Monday, March 29, 2010

Tyre: Queen of the Seas!

Phoenician Tyre was queen of the seas,
an island city of unprecedented splendor

She grew wealthy from her far-reaching colonies and her industries of purple-dyed textiles. But she also attracted the attention of jealous conquerors among them the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.

Five Millennia of History

Founded at the start of the third millennium B.C., Tyre originally consisted of a mainland settlement and a modest island city that lay a short distance off shore. But it was not until the first millennium B.C. that the city experienced its golden age.

In the 10th century B.C. Hiram, King of Tyre, joined two islets by landfill. Later he extended the city further by reclaiming a considerable area from the sea. Phoenician expansion began about 815 B.C. 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. But prosperity and power make their own enemies. Early in the sixth century B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, laid siege to the walled city for thirteen years. Tyre stood firm, but it was probable that at this time the residents of the mainland city abandoned it for the safety of the island.

In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great set out to conquer this strategic coastal base in the war between the Greeks and the Persians.Unable to storm the city, he blockaded Tyre for seven months. Again Tyre held on. But the conqueror used the debris of the abandoned mainland city to build a causeway and once within reach of the city walls, Alexander used his siege engines to batter and finally breach the fortifications. It is said that Alexander was so enraged at the Tyrians' defense and the loss of his men that he destroyed half the city. The town's 30,000 residents were massacred or sold into slavery. Tyre and the whole of ancient Syria fell under Roman rule in 64 B.C.. Nonetheless, for some time Tyre continued to mint its own silver coins. The Romans built great important monuments in the city, including an aqueduct, a triumphal arch and the largest hippodrome in antiquity.

Christianity figures in the history of Tyre, whose name is mentioned in the new testament. During the Byzantine era, the Archbishop of Tyre was the primate of all the bishops of Phoenicia. At this time the town witnessed a second golden age as can be seen from the remains of its buildings and the inscriptions in the necropolis. Taken by the Islamic armies in 634, the city offered no resistance and continued to prosper under its new rulers, exporting sugar as well as objects made of pearl and glass.

With the decline of the Abbasid caliphate, Tyre acquired some independence under the dynasty of Banu 'Aqil, vassals of the Egyptian Fatimides. This was a time when Tyre was adorned with fountains and its bazaars were full of all kinds of merchandise, including carpets and jewerly of gold and silver.

Thanks to Tyre's strong fortifications it was able to resist to onslaught of the Crusaders until 1124. After about 180 years of Crusader rule, the Mamlukes retook the city in 1291, then it passed on to the Ottomans at the start of the 16th century.

With the end of the World War I Tyre was integrated into the new nation of Lebanon.

For a period of nearly 50 years the General Directorate of Antiquities excavated in and around Tyre, concentrating on the three major Roman archaeological sites in the town, which can be seen today.

The most important recent archaeological find in a Phoenician cemetery from the first millennium B.C. Discovered in 1991 during clandestine excavations, this is the first cemetery of its kind found in Lebanon. Funerary jars, inscribed steles and jewelry were among the objects retrieved from the site. The importance of this historical city and its monuments was highlighted in 1979 when UNESCO declared Tyre a world Heritage Site. In the meantime, government efforts have stopped much of the wartime pillaging that Tyre's archaeological treasures have suffered because of economic stress in the area and international demand for antiquities. Grassroots campaigns have also drawn attention to the importance of the city's antiquities.

Visiting Tyre's ancient sites 

Area One, located on what was the Phoenician island, is a vast district of civic buildings, colonnades, public baths, mosaic streets and a rectangular arena.

Walk to the beach at the far end of the site. The columns to the left belong to a Palaestra, an area where athletes trained. Other excavated remains on this site date to the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. A short distance from the shore you will see "islands" which are, in fact, the great stone breakwaters and jetties of the ancient Phoenician port, called the "Egyptian port" because it faced south towards Egypt.

