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Posted by sonny 02/25/2009 @ 12:19

Tags : beirut, lebanon, middle east, world

News headlines
Beirut's 'Body' Language Pioneer - Washington Post
A woman reads Jasad - Arabic for body - at a library in Beirut. Topics in the first issue included foot fetishism, homosexuality and cannibalism. (Photo by Cynthia Karam--Reuters) (Str - Reuters) Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or...
Gays Turn Out in Beirut - Gay City News
In an almost unheard of event for the Arab world, Lebanon's LGBT group held a gay rights demonstration on May 10 in downtown Beirut, with several dozen demonstrators carrying rainbow flags and signs in Arabic, English, and French....
Artist captures the many voices of Beirut's underground folkies - Daily Star - Lebanon
By Matthew Mosley BEIRUT: "The choice of artists is very personal," says Ziad Nawfal of his latest album, "The Ruptured Sessions." "I really have to like what they do." It seems that Nawfal isn't alone in his tastes. A capacity crowd at the album's...
Beirut send the crowd wild on day two of Fans Strike Back -
Saturday sees the main Pavilion stage take over by four alternative folk acts; The Cave Singers, The Acorn, Grizzly Bear and New York based headliners, Beirut. The Cave Singers take to the stage early in the afternoon to an audience nursing sore heads;...
Bank of Beirut Honors its Clients in the UAE -
BEIRUT - Bank of Beirut hosted a dinner in the honor of its clients in Abu Dhabi, at Al Mawal restaurant, Hilton hotel, in the presence of Mr. Salim Sfeir, Chairman General Manager of Bank of Beirut, Mrs. Balsam El Khalil, Representative in the UAE for...
Lebanon, Syria to boost 'anti-terrorism' cooperation - AFP
BEIRUT (AFP) — Lebanon and Syria on Tuesday said they had agreed to boost coordination in the fight against "terrorism" during the Syrian army commander's visit to Beirut. "We must work together on matters of mutual interest ... especially on the...
Report: Hezbollah providing Gaza with support - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
“We have always said that we supported the resistance in Palestine, but we have not mentioned how or given details of such support,” Qassem told the newspaper during an interview at a secret location in southern Beirut. “But Egypt has now revealed that...
Lavrov in Beirut on May 25 to Issue Invitation to Moscow Peace ... - Naharnet
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to arrive to Beirut on May 25 to issue an official invitation to Lebanon to attend the 'Moscow Peace Conference'. The daily An-Nahar reported on Thursday that Lavrov who would be arriving from...
Zahra: Ongoing consultations to resolve Beirut I issue -
BEIRUT – Lebanese Forces bloc MP Antoine Zahra stated on Thursday that consultations were ongoing between “our allies in the Future Movement and allied-Armenian parties in order to resolve the problem of Beirut I district”....
Owner moves to save 'Beirut Building' from wrecking ball - Sun newspapers
ENGLEWOOD -- The empty, four-story shell on Gottfried Creek known infamously as the "Beirut Building" could be demolished in 60 days -- or not -- depending on what a judge, newly assigned to the case, decides. At a hearing Tuesday at the Charlotte...

American University of Beirut

American University of Beirut.png

The American University of Beirut (AUB; Arabic: الجامعة الأميركية في بيروت‎) is a private, independent university in Beirut, Lebanon. It was founded as the Syrian Protestant College by American missionary Daniel Bliss in 1866. The name was changed to the American University of Beirut on November 18, 1920. The university is popularly known as AUB.

The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools granted AUB institutional accreditation in June 2004. Degrees awarded by AUB are officially registered with the Ministry of Higher Education in Lebanon and with the Board of Education in the State of New York. Many professional degrees are also accredited by the respective accrediting bodies in the United States, Lebanon, and other nations.

On March 21, 2008, the Board of Trustees selected Peter F. Dorman to be AUB's 15th president effective July 1, 2008. He succeeds Dr. John Waterbury who was president of AUB from 1998 to 2008. Dr. Dorman is an international scholar in the field of Egyptology and presently chairs the University of Chicago's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

In June 2006, the number of degrees and diplomas awarded since June 1870 totaled 72,838.

In 1862, American missionaries in Syria, under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, asked Dr. Daniel Bliss to withdraw from evangelistic work and missions in Syria, (under Ottoman rule, modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine were part of provinces belonging to the Ottoman Empire) to found a college of higher learning with an American educational character, self-maintained and administered independently from the Mission, that would include medical training. Bliss, like other American missionaries active in the Middle East at the time, recognized the need for a secular institution to impart notions of patriotism, republicanism, and the preservation of individual liberties. Growing numbers of graduates from the Syrian Protestant College would embrace the American paradigm of nationalism and declare themselves devotees of Arabism; however, many also partook of other forms of territorial nationalism--namely Lebanese nationalism--as Arabism itself was still an abstract construct during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The college, according to the Arabist propagandist George Antonius, had provided the "intellectual effervescence" for an Arab revival, one that would transform the region's politics.

Dr. Bliss traveled to the United States in the summer of 1862 to solicit funds for this new enterprise. By August, 1864, he had raised $100,000 by soliciting contributions from a number of British and American donors, including Mrs. Franklin H. Delano, great-aunt of the thirty-second president. However, because of inflation during the Civil War, he raised a sterling fund in England to start the operations of the college, leaving the dollar fund to appreciate. After collecting £4,000 in England, he traveled to Beirut in March, 1866.

