Beirut is the political capital of the Republic of Lebanon and its biggest city. Its population exceeds two million, according to one of the 2007 statistics. It is located in the middle of the Lebanese coastline, east of the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the vital facilities of industry, commerce and services are concentrated in it. It is an ancient and ancient city, as it was mentioned in the Amarna letters, dated to the fifteenth century BC, and it has been inhabited since then.
Beirut is the Lebanese political center of gravity, where most of the political departments are located, such as Parliament and the Presidency of the Government, in addition to the centers of most ministries and government departments. It plays the main role in the Lebanese economic movement. The city is considered one of the most important cultural influences in the Middle East and the Arab world due to its rich cultural activities such as the free press, theaters, publishing houses, art galleries, museums and a large number of international universities.
The city has gone through many disasters, including earthquakes and wars throughout history, the most important of which was the devastating Lebanese Civil War. After the end of the war in 1990, the state, under the government of the then Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri, reconstructed and rehabilitated the city, especially its commercial center, sea front and nightclubs, which restored the brilliance of its tourism and made it an attractive tourist destination. The New York Times gave Beirut the first place on its list of places to visit in 2009, and was ranked among the top ten most vibrant cities in 2009 by Lonely Planet Tourist Guide. In 2020, Beirut experienced another catastrophe, when a huge explosion occurred in the city’s port, which left dozens dead and thousands injured, and caused great destruction in a number of its neighborhoods, resulting in the displacement of 300,000 Lebanese citizens.
The 2011 MasterCard Index revealed that Beirut ranked second in terms of the percentage of tourism extravagance among all cities in the Middle East and Africa. The first place was occupied by Dubai, where the amount spent by tourists amounted to about 7.8 billion dollars, followed directly by Beirut with about 6.5 billion dollars, then Tel Aviv with about 3.8 billion, then Cairo (3.7 billion dollars), then Johannesburg (3.3 billion dollars). Beirut was also ranked ninth among the list of the most visited cities in the world.
The oldest mention of the name Beirut was mentioned in the historical documents of Beirut and it was mentioned in the Amarna tablets found in Egypt, which contain correspondence that took place between the kings of Byblos and the pharaoh Amenophis IV known as Akhenaten (in the beginning of the fourteenth century BC) in which the name “Beruta” was mentioned. And its king “Amunera”. The Phoenicians called it pyrite ँ ऀ कक, a Phoenician word meaning wells. It was said that she was called “Peretes”, “Berutos” or “Beruwa” in relation to the goddess “Beirut”, the dearest goddess of Lebanon and the owner of Adonis, the god of Byblos. The city was known as “Berytus” (Ancient Greek: βηρυτός) in Greek literature. This name was adopted in antiquities periodicals published at the American University of Beirut since 1934.
He mentioned that “Beirut” in the Semitic sense means “pine” for the pine forests, because it is located near a large pine forest that is today what is known as the Horsh or the Beirut forest. Among the other names that the Beirut region was called by, are: “Lattakia Kanaan”, “Julia Augustus Berytos Happy Settlement”, “Darby”, “Ridedon”, and “Barout”. Through the ages, the city was called by many nicknames, including: the Phoenicians called it “the city of the gods” and “the proud and glorious Beirut” due to its stubbornness in fighting the city of “Sidon” and “the flower of the East.” The Romans called it “the mother of the laws” because of the construction of the largest institute of law in the empire. The Ottomans called it “the precious pearl”. In the modern era, Nizar Qabbani immortalized her with the nickname “Sit al-Dunya”. It was also known as the “Paris of the East” during the sixties and early seventies of the twentieth century, that is, during the era of economic prosperity in Lebanon.
Beirut’s history goes back more than 5,000 years. Archaeological excavations in the center of Beirut indicate the diversity of civilizations that passed through the city. Multiple layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman antiquities were found, located at a small distance from each other.
