranean climate (obviously) characterized by a long, hot, and dry summer, and cool, rainy winter. Fall is a transitional season with a gradual lowering of temperature and little rain; spring occurs when the winter rains cause the vegetation to revive.

Its governmental system also sets it appart from other countries in the region.

I remember distinctly being taught in school when i was much much younger ;) that Lebanon is in the Near East but its only recently (last 2 decades) that I have been hearing that Lebanon is in the Middle East since its been linked so often to the problems in that area and been used so often as battlefield for whatever is the issue of the moment...

So anyway i googled Near East and according to wikipedia:

"The Near East is a term commonly used by archaeologists, geographers and historians, less commonly by journalists and commentators, to refer to the region encompassing Anatolia (the Asian portion of modern Turkey), the Levant (Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon), Georgia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia (Iraq). The alternative term Middle East—preferred in some political and economic contexts—is not used by Near Eastern archaeologists and historians."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_East

So in the context of "location", my initial description that Lebanon is located on the Mediterranean Sea in the NEAR East (not the middle east) is correct... ;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lebanon-Phoenicia (interesting article)

THE LEBANESE-PHOENICIANS are from Lebanon-Phoenicia and from nowhere else
© by May MURR, translated by Alfred MURR.

Europa, the Phoenician Princess

Europa, the Phoenician Princess
Overwhelmed Zeus with Love

Europa was the beautiful daughter of the Phoenician king of Tyre, Agenor. Zeus, the King of the gods according to Greek mythology, saw Europa as she was gathering flowers by the sea and immediately fell in love with her. Overwhelmed by love for Europa, Zeus transformed himself into the form of a magnificent white bull and appeared in the sea shore where Europa was playing with her maidens. The great bull walked gently over to where Europa stood and knelt at her feet. The appearance and movements of the bull were so gentle that Europa spread flowers about his neck and dared to climb upon his back overcoming her natural fear of the great animal.

But suddenly, the bull rushed over the sea abducting Europa. Only then the bull revealed its true identity and took Europa to the Mediterranean island of Crete. There, Zeus cast off the shape of the white bull, and back into his human form, made Europa his lover beneath a simple cypress tree. Europa became the first queen of Crete and had by Zeus three sons: King Minos of Crete, King Rhadamanthus of the Cyclades Islands, and, according to some legends, Prince Sarpedon of Lycia. She later married the king of Crete, who adopted her sons, and she was worshiped under the name of Hellotis in Crete, where the festival Hellotia was held in her honour. At last, Zeus reproduced the shape of the white bull, used by Zeus to seduce Europa, in the stars. Even today we can recognize its shape in the constellation Taurus. The name Europa was given to one of Jupiter's 16 original moons. Europa is special, because it is one of the few moons in our solar system that may have liquid water.

http://www.phoenicia.org/europa.html

Queen Elissar, a princess of Tyre founded Carthage

Queen Elissar, a princess of Tyre founded Carthage.
Her metropolis rose in its high-noon to be called a "shining city," ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician Punic world.

In the harbor of ancient Tyre in Phoenicia, the fisherman chant "Ela--eee--sa, Ela--eee--sa," as they haul in their nets. They cannot say why; maybe it's for luck, or maybe it's a lament for their princess who left her homeland never to return.

Elissar or Elissa (Elishat, in Phoenician) was a princess of Tyre. She was Jezebel's grandniece — Princess Jezebel of Tyre was Queen of Israel. Her brother, Pygmalion king of Tyre, murdered her husband, the high priest. She escaped tyranny in her country and founded Carthage and thereafter its Phoenician Punic dominions. Carthage became later a great center of the western Mediterranean in its high-noon. One of its most famous sons was Hannibal who defied Rome.

Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, however, following is what one can deduce from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissar was the daughter of King Matten or Muttoial of Tyre (Belus II of classical literature). After his death, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother, Pygmalian. She was married to her uncle Acherbas (Sychaeus of classical literature), High Priest of Melqart and a man of authority and riches like that of a king. Tyrannical Pygmalion, a lover of gold and intrigue, was eager to be acquire the authority and fortune of Acherbas. He assassinated him in the Temple and kept his evil deed a secret for a long time from his sister. He cheated her with fictions about his death. Meanwhile, the people of Tyre were pressing for a single sovereign that caused dissensions within the royal family.

Legend has it that the ghost of Acherbas appeared to Elissar in a dream and told her what had happened to him. Further, he told her where she could find his treasure. Further, he advised her to leave Tyre for fear of her life. Elissar and her supporters seized the treasure of gold. However, because she was threatened and frightened, Elissar decided to trick and flee her brother. Not to awaken her brother's suspicions, she made it known that she wanted to travel and send him offerings. Acherbas approved thinking that Elissar would send him riches. He provided her with ships. During the night, Elissar had her treasures of gold hidden in the hold of the ships and had bags filled with sands laid out onboard, also. Once at sea she had the sand bags thrown overboard, calling that an offering in memory of her murdered husband. The servants feared that loss of the treasure would enrage the king against and they would suffer his reprisal. Consequently, they decided to pay allegiance to Elissar and accompany her on a voyage. Elissar's supports, as well as additional senators and priests of Melqart joined the group. Consequently, they left the country in secret, leaving behind their homeland forever. They traveled first to the island of Cyprus to get supplies for a longer journey. There, twenty virgins who were devoted to serve in the Temple of Ashtarte (Venus) as vestal virgins, renounced their vows, and married in the Tyrinian entourage that accompanied the princess. Thereafter, Elissar and her company, "the vagrants" faced the open sea in search for a new place to settle.