On April 24, 1863, while Dr. Bliss was raising money for the new school, the State of New York granted a charter under the name of the Syrian Protestant College. The college opened with its first class of 16 students on December 3, 1866.

College Hall and the first medical building were completed and put to use in 1873, and the bell in the tower of College Hall pealed for the first time in March, 1874. However, College Hall was extensively damaged by an explosion in the early morning of November 8, 1991, and the building had to be demolished. It was later rebuilt, and the new College Hall was inaugurated in the spring of 1999.

Since its earliest years the University has continually expanded and developed new faculties and programs. In 1867, the University started the School of Medicine. Four years later, in 1871, both the school of pharmacy and a preparatory school were added. The latter became independent in 1960 and is currently known as International College. In 1900, the University established a school of commerce which was later incorporated into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. When the hospital (currently the AUB Medical Center) opened in 1905, a school of nursing was also established. In 1910 the University opened a school of dentistry, which operated for thirty years. In the early 1950s, several new programs were established: The School of Agriculture was established in 1950 and renamed the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in 1979; the School of Engineering was founded in 1951 and renamed the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture in 1966; the School of Health Sciences was established in 1954 and renamed the Faculty of Health Sciences in 1978.

On November 18, 1920, the Board of Regents of the State University of New York changed the name of the institution from the Syrian Protestant College to the American University of Beirut after the establishment of the state of Greater Lebanon in August 1920; other charter amendments expanded the functions of the University. The University became completely coeducational in 1924. Except for a brief period during the Lebanese civil war, all AUB presidents have lived on campus at Marquand House, which was completed in 1879.

The 73 acre AUB campus is on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on one side and bordering Bliss Street on the other. Bliss Street has many restaurants and is popular among university students. Since AUB has a closed campus, it is only possible to enter the university through gates, namely Main Gate (middle of Bliss Street), Medical Gate (near the American University Hospital), Sea Gate (at the foot of the hill), and the Peripheral Gate (near the men's residence buildings), and another small gate near the women's residence.

The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences' Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC), a 247-acre (1.00 km2) research farm and educational facility, is located in the Beqaa Valley.

Famous landmarks on campus include Main Gate, College Hall, West Hall, Green Oval, Nicely Hall, Assembly Hall (originally a chapel), Green Field, and the Charles Holster Center.

In October 2002, AUB launched a five-year $140 million fund raising campaign - the Campaign for Excellence - to celebrate its 140th anniversary in 2006-07. The campaign , which ended on December 31, 2007, raised more than $171 million. While relatively modest by US standards, the campaign was the largest educational fund raising campaign in the Arab Middle East.

In 2002, former US Diplomat and AUB Alumnus Charles Hostler donated US$ 11.7 million to build the Charles W. Hostler Student Center, a state-of-the-art sports facility.

In 2003, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal donated US$ 5.5 million to help establish the Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR). The center holds lectures and workshops on American issues and offers, as of September 2004, a minor in American Studies.

Also under construction is the new home of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business on the lower campus of the university. It is slated for completion in 2009.

The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs which was made possible by a US$ 5.2 million donation from Issam Fares, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon, will be built on middle campus replacing the Gulbenkian Infirmary. The building was designed by AUB alumnus and world renowned architect Zaha Hadid.

In 2007, AUB re-introduced PhD programs in Arab and Middle Eastern History, Arabic Language and Literature, Cell and Molecular Biology, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Theoretical Physics. Its master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies which is offered by the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES) is considered one of the best in the world.

In February 2008, AUB launched its YouTube Educational Channel, following in the footsteps of universities such as UC Berkeley and MIT AUB Channel.

AUB graduates have attained prominent positions in many fields including government, science, economics, business, and medicine. AUB graduates are prominent in Lebanese politics: Former Prime Minister Saeb Salam and former Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Adil Osseiran, who were leaders of the independence movement after the French mandate, were AUB graduates. Other famous politicians include Prime Ministers Selim al-Hoss, Najib Mikati, and Fouad Siniora, in addition to many ministers and members of parliament. AUB also played an important role as the breeding ground for Arab thinkers such as Syrian scholar Constantin Zurayk, and founder of the Syrian Social Nationalist PartyAntun Saadeh. Famous politicians include former Palestinian minister Hanan Ashrawi, Syrian anti-French nationalist of the 1920s and 1930s Abdul Rahman Shahbandar, former Syrian president Nazim al-Kudsi, and Syrian prime minister Faris al-Khoury, who was also an instructor at AUB. The Syrian poet Omar Abu Risheh is an AUB graduate, and so is the Syrian novelist Ghada al-Samman.

Nineteen former AUB students were delegates to the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945.

Saeb Salam, a former prime minister of Lebanon.

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Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport

Beirut Airport in 1982

Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (formerly Beirut International Airport) (IATA: BEY, ICAO: OLBA) (Arabic: ‎ مطار بيروت رفيق الحريري الدولي) is located 9 km (5.6 mi) from the city centre in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon and is the only operational commercial airport in the country. It is the hub for Lebanon's national carrier, Middle East Airlines (more commonly known as MEA). It is also the hub for the currently grounded cargo carrier Trans Mediterranean Airways (more commonly known as TMA Cargo), as well as the new start-up charter airline, MenaJet.