Area Two, is a five minute walk to the west. Its major point of interest is a Crusader cathedral. Only the lowest foundations and a few re-erected granite columns remain intact but these are nevertheless impressive. The area below has revealed a network of Romano-Byzantine roads and other installations. Visitors are not allowed inside the site, but the ruins can be viewed from the road.

Area Three, is a thirty minute walk from Areas One and Two and consists of an extensive necropolis, a three-bay monumental arch and one of the largest Roman hippodrome ever found.

All date from the 2nd century A.D. to the 6th. century A.D. The necropolis, excavated in 1962, yielded-hundreds of ornate stone and marble sarcophagi of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Foundations of a Byzantine church can also be seen. The archway stands astride a Roman road that led into the ancient city. Alongside the road are the remains of the aqueduct that assured the city its water supply. Marble sarcophagus 2nd century A.D. South of the necropolis is the partially reconstructed Roman hippodrome excavated in 1967.

The 480-meter structure seated twenty thousand spectators who gathered to watch the death-defying sport of chariot racing. Each end of the course was marked by still existing stone turning posts (metae). Charioteers had to make this circuit seven times. Rounding the metae at top speed was the most dangerous part of the race and often produced spectacular spills.

The walk to Area Three takes you through a residential part of Tyre called Hay Er-Raml or the Quarter of Sand. You are in fact walking on what once was Alexander the great causeway. Accumulating sands and extensive landfill have expanded this old land link to the extent that modern visitors have the impression that Tyre is built on a peninsula.

Tyre Today

Tyre has a colorful souk (covered market) well worth exploring. Look for the Ottoman khan, or inn, just inside the market entrance. On a side street is the "Mamluke House", an Ottoman period residence that is being restored as a cultural heritage and information center by the General Directorate of Antiquities. Also in the souk area is a white, double-domed Shia mosque of great interest. Near the market you will see a busy fisherman's port, in Phoenician times referred to as the "Sidonian" port because it faced north towards Sidon. Walk along the port with the sea on your right and you enter the city's Christian Quarter, a picturesque area of narrow streets, traditional architecture, and the Seat of the Maronite bishop of Tyre and the Holy land. One medieval tower still stands in a small garden. A second one is visible under the little lighthouse. During Crusader times towers similar to these ringed the city.

More information here:,_Lebanon

Our Lady of Mantara - Maghdouche

Our Lady of Mantara, also known in English as Our Lady of Awaiting, is a holy Christian site and a Marian shrine in the village of Maghdouché in Lebanon. The shrine consists of a tower crowned with the statue of the Virgin and Child, a cathedral, a cemetery and a sacred cave believed to be the one where the Virgin Mary rested while she waited for Jesus.

Phoenician Era

Many historians agree that the devotion to the Virgin Mary in Lebanon replaced the Phoenician worship of Astarte. Temples and shrines to Astarte were converted to Christian places of worship, honoring the Virgin. This is also true in Magdhdouché where within the vicinity of Our Lady of Mantara are the remains of a shrine to Astarte.

Byzantine Era

During the reign of Emperor Constantine, his mother, Saint Helena of Constantinople, requested in 324 D.C. the destruction of all pagan temples and idols dedicated to Astarte. The Astarte shrine in Magdhdouché was probably destroyed at that time and converted to a place of devotion to the Holy Mother. Since the early Christian era, the inhabitants of Magdhdouché have venerated the cave where the Virgin Mary rested while she waited for her son, Jesus to finish preaching in Sidon. Saint Helena asked the Bishop of Tyre to consecrate a little chapel at the cave in Magdhdouché. She sent the people of Magdhdouché an icon of the Mother and Child and some altar furnishings. Historians believe that Saint Helena asked the people to name the chapel, and they named it “Our Lady of Mantara” or “Our Lady of the Awaiting” because it was there that the Holy Mother waited for her son. Mantara is derivative of the Semitic root ntr, which means “to wait."

