Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhibbak ya Lebnan!

I just read this article in The New York Times. It made me soooooo happy to see that Beirut is finally getting a break, even if it is for a very short and limited time. I love Lebanon and I pray that the people of this beautiful country as well as all the people of this great region, Palestinians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Egyptians, Yemenis, everybody find peace and happiness.

We all want a place to call home. And we all want this place to be home.

The Arab divide started with the Palestinian Diaspora and today we have a plethora of diasporas....wal habbel 3al jarrar. Funny how the brain drain is accelerating in the Arab world, while in Israel they are working on incentives for brain gain.

One's drain is another's gain!

Home on Holiday, the Lebanese Say, What Turmoil?

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon may seem an unlikely holiday spot: the government has collapsed, car bombs go off periodically and foreign envoys warn of an impending civil war.
And yet, so many people have been streaming into this tiny, embattled country in recent days that the flights are all overbooked, and some well-heeled travelers are driving 18 hours from the Persian Gulf. Beirut’s restaurants, bars and malls are all packed with revelers.

Why? The answer is that the Lebanese diaspora reverses itself on holidays, as the migrants who sustain the war-shattered Lebanese economy all year return from jobs across the globe to spend time with their families. Nothing will deter them — not bad weather, not interminable flights and certainly not the Grinch-like mood of Lebanon’s endlessly feuding politicians.
“My plane was full of Lebanese flying home, and when it landed we all shouted ‘Beirut’ and clapped,” said George Elias, 23, who works for an investment firm in Japan.
He and a dozen friends — mostly Lebanese who work abroad — were in the midst of a pub crawl in Gemayze, a fashionably bohemian district. All of them wore identical white T-shirts with “Free Hug” printed across the front, and they were hugging everyone they saw, in a puckish campaign of mass affection.

“Politics is causing problems in Lebanon, so we want people to think about something else,” Mr. Elias said.

When a Lebanese Army soldier appeared on the street, the group besieged him with free hugs. He obliged with a smile, his machine gun jostling at his waist with each hug.

Across town in western Beirut, the malls were packed with glamorously dressed shoppers, and even outdoor cafes were full, despite the 50-degree chill.
“Look at all these people — there’s a political crisis, but do they care?” said Ali Hasbini, a burly 30-year-old sitting at a cafe table with three other young Lebanese overseas workers in the Verdun district. “Of course not.”

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