It is the main port of entry into the country along with the Port of Beirut. The airport was selected by the famed "Skytrax Magazine" as the second best airport and aviation hub in the Middle East; it came just behind Dubai International Airport.

The airport is operated and maintained by Middle East Airports Services (MEAS) which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national carrier, MEA. MEAS conducts all airport operations from cleaning the bathrooms to de-rubberizing the runways. Operations are regulated by the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), the Lebanese government agency which sets aviation guidelines, safety standards, etc. The LCAA is also responsible for operating the air traffic control (ATC) at the airport as well as regulating Lebanon's airspace.

The airport opened on April 23, 1954 replacing the much smaller Bir Hassan Airfield which was located a short distance north. At the time of its opening, the terminal was very modern and it featured an excellent spotters terrace with a cafe. The airport consisted of two asphalt runways at the time. Runway 18/36 at 3,250 metres (10,663 feet) was used primarily for landings from the 18 end while runway 03/21 at 3,180 metres (10,433 feet) was used primarily for take-offs from the 03 end.

On June 22, 2005, Beirut International Airport was renamed Beirut RafikHariri International Airport in honor of the assassinated former prime-minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri.

The airport grew to become a premier hub in the Middle East with fast and steady growth by the country's four carriers at the time, Middle East Airlines (MEA), Air Liban, Trans Mediterranean Airways (TMA), and Lebanese International Airways (LIA) plus numerous foreign carriers.

In response to an attack on an El Al jet in Athens, on the night of 28 December 1968, Israeli commandos mounted a surprise attack on the airport and destroyed 13 civilian aircraft belonging to the Lebanese carriers, Middle East Airlines (Air Liban had merged with MEA by this time), Trans Mediterranean Airways, and Lebanese International Airways. This caused serious devastation to the Lebanese aviation industry. Middle East Airlines managed to rebound quickly, but Lebanese International Airways went bankrupt and its employees were transferred to MEA.

The airport lost its status and the glamour it once had with the start of the 15-year long Lebanese Civil War in April 1975 in which it lost virtually all of its airline services with the exception of the two Lebanese carriers, Middle East Airlines and Trans Mediterranean Airways, which continued operating with the exception of certain periods of interruption when the airport was completely closed. Despite the conflict, the terminal was renovated in 1977, only to be badly damaged 5 years later by Israeli shelling during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The airport was the site of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, in which 241 American servicemen were killed. The airport's runways were renovated in 1982 and 1984.

By the time war finally came to an end in 1990, the airport was clearly outdated and fatigued. It was clear that if Beirut was to try to rebound itself, it needed to launch a massive reconstruction program. A 10-year reconstruction program was launched in 1994 which included the construction of a brand new terminal, two new runways, a new fire station building, a new powerplant, a new general aviation terminal, a new underground parking garage, and the rehabilitation of many structures such as the radar building.

In 1998, the first phase of the new terminal was completed. It was located immediately adjacent to the east of the old terminal and consists of gates 1-12. After it was inaugurated, the old terminal was demolished and construction on the western half began and was completed in 2000, however it was not inaugurated until 2002. This consists of gates 13-23. The new terminal can handle 6 million passengers annually and is expected to be expanded to handle 16 million passengers by 2035.

It was decided early on that the original runways were no longer sufficient, especially if Beirut was to see large aircraft like the upcoming Airbus A380. A new landing runway, 17/35 was constructed protruding at an angle out into the sea, with a length of 3,395 metres (11,138 feet). This seaward protrusion was built in order to move landing traffic away from the city in a bid to improve safety and reduce aircraft noise. A new take-off runway was constructed parallel to the old 03/21 at a length of 3,800 metres (12,467 feet) making it the longest runway in the airport. The old 03/21 was converted to a taxiway for accessing the new runway 03/21. Unlike the old runways, the two new runways were constructed from concrete and feature more advanced lighting systems and instrument landing systems. Runway 18/36 is still open, although it is used very rarely.

In 2004, runway 17/35 was redesignated 16/34 and runway 18/36 was redesignated 17/35 after more accurate runway heading measurements were conducted.

On 17 June 2005, the General Aviation Terminal was finally opened. It is located on the northwestern corner of the airport and is one of the most advanced general aviation terminals in the Middle East featuring state of the art facilities. All fixed base operators and VIP charter providers have moved their operations to this state-of-the art terminal.

On 13 July 2006 at approximately 6:00 a.m. local time, all 3 runways of the airport sustained significant damage from missile strikes directed at it by the Israeli Air Force as part of the 2006 Lebanon War. The Israeli Air Force claimed at the time that Hezbollah had received a weapons shipment there. The runways were rendered inoperative and the Lebanese Government declared that the airport was closed until further notice.

Shortly thereafter, MEA used one of the long taxiways at the airport to evacuate 5 of its aircraft (4 Airbus A321 and 1 Airbus A330).

The airport reopened to commercial flights on August 17, 2006 with the arrival of a Middle East Airlines (MEA) flight around 1:10 p.m. local time (10:10 a.m. GMT) from Amman, followed by a Royal Jordanian flight also from Amman. This marked the first commercial flight arrival at Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport since the airport's closure almost 5 weeks before. All runways and taxiways at the airport have been successfully repaired and the airport is operating as it was before the hostilities.

