17 Mar A Personal View of My Beirut
By Fr. Boulos Wehbe
I believe that Beirut is unlike any city in the world. It is a very ancient city which has seen many transformations and has survived many serious challenges, any of which would have been enough to crush it into oblivion.
Resilience: one word which I believe sums up and characterizes this city. It is the people, as well as the city, that make it unique. Nested in the Mediterranean, Beirut has been able to rise from unimportance over the last few centuries to a hub which could impact not only the country of which it is its capital – LEBANON – but the Arab World at large. With its strategic location as the doorway to the West and Africa, it has managed to become the center of culture, education, art, literature, intellectual life, medical care, cuisine and good living in the region. With two universities, in addition to many outstanding schools, Beirut rose to its unique position by combining all those loci into a special blend of modernity and heritage. Its people managed to forge a delicious blend of Christian, Muslim and, until recently, Jewish communal living and interchange of customs and habits.
It has always been characterized with liberalism and freedom of speech. Books, theaters, movie houses, conferences, organizations, tourism, restaurants of various cuisines, political movements, and many more – all have found their natural habitat in Beirut. It has attracted all and continues to make all of those who frequent it feel welcome and seek to engage in the many facets it offers.
Beirut has always bounced back. And despite all that has befallen it, this city still carries and proclaims a message of hope, courage, richness of character and a love of life, in all that life has to offer.