Very early in ancient history, Phoenician sailors had visited the far corners of the Mediterranean sea and established commercial relations with the local people. Sidonian Phoenicians had established trading posts in the 16th century B.C. at Utica which is relatively close to where Carthage was later to be established. Their main objective was commercial to compete with their Tyrinian Phoenician brothers who had a colony at Utica. Archaeological evidence of the early settlements have been found. The position of Utica towards Carthage was precisely that of Sidon towards Tyre. It was the more ancient city of the two, and it preserved a certain kind of position without actual power. Carthage and Utica competed, like Tyre and Sidon and they were at one time always spoken of together.

Elissar and her Tyrinian entourage, including her priests and temple maidens of Ashtarte, crossed the length of the Mediterranean in several ships and settled the shores of what's today modern Tunisia. Her expedition came and negotiated with the local inhabitants on purchasing a piece of land. Sailing into the Gulf of Tunis she spied a headland that would be the perfect spot for a city and chose the very site called Cambe or Caccabe which was an ancient Sidonian Phoenician trading post. However, some records indicate that the goddess Tanit (Juno in Latin) indicated the spot were to found the city. The natives there weren't too happy about the newcomers, but Elissar was able to make a deal with their king Japon: she promised him a fair amount of money and rent for many years for as much land as she could mark out with a bull's skin.

The king thought he was getting the better end of the deal, but he soon noticed that the woman he was dealing with was smarter than he had expected. This purchase contained some intrigue while the size of the land was thought not to exceed a "Bull's Hide," it actually was a lot larger then ever thought. The trick she and her expedition employed was that they cutup a bull's hide into very thin which they sewed together into one long string. Then they took the seashore as one edge for the piece of land and laid the skin into a half-circle. Consequently, Elissar and her company got a much bigger piece of land than the king had thought possible. The Carthaginians continued to pay rent for the land until the 6th century BC. That hilltop today is called the "Byrsa." Byrsa means "ox hide." However, there is some confusion over the word; some believe that it refers to the Phoenician word borsa which means citadel or fortress. King Japon was very impressed by Elissar's great mathematical talents and asked her to marry him. She refused, so he had a huge university built, hoping to find another young lady with similar talents instead. On that "carved" site, Elissar and her colonial entourage founded a new city ca. 814 BC.3 They called it 'Qart-Haddasht' (Carthage) which comes from two Phoenician words that mean 'New Land." In memory of their Tyrinian origin, the people of Carthage paid an annual tribute to the temple of Melqart of Tyre in Phoenicia.

The city of Carthage slowly gained its independence from Tyre though it was initially controlled by its own magistrates carrying the title of suffetes It kept close links with Tyre, the metropolis, until 332 BC. The colonization of Carthage, and thereafter, the territories around the western Mediterranean were a very successful endeavor that gave rise to the powerful Phoenician Punic dominions. A western Mediterranean Phoenicians become known as Carthaginians. Later, Punic, a name used by the Romans to refer to western Mediterranean Phoenicians, was applied to all Carthaginians and the 300 city states and lands they came to occupy. The Carthaginian were very captivated with their queen and many believe that she was thought to be a goddess who came to be known Tanit.

http://www.phoenicia.org/elissardidobio.html

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rachana

Rachana’s name is derived from the Phoenician language, meaning “the small peak.” In the middle of the 20th century, Rachana’s name gained significance in the field of arts when the Basbous brothers (Michel, Alfred, and Youssef) spread their sculptures all over the town, transforming it into an open air museum. This talent was passed on to the second generation of Basbous family, who preserved the family’s art school.

In 1994, the brothers Alfred and Youssef Basbous hosted the “International Sculptor Atelier” in Rachana, through which a number of international sculptors of different nationalities left their works in the village. This event still takes place during the month of August of each year, and new sculptures are added every year alongside the sculptures of the Basbous family. As a result of this active sculpture project, Rachana has been named the “International Capital of Sculpture in Open Air” by UNESCO.

http://www.lebanon-hotels.com/tourism/RACHANA/

Nahr el kaleb

Nahr el kaleb : Or the history of lebanon carved in stones: Since 1920 B.C. when Ramses II invaded lebanon till the departure of the last foreign troops in 1946, all invaders have left a stella (greeks, romans, assyrians, etc…) mentioning their stay in lebanon.

http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=135

Ksara

Ksara: Built during the Roman period then covered by sand for centuries, the Ksara caves were found by mistake in 1898 by the Jesuits who were looking for a wolf that was eating their chickens every night and was using the caves as a refuge. It served during the first world war as a refuge for the young Lebanese Men who did not want to be enrolled in the Ottoman army. It is now the refuge of the well known Ksara wine where thousands of the old wine bottles are preserved.