On Thursday, September 7, 2006, Israel ended its air blockade of Lebanon. The first plane to land at the airport after the end of the blockade was a Middle East Airlines flight at 6:06 p.m. local time (3:06 p.m. GMT). Soon after that, a Kuwait Airlines flight landed at the airport. Over the next couple of days, more airlines resumed flights to the airport, including Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, Air France, British Airways (BMED), Cyprus Airways, Egypt Air, Air Algerie, Royal Air Maroc, Jat Airways and Gulf Air.

On Wednesday 7 May 2008, Lebanon's Hezbollah under the pretext of labor demands closed roads to the airport from 9:00 am till 7:00 pm. The following day, tensions were high in the city and the airport only accepted a few flights before shutting down completely. On May 15, 2008, the airport reopened after roads leading to the airport were cleared of baracades.

The ambitious 10-year reconstruction program of the airport is mostly complete and Beirut now has a world-class facility which is ranked among the top airports in the Middle East.

Near-term future plans include the rehabilitation of the old runway 17/35, the rehabilitation and construction of new taxiways, the construction of 12 small hangars for the newly inaugurated General Aviation Terminal, and the construction of a cargo village to attract more cargo carriers.

Longer-term plans include adding 7 more gates to the terminal, some of which can handle the upcoming Airbus A380. However, it is unknown whether the recent damages sustained by the Lebanon-Israeli conflict of 2006 will affect the current plans.

In 2035 the airport is expected to handle about 16,000,000 passengers per year.

The modern terminal consists of 23 gates, 21 of which have jetways, two of which are dual jetway gates for large aircraft.

The terminal consists of two wings joined together by the main terminal. The east wing, which opened in 1998, has gates 1-12 and the west wing, which opened in 2002, has gates 13-23. Gates 2 and 3 are dual jetway gates for large aircraft. Gates 4 and 22 are bus boarding gates. The terminal is capable of handling 6 million passengers.

The terminal consists of 4 levels. The ground level is the arrival area, the 2nd level is the departure level and the gates area, the 3rd level houses the airline lounges, and the 4th level houses the airport administration offices.

Passenger use, total cargo, and aircraft movemens have steadily increased since 1990.

The airport has a very extensive Duty Free section with a wide array of shops ranging from Lebanese souvenirs to perfumes. Most of the shops are located in the departure zone right after clearing passport control; however, there are a number of shops in the arrival zone as well.

The airport recently opened a full service restaurant in the arrival zone called Akle as well as a cafe called Cafe Matik. In the departure zone on the 3rd level, a Japanese seafood bar called SALT was opened. In each of the wings, a cafe is located shortly after clearing customs. There are still plans to open more restaurants and cafes.

Four airline ticket offices are located in the airport. They include Middle East Airlines, Air France, bmi and Cyprus Airways.

The airport has a bank operated by Byblos Bank, one of the top Lebanese banks. They have a main branch in the departure level, three stands in the arrival level, as well as four ATMs scattered throughout the terminal.

Tax refund for VAT service is also provided.

The arrival level contains a post office operated by the state postal service, LibanPost. There are postal drop off boxes located throughout the terminal.

The airport has three airline lounges located on the mezzanine level above the Duty Free area in the departure area. The largest lounge is MEA's Cedar Lounge which occupies half of the available lounge space. On August 1, 2005, the newly expanded and upgraded Cedar Lounge was opened. It is currently ranked as the best business class lounge in the Middle East. Most airlines serving Beirut simply choose to use the Cedar Lounge for their premium passengers which is the reason for the few airline lounges in the airport. The other two lounges are Saudi Arabian Airlines' Golden Lounge and the LAT Lounge operated by the ground handler, Lebanese Air Transport (LAT). Most airlines serving Beirut use the Cedar Lounge, however there are a number who use the smaller LAT Lounge. Saudi Arabian Airlines is the only carrier which uses the Golden Lounge.

Internet access is provided in the airport. There are 15 Internet kiosks scattered throughout the departure gates and 2 Internet kiosks located in the arrival area. In addition, there is wireless hotspot access covering the departure gates, the arrival hall, as well as the VIP lounges. 30 minute cards may be purchased for $5 and 75 minute cards may be purchased for $10.

Public telephones are numerous and scattered throughout the terminal.

The airport has a 3-level car park with a total capacity 2350 cars. Part of the car park is currently sealed off and will be opened in the future when needed.

There are 7 rental car companies in the airport. They are Avis, Budget, Ca Trans, City Car, Europcar (01 629 888), Hertz, and Hala. Their desks are located in the arrivals level.

At the moment, there is no public transportation directly to the airport. LCC Bus Route 1 takes passengers from the airport roundabout, one kilometer from the terminal, to Rue Sadat in Hamra, whereas Route 5 takes to the Charles Helou bus station. OCFTC buses number seven and ten also stop at the airport roundabout en route to central Beirut. Taxis are plentiful at the airport, and comfortable taxis that are authorized by the airport are parked next to the terminal in the arrivals level and have an airport logo on the side. As these taxis are regulated by the airport authorities, they are guaranteed to be honest in their rates. Regular taxis are also available and are located a little farther from the airport, but these are not guaranteed and are to be used at ones own risk. In the future, there are plans to offer regularly scheduled bus services from the airport to various parts of the city and even other parts of the country. Bus shelters are already constructed at the airport.

