Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 10:11 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 10:11 | SYDNEY

Beirut: The clubbing index


Rodger Shanahan


16 June 2008 15:58

Beirut, known as the ‘Paris of the east’ in its heyday in the 1950s and 60s, has fallen on leaner times since the start of the civil war in 1975. Internal conflict, occupation by external powers and more recently political stasis have all threatened to drain the city of attraction to any outsiders, other than perhaps foreign correspondents, UN military personnel or aid workers.

Yet despite this, Beirut has remained a popular summer destination for expatriates returning to their families, or other Arabs (particularly Gulf Arabs) seeking to escape oppressive temperatures in their home countries to enjoy time at Lebanon’s beaches or in the cool of the nearby mountains. The 2006 war with Israel, however, killed off that year’s tourist season, and the fighting at Nahr al-Barid refugee camp near Tyre and the political stalemate similarly made for a poor 2007 season.

Lebanese are nothing if not resilient and the recent solution of the political crisis through the Doha Accord has made Beirutis once again optimistic that 2008 might be the year for a bumper tourist season. One way of measuring this is through what I call the ‘Clubbing Index’. Rather than dour political reporting on the latest inability to elect a president, or Hizbullah pronouncements of red lines being established or crossed, we should count the news items that appear  about clubs opening (or reopening) for the upcoming season. The higher the ‘clubbing index’, the more likely it is that Beirut is returning (however temporarily) to what it does best – party.