A civilized war zone

Here’s a little message from the friendly people at the phone company.

Whether rain or rocket-propelled grenades are in the forecast, the “Urgent News Service” has you covered.

This latest message was sent out on Wednesday when a relentless snow and hail storm magically eclipsed the previous two weeks of intense international media coverage highlighting various Lebanese crises. They included, but were not limited to: 2 massive car bombs, 1 high profile assassination, the bloodiest series of riots since the end of the civil war and an unspecified number of grenade attacks on the military. (That’s the Lebanese military being attacked by Lebanese people—not a good sign.)

The bad weather, however, has been good news. It’s not easy to organize riots or plot assassinations when its pouring rain, it seems. And hey, Lebanon’s biggest mall is suddenly having a huge sale.

These billboards went up across Beirut this week, timed perhaps to coincide with the drop in temperature and national angst. Looks like the marketing people got inspired by the whole ‘security/investigation’ theme. (See CSI Beirut)

The mall’s campaign also includes a radio commercial where a woman with a deep voice tells viewers they have “the right to save” as sirens wail in the background.

But coping with chaos is not new for this particular mall. The “Detect” campaign (pictured below) ran earlier last year, amid a security frenzy following a previous wave of assassinations, and terrorist attacks, not to mention 3 bloody months of war at a refugee camp.

If you’ve never lived in a civilized war zone, the models are pictured holding bomb detection tools—ionic particle scanner (top) and car mirror (bottom)—which have both become must-haves at nearly all major parking lots in Lebanon.

And the phone company, they’ve been at it before too. During the 2006 war with Israel, they ran the following text message as bombs flattened parts of the city.

BREAKING NEWS: Save your Life by sending 2 empty SMS to 1085. Subscribe now to receive the latest news minute by minute

At least one thing is clear: If you can’t stop war, why not make money of it?’ Speaking of which, the ski slopes and the Intercontinental Mzar Ski Resort are apparently jam packed today because the sun has finally come out, after a week of storms.

Here’s a picture of the snow-capped mountains from the middle of Beirut’s famed seaside promenade, known as the Corniche. Cynical Beirutis are probably wishing the bad weather comes back pretty soon before more drama and chaos take over the headlines again.