BEIRUT, the one and only Paris of the Middle East
As Melik Kaylan, a fine contributor to The Wall Street Journal wrote in one of his articles on Beirut, ‘’the Lebanese should be protected by the U.N as international cultural treasures’’, Lebanon is indeed a very special place to live, work, play and simply enjoy life in very comfortable, stylish and sometimes even dangerous way.
Lebanese men and women are the most educated people in the entire Middle Eastern region, all fluent in at least three languages English, French, Arabic and boasting a very high quality education. And we should not overlook the beauty of the people, men and women alike being considered among the most good looking internationally, not to mention their sense of style and the attention they pay to every single detail which builds up their personal image.
That is why, luxury could not be more at home in the unique city of Beirut. In less than 2 years, Beirut’s luxury market has attracted almost all major international fashion, jewellery and accessories brands, the majority with monobrand stores in the capital of Beirut. Lebanese knew what luxury needed and they built it almost overnight. It is the impressive Downtown area, a newly built and very elegant district of Beirut. Downtown is like a luxury department store, the only impressive difference being that all stores, restaurants and cafes are on one large ground floor. With partly pedestrian areas, the Downtown offers the highest level of services to any discerning local or international customer. It never seems to busy, parking is easy and safe and the streets seem so clean that you have the feeling that the weather is only sunny. Recently brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Dior opened their monobrand stores in the Downtown area. The existing luxury hotel market saw the opening of the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel on the Corniche, overlooking the sea as well as the Fall 2009 opening of the first luxury boutique designer hotel in Beirut – Le Gray.
Another unique aspect of the Lebanese luxury market is the fact that it has its own local luxury brands, which happen to be world famous such as Elie Saab. Lebanese luxury couture dresses are worn by royalty and celebrities worldwide and the quality of the craftsmanship is outstanding.
While many still associate Beirut and Lebanon with wars, the tiny Middle Eastern country has somehow always managed to surface in every single walk of life. The latest war with Israel in 2007, while forever instilled in the Lebanese people’s minds, seems to have never happened. On a recent visit to Beirut in December 2009, the city not only appears in its usual vibrant ‘’mode’’ but also seems to have erased all the war scars. Not only is there no talk of the crisis, but thousands of cranes rising from very busy construction sites of all types: commercial, residential, offices, industrial.
Real estate prices defy any crisis and are at their peak levels, proving Lebanon’s huge economical strength and power to resurrect from the worse conflicts. Many argue, Lebanon’s wealth is greatly due to the constant flow of investment injected by Lebanese nationals working and living abroad.