The airport has two ground handling operators, Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG) and Lebanese Air Transport (LAT).

Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national carrier, MEA. It provides ground handling services for the national carrier, MEA, as well as most of the carriers serving the airport, including the cargo carriers. MEAG handles nearly 80% of the traffic at the airport.

Lebanese Air Transport (LAT), is a smaller ground handling operator that conducts ground handling operations for a number of carriers serving the airport. LAT specializes in handling charter flights, but do have contracts with a number of scheduled carriers such as British Airways. Once upon a time, LAT was an airline that operated its own aircraft, however this was many years ago.

The airport is home to four fixed base operators for private aircraft.

MEAG recently launched its own fixed base operator services with the opening of the new General Aviation Terminal called Cedar Jet Center. It is now regarded as the top FBO in the airport.

Another leading FBO is Aircraft Support & Services (ASAS) which specializes in fixed base operator services for private and executive aircraft. In addition, they operate two executive jets which can be chartered to various places.

JR Executive operates a fleet of small propeller aircraft that can be chartered or leased. They also have a flight school to train people how to fly. They also conduct light maintenance on light aircraft and also offer fixed based operator services.

Cirrus Middle East, a member of the German-based Cirrus Group is partnering up with Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. to create a fixed base operator and VIP charter service to be launched on October 15 of this year. The company will initially be called Universal/Cirrus Middle East, but will eventually become Universal Aviation Beirut. They aim to become one of the top FBOs in the Middle East and will cater aircraft as large as Boeing 747s.

LAT offers limited fixed base operator services for private and executive aircraft.

The airport is the homebase of MidEast Aircraft Services Company (MASCO), an aircraft maintenance provider that specializes in all kinds of maintenance for Airbus aircraft, particularly the A320 and A330 series of aircraft. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national carrier, MEA. MASCO has JAR 145 approval and as a result can maintain any aircraft registered in Europe. In addition to maintaining MEA's fleet, MASCO currently has a contract to conduct C Checks for Cyprus Airways' A319 and A320 fleet. MASCO also maintains Menajet's single A320 aircraft. MASCO does routine line maintenance for a number of carriers serving the airports. They have received a number of awards for their high quality maintenance services.

The airport has one catering company named Lebanese Beirut Airport Catering Company (LBACC).

DHL operates flights to Beirut on an ad-hoc basis.

TMA - Trans Mediterranean Airways, a Lebanese private cargo carrier is currently not flying as its fleet was grounded. It's future fate is uncertain at the moment.

Saudi Arabian Airlines Cargo is a periodic visitor.

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Roman baths in downtown Beirut

Beirut (Arabic: بيروت‎, Bayrūt) is the capital and largest city of Lebanon with a population of over 2.1 million as of 2007. Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's coastline with the Mediterranean sea, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport and also forms the Beirut District area, which consists of the city and its suburbs. The first mention of this metropolis is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters, dating to the 15th century BC, and the city has been continuously inhabited over the centuries since.

Beirut holds Lebanon's seat of government and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy with its Downtown, Hamra, Verdun, and Ashrafieh based corporate firms and banks. The city is also the focal point of the region's cultural life, renowned for its press, theaters and cultural activities. After the destructive Lebanese civil war, Beirut underwent major reconstruction, and the redesigned historic city center, marina, pubs and nightlife districts have once again rendered it a popular tourist attraction. Beirut was named the number one Place to Visit in 2009 by The New York Times. It was also list as one of the top ten liveliest cities in the world by the Lonely Planet list of the top ten cities for 2009.

Originally named Bêrūt, "The Wells" by the Phoenicians, Beirut's history goes back more than 5000 years. Excavations in the downtown area have unearthed layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman remains. The first historical reference to Beirut dates from the 14th century BC, when it is mentioned in the cuneiform tablets of the "Amarna letters." Ammunira of Biruta (Beirut) sent 3 letters to the pharaoh of Egypt. Biruta is also referenced in the letters from Rib-Hadda of Byblos. The most ancient settlement was on an island in the river that progressively silted up. The city was known in antiquity as Berytus (see also List of traditional Greek place names); this name was taken in 1934 for the archaeological journal published by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Beirut.

In 140 BC, the city was taken and destroyed by Diodotus Tryphon in his contest with Antiochus VII Sidetes for the throne of the Seleucid monarchy. Beirut was soon rebuilt on a more regularized Hellenistic plan, renamed Laodicea in Phoenicia (Greek: Λαοδικεια ή του Φοινίκη) or Laodicea in Canaan, in honor of a Seleucid Laodice. The modern city overlies the ancient one and little archaeology had been accomplished until after the end of the civil war in 1991; now large sites in the devastated city center have been opened to archaeological exploration. A dig in 1994 established that one of Beirut's modern streets, Souk Tawile, still follows the lines of an ancient Hellenistic/Roman one.

Mid-first century coins of Berytus bear the head of Tyche, goddess of fortune; on the reverse, the city's symbol appears: a dolphin entwines an anchor. This symbol was taken up by the early printer Aldus Manutius in 15th century Venice.

