It’s been several decades since Beirut was commonly known as the Paris of the Middle East. The recent explosion, which devastated the port and wreaked serious damage on nearby central areas of the city, only adds to its problems – which seemed already to be reaching a crescendo – and sets back efforts to revive itself as a place where normal life can be led. The blame, or most of it, for both the explosion and the difficulty of Beirut’s revival may be laid at the doorstep of the terror organization Hezbollah and its puppeteers in Tehran. They stepped in to prevent peace from reigning after the end of the nation’s disastrous 1975-1989 civil war. That Lebanon’s society has not collapsed, yet, may be thanks to the resilience of the Lebanese, who have learned to weather history’s calamities. It may be that Beirut’s historical beauty contributes to their desire to live life.
This post is dedicated to that beauty and to what hope remains that Beirut’s status as the Paris of the Middle East can, in time, be resumed. The photo that introduces this post shows damage to towers of relatively recent vintage. Below are old shots of historic Beirut, then more recent such shots, especially in the chic Gemmeyze district, some of which show damage either recent or going back to the civil war.