Destination: Lebanon

Interview with Henry Rollins: Punk Rock World Traveler

Jim Benning asks the musician about his new book of photographs and how travel has humbled him

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Beirut: It’s Hot Again!

What do Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton and the members of Keane have in common? According to Global Post, they’re among the celebrities who’ve popped up in Beirut this summer, part of the city’s resurgence as “the party and cultural headquarters of the Middle East” after three years of violence and turmoil. And, happily for the Lebanese economy, the tourists are following in Snoop Dogg’s footsteps—in record numbers.


Sidon, Lebanon

sidon lebanon REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho

Lebanese Sufists play traditional instruments and chant prayers during a ritual marking the birthday anniversary of Prophet Mohammed.

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The Hummus War: Lebanon Takes on Israel

Fadi Abboud of the Lebanese Industrialists Association says the popular chickpea dip as well as dishes such as falafel, baba ghannouj and tabbouleh belong to Lebanon, not Israel. So his organization is planning to sue the Israelis for food copyright infringement, modeling their case after Greece’s successful branding of feta cheese. Will it work?

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Kibbe and Myth in the Mississippi Delta

If you go to any family-run diner in the Mississippi Delta, chances are you’ll find tabouleh, dolmas and the Lebanese meat dish called kibbe tucked between the barbecue and fried chicken on the menu. That’s because waves of Lebanese settled in Mississippi between the 1870s and 1960s, setting up grocery stores and restaurants to make a living, according to NPR’s Kitchen Sisters and “the Faulkner of Southern food,” John T. Edge.

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New Travel Book: ‘Children of Jihad

Full title: “Children of Jihad: A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East”

Author: Jared Cohen, U.S. State Department policy planner and 25-year-old second-time author

Released: Oct. 25, 2007

Travel genre: Travel memoir, cultural commentary

Territory covered: Internet cafes and house parties from Beirut to Tehran

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The Cost of Kindness

tripoli, lebanon Photo by Joanna Kakissis.

The boy with the toothy grin led Joanna Kakissis on a personal tour of Tripoli, Lebanon. Afterward, she wondered: What, if anything, did she owe him?

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Traveling Behind the Headlines in Lebanon and Beyond

Photo of Martyr’s Square in Beirut by Joanna Kakissis.

When I visited Beirut last November, most of my friends and family thought I was reckless, even crazy. Because of decades of war and assassinations, Lebanon is thought to be one of those places visited only by war journalists, soldiers and aid workers. That’s wrong, of course. Beirut still retains its “Paris of the Middle East” mystique and manages to attract tourists, even as the country remains on edge.

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Tourists, ‘Diamante-Encrusted Bikinis’ Return to Lebanon’s Beach Resorts

Photo of Beirut, Lebanon by Salim Shadid, via Flickr (Creative Commons).

A year after war between Israel and Hezbollah rocked Lebanon, and with “sectarian tensions and political standoff” still simmering, Reuters reports that the country’s beach resorts are back and packed with revelers. “Until three weeks ago, it seemed that people couldn’t forget the scars of last year’s war. But now Damour is back again,” said Fady Saba, general manager of Oceana resort, referring to the coastal strip near Beirut. The resorts are using fashion shows and concerts, among other things, to attract travelers from Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, particularly Arabs from Persian Gulf states.

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UNESCO Adds Three Sites to Danger List, Names Next World Book Capital

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has had a busy few weeks. Not only was it busy issuing a press release claiming no affiliation with the new seven wonders, during meetings in Christchurch, New Zealand, the group added the Galapagos and their surrounding marine reserve; Samarra, Iraq; and Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park to its list of endangered World Heritage sites. Two more sites—the Royal Palaces of Abomey, Benin and Kathmandu Valley, Nepal—were removed from the Danger List.

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Lebanon: The Story Behind the World Press Photo of the Year

The judges of the World Press Photo of the Year said Spencer Platt’s image—it captures a group of young, fashionable Lebanese women driving through a devastated Beirut neighborhood soon after Israeli bombings struck last summer—“has the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious.” Apparently many viewers haven’t been looking hard enough.

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Unlocking Beirut

When Catherine Watson left Lebanon's capital city in the 1960s, she carried home the key to her former apartment. Forty years later, she returned with her prized souvenir and found it could still open doors.

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Time Out Beirut: We’re Coming Back

When we last checked in on Time Out Beirut in August, the city’s arts and entertainment magazine had suspended publication, declaring, “They are killing our city.” But the future seems to be looking up. According to the publication’s Web site, the magazine will relaunch in December. “Though the economy has been battered, though so many talented have fled, the citys nightlife is no longer on hold and arts and entertainment is coming back slowly to Lebanon,” the publisher writes. “Its people are resilient, they are survivors with a love of their land and determination to make it the nation it can be. They will not give up. And neither will Time Out Beirut!” In another promising sign, Lebanon tourism officials are planning to make a bold statement at the World Travel Market show next month in London.


Travel During Wartime

War may not be so good for children and other living things, but it sure clears out the tourists. So writes Kevin Rushby in The Guardian. Rushby is the author of the fantastic travel book, Eating the Flowers of Paradise, about the khat road though Ethiopia and Yemen, which I read when I was reporting on the drug’s use in the U.S. “The unfortunate truth about fear, tension or fighting,” he wrote in last week’s Guardian, “is that there are benefits to be had in neighbouring areas. That may be as simple as having few fellow visitors at great sites like Iran’s old Persian capital of Persepolis, or Jordan’s rose-red Petra -both badly affected by current troubles.”

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The Heartbreaking and Surreal Times of ‘Anthony Bourdain in Beirut’

The Travel Channel aired Anthony Bourdain in Beirut last night, the story of what happened to the “No Reservations” host and his crew when they were stranded in Beirut, Lebanon last month during the early days of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. “It’s not a hard-news account of what happened to Lebanon or what happened to Beirut,” Bourdain says at the beginning of the show. “I think at best it’s a little bit of what Beirut was and could have been. What it felt like to be there when things went sideways. This is not the show we went to Lebanon to get.” Nevertheless, Bourdain returned with one of the more compelling travel shows—or any television show, for that matter—of the year.

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