The Arab Conquest

Saint Helena provided funds from the imperial treasury for the maintenance of the chapel. The funding continued for three centuries of Byzantine rule in Phoenicia until Khalid ibn al-Walid defeated Emperor Heraclius at the Battle of the Yarmuk.[3] While the caliphate, Omar, who became ruler of Jerusalem, was a pious and humble man, sparing Christendom's holiest shrines and being tolerant of his Christian subjects, the Arab rulers of the rest of Byzantium were less tolerant of the Christians, especially in the maritime cities of Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Byblos, and Tripoli.[3] After the majority of the Sidonians converted to Islam to receive promised privileges and immunities, the people of Magdhdouché withdrew to higher elevation on Mount Lebanon. The caliphate had recognized the Christians of Mount Lebanon as autonomous communities, paying a fixed tax. Before abandoning their village, they concealed the entrance to the cave of Our Lady of Mantara with stones, earth and vines. The people left the village through obscure mountain paths to the strongholds of Christian Lebanon. The legend of Our Lady of Mantara was passed down to the exiled generations of Magdhdouché for one thousand years.

The Crusades

The people of Magdhdouché did not return to their ancestral home despite the arrival of the Crusaders in Sidon. The Crusaders spent most of the12th and 13th centuries in the shadow of Magdhdouché without ever suspecting the sacred cave’s existence even though they built a small fort, called La Franche Garde, within meters of the hidden entrance to the cave.

Fakhreddin's Lebanon

The people of Magdhdouché only returned to their ancestral village during the reign of Lebanon's greatest ruler, the Druze Prince Fakhreddin II (1572-1635). The prince was the most tolerant and enlightened ruler of his day and age. He believed in equality amongst the diverse religious followers of his Lebanon. To demonstrate this equality, he appointed a Maronite Catholic as Prime Minister, a Muslim as Minister of the Interior, a Druze as Army Commander and a Jew as Finance Minister. His princedom was a rare example of non-sectarianism, and it soon became the most prosperous principality in the Ottoman Empire. Prince Fakhreddin II created an atmosphere of freedom and security that encouraged economical progress. He made treaties with Tuscany, and other Italian states, as well as Spain and France. He opened his ports to foreign trade and welcomed Jesuit missionaries to open educational missions throughout Mount Lebanon. For the first time in a thousand years, the people of Magdhdouché felt that they were safe, and so in 1683, they returned to their ancestral village.

The Rediscovery of the Cave

It was not easy to relocate the sacred cave even though the men of Magdhdouché worked for hundreds of years near the grotto, pulling down the stones of the Crusader fort for building material for their new homes. The cave was finally rediscovered on September 8, 1721 by a young shepherd when one of his goats fell in a well-like opening in the porous limestone. Wanting to save his goat, the shepherd made a rope from vine twigs, tied it to a tree, and descended into the hole, but the rope broke and he fell. When his eyes became accustomed to the darkness of the grotto, the boy saw a soft glimmer of a golden object, which turned out to be Saint Helena’s, icon of the Mother and Child. The boy climbed up the stone walls and ran to the village to tell his discovery.

A Pilgrimage Site

Ever since the rediscovery, the cave of Our Lady of Mantara has been open to the public. It has become a major pilgrimage site in the Lebanon. The adjacent hilltop where Jesus and Mary had once stood is now Sidon's Greek Catholic cemetery. Grand festivities are held each year on September 8 to commemorate the rediscovery of the sacred cave. Near the sacred cave, the people of Magdhdouché built a cathedral and a modern tower crowned with a bronze statue of the Virgin and Child. The tower offers pilgrims panoramic views of Sidon, the Mediterranean, and the lush hills, valleys and citrus groves of Lebanon.

YANA Fundraiser in 10 Days:

We are pleased to present to you the same entertainment program as THE LIBRARY contributed by the artists themselves and mc'ed by Josiane El Zir (OTV, MTV, O Bar):  
  • Habib Alberto - Violonist (The Library)
  • Rabih Baroud - Lebanese Singer (The Library)
  • Georges Chahoud - Entertainer (Phenicia, O Bar)
  • Amine Hachem - Opera Singer (The Library) 
In addition to El Dirwandi Tarab and Oud grou.