A tasting of the best wines is done during the visit.

http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=134

Zahle

Zahle: A red-roofed town set among the eastern foothills of Mount Sannine, Zahle enjoys a prime location in the Beqaa valley. Snowcapped mountains tower above it in winter, while in summer its 945 meter elevation keeps the air light and dry. The city center spreads along both banks of the Bardouni River, with the older section of town on the upper elevations of the west bank and the shopping district on the east bank. At the northern end of town is the Bardouni river valley known as Wadi El-Arayesh (Grape Vine Valley) – the site of Zahle's famous outdoor restaurants. Zahle styles itself "The City of Wine and Poetry", and with good reason. In this century alone some 50 poets and writers were born here and almost as many excellent wines and araks have been produced in the area. The romance of wine and poetry is balanced by Zahle's more businesslike position as the administrative and commercial capital of the Beqaa valley (42.27% of Lebanon's territory) as well as its rank as the country's third largest city (population 150,000). Zahle is also an agricultural town which produces vegetables, fruit, grains and most importantly, grapes.

Tucked away from Lebanon's busy coastal centers, the people of Zahle have developed their own brand of individualism and way of doing things. Even their spoken Arabic has a particular flair. The city's reputation for intellectual vigor comes from a long line of writers, thinkers and poets who have contributed to Lebanon's cultural and political scene.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/zahle.html

Harissa, Our Lady of Lebanon.

Harissa, Our Lady of Lebanon: The Harissa Hill is situated at a distance of 25 kilometers from Beirut, and at a 600m altitude in the heart of Kesrwan. On the hillside, there is Bkerké the Patriarchal Maronite see in Lebanon; at the top, the convent of the Paulist Greek Melkite Catholic Fathers; and at a distance of some meters the summer see of the Apostolic Nuntio in Lebanon, and just near there a convent for the Franciscan Fathers; far from there, the convent of Charfeh, the see of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate and on the hill of Bzoummar the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. It is not surprising then, that the attention was drawn towards the hill, which over looks one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, to set up there a sanctuary vowed to the Virgin, the Queen of Lebanon.

In fact, When the Patriarach Elias Hoyek and Mgr Carlos Duval, the Apostolic Delegate in Lebanon, decided to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Immaculate Conception dogma declared on the 8th of December 1854, they both formed the project of setting up a statue of the Virgin on the hill of Harissa.

The statue was made in Lyon; it is of bronze covered with white paint and of 8 meters and a half long. The statue arrived to Beirut in 1906 on board of a big ship. The construction of the sanctuary was finished on the third of May 1908, with the tower-piedestal of 20meters high. On that day, the virgin was proclamed Sovereign of the mountains and seas, and Queen of Lebanon. It is the most visited sanctuary in Lebanon, and many come walking from far away. The processions to Harissa increase during the month of May, the month of Mary.

http://www.harissa.info/

Jounieh

Jounieh: 18 km north of Beirut is Jounieh; the playground of the Middle East as described by "The Washington Post" few years ago. Jounieh offers some of the best of Lebanon in the following categories: Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, Theaters, Cinemas, Nightclubs, Super-Shows, Cabarets, Chalets, Sports Clubs, Beach Clubs, Amusement Centers, Art Galleries, etc. Beautifully located on the majestic Bay of Jounieh on the sea coast of the Mediterranean. This is the city of ancient civilizations and a modern business center for the today visionary entrepreneur.

This city still retains some of the charm of yesterday in the old stone souq area near ferry terminal. The area-known as "Old Jounieh" has recently undergone an overhaul and there are outdoor cafes and restaurants mixed among boutiques, artisan shops, banks, supermarkets, hotels of all categories.

As soon as the sun sets, the daytime charm turns into night-time glitz.
Jounieh can satisfy your palette and sense of adventure. The area is crowded with fun seekers every night of the week and packed on weekends. The jewel of the area is perched atop a cliff overlooking the bay: the Casino Du Liban. The famed Casino, once on the itinerary of the international jet-set in the 60's and 70's reopened recently after a complete post-war rehabilitation.

Greeting sea fares to the Port of Jounieh is Our Lady of Harissa, a white-washed statue towering above the area from its 600 meter high mountain perch. The Basilica and statue are accessible from Jounieh via the Telepherique (suspended cable car), which is open all year round. During the summer season, a night time ascent and descent gives you a remarkable sparkling view of the Jounieh and bay area. During the spring and early summer months, you can leave a balmy sunny day along the cost and arrive at a fog enshrouded terminal building on the top. The mountain terminal features a gift shop and restaurant. Before entering Jounieh on the road from Beirut, you cross the Dog River or Lycos of the ancients. Here on the rock face are a series of carved reliefs recording the passage of numerous ancient armies and rulers, among them Ramses II of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the Roman emperor Caracalla.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/jounieh.html

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Anjar

Anjar is 58 km east of Beirut, a completely different from any other archaeological experience you'll have in Lebanon. At other historical sites in the country, different epochs and civilization are superimposed one on top of the other Anjar is exclusively one period, the Umayyad.

Anjar was built in the neighborhood of an ancient stronghold called Gerrha by Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid bin AbdulMalek in the early 8th century. Today the name of Gerrha is retained in the word Anjar which simply means "Source of Gerrha" (Ayn Gerrha).