Beirut is located on a peninsula heading west towards the Mediterranean, 94 kilometers (58 miles) north of the Israeli-Lebanese border. The city is bordered on the east by the West Lebanon Mountains; It takes a triangular shape, because it is located between and on two hills: Tell Al-Ashrafiya and Tell Al-Musaytbeh.
The area of Beirut Governorate is 18 km² (6.9 square miles), while the urban area of the city is 67 km² (26 square miles). On high cliffs, all these models can merge together in some places, such as the meeting point of Raouche Beach and Ramlet Al Bayda Beach.
The weather in Beirut is generally mild, with a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot, humid summers, mild spring and autumn, and cold, rainy winters. August is considered the hottest month of the year, where the average temperature can reach 29°C (84°F), and January and February are the coldest months, where the average temperature in the month reaches 10°C (50°F). The direction of the wind is westerly during the afternoon and evening, that is, it blows from the sea to the land, but at night, the direction changes to the east, that is, it blows from the land towards the sea.
Beirut attracts Lebanese, Arab and foreign businessmen, and remittances from all over the world flow to its banks. Therefore, it is the center of the Banque du Liban and its stock exchange, and it occupies the first banking position in the Middle East. Hence, it took the center of the Union of Arab Banks, and this was helped by the banking secrecy followed by Lebanon.
Beirut is the center of one of the most important and largest ports located in the eastern Mediterranean, which is the port of Beirut; As its location and depth of water allow it to receive the largest boats and cargo ships. It appeared that the section designated for storing containers was working and contained more than the normal number that it was supposed to contain, for more than 10 years, before studies showed that it could contain this amount. The headquarters of many Lebanese banks and companies are also located in Beirut, and some foreign branches of them.
Trade forms part of the nature of the Beirutis, who have discovered since ancient times the importance of the location of their port city, as a meeting point between East and West, which has advantages that contribute to the success of various commercial initiatives. Beirut has become a prestigious financial, commercial and industrial center dealing with all financial activities and banking services, in addition to various other activities in the sectors of construction, trade, import and export, and industry. Major economic and commercial institutions are stationed in Beirut to secure services and invest in construction projects, which provided work for many Lebanese, and brought many consumers to it. This was helped by Lebanon’s adoption of the free capitalist system, its adoption of the banking secrecy law and the expansion and development of Beirut International Airport, Beirut Port and the region Free in each of these two vital facilities, which are rightly considered the beginning of the East and an outlet for the Arab countries on the Mediterranean, and the bridge of the industrial West to the consumer East.
The culture of present-day Beirut is a mixture of various and diverse cultures of different peoples and civilizations that passed through the city, including the Greeks and Romans (the culture of the Mediterranean Basin), the Arabs and the Turks (the Arab-Islamic culture), and the French (the European culture). It is believed that the school of law established in the city during the Roman Empire was the first law school in the world. This history of cosmopolitanism is a source of pride for the Lebanese in general and the Beirutis in particular.
Beirut hosted the Francophonie Summit and the League of Arab States in 2002, and the award ceremony for the Albert Londres, which awards prizes to distinguished Francophone journalists each year. The city also hosted the Francophone Games in 2009. Beirut is considered the United Nations World Book Capital for the year 2009, in recognition of its cultural richness.
The Beirut dialect is one of the branches of the Lebanese dialect. It is an authentic Arabic accent whose features and characteristics are still rooted today in Beiruti society. It is noted that the Maghreb dialects emerge from time to time in the Beiruti accent, especially the Tunisian dialect, the Chlouh dialect of the inhabitants of the Sous Country and the Atlas Mountains in the Far Maghreb, and the Tamazret dialect, which is the dialect of the inhabitants of the Middle Atlas. The Zenat dialect is the dialect of the rural population in the north, as well as the dialects of Algeria and Libya. Noting that many features of the Beirut accent began to disappear due to the “freezing” of speech, and with Western customs and traditions storming homes, streets, markets, schools, universities, and various media outlets. Among the features of the dialect of Beiruti families, for example: the transformation of the sein into s, such as: Basta = = the basta, and the transformation of jim into shin, for example: Haraj = Harsh, meeting = = Ishma’. In addition, the Gulf dialect, which moved with the Islamic conquests to the Maghreb and then reverted back to the Levant, appears clearly in the names of some families, such as: Bayoun; ie: Abu Al-Oyun, from Bayoun.
