The Rebirth of Lebanon


View of the Mediterranean from Byblos, with Roman ruins in the forefront, followed by the recognisable heritage Lebanese home overlooking the water (source, The New York Times)

Though this entry is somewhat unrelated to food, it does not stray far from the general theme of this blog, which revolves around my Lebanon. As a phoenix is reborn from the ashes of its monumental fire, my Lebanon is getting its own rebirth. In 2009, The New York Times deservedly voted Beirut as the number one tourist destination in the world. The article mentioned the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, Le Gray as the forces of change in Lebanon’s culinary scene. For traditional Lebanese, the mention went to Al Ajami restaurant and Hussein Hadid’s Kitchen.

More recently, Jbeil (Byblos) was the subject matter in an article in The New York Times as being the Cannes of the Middle East, in contrast to the saying Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East. I really enjoyed that article not the least because I actually grew up in Jbeil (and went to school in Monsif, if you must know), despite the focus being on one of my least favourite Lebanese trait, which is the exorbitant show of wealth. Having just returned from Lebanon this year, I can confirm the Jbeil is the place to be. The council has done wonders in creating a tasteful city, and the beaches are fantastic, though mostly privatised and almost unaffordable to locals. Jbeil imparts the visitor with a great sense of history and coupled with a unique tidy, civilised laid-backedness. It has everything Beirut doesn’t, and more. By more I mean a chicken shawarma from el Rock followed by a fruit cocktail from el Addoom. Oh my God!

The Jbeil article mentions the following restaurants:

Bab El Mina
Mother
Pierre & Friends
Locanda a la Granda (mentioned as the best restaurant in town)

4 Comments

  • tasteofbeirut says:

    Fouad
    I need to wish you a happy new year as well to you and your family and lots of new posts! I love this picture of Jbeil and thanks for the info on this city that I don't know well; I went to one of the unaffordable beaches you mention and did the touristy thing a few times but that's about it! I can't wait to include it on my list on my next visit!

  • SydneyCider says:

    Hi Joumana. Are you still in Beirut? Jbeil is in my opinion one of the best cities in the world. Shame about the people living there though 😛

  • Viviane, Taste-Buds says:

    I absolutely love Jbeil! Strolling in the old Souk and the port is a bit like stepping back in time. My sister lives close to Jbeil and I went there lots of times already, including a road trip with friends. Just awesome!

  • Cherine Yammine - Paris, France says:

    If Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East, as the cliché goes, then Byblos, some 22 miles up the coastline, is its Cannes"
    New York Times" 🙂

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