It was once a commercial center on the caravan route as well as summer and hunting resort for the Umayyad dynasty. Inside the city's strong fortifications the remains of streets, three palaces, souqs (bazaars), two hammams (public baths) and a mosque. The walls of the Caliph's Great Palace are still largely intact, with clues to the former presence of forty towers. There are indications that there may once been a Roman castle on the hill as there are traces of fluted columns, formerly engaged to the walls, with niches between intended to hold statues.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/anjar.html

15 years of hiding in the toilets

15 years of hiding in the toilets

Beirut : Workers place porcelain toilets in a field in central Beirut on April 11 2008 for a display marking thirty-three years since the outbreak of a war in 1975 that devastated Lebanon for 15 years. The Lebanese Association for Human Rights organized a number of events, including this display of 600 toilets in an open field in the centre of Beirut entitled "Haven't 15 years of hiding in the toilets been enough?" Lebanon's Civil war started on April 13 1975 and ended with in 1990, leaving more than 150,000 people dead.

Photo by: AFP PHOTO/RAMZI HAIDAR


http://www.iloubnan.info/

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tripoli

Tripoli, 85 kilometers north of Beirut, has a special character all its own. Thanks to its historical wealth, relaxed lifestyle and thriving business climate. This is a city where modern and medieval blend easily into a lively and hospitable metropolis. Known as the capital of the North, Tripoli is Lebanon's second largest city.

Tripoli was founded by the Phoenicians in 800 BC and was named Athar, during the Persian era it became the center of Sidon, Tyre and Arados Island (Arwad in Syria) confederation, where Phoenicians met to debate their important affairs, thus became known as Tripoli or "the three cities". The city flourished under Muslims as many of its principal monuments goes back to the Islamic times such as the Great Mosque and the Mosque of Taynal (built with elements from ancient and Crusader monuments), madrassas (theological schools), khans (caravansary), souqs (bazaars), and the famous Assiba Tower which was built by Mamluks in the 15th BC.

45 buildings in the city, many dating from the 14th century, have been registered as historical sites. Twelve mosques from Mamluk and Ottoman times have survived along with an equal number of madrassas. Secular buildings include hammams (public baths), which followed the classical pattern of Roman-Byzantine baths and the khan. The souqs, together with the khans, form an agglomeration of various trades where tailors, jewelers, perfume-makers, tanners and soap-makers work in surroundings that have changed very little over the last 500 years. Towering above the Abu-Ali River nearby stands the Fortress of Saint Gilles (Sinjil), built by Raymond de St. Gilles on Mount Pelerin in the early 12th BC and which was since remade and enlarged by the Mamluks and Ottomans.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/tripoli.html

Phoenician Encyclopedia

Phoenician Encyclopedia: A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia and the Phoenicians, Punic, Canaanites

http://www.phoenicia.org/

The largest, comprehensive comilation of studies about the Phoenicians, Punic, Canaanites.

Philosopher Zeno's epitaph:
"Is it not enough for you to be proud that you have come from Phoenicia?"

Proud of our heritage :)))))

Tyre

Tyre: Phoenician Tyre was Queen of the Seas, an island city of unprecedented splendor. It grew wealthy from its far-reaching colonies and its industries of purple-dyed textiles. But it also attracted the attention of jealous conquerors, among them the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.

It was founded at the start of the third millennium BC. Tyre originally consisted of a mainland settlement and a modest island city that lay a short distance offshore. But it was not until the first millennium BC that the city experienced its golden age. In the 10th century BC, King of Tyre, Ahiram, joined two islets by landfill. Later he extended the city further by reclaiming a considerable area from the sea and built two ports and a temple to Melkart, the city's god. Phoenician expansion began about 815 BC when traders from Tyre founded Carthage in North Africa. Eventually its colonies spread around the Mediterranean and Atlantic, bringing to the city a flourishing maritime trade.

Recent excavations have uncovered Crusader, Arab, Byzantine and Greco-Roman remains, but the city that has come to light is the Roman and Byzantine settlement. The loveliest relic is a reconstructed Triumphal Arch. A Necropolis situated on both sides of a long avenue is most impressive, and the Great Hippodrome for chariot racing is remarkable in that it was built of stone while most others were built of brick. Also in Tyre is the Tomb of King Ahiram (970-936 BC), contemporary of King David (pbuh), who sent cedar wood and craftsmen to build King Solomon's temple (pbuh) in Jerusalem.

Although the earliest origins of Tyre are unknown, the testimonies of ancient historians and some archeological evidence suggest that it goes back to the start of the 3rd millennium B.C.

But the city's wealth attracted enemies. In the sixth century B.C. the Tyrians successfully defied Nebuchadnezzar for 13 years. Alexander the Great laid siege to it for 7 months, finally overwhelming the island city by constructing a great causeway from the shore to the island. In their day the Romans built a magnificent city at Tyre. The remains of its Roman streets, arcades and public buildings, including one of the largest hippodromes of the period, are Tyre's major attractions today. Occupied by the Moslem Arabs in 636, then captured in 1124 by the Crusaders, Tyre was an important fortified town of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1291 the Mamlukes took the city, then during the 400-year Ottoman period beginning in 1516, it remained a quiet fishing town.

In 1984 Tyre's important archeological remains prompted UNESCO to make the town a world heritage site. Located 79 km from Beirut, prosperous Tyre is notable for its many high-rise buildings. Nevertheless, the inner city has retained its industrious maritime character and its interesting old-style houses.

http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=139
http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/tyre.html

The Cedars

The Cedars: 120 km north east of Beirut, known to the Lebanese as Arz Errab (the Cedars of the Lord). Cedars are among the last survivors of the immense forests that lay across Mount Lebanon in ancient times. The most famous Cedars are in Bsharreh region where about 375 trees, some between 1200 and 2000 years old, stand on slopes 1950 meters high in the shadow of the 3088 meters peak of Qornet Essawda (the highest in Lebanon).

