Between Syria and the Palestinian territories, lies a small country of 10,400 square kilometres called Lebanon. Known to be the “Paris of the Middle East”, Lebanon is not always what the media shows. It is not the ground of corruption and violence. It does not wake up to the sound of bombs every morning. And most importantly, it does not suffer as much as other Arab countries do, such as Palestine, Syria and Iraq. Lebanon, was able to stand up after being under the French Mandate, going through a civil war and the Israeli invasion. While the media tends to only show the terrorists attacks, the Shia-Sunni conflict and the absence of a President, Lebanon is not defined by its flaws.

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Despite the unstable situation that the Lebanese citizens go through, they always find a way to smile. They learned that life goes on, no matter how hard it gets. \True, living in a country where it takes an effort to feel safe is not easy. However, being away from your country and not standing by its side while it’s suffering is even harder. Lebanese citizens learned to live, even when it gets hard to breathe. They learned to love life, even when death is near. And last but not least, they taught themselves to smile, even when they are in tears.

image002The true leaders of Lebanon
When it comes to Lebanon, the true leaders of the country are not politicians, diplomats or celebrities. They are not part of the parliament, do not work in embassies and do not have verified Twitter accounts. The future leaders of Lebanon do not have years of experience or academic titles. They are simply young educated souls that strive to make a change. These young Lebanese citizens come from different religious communities, different political affiliations, different neighbourhoods, and most importantly, they have different dreams. However, they all have one thing in common: they refuse to give up on a country that has so much to offer. These are the true leaders because they use education as their weapon to make Lebanon a better place.

A small country with big-hearted people10154084_566567200123019_6080251249623468361_n
Although not everyone seems to get along, Lebanese citizens are always there for each other. Their education, traditions and values taught them to always give a helping hand. In this country, you will see a bunch of people fighting on the streets but who will have breakfast with each other the next morning. In Lebanon, you will meet a poor 9-year-old boy who will offer to hold your shopping bags and refuse to take anything in return. In this country, you can make generous friends absolutely anywhere. In this country, people will teach you how to love but not how to stop. In Lebanon, despite the tensions, you will learn how to survive, to forgive and to move on.

Family is important
Being an open-minded and modern country, Lebanon gives its young adults the opportunity to become independent, which unusual in the Arab world. However, in Lebanon, you do not visit your parents just on holidays or spend your vacations occasionally at their house. In this country, family comes first, no matter how old you get or how busy you are. It is your rock and the only wall that you will never have to destroy. Lebanese families are known for being loving and supportive, who will always welcome you with joy.

Beautiful womenNadine
It is nothing new, yet it has to be said when talking about Lebanon. Lebanese women take a lot of care in their looks, yet that doesn’t mean that they are shallow and superficial. In fact, they are smart and are able to achieve and to inspire. They are aware that life is more than just appearances, but they make sure to always look their best. Haifa Wehbe, Nadine Njeim, Rina Chibani, Daniella Rahme, Jessica Azar, Rima Fakih, Lamitta Frangieh, Mona About Hamze, Maya Diab and Cyrine Abdelnour are all notable names of Lebanese beauties that are famous internationally for their charm. But then again, maybe it is just the beauty of the country reflected in its women.

The news
Curious, Lebanese people have the need to know more, learn more and say more. They watch local, national and international news twice a day if not more, read the newspapers daily, check social media instantly and talk about it all day long. It is a curiosity that runs in their veins. Lebanese citizens cannot spend a day without being updated about what’s happening worldwide. These people do not know everything, but they would love to. The news are a big part of their lives, and gives them knowledge, certainty and confidence.

A general view of White, an open air club in Beirut during an end of summer partyThe Nightlife
To those who have been to Ibiza, St. Tropez, Miami and other night-life cities, you may have to consider visiting Lebanon. No matter how bad the situation might be, people always find time for partying, especially during summer. “White”, “Iris”, “The One”, “BO18”, “Uruguay”, “Garage”, “Publicity”, “Life” and “Sky Bar” are all famous and always overcrowded destinations for party animals coming from all over the globe.

The Taxi driverstaxi
As weird as it sounds, Lebanese taxi drivers are known for being the most talkative of all. Not only, do they introduce themselves or ask you briefly about your job, but they also talk to you about the political, economic, social and environmental situation of the country, and even of the region. Most of them didn’t have the opportunity to continue their education, but life has taught them more than any book ever will. They tell you the ugly truth without being harsh. They give you life-changing advice that you didn’t even ask for. And most importantly, they do not judge you, because they are the best listeners.

Religiously diverseimage003
In Lebanon, we have two houses that we share with affection and respect: the mosque and the church. You’ll often find them one next to the other. On Friday, we listen to the sound of the mosque and on Sunday we listen to the bell of the church. However, Lebanon doesn’t only have Muslims and Christians. It is, in fact, the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East, with 18 state-recognized religious sects. Although it is hard, they learn everyday, to live with each other.

Despite what the media might tell you, Lebanon is not a toy in terrorists’ hands. It is not a victim. Lebanon is a unique country full of life that has always been a survivor, a fighter and a dreamer.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14647308
http://www.lebanon.com/
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/lebanon/index.html?inline=nyt-geo
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/lebanon
http://www.historyoflebanon.org/
http://www.mountlebanon.org/historyoflebanon.html
http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/900.geography_and_history/902/Kamal-Salibi/
http://www.theguardian.com/travel/lebanon