Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay Featured in the New York Times

The Zaintunay Bay picture used by the NY Times

Yet another piece of Lebanon’s capital makes it to a highly acclaimed international publication. This time, Zaitunay Bay takes center stage with a feature in the coveted New York Times’ Travel section. You can read the full article here.

And if you thought previous articles by The Telegraph and New York Times and other publications about Beirut were not nauseating enough with use of words and adjectives that revolve around “Phoenix, resurrection, war-torn, etc….” this article is no different.

“It’s the phoenix of downtown Beirut coming back,” one of the owners of a restaurant in Zaitunay Bay says. Somehow almost 20 years after the end of the civil war, color me tired of using this terminology. If in 20 years Beirut isn’t back, then it might as well not plan a come back at all.

And somehow I don’t think Beirut has really returned if our pride and joy in the city when it comes to tourists extends from Gemmayze to Hamra. The “Phoenix” we are proud of has a golden beak, which is the aforementioned region. The rest of that Phoenix? I guess the best description would be: wings and body of concrete (and weak concrete at that).

My problem with Zaitunay Bay, and other similar projects around Beirut, is that they are not happening anywhere else. Having blogged before about how Beirut is not what Lebanon is all about, I feel the need to reiterate that point when articles such as this one arise. You see, of course Beirut will keep getting “resurrected” if all the capitol Lebanese and non-Lebanese investors put is in this city, in a very select area of it to be exact, while other places in Lebanon have to make their own luck, so to speak.

The fact that Zaitunay Bay is only an extension of Beirut’s DownTown is a testament to that.

In a way, I am prouder of places like Batroun that have surpassed years of Syrian presence and became one of the North’s major cities. I am proud of Jbeil, a city that is becoming a major tourist attraction solely based on what it has to naturally offer, not because of millions and millions of dollars being thrown in it.

But well, have I mentioned how gorgeous the Cedars are this time of year?

And if you think I’m being too harsh, the concrete marvels of Zaitunay Bay are absolutely breathtaking in this weather, don’t you think?

13 thoughts on “Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay Featured in the New York Times

  1. I’m almost indifferent towards this Zaytouna Bay thing.. It’s just a chillaxing place to hang out and bla bla bla..
    But This Article just makes you sound fanatic and “manateki”.. But meh, this is lebanon and that’s how everyone is- including me i guess, but not me as fanatic for zaytouna bay in particular.
    Signed, A beirut Fanatic


    • I love Beirut. But I don’t love it because of Zaitunay Bay and DT. I love it because of the narrow streets people don’t frequent and the people you see in it who haven’t been transformed into urban zombies.

      No, I’m not manate2i, I’m just saying I’m sick of articles by foreign journalists who are brought to Le Grey and the 4 Seasons who begin raving about how great Beirut is. Beirut is not Le Grey, 4 seasons and Phoenicia. Beirut is not Zaitunay Bay and DT. Beirut is much more than that. And it’s worse when they begin to talk about all of Lebanon as equal to Beirut.


  2. As an Achrafieh person, born and raised (and can vote there), I actually agree with this. Western media focused for too long on war-torn Lebanon that they’re shocked now that Lebanon is not war-torn. Beirut is used to describe a war scene in other countries. So I think they’re shocked this is not the case anymore.

    But this has not been the case for a long time now. And after way too many articles that talk and talk about the same exact places in Beirut, I think it’s getting absurd. But I think it’s the CEOs of Zaitunay Bay, which I think is a USELESS place, and Downtown and whatnot that get these reporters here to write about their places.


  3. And as much as the term “war-torn” is used…so is the Lebbos need to COMPLAIN…COMPLAIN…oh and guess what COMPLAIN 🙂 we will find anything or anyone to pick at, to attack, to make fun of, to give a negative opinion. we cant just be happy, be satisfied and start looking at the cup half full…beirut is the capital and will get the most exposure OBVIOUSLY….anyway everyone is free to their point of view, as all of you are…but how about for once, u step back…think twice and guess what? not complain 🙂


      • dont hate on zaitunay bay if it got coverage that other places arent able to get 🙂 they didnt pay the reporter, the reporter came on her own and decided to write an article and inform the world of a new destination open in lebanon…and besides this place is new as well as the concept/idea of such a place in Beirut, so again and again cant really be applied in this situation.

        anyway zaitunay bay is not here to take away the “marvels” of any other area/location/destination in lebanon, be it the nature-made Ceders or the other man-made structures found in Jbeil, Saida, etc. They actually all compliment eachother to make Lebanon more beautiful in different ways, rather than compete with one another.


  4. Why do people feel obliged to like or dislike something! why can’t they feel neutral about anything. Calling a place useless?! name a useful place please!


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    • how does ur argument make sense? those places get ignored (for whatever reason) so u blame zaitunay bay? pointing fingers in the wrong direction. How about you blame the municiplatiy of the Ceders for not properly advertising this beauty in Lebanon to the rest of the world? It like many wonders in Lebanon go unnoticed and then we blame other places that do get the attention which is an even bigger shame because places like the Ceders dont have put much effort to be so beautiful.
      Anyway, i believe the basis of your argument is not valid as you can not compare a entertainment destination with F&B outlets for the public with a particular purpose versus a town at large, unless this town has a particular purpose.

      In all cases, everything new and amazing has its lovers and its haters. It is something that can not be avoided but rest assured the people behind Zaitunay Bay never sat once and brainstormed different ways to steal the limelight away from the other beauties of Lebanon but rather to give Lebanon just another reason to be on the map.


      • You are taking this way too close to heart. Are you the owner of Zaitunay Bay or something? Or are you their community manager?

        Either way, you posted almost the same comment twice.

        No, it’s not the fault the municipality of the Cedars (which is in fact the municipality of Bcharre) that the Cedars are not getting NY times coverage. It is not the fault of people responsible for the Annoubin valley that they are not getting Telegraph articles.

        It’s the fault of Lebanese CEOs and businessmen (and women) who pay a significant amount of money for a feature. Yeah, there’s nothing NY Times journalists want more than to come to Beirut, pay for their stay at Le Grey to give the hotel a glowing review or pay for their stay at 4 Seasons to give Zeitunay Bay an expose.

        And now tourists will only think Lebanon has Zeitunay Bay, DT and Le Grey to offer. If you’re very happy with that, then we are in categorical and basic disagreement. Either way, Zaitunay Bay would be more than glad to have you anytime of the day, I’m sure – that is if you don’t mind overpaying for the meals and whatever it has to offer.


  6. I loved this post 😀

    Zaitunay Bay is a concrete mess. I don’t like it at all. I think it’s useless and a rip-off. We keep copy/pasting things from abroad instead of coming up with new stuff for us.


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