By the way, you can see Josiane El Zir and Rabih Baroud tonight on New TV, "2as7ab El Noujoum" program @ 8:45 pm Lebanese time!

Event details:
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

8:30pm – 11:55pm

El Dirwandi – Cafe D’Orient
Ain Mraisseh, facing Palm Beach Hotel
Beirut, Lebanon

The event will also include a Tombola.

Price = 105,000 LL / person only! (70$)
Seated Mezzah Dinner

Friday, March 19, 2010 Le Francais au Liban

Le francais au Liban

Par Médéa Azouri HABIB - Toutes les langues s'approprient des mots appartenant aux autres. Chaque peuple modifie, adapte, récupère un mot, une expression. Les Américains donnent des " Rendez-vous ", les Français aiment la " Dolce vita " et les Libanais... Les Libanais parlent l'anglais, l'italien - en matière d'habillement -, le turc et, bien sûr, le français. Si vous n'avez pas vu les spots publicitaires pour l'événement " La France au Liban ", allez les voir sur la page Facebook de "", ils valent le détour. Parce que l'usage de la langue française par les Libanais est une énigme, une exception culturelle, une espèce de mystère dont même les Libanais ne comprennent pas l'origine. Ces libanismes, ces confusions de sens, ces inversions existent quasiment depuis la nuit des temps... Les plus surpris sont généralement les Français qui entendent pour la première fois la langue de Baudelaire revue et corrigée par une copine, un chauffeur de taxi ou une " tante " assise à la table d'à côté. " Bonjourak ". " Bonjourein ". " Bonsoir, tous les soirs ".

Dès l'entrée, on est prévenu que le menu sera corsé. Les Libanais aiment l'excès, la surenchère. Deux fois bonjour ma chérie parce que tu le vaux bien. Nul besoin de relever tous ces mots français qui sont devenus des mots libanais à part entière, déclinés en verbes, en substantifs ou en adjectifs : " mhastra ", " daprass ", " pannak ", " tmaqyajit ", " cousinté " entre autres, mais surtout le plus répandu, le plus extraordinaire de tous, le fameux " awmar ". Il n'y a que les Libanais pour transformer en action le point mort d'une voiture... Dans ce lexique personnel et propre aux Libanais, on trouve de tout donc. Des traductions littérales de l'arabe, des expressions travesties et des fautes de français que les Français eux-mêmes font parfois. Ce ne sont pas ces dernières les plus sympathiques, ce sont toutes les autres. Les réponses à un " merci "... à vous ! Les " tante " pour les femmes d'une autre génération et le " voyageur ". " Je ne peux pas venir ce soir, j'ai un voyageur. " Formule qui implique un collègue, un ami, un proche ou un patron automatiquement venu de l'étranger. Parce que le monsieur ou la dame a pris l'avion, le train, le bateau ou la voiture pour venir jusqu'à nous. C'est un " voyageur "... hahahahaha. Heureusement qu'on ne dit pas quand on l'invite au restaurant, c'est un mangeur ou quand on " veille " ensemble, c'est un " veilleur ". Parce que le Libanais veille. Il ne sort pas, il veille. D'ailleurs, " où tu pars veiller ? " - comprendre " où sors-tu ce soir ? ". Et il ne " quittera " pas tard parce qu'il a un " voyageur " demain, un " voyageur " qui le " parente " et qu'il " fréquente " depuis " 1980 et 11 ".