The National Museum of Beirut is considered the main museum of antiquities in Lebanon, and it contains about 1,300 archaeological artifacts ranging in history from prehistoric times up to the Mamluk era in the Middle Ages. In addition to the National Museum, the American University of Beirut Archeology Museum is the third oldest museum in the Middle East, and it displays a large collection of handicrafts found in Lebanon and some neighboring countries.
There is also the Sursock Museum or Sursock Palace, which today contains the most famous works of art in Beirut, which are represented in a collection of Japanese sculptures and several Islamic artworks. This museum also hosts temporary exhibitions during the year. And near the Grand Serail is the Robert Mouawad Private Museum, which displays the collection of antiques and artifacts, Lebanese politician and art enthusiast Henry Pharaon. There is also a science museum for children, Planet Discovery, which includes a number of exhibitions, experiments and craftsmen, and provides appropriate instructions and instructions for educating children.
There are hundreds of art galleries across the capital, Beirut, and its suburbs. Many Lebanese are interested in art and its production. There are about 5,000 artists who produce fine arts, and a similar number work in the fields of music, design, engineering, theatre, film, photography, and other forms of art. Hundreds of students graduate each year from the faculties of graphic arts and form design from various universities in the city, and art workshops are flourishing and spreading throughout Lebanon, and in Beirut in particular, where the art scene has become very rich and diverse.
In addition to this, fashion and fashion exhibitions are widely spread throughout the city, and there are always new exhibitions and fashion agencies for international designers that open and display their works through various fashion programs, most notably the Arab satellite fashion channel (Fashion TV Arabia). Among the famous fashion agencies in Beirut are: “Georgios Agency” by its owner George Kaadi, Style Modeling by its owner Elie Nahas, and “Natalie’s Agency” by Natalie Fadlallah. Many international designers have opened showrooms in Beirut such as Versace and Gucci, and many of these designers live in and around the city such as Elie Saab, the international designer of women’s fashion. The latter is famous for designing clothes for famous artists such as Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mischa Barton, and he donates an annual Christmas tree to be placed in downtown Beirut. Among the famous designers who also live in Beirut, Zuhair Murad, who designed clothes for artists such as Anna Ortiz and Christina Applegate, and he also owns his own studio and gallery.
Tourism in Beirut was very prosperous until the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war, when recreational tourism stopped completely, until the war ended. The three, Europe, Africa and Asia, and as the gateway to the East on the West. Beirut was called the “Paris of the East” in its first prosperous days after independence, and some still call it this title today, due to the urban style, monuments, markets, municipal cuisine, and nightlife, which some liken to those in France, which It will keep the tourist interested in the city during his visit to Lebanon.
Among the most important Beirut hotels are: Albergo Hotel, Belle View Hotel, Al Safir Hotel, Movenpick Hotel & Resort, Intercontinental Phenicia, Commodore Hotel, Holiday Inn Dunes, Metropolitan Palace, and others.
Beirut ranked ninth in the list of the best cities of the Tourism and Leisure magazine (in English: Travel and Leisure) for the year 2006, as it ranked behind New York and ahead of San Francisco, but this list of cities was developed and voted on before the Israeli aggression on Lebanon in the same year. After things returned to normal, the number of tourists increased again significantly. Recently, the “Lonely Planet” tour guide named Beirut the most vibrant city on Earth for the year 2009, and the New York Times gave the city the first place among the list of the forty-four places to visit in 2009. In 2009, about 2,000,000 tourists visited Lebanon. Arab and foreign.