The misguided Beast

So by now you have heard that “The Daily Beast” has rated Lebanon the worst place in the world to visit. Of course that’s ironic because it was just last year that Conde Nast, which probably has a lot more experience in travel journalism than the Beast, rated Lebanon as one of the best places to visit worldwide, just above Paris.

Of course The Beast offers no specific criteria or firsthand information on which the countries were judged, eroding any credibility this list may have.

Sure Lebanon is expensive, but a lot cheaper than Europe and similar if not cheaper than a lot of US cities. So why the 0/10 rating on costs? In fact some hotels have recently slashed prices here by up to 50 percent.

But what concerns me most is the safety rating at 2/3. Yes there has been terrorism in Lebanon, explosions and car bombs. Last year terrorist attacks claimed 102 lives; this year so far terrorist attacks have claimed 34 lives.

The numbers seem high but compare these to the crime rates in major US cities. Over 15 US cities have  murder rates higher than 100. In New York at 419 murders, over four times more people were killed than in Lebanese terrorism. In Chicago, there were 500 murders or five times as many–and Chicago has a little over half the population of Lebanon. In Los Angeles, which is also smaller than Lebanon, nearly 300 murders; in Houston 200 murders; and the list goes on including Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Detroit, Indianapolis and even Baltimore, just 40 miles outside the US capital with 219 murders and barely a quarter the population of Lebanon.

Yes these cities are not the ‘best to visit’ list either but they are also not among the worst and certainly do not get anywhere near the amount of coverage on CNN, The New York Times or State Department warnings as Beirut.

What about the other countries on the “worst” list: Iran and Jordan. Seriously? Those countries have almost zero crime compared to the United States, Europe or South America.

Finally let’s look at some of the “Best” countries. Mexico at number 6 with a rating of 1/3 in terms of safety. Really? Only 100,000 people have been killed since 2006 in drug wars. Don’t get me wrong I love Mexico and I have family from there. I love New York too. And yes Beirut is getting more dangerous. But I’m tired of the disproportionate media attention.

If anything, Lebanon is becoming just as dangerous as any major US city, but you would never know that from reading The Daily Beast, State Department reports and major US newspapers and television outlets that spend way more time covering violence in exotic places than what is happening just a few miles or blocks away from their corporate offices.

UPDATE 3/15/14

The Daily Beast has now removed the article.