Can We Get Over Beirut Being Among The World’s Best Cities?


I’ve debated whether to write this or not. Then whether to publish it or not. Then I figured, screw it.

I am a proud Lebanese. And it’s because I like my country that I can’t sit aside and pretend that fake accolades mean more than they are, that void accomplishments are fuller than they actually are.

Beirut isn’t a bad city, sure. It’s perhaps the best city that we have given that our centralization policies have put everything only in and around it. But, forgive the bluntness, there’s no freaking way in hell Beirut can find itself on a world’s best cities list. Unless the person doing that list was high on some Bekaai hashish.

Beirut recently found itself to be on a list of the world’s top 25 cities, courtesy of CN Traveler. Those same people, for those who remember, voted Byblos as the #1 city in the region, with Beirut coming in second. Take that Dubai! We celebrated back then. That little triumph our cities had, although meaningless in itself, meant a lot to us.

Beirut is given the following description as per the CN Traveler website:

The capital of Lebanon has “much to offer the adventurous traveler.” Find “exotic cuisine and cocktails” at the “most exclusive clubs in the world” in what one reader calls “the Paris of the Middle East.” This city offers a “tapestry of sects, religions, and lifestyles that provide a feast for the mind of the intellectual.”

Visiting Lebanon is for the “adventurous,” it seems. I didn’t know my country was such a wild ride. Point me to the next safari why don’t you?

Perhaps Beirut is a great city for a visitor who came here to experience our unparalleled joie de vivre with someone who decided to show them Gemayzeh, Skybar and White, then spend a weekend in Faghaya, pretending that’s still Beirut, before spending the day at some beach that has more plastic than in the bodies of the women strutting their heels in its sands.

Yes, that sounds great indeed.

I don’t know what criteria were employed to rank the cities of that list. But the mark of the greatness of a city isn’t by how well and how great it treats a tourist coming to it for a week. It’s by how great it is for someone who lives there and calls that city home.

When I think of Beirut today, I think of unparalleled urbanization. I think of concrete masses upon concrete masses. I think of cultural demise that manifests in monument demolitions and old houses getting ripped off their foundations. I think of so little monuments that need to be seen in the city. I think of no public transportation. I think of no electricity, no water, of traffic, no public spaces and parks.

When I think of Beirut today, I’m being told I should think of Skybar and Dubai-esque malls because that’s what my city has to offer lately. I’m not sure how that qualifies as greatness honestly. Or I could just be the rare Lebanese who doesn’t like pubs and night clubs and all their derivatives.

Don’t let some silly list fool you into believing the city we call home doesn’t need massive plans, massive reforms, massive work, massive restructuring. Because what Beirut is today, a city living off the ghost of its luxurious past, is only great in the eyes of its beholders. And that’s not really great.


90 thoughts on “Can We Get Over Beirut Being Among The World’s Best Cities?

    • Exactly…
      and Lebanese don’t even have to start looking for solutions to problems; all many of them have to do is just start looking at those who are actually found and are implementing solutions and try to put in hand, or, actually start working on solutions themselves, or, at least encourage those who actually have got on with solutions to the extent possible to them, or, just say nothing and “save” their cynicism somewhere safe for other locations.
      Anyone of the above options would do… this country did not stay standing, to the extent it has, just by the complaining energy of those who are “tourist citizens”.


  1. There sure is great potential. However, the current status of affairs in this country is incomprehensible chaos, and flagrant absence of governance. The country runs under the guidance of Divine grace. Period. There are no rulers, and there’s no authority. There are no men in position of civic supervision to run the people’s daily life. Many buildings in the Jungle of Cement (Beirut) have their own power and water supply, and some have their own private security. What about those who cannot afford to replace government with their own resources? Who is leading this country out of its historic chaos and unstable messes?

    I have lived in the US for 15 years, and loved each moment. But I also love my country so I brought my family back to live here. And yes, I am very disappointed. I feel the horrendous lack of Government, and unfortunately, I foresee very little hope. Good leaders get assassinated, and the junk ones remain alive and loudly obnoxious. So please people, wake up. Surely love your country, but please consider a real ‘Cedar Revolution’ to boot the current tribes and warlords who ‘govern’ it, including decaying figures from the past who have some remnants of pathetically meaningless charisma. Compare Beirut to US cities when Beirut gets back its impartial police system, working sewage, 24-hour electricity, and drinking water in the homes of its people. And yes, roads with lines and signs please. Thank you.


  2. 3 million homeless in New York City out of 8 million??? I’ve lived here 10 years and didn’t notice we have 38% unemployment and rampant electricity cuts just like Lebanon. Damn, I guess when we had a fucking Hurricane last year that flooded half of downtown and lost power for 4 whole days before it was restored I should have thought that the Beirut Municipality that handles power would have had shit up and running within the next 24 hours…

    Every place has its issues but comparing Beirut to NYC is delusional beyond belief. The average person in Brooklyn or Queens has a much higher standard of living than someone in Beirut! look at the citi and mercer studies mentioned in previous comments.


  3. Like battered children hanging onto their horrible mommy’s skirt. It’s that kind of love for the Beiruti Blinds. Well sorry kid, your mama ain’t that pretty. Anyone who thinks beirut compares to any other metropole on the A list is suffering from the Stockholm syndrome and should rush to seek a mirror’s advice. A city that makes me think of Beirut? Possibly Mumbai…..if I erase the palaces. That it’s good to blow your own horn for a quick fake high? We know what happens when you abuse drugs, you fall hard. I suggest: quit acid. Beirut sucks. No one enjoys it really. Nor the 3 crazy tourists coming each year (yes, just like in Paris and Rome isn’t it), nor the remaining depressed inhabitants, probably locked down with failed investments…..a huge disastrous mirage for everyone.
    So yes, to all the Farahbunnys on this blog and other cry babies, I encourage to keep up the hype. Go on and shout it all out to that unfair and hurtful world: my mommy is the best mommy in the world!! and don’t forget the sob that makes it all so moving;

    P.S: the homophobic insert was just music to my ears! did Ed mean that all the” Ashghafieh” people are tentatively gay?

    Praise the Lord, he might come back one day, and help you out. Meanwhile this city needs fixing not rating, because that would be like grading an analphabet, and that my friend, is not fair.


  4. Today, I picked up my mother and headed a hospital in Gemmayze. As I wait for her to finish her Surgery, I decided to walk around the streets and stop for some coffee. I ended up searching Google for “Beirut sucks”.

    I practically got kicked out of a very popular coffee shop because I was there 10 minutes before it opens. I asked if I could sit down until they start serving coffee and the retarded waiter simply answered “La2 estez Bedna noshtof l terrace” with a very rude tone while there was plenty of place inside to sit and wait.

    As I cross the street, I found a small Furn with a coffee machine so I decided to do it the traditional way (I clearly had no other choice). While I was sipping my coffee, I got all types of dirty looks because ofcourse, I was an intruder, I wasn’t the regular old fuck reading the newspaper and talking in a retarded beirutish accent, nor the usual dickhead policeman or darak, nor the group of valet parking employees who speak in loud voices and make retarded jokes.

    Coming from a very conservative semi-rural area, I’ve always thought that living in Beirut would be more suitable for me, especially on a social and intellectual level. It turns out I’d rather stay where I am, because at least people here are honestly and openly uncivilized, not double-faced retards who spit in the dishes they eat from.
    The thought of it makes me sad, but I don’t belong here.
    We don’t need to strengthen our image, we need to make this fake image compatible and consistent with our reality.

    F*ck this shit!


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