D'ailleurs, ils ont rendez-vous à " 10 heures et demi cinq ". Ok, ce sont des fautes ou des traductions du libanais, mais on a le droit d'acheter une " crosse " de cigarettes, de boire son Coca avec un " chalumeau " ou de mâcher son " mastic ". Chacun son truc. Les Libanaises vont chez la " manicuriste ", la même que la femme de celui qui " est descendu aux élections ". On monte et on descend beaucoup au Liban. On " monte de classe ", on " monte à Faraya ", on " descend à Beyrouth ". On " ferme " le téléphone car, " en tout cas ", on se voit tout à l'heure. On est " fâché de lui " parce qu'il " a ri de moi ". On fait du sport " un jour oui, un jour non " avec ses nouvelles " espadrines "... On " demande " une question à une connaissance et on lui dit en fin de conversation lorsqu'on l'a croisée par hasard, " fais-toi voir ". " Ne me dis pas " que tu connais Flén !!! Je te jure, " moi et lui " on était ensemble à l'école et c'est aussi un " ami à " Far7a et Mar7a. Et des comme ça, il y en a des tonnes.

Des fautes d'orthographe sur certaines enseignes, des fautes de sens, de grammaire, de compréhension, on en rencontre tous les jours. C'est ce qui fait le charme de cette langue, si riche et si drôle à la fois. Ces erreurs, ces petites fautes sont touchantes, attendrissantes. Elles sont libanaises, elles font partie de nous et c'est ce qui les rend belles. Nulle part ailleurs qu'ici, au pays de Khalil Gibran, des Cèdres et de Mika, vous entendrez quelqu'un appeler un garçon dans un restaurant : " maître ". Yalla, c'est fini.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

UPDATE: Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) 2nd annual fundraiser

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) will celebrate its 2nd anniversary and present Ms. Josiane El Zir with the honorary title of Y.A.N.A.’s Goodwill Ambassador during its annual fundraising dinner taking place on April 7th at El Dirwandi, Ain el Mraisseh, Beirut starting 08:30pm.

To buy your Fundraiser tickets or deliver your tombola gifts please note the following addresses:

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone): CCUJM bldg, Dekwaneh, St. Joseph str., tel: 01 691 115, ask for Ms. Samar Sleilaty weekdays from 11h to 4h,,  

Captain & Captain: Dbayeh, inner road, tel: 04 542 365, weekdays and Saturdays from 10h to 8h,,  

JO-BA: Al Midan street, Dekwaneh, tel: 03 974 103,  

• Zod Security sarl: Dbayeh highway, tel: 04 543 666, ask for Mrs. Adele Sayegh on weeekdays from 9h to 5h and Saturdays from 9h to 12h,,

Alternatively contact Ms. Jinane Zod on 03 260 885 or

Deadline for tickets purchase: March 31st, 2010.

We are pleased to report that many medias are on board to cover the fundraiser. So far we have confirmations from the following:
- Future TV (3alam el sabah)
- Daily Star
- KazaMaza Youth Magazine
plus all the regular social mags like Special, Layalina, etc...
and tentatively, Nataloo on NTV (again), Sinye Mag and Time Out...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Y.A.N.A. 2nd Annual Fundraiser

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) is pleased to announce that it is organizing its Second Annual Fundraiser Dinner event as follows:

Wednesday, 7 April 10
8:30pm – 11:55pm
El Dirwandi
Cafe D’Orient
Ain Mraisseh, facing Palm Beach Hotel
Beirut, Lebanon

Y.A.N.A. is pleased to present its Goodwill Ambassador, Josiane “JJ” El Zir, as the evening’s MC, with the following entertainment lined-up:
Georges Chahoud, entertainer
Habib Alberto, renowned Violinist
Rabih Baroud, Lebanese singing star
Amine Hachem, Opera singer
• El Dirwandi Tarab group
• Dance parade

The event will also include a Tombola.
Price = 105,000 LL / person only (70$)!
For your tickets or sponsorship please email
Sponsorship can be in terms of gifts for the Tombola or services / goods to make this event a success.

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) for Social Care & Follow-up
C.C.U. Bldg, 2nd floor, St. Joseph str.,
Dekwaneh – Beirut, Lebanon 55205 Sin el Fil
Tel / Fax: +961 1 691 115

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Le Figaro: Quatre jours à Beyrouth, ville nouvelle

by Le Figaro

Un nouveau musée d'art contemporain, le Beyrouth Art Center, vient de voir le jour dans la capitale libanaise, qui renoue avec le tourisme. Loin des clichés voici en quelques incontournables les musts de cette destination en plein devenir.


