Smoking is prohibited in Lebanon

Life in Lebanon
Lebanon, an emotional country with charisma

If I were only to describe Lebanon with associations that first come to mind when I think of the country, then these would be: music, red lipstick, convertibles, food, lots of food, laughing, dancing, children, happy old people.

If I were only to describe Lebanon with associations that first come to mind when I think of the country, then these would be: music, red lipstick, convertibles, food, lots of food, laughing, dancing, children, happy old people.

Then even more pictures emerge: traffic chaos, power outages, ranting, singing, even more fun, food again, sun, sea, winding mountain roads, modern architecture. In addition, high heels, thick hair, happy girls, men in shirts with rolled up sleeves, plastic chairs, vendors, coke, sitting on terraces, yalla calls, car horns, smoking hookahs, fragrances, sex appeal, self-confidence, noble boutiques, mysterious markets ...

I have all of this vividly before my eyes, it hums pleasantly in my head and triggers the desire to take the first available plane and visit the Lebanese part of my family and friends again. To get back into the pleasant state of exaltation that the flirtation of the country with all my senses and with its own disorganization immediately triggers in me. The mixture of hustle and bustle and laissez-faire can have very different effects on Europeans. Some of them are sure to feel insecure and irritable, while others can finally relax.

Amusing and messy Lebanese people

A few years ago, on the Taste of Beirut website (www.tasteofbeirut.com) dedicated to Lebanon, I found a quote that I consider to be the most apt thing I have ever read about this small country with its unfortunate geographic location. It is about the impressions most frequently expressed by French and Dutch tourists on their visit to Lebanon: "Since they come from well-organized countries, they perceive Lebanon as a place where something is constantly happening, where people are extroverted, amusing, extremely friendly, are messy, flexible and enterprising. "

I am absolutely certain that someone with similar traits, regardless of whether they are oppressed by their Slovak, German or Dutch upbringing, will rediscover them deep within themselves during a visit to Lebanon and be enthusiastic about the country.

Hardly anyone - especially not in this country - imagines Lebanon as a place where people have fun, dance and laugh. But despite all the political problems, the country is exactly like that.

The Lebanese are always and everywhere looking for opportunities to enjoy life. Whole families, from toddlers to grandmothers, can be seen celebrating, dancing and singing together, already at lunchtime, on the bus on an excursion or on their terraces during the long summer evenings.

In the stylish night clubs you can hear a pleasant mix of modern Arabic and Western music. The Lebanese youth meet there. People who traditionally should be enemies sit together in a bar or restaurant: Sunnis, Christians, Shiites, Druze. That doesn't stop them from having fun, despite the fact that the country has been without a president for over two years due to ongoing disagreement among politicians.

Fashion superpower

The image of Lebanon that emerges in the media on the basis of sporadic sad news cannot be further removed from how the country actually affects those who visit it. Yes, Lebanon is a country of paradoxes and diversity. The buildings, some of which were destroyed by the war, are in stark contrast to the ostentatious cars. On the streets you meet women in hijabs, but never in burqas, and Lebanese women in miniskirts stroll right next to them. But above all, always self-confident and energetic.

It is typical for Lebanese people that they attach great importance to their appearance. Men and women, old and young, Christians and Muslims. It is no coincidence that several fashion designers from Lebanon have made it to the prestigious Paris Haute Couture Week, where French and Italian fashion designers have dominated for years. I feel the need to emphasize this here, because I am often asked about the subject of obfuscation. But Lebanon in particular is extremely tolerant for a Middle East country in this area as well.

Lebanon is full of educated people who have traveled the world and can score with good foreign language skills, and they love their home country. The permanent problems and the instability of the country are troubling them, but they by no means radiate frustration, but above all energy and zest for life, which they know how to savor with ease and as a matter of course.

You can also feel this joy and energy when you set off from the rich districts and resorts into the historic alleyways, where skilled craftsmen make clothes, shoes or jewelry. People bustle through the alleys, they shop, eat, discuss, laugh and argue.

Lebanon is wild and emotional in every way. If you visit it with an open mind, you will be carried away by it and experience an adventure that you will not soon forget.
 

author

Daniela Rifai is a blogger and journalist. She lives in Bratislava.