The citizens of ancient Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon used "cedrus libani" to build houses and fashion masts for their ships. From Lebanon's cedar forests, King Solomon (pbuh) got the timber to build his temple and palace in Jerusalem, while the Egyptian Pharaohs used the wood to carve their sarcophagi and sun-ships. Also, Phoenicians and Greeks used its wood through the centuries in their homes, temples, sarcophagi, and galleys.

The village of the Cedars, over 2000 meters in altitude, is a very picturesque ski resort with hotels, chalets and sky lifts.

The Cedars resort is set in an area of unusual natural and historical interest. In only 30 minutes you can drive from the crest of the mountain, which soars nearly 3000 meters above the resort, down to the bottom of the steep-sided Qadisha Grotto; a natural cavern with stalactites and stalagmites formations, at less than 1000 meters. Within this area are rivers, springs, waterfalls, caves and other natural formations as well as rock-cut churches, monasteries and interesting villages to visit. There is always the promise of a friendly welcome from the hospitable people who live there.

Nowadays, the Cedars tree; majestic and indestructible, is the emblem of Lebanon and adorns its flag.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/cedars.html

Sidon

Sidon: 43 km south of Beirut, lies the third great Phoenician city-state which experienced its golden age during the Persian era between end of the 6th century BC and mid of 4th century BC. Sidon; ancient Sidouna, one of the famous names in ancient history, was an open city with many cultural influences, including the Egyptian Pharaohs and the Greeks. During the Persian period, Aegean sculptors contributed to the nearby temple of Eshmoun; the city's god, which was associated with the Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing.

The Crusader period (1110-1291 AD) brought Sidon new prestige, as second of four baronies of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Today you can enjoy visiting the ruins of the fortress church known as the Castle of the Sea which was erected by the Crusading Knights of St. John, and the Shell of the Castle of St. Louis (the Land Castle) which sits atop the Phoenician Acropolis near Murex hill, so named after the Murex shell from which the famous Phoenician purple dye extracted.

In the old town, more recent Mamluk and Ottoman buildings worth a visit such as Soap Caravansary (Khan Assabun), Franks Caravansary (Khan El-Franj) built by Emir Fakhreddin II, and the Great Mosque above Egyptian Pharaohs harbor which still retains the 13th century BC walls of the Castle of the Sea.

The third great Phoenician city-state, Sidon's origins are lost from memory. The name was mentioned in the texts for the first time in the 14th century B.C. in the 'Tell El Amara Letters'. But it was during the Persian era, between the end of the 6th century B.C. and the mid-4th century B.C. that the city experienced its golden age.

After its revolt against the Persians and destructions in 351 B.C., Sidon never regained its former glory. But the city's position had improved by 551 A.D., when after the disastrous earthquake of that year it was chosen as the site of Beirut law school. From the Mamluke and Ottoman periods we have the Great Mosque, built on the foundations of a Crusader building and the Khan 'el – Franj". Today the town has grown into a thriving commercial and business centre serving the entire region.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/sidon.html
http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=138

Eshmoun

Eshmoun: The Temple of Eshmoun, less than an hour from Beirut, is situated one kilometer from Sidon in a lush valley of citrus groves on the Awwali River. The site is known locally as "Bustan Esheikh". Whether you visit in spring when the air is fragrant with blossoms, or early winter when the fruit is ripe, Eshmoun is special. This Phoenician temple complex, dedicated to the healing god Eshmoun, is the only Phoenician site in Lebanon that has retained more than its foundation stones. Building was begun at the end of the 7th century BC and later additions were made in the following centuries. Thus, many elements near the original temple site were completed long after the Phoenician era, including the Roman period colonnade, mosaics, a nymphaeun, and the foundations of a Byzantine church. All of these buildings testify to the site's lasting importance.

Legend has it that Eshmoun was a young man of Beirut who loved to hunt. The goddess Astarte fell in love with him, but to escape her advances he mutilated himself and died. Not to be outdone, Astarte brought him back to life in the form of a god. It is also said that the village of Qabr Shmoun (Eshmoun's grave), near Beirut, still preserves the memory of the young god's tomb. Known primarily as a god of healing, Eshmoun's death and resurrection also gave him the role of a fertility god who dies and is reborn annually. As the god of healing, Eshmoun was identified with Asklepios, the Greek god of medical art. It is from belief in the healing power of Eshmoun-Asklepios and the snake that we get the sign of the medical profession that is now used worldwide.

Eshmoun, can be included in a visit to Sidon, or made an excursion of its own. Visitors with a sense of curiosity will find that several hours are easily filled exploring this ancient Phoenician spa.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/eshmoun.html

Beit Eddin Palace

Beit Eddin Palace: The road to Beit Eddin leaves the coastal highway 17 kilometers beyond Beirut, just a few kilometers after the town of Damour. From there it climbs quickly along the beautiful Damour river valley for 26 kilometers to an elevation of 850 meters at Beit Eddin palace. The most spectacular view of the palace and its surroundings is from the village of Monastery of the Moon (Deir El-Qamar), five kilometers before Beit Eddin. The Beit Eddin palace complex, Lebanon's best example of early 19th century Lebanese architecture, was built over a thirty year period by Emir Bechir El-Chehab II, who ruled Mount Lebanon for more than half a century.

