Stretching about 200km along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, the entire western boundary of Lebanon faces the Sea, giving the country a predominantly Mediterranean weather, with high levels of precipitation in the winter and lush, green vegetation. This makes Lebanon a Middle Eastern anomaly with hardly any desert landscapes. Add to that a mountainous topography, Lebanon even sees snow in the colder days so ski hills are not uncommon here from since 1913, when a local engineering student came back from school in Switzerland and introduced the sport to the country. Interestingly enough, this is not where the Switzerland connection ends. Historically, Lebanon was regarded as the “Switzerland of the Middle East” due to its financial strength, attracting large numbers of tourists from the West. Most tourists would arrive in Beirut, the nation’s capital, a city which, to date, exibits a strong post-colonial relationship with France through haute couture fashion, giving Beirut the nickname “Paris of the Middle East”.
However, a lot has changed since the hey days of Lebanon. Years of questionable governance has gradually led to an abandonment of foreign investment followed by the global covid pandemic, which took a severe toll on the country’s economy. And to rub salt to the wound, a devastating explosion took place in 2020, taking many innocent lives, and plunging the local currency to an unprecented low.
Today, the people of Lebanon are earning a fraction of the income they once used to but through my travels, I sensed great desire and determination in the populace, which gives hope that this beautiful country will soon be back to where it belongs….
Join me as I unpack my experiences from Lebanon through a series of blogs in the next coming weeks.
Panoramic views of Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea from the cable car ride to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon