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Lebanon Portal

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Lebanon (Arabic: لبنان‎, Lubnān), officially the Republic of Lebanon, is a relatively small, largely mountainous country in the Middle East, located at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, Palestine and Israel to the south, with a narrow coastline along its western edge. The flag of Lebanon features the Lebanon Cedar in green against a white backdrop, with two quarter-height horizontal red stripes on the top and bottom.

The name Lebanon (also "Loubnan" or "Lebnan") is derived from the Phoenician-Semitic root "LBN", meaning "white", a reference to snow-capped Mount Lebanon. In British English, the country has often traditionally been referred to with the definite article as the Lebanon, like the Ukraine or the Gambia.

The country enjoyed marked regional prosperity, until the concurring Lebanese civil war, and the decades long Israeli and Syrian occupations. In July 2006, after considerable stabilization to much of the country, the Israeli–Lebanese conflict brought mounting military and civilian casualties, great damage to civilian infrastructure, and massive population displacement.

Since the 2006 crises, Lebanon has undergone significant economic and military growth, and has seen a substantial resurgence in its once profitable tourism industry.

Featured Article

Armored Against Turmoil, Lebanon Lures Investors

The NY Times wrote:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — As financial panic spreads across the globe, some investors are moving their money to an unlikely place: Lebanon.

This small country, chronically battered by war, turns out to have a banking sector that has so far been a beacon of stability and growth. Its banks are posting record profits, aided by conservative central bank policies, skillful management and money from Lebanese expatriates.

Lebanon’s very instability — its 15-year civil war and frequent political crises — appears to have bred the banking sector’s fiscal prudence, analysts say.

Three years ago the central bank here barred investments in derivatives and other structured financial products, giving banks virtual immunity to the widening financial contagion. The banks here have done little borrowing on international markets. Deposits account for about 83 percent of their assets, making them among the most liquid in the world.

“The banks here are used to turmoil,” said Nassib Ghobril, the head of economic research and analysis for Byblos Bank, the country’s third largest. “Since the end of the civil war in 1990, there has been no loss of deposits, and there’s great confidence in the sector.”

As of August, the money flowing into deposits grew 16 percent over 2007 — itself a record year. Lebanon had no working government for most of that period, and at times seemed to be on the verge of civil war.

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A version of this article appeared in print on October 29, 2008, on page A10 of the New York edition

History, People, and Places

Saïd Akl (1912-2014.) is one of Lebanon's greatest contemporary poets who joined in his works Classicism, Romanticism and Symbolism in an individual style of writing founded on a pyramid of originality, innovation and aesthetics. His prose is known for its ingenuity. He is to Lebanon a symbol of splendor, joy and pride. He worked as a teacher and journalist and called for the adoption of the Lebanese colloquial language in Latin letters, which he used to publish Yara (poetry) and Loubnan (newspaper). He is the founder of the party of Al Tabadou’iyyah Al Loubnaniah (The Lebanese Genius) and co-founder of the Front of Freedom and Man. He set up a prize in his name for outstanding talents. He has written many works on theology, patriotism, politics, philosophy, poetry and arts in general.

His poetical works include Rindala, Ajmalou Minki? La (More Beautiful than You? No), Ajrass Al Yasameen (The Jasmine Bells), Kitabou Al Ward (The Book of Roses), Doulza, Qassa'ed min Daftariha (Poems from Her Notebook), Kama Al A'mida (Like Pillars), Nahtoun fi Al Daw' (Carving in Light), Sharar (Sparks)...

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Folk Culture

Lebanese to Israel: Hands off our hummus!

Lebanese style hummus topped with whole chickpeas and olive oil.

By ZEINA KARAM (AP) – Oct 24, 2009

BEIRUT — Lebanese chefs prepared a massive plate of hummus weighing over two tons Saturday that broke a world record organizers said was previously held by Israel — a bid to reaffirm proprietorship over the popular Middle Eastern dip.

"Come and fight for your bite, you know you're right!" was the slogan for the event — part of a simmering war over regional cuisine between Lebanon and Israel, which have had tense political relations for decades.

Lebanese businessmen accuse Israel of stealing a host of traditional Middle Eastern dishes, particularly hummus, and marketing them worldwide as Israeli.

"Lebanon is trying to win a battle against Israel by registering this new Guinness World Record and telling the whole world that hummus is a Lebanese product, its part of our traditions," said Fady Jreissati, vice president of operations at International Fairs and Promotions group, the event's organizer.

Hummus — made from mashed chickpeas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic — has been eaten in the Middle East for centuries. Its exact origin is unknown, though it's generally seen as an Arab dish.

But it is also immensely popular in Israel — served in everyday meals and at many restaurants — and its popularity is growing around the globe.

The issue of food copyright was raised last year by the head of Lebanon's Association of Lebanese Industrialists, Fadi Abboud, when he announced plans to sue Israel to stop it from marketing hummus and other regional dishes as Israeli.

But to do that, Lebanon must formally register the product as Lebanese. The association is still in the process of collecting documents and proof supporting its claim for that purpose.

Lebanese industrialists cite, as an example, the lawsuit over feta cheese in which a European Union court ruled in 2002 the cheese must be made with Greek sheep and goats milk to bear the name feta. That ruling is only valid for products sold in the EU.

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Recent News

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Featured Image

Cedars (Cedrus libani) under winter snow in Bsharri, many between 1,200 and 2,500 years old stand on slopes 2,000 meters high in the shadow of the 3,100-meter-peak of Qurnat as Sawda'.

Did you know...

  • that Lebanon is considered the banking capital of the Arab world and is widely known as the "Switzerland of the Middle East"
  • Lebanon is suited for agricultural activities in terms of water availability and soil fertility, as it possesses the highest proportion of cultivable land in the Arab world.
  • Several international festivals are held in Lebanon, featuring world-renowned artists and drawing crowds from Lebanon and abroad. Among the most famous are the summer festivals at Baalbek, Beiteddine, and Byblos. Beirut in particular has a very vibrant arts scene, with numerous performances, exhibits, fashion shows, and concerts held throughout the year in its galleries, museums, theatres, and public spaces, not to mention the vivacious and unique Beirut night scene that has an unmatched occidental twist to its rich oriental flavor cultivated by its savvy clubbers and pub-goers. [1][2][3]
  • Beirut, Lebanon's capital, is known as "The Paris of the Middle East"
  • During spring time, you can enjoy the slopes of Mount Lebanon in the morning, and swim in the Mediterranean sea in the afternoon.
  • Lebanon is easily the party capital of the middle east.

Culture, Arts, and Cuisine

The Lebanese Folkloric Beverage: Arak

Arak with water and ice, is cut down to a 20 percent alcohol drink.

The Arak, an anise-flavored liqueur made mainly from grapes, as is the case with wine, is a 50-65 percent alcoholic drink. It is the national Lebanese drink and is usually served with the traditional convivial Lebanese meals, and most usually, with the Lebanese Mezze (or meza), the local name for Lebanese tapas. Another Lebanese drink, which is worth savoring, is the Lebanese wine, which is now enjoying a worldwide reputation.

Most known Lebanese makers of wine and arak include Chateau Ksara [4], Kefraya [5] and Chateau Musar [6], amongst many others...

Read more about Lebanese cuisine here.

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