16h. L'avion de la Middle East Airlines qui opère la liaison Paris Beyrouth en quatre heures avec Air France descend doucement à la verticale de la célèbre corniche de la capitale libanaise. Hérissée de buildings plantés en bord de mer Beyrouth semble au garde à vous !

17h. De gagner la capitale prend une dizaine de minutes au taxi. L'autoroute traverse Beyrouth sud (20E) et le chauffeur signale d'un regard le camp de Sabra et Chatila. Puis c'est l'entrée dans ce centre ville grouillant, agité ou les églises jouxtent les mosquées. A quoi ressemble la rue libanaise du centre ville ? Une Porsche décapotable que conduit un ado tendance, une limousine aux vitres opaques d'où s'extraient un émir cerné de gardes du corps, un vieux car brinquebalant sans fenêtres couverts de drapeau palestiniens… des jeunes filles moulées dans des tee-shirts customisés croisent des femmes voilées… Tout cela se mue dans une ville sous haute surveillance militaire.

17h15. L'hôtel Le Gray a ouvert ses portes il y a un mois sur la place des Martyrs, à côté de la Mosquée Al Amine et du Virgin mégastore. Oeuvre commune de l'architecte australien Kevin Dash et de la styliste anglaise Merry Fax Linton, ce " Small Leading Hôtel of the Word ", très zen et épuré est une référence en matière de bon goût au Moyen Orient. Sur son toit une vraie curiosité : la piscine à débordement donne l'impression de se baigner dans le vide au dessus d'une des plus belles vues sur Beyrouth, ses montagnes et la mer. Au sous-sol un SPA luxueux. L'hôtel possède encore deux restaurants et un cigare lounge. Atout précieux : Le personnel entièrement francophone s'occupe de tout pour vous organiser dans une ville qui ne dispose pas de bureau de tourisme.

19h. La nuit tombe. Dîner au restaurant de l'hôtel sur la terrasse du dernier étage. La cuisine est internationale mais le vin libanais, de la plaine de la Bekaa. Cerise sur le gâteau, un sorbet à l'eau de rose servi sur un tapis de loukoums. Il faut compter environ 30E par pers.


10h. Départ de l'hôtel pour Byblos. La citée mythique des phéniciens, une des plus anciennes villes au monde, est l'excursion à faire. Après une heure de route le long de la mer en taxi (20E. Byblos taxi : On arrive dans ce petit Saint-Tropez libanais avec son port de poupée et sa vieille cité lovée autour d'une forteresse à demi ruinée. Le site est une splendeur détachant sur le bleu azuréen ses énormes pierres blondes rangées comme un Légo. Bonne adresse : Eddé Sands, une plage mythique, véritable complexe de détente à l'oriental avec restaurants, piscine et pagode de plage. (A partir de 30E). L'excursion à Byblos occupe une bonne journée entre shopping, visite de la forteresse, promenade le long de la mer et farniente.

18h. Retour à l'hôtel le Gray et petit moment de détente au SPA.

20h. Dîner au nouveau restaurant italien de l'Hôtel Albergo, un Relais et Châteaux situé dans le quartier Chrétien à une dizaine de minutes de la place des Martyrs. Décor tendance et clientèle jeune et branchée pour cette table située au rez-de-chaussée. Un restaurant plus gastronomique se trouve au dernier étage, jouissant d'une vue superbe. On dîne assis sur des sofas dans un décor très oriental. Dans la brasserie il faut compter environ 30E mais dans le gastronomique l'addition peut monter jusqu'à 50E.