Beirut was conquered by Agrippa in 64 BC and the city was renamed in honor of the emperor's daughter, Julia; its full name became Colonia Julia Augusta Felix Berytus. The veterans of two Roman legions were established in the city: the fifth Macedonian and the third Gallic. The city quickly became Romanized. Large public buildings and monuments were erected and Berytus enjoyed full status as a part of the empire.

Under the Romans, it was enriched by the dynasty of Herod the Great, and was made a colonia, Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus, in 14 BC. Beirut's school of law was widely known at the time. Two of Rome's most famous jurists, Papinian and Ulpian, both natives of Phoenicia, taught at the law school under the Severan emperors. When Justinian assembled his Pandects in the 6th century, a large part of the corpus of laws were derived from these two jurists, and Justinian recognized the school as one of the three official law schools of the empire (533). Within a few years, as the result of a disastrous earthquake (551), the students were transferred to Sidon. Saida (Sidon)], IkamaAbout 30,000 were killed in Berytus alone and, along the Phoenician coast, total casualties were close to 250,000.

Beirut passed to the Arabs in 635. As a trading centre of the eastern Mediterranean, Beirut was overshadowed by Akka during the Middle Ages. From 1110 to 1291 it was in the hands of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. John of Ibelin, the Old Lord of Beirut (1179–1236) rebuilt the city after the battles with Saladin, and also built the Ibelin family palace in Beirut.

No matter who was its nominal overlord, whether Turk or Mamluk, Beirut was ruled locally by Druze emirs. One of these, Fakr ed-Din Maan II, fortified it early in the 17th century, but the Ottomans retook it in 1763 and thenceforth, with the help of Damascus, Beirut successfully broke Akka's monopoly on Syrian maritime trade and for a few years supplanted it as the main trading centre in the region. During the succeeding epoch of rebellion against Ottoman hegemony at Akka under Jezzar and Abdullah pashas, Beirut declined to a small town (population about 10,000), and was fought over among the Druze, the Turks and the pashas. After Ibrahim Pasha captured Akka in 1832, Beirut began its early modern revival.

In 1888, Beirut was made capital of a vilayet in Syria, including the sanjaks Latakia, Tripoli, Beirut, Akka and Bekaa. Beirut became a very cosmopolitan city and had close links with Europe and the United States. Beirut became a centre of missionary activity that build an impressive education system. This included the Syrian Protestant College, which was established by American missionaries and eventually became the American University of Beirut (AUB). Beirut became the centre of Arab intellectual activity in the 19th century. Provided with water from a British company and gas from a French one, the city thrived on exporting silk grown on nearby Mount Lebanon. After French engineers established a modern harbor (1894) and a rail link across Lebanon to Damascus, and then to Aleppo (1907), much of the trade was carried by French ships to Marseille, and soon French influence in the area exceeded that of any other European power. In 1911, the population mix was reported in the Encyclopædia Britannica as Muslims, 36,000; Christians, 77,000; Jews, 2500; Druze, 400; foreigners, 4100.

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, Beirut, along with all of Lebanon was placed under the French Mandate.

Lebanon achieved independence in 1943, and Beirut became its capital city. Beirut remained an intellectual capital of the Arab world and a major commercial and tourist center until 1975 when a violent civil war broke out in Lebanon. During most of the war, the city was divided between the largely Muslim west part and the Christian east. The central area of the city, previously the focus of much of the commercial and cultural activities, became a no man's land. Many of the city's inhabitants fled to other countries. In 1983, French and US barracks were bombed.

Since the end of the war in 1990, the people of Lebanon have been rebuilding Beirut, and by the start of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict the city had somewhat regained its status as a tourist, cultural, and intellectual center in the Middle East, as well as a center for commerce, fashion, and media. Reconstruction of downtown Beirut has been largely driven by Solidere, a development company established in 1994 by Rafik Hariri. Beirut is home to the international designer Elie Saab, jeweller Robert Moawad, and to some popular satellite television stations, such as LBC, Future TV, New TV and others. The city was host to the Asian Club Basketball Championship and the Asian Football Cup. Beirut also successfully hosted the Miss Europe pageant eight times, 1960–1964, 1999, 2001–2002.

The 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near the Saint George Bay in Beirut shook the entire country. Approximately one million people gathered for an opposition rally in Beirut, a month after the death of Hariri. The "Cedar Revolution" was the largest rally in Lebanon's history. The last Syrian troops withdrew from Beirut on 26 April 2005. Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 October 2008.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Beirut was far from the front lines but some Hezbollah targets were attacked by the Israeli Air Force.

In May 2008, violent clashes broke out in Beirut and opposition militants briefly controlled West Beirut before giving it to the control of the Lebanese Army.

Beirut is home to one of the largest seaports of the eastern Mediterranean Sea; its location and depth allows it host the largest Mother ship vessels. As such, its recently completed container port is operating at over capacity 10 years before the studies showed it would.

Beirut is a thriving and expanding tourism destination. One billion dollars has so far been pumped into new infrastructure (new hotels and renovations) and continues to rise.

