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?

A Camel in Downtown Beirut – Literally. A Music Video by Michelle & Noel Keserwany

As Lebanese, we always laugh when a foreigner asks us about our mode of transportation. We brush off their whole “tents and camels” ideas by showing them pictures of ferraris, BMWs and other cars most of us cannot afford but love to take pictures of.

And although most of us haven’t seen a camel in our lives, Michelle & Noel Keserwany, who went viral with their song Jagal El USEK, have a new video out for a song titled: 3al Jamal Bi Wasat Beirut (On a Camel in Downtown Beirut).

The song opens with the following: “Badde kazder 3al jamal bi wasat Beirut 7atta yalli ma ma3o 7a22 benzene ysir 3endo 2amal, 7atta l ajeneb yenbesto wa akhiran shefo l jamal. Khalle kell as7ab l m7allet ya3mlo panic w kyes l shopping tou2a3 men 2id l 3alam l chique… Ana bedde kazder 3al jamal bi wasat Beirut w khalle kell l nes tghar.”

Which translates to: “I want to wander around on a camel in Downtown Beirut to give hope to those who can’t buy gas, so that foreigners can finally be happy that they’ve seen a camel. So the shop owners start to panic and shopping bags fall from the hands of posh shoppers. I want to wander around on a camel in Downtown Beirut and get everyone to be jealous.”

In this simple song, Michelle and Noel Keserwany have painted a sarcastic parody of a part of Lebanese society you cannot but make fun of. The look on the people’s faces? Priceless. The woman holding her nose? Epic. The camel riding next to a Chanel shop most of us won’t dare to enter? Stunning.

This is Beirut! And this is awesome Lebanese talent. Thank you Patrik Abdel Sater for sharing the video with me. You can follow Patrik on Twitter here. He’s also behind the awesome new logo you currently see as a header for the blog and on the Facebook page.