With its arcades, galleries and rooms decorated by artists from Lebanon, Damascus and Italy, this building is considered a model of eastern architecture. It has decorated ceiling, colorful mosaic floors, luxurious Ottoman baths, numerous glass-studded cupolas, harem suites overlooking the wonderful valley of Deir El-Qamar, a guest house in which the French poet Lamartine once dwelt, water jets and wonderful colonnades. Today the palace houses a museum of feudal weapons, costumes and jewelry as well as an archaeological museum and a museum of Byzantine Mosaics.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/beiteddin.html

Baalbeck

Baalbeck, 85 km north east of Beirut, is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, which can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world. Baalbeck is the embodiment of the superlative. It is one of the world's greatest historical and best preserved Roman sites; the most gigantic, largest and most noble complex of Roman temples ever built, its columns are the taller ever erected, its stones are the largest ever used. Towering high above the Beqaa plain, its monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. Gods worshipped here, in its Acropolis which was constructed between the 1st and 3rd centuries, the Triad of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus (Mercury), were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility.

Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design. In Jupiter Temple, only six of the 54 giant columns that originally surrounded the sanctuary survives today. The temple has an impressive podium and a vast rectangular courtyard where sacrifices were carried out. The sanctuary is reached through a Propylaea (monumental entrance) and hexagonal forecourt. The town of Baalbeck has major remains from Islam times including the Grand Mosque built by Umayyad Caliphs with material borrowed from ancient monuments, and another mosque built in Mamluks time near the spring of Ras El-Ayn.

Over the centuries Baalbeck's monuments suffered from theft, war and earthquakes, as well as from numerous medieval additions. Fortunately, the modern visitor can see the site in something close to its original form thanks to work in the past hundred years by German, French and Lebanese archaeologists.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/baalbeck.html

Jeita Grotto

Jeita: Few caverns in the world approach the magnificent and astonishing wealth of the extent of those of Jeita, as raindrops of more than hundreds thousands years have worked a magic wonder in the limestone of the Mount Lebanon range near the Dog River (Nahr El-Kalb). In these caves and galleries, known to man since Paleolithic times, the action of water has created cathedral-like vaults beneath the wooded hills of Mount Lebanon forming one of the world's most beautiful and astonishing caverns found 20 km north of Beirut. Discovered in 1863 by an American hunter, the caves originally opened in 1958 and became internationally known for the spectacular and sometimes macabre contortions of stalactites and stalagmites, stone curtains and columns. With their fantastic rock formations, the caves have attracted some 10,000 visitors a week since the site was reopened to the public in July 1995.

The caverns is on two levels: the lower caverns is visited by boat over a subterranean lake 623 meters long, while a dry upper gallery can be seen on foot. Geologically, the caves provide a tunnel or escape route for the underground river, which is the principal source of the Dog River. After many years of exploration, speleologists have penetrated about 6910 meters from the entry point of the grotto to the far end of the underground river and about 2130 meters of the upper galleries. In summer you can visit both the upper and lower galleries while enjoying the refreshingly cool temperature inside the caves. The lower section is sometimes closed in winter when the water level is high, but the extensive upper galleries are open all the time.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/jeita.html

Byblos

Byblos, one of the oldest towns in the world goes back at least 7,000 years. The rise and fall of nearly two dozen successive levels of human culture on this site makes it one of the richest archeological areas in the country. Under the domination of the Egyptian pharaohs in the 3rd and 32nd millennia B.C Byblos was a commercial and religious capital of the Phoenician coast.

It was here that the first linear alphabet, ancestor of all modern alphabet, (through Greek and Latin), was invented: the precursor of our modern alphabet which had traveled by the year 800 BC to Greece, changing forever the way man communicated. The sarcophagus of Byblos’ king Ahiram, now in the national museum, bears the oldest known Phoenician inscription. Byblos was also the centre of the Adonis cult, the god of vegetation who dies in winter and was renewed each spring. Like its sister cities, Byblos was destroyed in the earthquake of 551 A.D. It regained some consequence in crusader times when it came under the county of Tripoli. A modest town under the Mamlukes and ottomans, Byblos grew rapidly during the recent war in Lebanon when commercial activities moved from Beirut to regional capitals.

The busy modern town, 36 kilometers north of Beirut, has as its touristic hub the roman medieval port. In this area are the crusader castle and church as well as the extensive remains of city’s past- from Neolithic times to the crusader era. A beautiful mosque adds to the cultural mix in the old part of Byblos. Cafes and restaurants, plus an interesting wax museum can also be visited.

Byblos is one of the top contenders for the "oldest continuously inhabited city" award. According to Phoenician tradition, it was founded by the god El. Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars say the site of Byblos goes back at least 7000 years. It was the Greeks, some time after 1200 BC, who gave the name "Phoenicia", referring to coastal area. And they called the city "Byblos" (Papyrus in Greek), because of the importance of this commercial center in the papyrus trade. Long before Greece and Rome, this ancient town was a powerful, independent city-state with its own kings, culture and flourishing trade. For several thousand years it was called Gubla and later Gebal, while the term Canaan was applied to the coast in general.