Beirut is positioned on a peninsula extending westward into the Mediterranean Sea, about 94 km (58 mi) north of the Lebanon-Israel border. The city is flanked by the Lebanon mountains; it has taken on a triangular shape, largely influenced by its situation between and atop two hills: Al-Ashrafieh and Al-Musaytibah. The Beirut Governorate area is of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi), and the city's metropolitan area is of 67 square kilometres (26 sq mi). Beirut's coast is rather diverse; rocky beaches, sandy shores, and cliffs are situated beside one another.

Beirut has a Mediterranean climate characterized by a hot and humid summer, pleasant fall and spring, and cool, rainy winter. August is the hottest month of the year with a monthly average high temperature of 29 °C (85 °F), and January and February are the coldest months with a monthly average low temperature of 10 °C (50 °F). During the afternoon and evening the prevailing wind direction is from the west, i.e., onshore, or inland from the Mediterranean Sea; at night the wind direction reverses to offshore, i.e., blowing from the land out to the sea.

Winter is the rainy season, with major precipitation falling after December. The average annual rainfall is 860 millimetres (34.1 inches); the rainfall is concentrated during scattered days in winter falling in heavy cloudbursts. Snow in Beirut is extremely rare and usually occurs without accumulation. Exceptions are 3 big snowstorms occurred in 1920,1942 and 1950.

These quarters are divided into sectors (secteurs).

Two of the twelve official Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are located in Beirut: Burj el-Barajneh and Shatila. Of the fifteen unregistered or unofficial refugee camps, Sabra, which lies adjacent to Shatila, is also located in Beirut.

The capital Beirut is the seat of the Lebanese Parliament and of the government, and encompasses all the Ministries, most of the public administrations, embassies and consulates. Beirut is one of six mohafazah (state governorates; mohafazat, singular), with the others being Beqaa, North Lebanon, South Lebanon, Mount Lebanon and Nabatiye.

The city is home to numerous international organizations. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is headquartered in Downtown Beirut while the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) both have regional offices in Beirut covering the Arab world. The Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) is also headquartered in Beirut.

There are wide-ranging estimates of Beirut's population, from as low as 938,940 people, to 1,303,129 people, to as high as 2,012,000. The lack of an exact figure is due to the fact that no population census has been taken in Lebanon since 1932.

Beirut is one of the most religiously diverse cities of the Middle East, with Christians, and Muslims both having a significant presence. There are nine major religious sects in Beirut (Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim, Druze, Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, and Protestant). Family matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance are still handled by the religious authorities representing a person's faith. Calls for civil marriage are unanimously rejected by the religious authorities but civil marriages held in another country are recognized by Lebanese civil authorities. Several decades ago, Beirut was also home to a Jewish community, in Wadi Abu Jamil neighbourhood.

The Lebanese Civil War greatly shifted the populations of neighborhoods throughout Beirut. East Beirut is categorized by a predominantely Christian population. Meanwhile, West Beirut has a large Muslim majority, with a sizeable Christian minority. In recent years, East and West Beirut have begun to see an increase in Muslims and Christians moving in to each half.

Beirut has had a history of political strife due to religious divisions. Religion has historically divided Lebanese society decisively, as evident in its prolonged civil war.

Higher education in Beirut, and all over Lebanon, is provided by technical and vocational institutes, university colleges, university institutes and universities. Among these numbers of institutions nationwide, the Lebanese University is the only public institution in the capital. The responsibility of the Directorate General of Higher Education is responsible for managing the university colleges, university Institutes and Universities in Beirut and nationwide.

Among the most famous private schools in Beirut are the International College, Beirut, the American Community School,Rawdah High School, the Saint Mary's Orthodox College, the Collège Protestant Français, the Collège Louise Wegman and the Grand Lycée Franco-Libanais.

The higher education system is based on the Baccalauréat libanais but the Baccalauréat Français is accepted as an equivalent. Before being admitted to any higher education institution, one must achieve his or her Baccalauréat examinations. Baccalauréat technique is an alternative to credentials.

Foreign students who wish to study in higher Lebanese institutions must also meet Lebanese qualifications. Their examinations must be equivalent to the Baccalauréat system before they are granted admission to higher institutions. They are not subject to any special quota system, and scholarships are granted within the framework of bilateral agreements concluded with other countries. Degrees obtained outside Lebanon must be certified by the Lebanese embassy abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lebanon. Then, candidates must go in person to the Secretariat of the Equivalence Committee with required documents.

Beirut is home to some of the most well-renowned universities in the Middle East, such as the American University of Beirut, Université Saint-Joseph, Ecole Supérieure des Affaires and the Lebanese American University, and the Hariri Canadian University.

The city's recently renovated airport is the Rafic Hariri International Airport and is located in the southern suburbs.

By land, the latter are served by either service taxi or taxicab. A service taxi is a lot cheaper than a normal taxi, however to avoid misunderstanding agreement over the pricing need to be made before setting off.

Beirut has frequent bus connections to other cities in Lebanon and major cities in Syria. The Lebanese Commuting Company, or LCC in short, is just one of a handful brands of public transportation all over Lebanon. On the other hand, the publicly owned buses are managed by Office des Chemins de Fer et des Transports en Commun (OCFTC), or the "Railway and Public Transportation Authority" in English. Buses for northern destinations and Syria leave from Charles Helou Station.

Apart from the international airport, the Port of Beirut is another port of entry. As a final destination, Lebanon can be reached by ferry from Cyprus or by road from Damascus.