10h. Petit marché bio sur la place de Saifi Village. Chaque communauté vient avec ses produits, son savoir-faire et ses traditions. C'est une fête des couleurs qui met les sens en dessus dessous et qu'adorent les touristes autant que les libanais. L'occasion aussi de découvrir " Saifi Village ", un nouveau quartier de Beyrouth construit à proximité de l'ancienne ligne de démarcation entre l'Est et l'Ouest dans un style de village-médina… très luxueux. C'est là qu'on trouve les boutiques de créateurs dominés par la figure emblématique de Nada Debs. La styliste libanaise réfugiée à Londres durant la guerre a investi deux des plus belles boutiques design et présente ses créations. Sur la place des Boules, au cœur de Safi Village on trouve Balima, un café branché à la terrasse duquel il est tendance de prendre un verre.

12h. Les puces de Basta. Au cœur du quartier musulman sunnite que l'on peut parcourir en toute sécurité sous réserve d'être correcte et de ne pas photographier les gens. Les rues entières sont bordées de boutiques où foisonnent des objets d'art, du mobilier, des tissus et des antiquités… le quartier est pauvre et très authentique. Les prix doivent faire l'objet d'une négociation serrée d'autant plus facile que les libanais sont parfaitement francophones.

13h. Déjeuner A Tawlet, un nouveau restaurant ouvert il y a quelques jours dans un ancien garage situé au beau milieu d'un des quartiers les plus bobos de la ville dont il porte le nom, côté chrétien. La nourriture est bio et chaque jour des recettes libanaises différentes. La clientèle est dominée par les trentenaires qui ont réussi, ou en donne l'impression, à majorité féminine et ultra chic malgré un prix modéré autour de 25E.

15h. Musée National. Il est situé près de l'ambassade de France et tout ce qu'on y voit provient de fouilles archéologiques. Des merveilles protégées durant toute la guerre par des fortifications en béton. Aujourd'hui à nouveau normalement exposé les chefs d'œuvres sont légions à l'exemple du sarcophage d'Ahiram, un roi de Byblos, qui comporte une phrase en alphabet phénicien, considéré comme l'une des plus vieilles inscriptions au monde. (10e siècle avant J-C). Au premier étage des bijoux et des objets d'arts des rois de Byblos. La petite boutique de souvenirs est à visiter car il n'en existe pas d'autres à Beyrouth.

17h. Beyrouth Art Center. Non loin du musée National, le BAC a ouvert ses portes en juin dernier dans une ancienne usine (Très beau volume à la Le Corbusier) et fait office de musée d'art contemporain. Mais l'initiative est privée car au Liban l'Etat s'est désengagé de la culture. Il y a au rez-de chaussée des expositions temporaires et à l'étage deux bornes informatisées qui référencent tous les artistes engagés dans l'Art Contemporain au Moyen-Orient avec fiches biographiques et monographies. C'est très intéressant.

22h. Gemmayzé. C'est le nom d'une rue qui prend sur la place des Martyrs côté Beyrouth Chrétien, véritable épine dorsale du quartier branché ou se fait la vie nocturne. Les beyrouthins, toutes communautés confondues, s'y mélangent dans une ambiance festive très arrosée. Il y a des restaurants et des bars au touche-touche. Le Georges est au début de la rue une très bonne table et le bar El Gardel à la fin de la rue réputée pour ses soirées tango. Dans la rue Monod, voisine, on trouve les boites de nuits estudiantines.


10h. Avant de quitter l'hôtel Le Gray, vous disposez de 3 bonnes heures pour visiter le centre alentour. Beyrouth regroupe au moins 17 communautés différentes dont chacune dispose plus ou moins de son quartier. Le centre ville a pour vocation de les mélanger ce qui lui donne une couleur particulière. Davantage qu'un quartier c'est un manifeste politique dont la reconstruction est très symbolique. Dans un petit périmètre on trouve 10 églises, 6 mosquées dont celle monumentale d'Al Amine, édifiée par l'ancien premier ministre assassiné Rafic Hariri, et 1 synagogue. Dans le quartier dit du " mandat français " on a reconstruit la rue Foch avec ses nombreux restaurants équipés noyés dans les brumes de narguilé. A voir encore le Grand Sérail où siège le gouvernement. Enfin ne pas manquer les souks modernes qui n'ont rien à voir avec ce que l'on imagine. Ici seule l'architecture est orientale car les marchands s'appellent Zara, H et M, Marlboro Classics etc….

