48 Hours in Beirut: Our quick-fire guide to the ‘Paris of the Middle East’

It’s a wonder that the Lebanese capital — with its bullet-ridden buildings and back-street bars — even qualifies as Middle Eastern. (Shutterstock)
Updated 04 April 2018
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48 Hours in Beirut: Our quick-fire guide to the ‘Paris of the Middle East’

  • Home to around just 4 million citizens, the small city has so much to offer
  • A great place to stay is the cozy, boutique Albergo hotel on Monot road
Beirut is known as the “Paris of the Middle East,” and when you get to know it, it’s a wonder that the Lebanese capital — with its bullet-ridden buildings and back-street bars — even qualifies as Middle Eastern in the first place.
Although home to around just 4 million citizens, the small city has so much to offer. Start your day with breakfast in the ‘holes-in-the-wall’ — Al-Sousi Restaurant in Aisha Bakkar (voted world’s best breakfast by CNN in 2014) and Le Professeur in Mar Elias give you the most authentic, hands-on experience of a well-rounded breakfast of hummus, eggs and meat, and the knockout foul medamas. Be sure to have this early in the morning, and not too much. It will stick around your stomach for a while.
After you’re properly ‘foul’-ed up, a long walk along the sea front on the city’s Manara corniche is a great way to work off your breakfast. Start from the iconic picturesque Pigeon rocks and stroll all the way along to the recently re-opened Downtown area, filled with shops and restaurants. There, you can explore the grand and elegant Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque right beside the worn-down Martyrs’ Square statue.
Feeling peckish? Fret not! Right at the heart of Downtown’s Beirut Souks lies the ever-expanding culinary experience of Souk Al-Tayyeb, the Saturdays-only open-air farmers market, offering a wealth of snack (or more) options.
Head to the nearby gritty, narrow Gemmayzeh street for an incredible selection of restaurants, cafés and pubs, or keep walking to the buzzing Mar Mkhael street. Popular hangouts like Radio Beirut, Junkyard and Dirty Laundry Kitchen and Bar are always packed with thirsty Lebanese spilling out onto the streets.
A great place to stay is the cozy, boutique Albergo hotel on Monot road, but prices there can go as high as $225 a night. More budget-friendly options include Mar Mkhael’s Villa Clara hotel, which goes for an average of $160 a night.
Beirut during spring and summer is a treat, allowing you to enjoy its beaches and numerous rooftop lounges. Be sure to swing by the classy Four Season’s rooftop lounge in Downtown for a breathtaking view of the capital’s coast. If you’re on a budget, Coup d’etat offers a more casual setting — and also houses the loud and lively Café Em Nazih on the ground floor.
For the best beach experience, you have to head out of Beirut and head north toward Pierre and Friends in the historical coastal city of Batroun, one of the oldest cities in the world, or south toward Tyre Rest House where white sands and clean water dominate.
For shisha lovers, Beirut is filled with all kinds of places to just play cards beside your bubbling hookah. Al-Falamanki is a favorite restaurant/café that offers good Lebanese food and an assortment of shisha flavors in a lovely seating area in a courtyard hidden by trees and surrounded by three two-story, war-torn buildings.
Student-hub Hamra is a must-see. Situated in the middle of Lebanon’s two top universities, the road is always bustling — its restaurants, pubs and stores packed. Li Beirut and Mezyan are hotspots for Arabic music lovers, while Ales & Tales and Bricks are popular watering holes for students and professors alike.


Saudi tourism body launches tour guide training in Madinah

Specialists introduced trainees to the methods used to guide people through historical sites, museums and landmarks. (Reuters)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Saudi tourism body launches tour guide training in Madinah

  • The SCTH in Madinah was looking forward to providing distinguished services for tourists

MADINAH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in Madinah organized two tour guide training sessions last week, in cooperation with the National Center for Human Resources Development (Takamul).
The five-day sessions took on 32 trainees, introducing them to the tasks of tour guides, including presenting historical information to people with no prior knowledge of the subject under time constraints, as well as teaching other skills the SCTH deems essential for the profession.
Specialists introduced trainees to the methods used to guide people through historical sites, museums and landmarks in Madinah, and to explain their significance in a concise, easily appreciated manner.
Faisal Al-Madani, director of the SCTH in Madinah, said the training sessions aimed to prepare people for a successful career in the tourism and hospitality industries, improve standards across the region, and introduce discipline and rigor in presenting research and information to groups of people.
He added that the SCTH in Madinah was looking forward to providing distinguished services for tourists.