The culture of Beirut has evolved under the influence of contact with many civilizations and peoples, including Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The law school in Beirut under the Romanized Berytus is believed to be the first law school in the world. This history of multi-culturalism is a point of pride for the Lebanese.

Beirut hosted the Francophonie and the Arab League summits in 2002. In 2007, Beirut hosted the ceremony for Le Prix Albert Londres, which rewards outstanding Francophone journalists every year. The city is set to host the Jeux de la Francophonie in 2009.

The National Museum of Beirut is the principal museum of archaeology in Lebanon. About 1300 artifacts are exhibited, ranging in date from prehistoric times to the medieval Mamluk period. The American University of Beirut archaeological museum is the third oldest museum in the Middle East, it exhibits a wide range of artifacts from Lebanon and neighboring countries. Sursock Museum was built by the Sursock family at the end of the 19th century as a private villa. It was then donat­ed to the Lebanese government and now houses Beirut's most influential and popular art museum. The permanent collection shows a collection of Japanese engravings and numerous works of Islamic art, and temporary exhibitions are shown throughout the year. Robert Mouawad Private Museum exhibits Henri Pharaon's private archaeology and antiques collection, located near Beirut's the Grand Serail. Planet Discovery is a children’s science museum. It holds interactive experiments, exhibitions, performances and workshops, and awareness competitions.

Beirut is the main center in Lebanon for the television, newspaper, and book publishing industries. The television stations include Tele Liban, LBC, Future TV, New TV, Al-Manar, ANB, and NBN. The newspapers include An-Nahar, As-Safir, Al Mustaqbal, Al Akhbar, Al-Balad, Ad-Diyar, Al Anwar, Al Sharq, L'Orient Le Jour and the Daily Star. Beirut is also one of the two main media hubs in the Arab World, the other being Egypt.

Beirut, in addition to Sidon and Tripoli, hosted the 2000 AFC Asian Cup. There are two stadiums in the city, Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium and Beirut Municipal Stadium.

There are eight football teams in the Lebanese Premier League that are based in Beirut: Nejmeh, Al-Ansar, Al-Hikma, Al Ahed, Al-Mabarrah, Safa, Racing Beirut and Shabab Al-Sahel.

Beirut has two Basketball teams, Al Riyadi and Al Hikma, that participate in the premiere division of the Lebanese Basketball Championship.

Other sports events in Beirut include the annual Beirut Marathon, Hip ball, a weekly Horse racing at Beirut Hippodrome, and Golf and Tennis tournaments that take place at Golf Club of Lebanon.

Recently Beirut has taken to rugby league as well, with three out of the five teams in the Lebanon Championship based in Beirut.

Beirut is considered as a possible candidate for the 2024 Summer Olympics games. The massive $1.2 billion Sannine Zenith project will make Lebanon capable of holding the games.

There are hundreds of art galleries in Beirut and its suburbs. Lebanese people are very involved in art and art production. More than 5000 fine art artists and equal artists working in music, design, architecture, theatre, film, photography and all other forms of art are producing in Lebanon. Every year hundreds of fine art students graduate from universities and institutions. Artist Workshops are flourishing all around Lebanon. In Beirut specifically, the art scene is very rich, vibrant, and diverse.

On another scale, fashion and couture are very much thriving throughout the city. Fashion houses are opening up and a number of international fashion designers have displayed their work in various fashion shows.

Many fashion designers have opened shops in Beirut such as Versace and Gucci, but many designers live in and around Beirut, for instance Elie Saab a major designer for women's clothing, lives in Beirut. Elie Saab has made dresses for the likes of Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow and Micha Barton. Elie Saab always donates a Christmas tree to downtown Beirut every year.

Another fashion designer from Beirut is Zuhair Murad who has designed clothing for the likes of Ana Ortiz and Christina Applegate. He has worked for Mango clothing line- which as an out let in Beirut and has his own retail in Beirut.

The once destroyed town center is thriving once again and is very much active. Its former reputation as a crossroads between three continents and gateway to the East has been restored and modernized. Beirut is the oft-invoked “Paris of the East”, and there is plenty of sightseeing, shopping, cuisine, and nightlife to keep a tourist within the city limits for the duration a visit to Lebanon. Lebanon's capital city is a vibrant, stylish metropolis, All over the city, sleek, modern buildings are springing up, alongside arabesque Ottoman and French-style buildings, giving Beirut a unique and very distinctive style often not seen in other Middle Eastern cities.

In Travel and Leisure magazine's World Best Awards 2006, Beirut was ranked 9th best city in the world, falling just short of New York City and coming ahead of San Francisco. However, the list was voted upon before the war broke out in Lebanon that same year. Tourist numbers have increased exponentially these last few months. Recently, Lonely Planet named Beirut as ranking in its 2009 top ten liveliest cities on the planet. "The New York Times" ranked Beirut first on its "44 places to go" list of 2009.

There are many shopping malls and outlet stores for all those shopoholics out there. Eldorado shopping mall, City Shopping mall,Beirut shopping mall etc to name a few has outlets in and around beirut. Beirut also has many western shops for those less adventurous, with Mango, Bershka and Starbucks have opened shop in the city.

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Source : Wikipedia