16h. Décollage de Beyrouth pour un vol retour de 4h30. Attention aux contrôles de sécurité ! S'y ajoutent ici un supplémentaire, juste pour pénétrer dans l'aérogare !

Notre avis

Il faut aller dans ce pays francophone accueillant et multi culturels. On s'habitue vite aux mesures de sécurités volontairement très visibles et on se laisse gagner par ce mélange d'Orient et d'Occident sur l'un des rivages les plus attachants de la méditerranée.

CNN: Arab Olympic skier: Lebanon's not just sand and desert

 (CNN) -- When Olympic skier Chirine Njeim tells people she's from Lebanon, they often laugh in disbelief.
Now at the Vancouver Winter Games, and competing alongside two other athletes from her home country, Njeim still has to convince people she's telling the truth. "A coach from another country asked me in the elevator the other day where I was from. I said, 'Lebanon' and he just started laughing," Njeim, who is competing in the Ladies Giant Slalom Wednesday, told CNN. "I think people think of Lebanon as a desert with sand and camels, but nobody thinks of it as a place that has snow ... He was shocked. He just laughed at me ... " she said. Little did that coach know, there has long been downhill skiing in Lebanon -- and world-class ski resorts to boot. "Skiing in Lebanon is very popular," explained Ezzad Kraytem, Secretary General of Lebanon's Olympic Committee. "The slopes are only 20 minutes away from the coast, so you can go to the beach and ski in the same day." That means there's a clear view of the Mediterranean Sea from the slopes of Mount Lebanon on most days, according to Kraytem. Lebanon currently boasts six resorts: The Cedars at Mount Makmel is the largest, while Farya Mzaar is the favored destination of the jet-set (it's also where Njeim got her start aged three). Two of the resorts are members-only private mountains. And an expensive seventh resort is in the works, according to Ronald Sayegh, of Ski Lebanon. "The quality of the snow is one of the main reasons professional skiers love our slopes. Powdery on the surface and hard underneath," explained Joanne Zarife, a manager at the five-star Intercontinental hotel at Mzaar. Even though the slopes face north, preserving the snow, the region's sunshine makes the air mild, even warm, she told CNN. "The terraces at the bottom are constantly filled with apres-skiers enjoying a cold drink under the tanning sun," said Zarife. "Skiing is getting more and more popular, [there is] more international tourism," said Sayegh. "More political stability draws more people here." A lot of expats living in the region come back to ski, Lebanese locally come, Europeans, Australians and South Africans ... " he said. "A lot more people now know there's beautiful skiing in Lebanon," said Njeim. Last year a record 50,000 people visited the country's ski resorts, according to Tony Khoury, President of the Lebanese Ski Federation and Head of the Lebanese Olympic Delegation at Vancouver. At more than 3,000 meters, the peaks of Lebanon's tallest skiing mountains at The Cedars resort top the highest point of the Whistler Blackcomb resort (2,284 meters approximately), one of the main venues of the Vancouver Games. Skiing only came to Lebanon in the 1930s though, brought by a student returning from Switzerland where he had developed a passion for the sport at school. In the 1950s, the sport's appeal really opened up, after chairlifts arrived. And today it's not just downhill skiing that draws the crowds. From just ten snowboarders in 1991, today anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of visitors are riders, according to Ski Lebanon. Lebanon's high, sunny plateaus also make it ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, they say. Exposed to the best of country's ski scene an early age, Njeim was quickly hooked. As a child she would watch the sport on television and tell her friends that she wanted to race in the Olympics. "People thought it was kind of hilarious," Njeim recalled with fondness.

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