The rise and fall of nearly two dozen successive levels of human culture on this site makes it one of the richest archaeological areas in Lebanon. The main places of interest to visit in Byblos are the Castle and church, built by the Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Egyptian temples; the earliest of which dates back to the 4th millennium BC, the Phoenician Royal Necropolis, and the Roman Amphitheater.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/byblos.html
http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=128

Beirut

Beirut, was built on a rocky promontory, a site also occupied by prehistoric man. In ancient times it was overshadowed by more powerful neighbours, but when the city- states of Sidon began to decline in the first millennium B.C, Beirut acquired more influence. It was not until Romans times, when Beirut became a roman colony in about 15 B.C, that it became an important port and cultural centre.

Beirut was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 551 A.D. a century later it was conquered by the Moslem Arabs and in 1109 it fell to the crusaders. The city remained in crusader hands until 1291, when it was taken by the Mamlukes. In 1516 the 400- year ottoman rule began. Later, in the 17th century, Beirut knew a period of great prosperity under the government of emir Fakhreddine II. Then with the break –up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War I, the city became the capital of modern Lebanon. Beirut, with nearly a million inhabitants, remains the cultural and commercial centre of the country. Today the war- ruined city centre is being reconstructed under a 25-year project that envisages a new modern city that will also retain its familiar oriental flavour. Such landmarks as martyrs’ square, the souks and the parliament building, are part of the design, which covers 1.8 million square meters. In extensive archeological investigations, historical periods ranging from Canaanite (3,000- 1200 B.C) to ottoman (1516-1918 A.D) have been revealed.

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, conveys a sense of life and energy that is immediately apparent. This dynamism is echoed by the Capital's geographical position: a great promontory jutting into the blue sea with dramatic mountains rising behind it. A city with a venerable past, 5000 years ago Beirut was a prosperous town on the Canaanite and Phoenician coast. Named Beroth, the city of wells, by the Phoenicians, it is one of the oldest settlements of man as evidenced by relics from prehistoric communities. Beirut entered the most glorious period of its ancient history when was occupied by Romans under the command of Emperor Pompey in 64 BC. In 15 BC it was named Colonia, Julia, Augusta, Felix, then Berythus and acquired the rights of a Roman city-state. What most contributed to its fame, however, was its School of Law which, under Septimus Severus (192-212 AD), excelled the schools of Constantinople and Athens and rivaled that of Rome. The school whose professors helped draft the famous Justinian Code.

http://www.atlastours.net/lebanon/beirut.html
http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=126

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lebanon: Biblical Land of "Milk and Honey"

Lebanon has been called many things such as the "Pearl of the Middle East" and the "Switzerland of the East." Everyone from the East and the West has enjoyed living here, because of the country's natural beauty, pleasant climate, rich culture, open social system, and active financial markets. Lebanon is packed with history, archaeology, natural beauty and a handsome population of fun-loving people whose hospitality and warmth extends the length and breadth of the country.
sites description:

Lebanon Pictures...




































Lebanon as a Holiday Destination!

Hello there!

I have been asked many questions with regard to Lebanon as a holiday destination and i am taking this opportunity to offer a bit of information to interested people:

Lebanon: The biblical “Land of Milk and Honey”
Located on the Mediterranean Sea!! (not in the middle east)
Bordered by Syria and Israel
Land area: 10,452 km2
Population: +4 millions
Subtropical Climate: Temp.: 23-30°C (Aug.), 11-17° C (Jan.)
Winter Ski Destination
The Capital Beirut: The City that Would Not Die
17 Religious Communities
Settlers: 10,000 BC onwards
: -Phoenician, -Assyrians, -Neo-Babylonians, -Persians, -Romain, -province of Syria, -Byzantine Empire, -Umayyad, -Abbasids, -Fatimid Dynasty, -Crusaders, -Ayyubids, -Mamelukes, -Ottoman Empire, -Turkish military rule, -French Rule (1918), -and more recently the Syrian occupation (no politics please!!)

Lebanon is pretty safe at the moment and the beach season is about to start!! ... like for example at Edde Sands: http://www.eddesands.com/

Great nightlife, wonderful touristic sites (Baalbek, Byblos, Jeita, Tyre, Sidon,...), beautiful women and very friendly people! :)

Lebanese people are the same everywhere... what you see in Europe and other countries is what you see in Lebanon: We party, we drink - yes, alcohol ;), we go out to the beach in summer, we ski in winter, we have normal relationships although we are a bit more conservative than Europeans (but close to Italians) and we have a looooooot of friends :) we speak fluently 3 languages (Lebanese, French and English)... We even have a natural wonder which is the Jeita Grotto!!

Party scene includes: Gemmayzeh street where most of the pubs are located in Beirut, Music Hall, Crystal... Also the Batroun area in the north during the summer... Great pubs and clubs all around that last until the early hours of the morning and even better than in Europe if i may say so :) Great food: Lebanese, Japanese, Italian, French, Chinese, Tex-Mex ... :)

Description about our touristic sites can be found here: http://www.nakhal.com/Sub.aspx?pageid=123&PID=119&FPID=1

Ministry of Tourism in Lebanon: http://www.destinationlebanon.gov.lb/eng/index.asp

http://www.iloubnan.info/ for general news info...

I would appreciate if people who already visited my beloved country would come forward to offer their experiences / impressions to others who would like to visit but have apprehensions, misconseptions or fears of doing so... :)
Thanks a lot! :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

kunhadi: an association for youth awareness on road safety

KUNHADI: An association for youth awareness on road safety

http://kunhadi.org/main/

Important Announcement :

On Hady Gebrane’ second memorial date April 16, 2008, a Mass will take place on at 17:30 at St. Antoine de Padou Church, Horch Tabet. A Drink Driving Campaign will be also launched on that day and for two weeks.

Life is Forever Worth Living

I Lost my Life...
Save Yours.


Every Year, an alarming number of young people between 16 and 21 lose their lives behind the steering wheel in an abrupt and tragic crash.

Kunhadi was born in the aftermath of the car accident that cost me my life.

In a courageous move to extricate himself from lamenting over my tragic death, Ralph, a close friend and brethren came up with the sublime idea to create an association to protect the young and help them pass safely the critical age of the younger generations’ greedy want for driving cars.

Kunhadi is Ralph’s mother choice to keep my memory alive and demise useful.
Kunhadi aims at helping the young and restless to drive with awareness and self-control..

Your car is not a travelling Coffin.
Think about your dear ones.
Don’t allow their lives to be shattered.

Be Brave, Drive Carefully.
Hady … from beyond


Kunhadi road safety objectives

The World Health Organization and the World Bank stress that globally road crashes are the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29 years and the third leading cause of death among people aged 30 to 44 years. Road crashes kill 1.2 million people every year and injure or disable between 20 million and 50 million more. Without immediate action to improve road safety, it is estimated that road traffic deaths will increase by 80% in low- and middle- income countries by 2020. A joint report launched by the organizations today demonstrates in no uncertain terms that "Road Safety is no Accident."

"Thousands of people die on the world's roads everyday. We are not talking about random events or accidents. We are talking about road crashes whose risks can be understood and therefore can be prevented," said Dr Lee Jong-Wook, Director-General, World Health Organization. "Road safety is no accident. We have the knowledge to act now.”

We are all road users at some time, whether as drivers, cyclists, pedestrians or passengers. Road Safety is an issue that affects us all. Every week, friends, neighbors, family members or workmates start a journey that they never complete.

My wife and I lost a son, our two daughters a brother and our community has lost someone who was making a valuable contribution. His friends and family decided to establish an association for youth awareness on road safety called Kunhadi.

Kunhadi’s goal is to work on lowering the road car accidents toll in Lebanon.

Better community understanding of road safety issues and solutions is important in achieving our goal. As a community we now have greater awareness and understanding of the factors contributing to road deaths and injuries.

Drink driving should be regarded as socially unacceptable. We need to change people’s attitude to speeding, driving while fatigued and not wearing seat belts to reduce the road toll.

Speeding

Speeding is the greatest contributor to road fatalities, and young drivers are amongst those who suffer most in road accidents. Young drivers continue to be over-represented in accident statistics year after year.

A major road safety issue is speeding. Speeding increases both the likelihood of crash occurring and the severity of injury caused by road crashes. A priority of road safety is to reduce the problem of speeding. If we can prevent motorist from speeding we will dramatically reduce the road toll.

Driving at lower speeds will allow a better chance of either stopping in time to avoid a collision with an object or a person, or will reduce the severity of impact and injury.

When a car hits a pedestrian at 80 km/h there is 85% chance the pedestrian will die. At 50 km/h the chance death drops to 45%.

Drink Driving

Drink driving particularly on week-ends and amongst young drivers, continue to be over-represented in accident statistics year after year.

You don’t have to be drunk to be affected by alcohol. No one drives as well as usual after drinking alcohol, even though some people may look and act as though they are unaffected. Alcohol is a depressant drug that affects most areas of the brain.

As a driver’s blood alcohol concentration rises, the greater are the risks he may take so does the risk of being involved in a crash.

Alcohol:

  1. Slows brain functions so that you can’t respond to situations, make decisions or react quickly.
  2. Reduces your ability to judge how fast you are moving or your distance from other cars, people or objects.
  3. Gives you false confidence – You may take greater risks because you think your driving is better than it really is.
  4. Makes it harder to do more than one thing at a time – while you concentrate on steering, you could miss seeing a red light, cars entering from side streets or pedestrians.
  5. Makes you feel sleepy or fatigued.

Once alcohol has been consumed its effects on driving cannot be reversed. Getting your blood alcohol concentration back to zero takes time and no amount of coffe, food, physical ability or sleep will speed up the process. The only thing that will sober you up once you have stopped drinking alcohol is time.

Seat Belts

Statistics showed that 80% of road deaths were not wearing seatbelts.

The reason for the higher rate of non-use among those killed is because you are much more likely to be killed if you do not wear a seat belt.

Wearing seat belts can save the lives of drivers and passengers.

Driver Fatigue

Fatigue describes the experience of being “sleepy”, “tired” or “exhausted”. Driver fatigue is a factor of fatal crashes.

Driver fatigue can severely impair judgment and can affect anyone.

Most fatigue crashes in Lebanon occur between:
- 3 pm and 5 pm
- 11 pm and 8 am

In order to avoid fatigue crashes, the driver should pull over to the nearest place to rest.
Symptoms on driver fatigue vary among drivers, but may include:

  • yawning
  • poor concentration
  • tired or sore eyes
  • microsleeps
  • having difficulty staying in the lane
  • missing road signs
  • restlessness
  • drowsiness
  • slow reactions
  • feeling irritable

Naharnet Lebanon News

iloubnan.info

Marketing in Lebanon